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21 January 2008 @ 08:59 am
THE LAST BATTLE by C.S. Lewis (4.5 stars)  
C.S. Lewis' entire NARNIA book series (concluded in 1954) cannot be judged by the same standards as today's children's books. It was written in a different era, for a different set of children, in a different publishing environment, yet somehow it manages to stand the test of time and speak to readers today. The storytelling style is nearly timeless, the stories simple yet engaging (most of the time), and the layers deep and rewarding (for those who are looking). THE LAST BATTLE is clearly the final installment of the 7-book series and received the Carnegie Medal for its efforts upon publication.

Once again, readers find themselves in Narnia, this time at the edge of a waterfall in the presence of Shift the ape and Puzzle the donkey. When a lion's skin comes over the waterfall, they retrieve it and make plans to make the world a better place by pretending to be Aslan, come back to lead Narnia again. What begins as a simple, selfish plan to better the people leads to an invasion of foreign armies, the enslavement of the Narnian people and animals, and the Last Battle of the Last King of Narnia.

Eustace and Jill, old friends of Narnia and the original Pevensie children, are whisked into Narnia to save King Tirian and the unicorn Jewel from the hands of the Calormene's and the false Aslan. During their adventures, they cross paths with Peter, Edmund, and Lucy (alas no Susan), Lord Digory and Polly who were there at Narnia's creation, Father Time, unicorns, speaking eagles, unruly dwarves, genocidal slave drivers, mystical waterfalls, and magical doorways. The task before them is to restore peace to the land and find the true Aslan, a difficult job in light of all the trickery going on. But they must. Narnia depends on it.

"All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had been only the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on Earth has read."

With risk of ruining the plot for those who've yet to read it, the series ends with a fantastic view of the Kingdom of God as it will continue into eternity: Life as the characters knew it on Earth transitions seamlessly into Narnia and then just as seamlessly into the real Narnia, the more beautiful Narnia waiting for them on the other side of life. It awaits all of Aslan's followers, chock-full of adventure and beauty and amazing landscapes waiting to be explored and "ruled" by his people. Our friends who followed Aslan in their life are already there, living eternally in a far more perfect world, further up and further in to Aslan's presence and joy.

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