Sunday, February 13, 2011

"The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis

Halfway through "The Last Battle," it stops being a battle and turns into this crazy Christian (because it's C.S. Lewis) acid trip. Where heaven is explained. And it's all existentialism. Thought-provoking, yes, but totally trippy.

It all starts with a barn door.

Well, not really a barn door. It actually starts with a stupid talking ape named Shift. He's the dominant personality in the animal odd couple of he and the donkey, Puzzle. He tells Puzzle what to do, and then reminds Puzzle that he's an ass. A stupid one at that. Puzzle believes it and continues to do the ape's bidding. Poor Puzzle, it's his self esteem that really starts all this trouble.

On the back of the cover for "The Last Battle," it states that a false Aslan is roaming Narnia. It sounds absolutely intriguing, especially since it's all allegory for the antichrist. I picked it up, so ready to see where it was going to go. Then, I was totally let down by this "fake Aslan."

It turns out Shift the ape sees a lion skin floating down the river. He decides to sew a lion costume for Puzzle to wear so they can begin work as a new Aslan. "People will listen to us," the ape tells Puzzle, "and we'll make Narnia right."

A donkey in a lion costume is the fake Aslan? Really?

And they don't make Narnia right. Instead, they make it terribly wrong. They bring in the not-so-good neighbors called the Caloremen. Battle ensues. Then, the Caloremen bring up their god Tash. Then, the ape teams up with the Caloremen and they combine Aslan and Tash and make "Tashlan." All the people and animals that believed in Aslan are now totally confused and don't trust anybody anymore.

Jill and Eustace are back in Narnia at this point, and they're trying to help King Tirian fight off this foe. Toward one of the mini-climaxes of the book, they are standing out in front of the barn where this horrible Tash is said to be kept. People that go in, well, they don't come out, or they come out changed. Tirian gets caught and is thrown in. Instead of dying, Lucy, Peter, Edmund and others are there...

Huh?

And after that, it just gets weirder and weirder. The last 50 pages are obviously one big happy heaven allegory, but the way Lewis describes it was trippy. I'm not quite sure how little kids who read this book understand it, but you know what, they need to work on their higher-order thinking skills.