Friday, December 20, 2013

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
184 pages

The Last Battle is the riveting conclusion of C.S. Lewis' epic high fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. At first it is scary and suspenseful, but towards the end there is peace and closure. In the final book a nefarious ape named Shift uses his weak-willed, yet gentle donkey friend Puzzle in an evil plot that precedes the ending of the world Narnia.

In the first chapter of The Last Battle, Shift manipulates Puzzle into swimming underneath a waterfall to retrieve a yellow object. The object is a lion's skin that Shift uses to carry out his plot to deceive and control the Narnians. Puzzle reluctantly accepts Shift's idea for him to wear the lion's skin and pretend he is Aslan.

When rumors are spread across the land that Aslan has returned to Narnia, King Tirian and his companion Jewel the Unicorn are excited until a great centaur arrives and tells them the rumors are a lie. He reveals that the stars are showing signs of impending disaster. Suddenly a tree nymph races up to King Tirian and shouts that the trees are being cut down and murdered. Tirian arranges for the centaur to get help back at his castle Cair Paravel while Jewel and him go to the site of destruction.
Tirian and Jewel discover that his fellow Narnians are working with the foreign Calormenes to cut down the talking trees to sell to Calormen. After witnessing a Calormen whip a talking horse who was carting lumber, Tirian and Jewel commit murder in their rage at the sight. They surrender to the Calormen and are held as prisoners in the area. Tirian is tied to a tree and starved for hours when he calls to Aslan for help after figuring out Shift 's deception. Tirian is transported to another world where he sees seven people gathered around yet he cannot speak.
In several minutes two children appear and free Tirian from his bonds. They introduce themselves as Eustace and Jill, the ones who rescued his ancestor King Rilian from Underland. The three of them rescue Jewel and form a plan to attack Shift and free the Narnians. Along the way to a safe house they assist a group of Dwarves who were being sold into slavery to Calormenes. After the Dwarves are freed they tell Tirian they no longer believe in Aslan and will no longer serve any king.
Tirian, Eustace, Jill, and Jewel continue their plans and are joined by a loyal Dwarf who leaves his group to fight with them. During the planning they see a large monstrous figure of a skeleton creature with a large vulture head entering the forest where the Narnians are enslaved. They are frightened when they realize it is the Calormene god Tash. In the evening they return to the location where Puzzle impersonating as Aslan leaves the stable at night to trick the Talking Beasts of Narnia. They take Puzzle from the stable and decide to wait for the centaur to come with help from Cair Paravel. An eagle meets them and tells them that the centaur is dead and Cair Paravel has been overthrown by an army of Calormenes. They are deflated, but decide they must fight for justice to the death.
Tirian leads his group to a showdown with Shift and the Calormen in the forest. The Narnians are quickly defeated while Eustace, Jill and Tirian are thrown inside the stable where the god Tash has already consumed Shift. Tirian is thrown into the stable and sees Tash take a Calormen leader. He fears he will be taken next when a voice tells Tash to be gone in the name of Aslan. Tash disappears and King Tirian looks at his surroundings and sees he is no longer in the darkness of the stable. He is in a sunny land where he is greeted by High King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Lucy, Lord Digory and Lady Polly.
King Peter and his friends explain that they saw his face when they were gathered at the Professor's house and knew he was from Narnia. They took a week to find the magic rings Digory buried as a child at his old home and were meeting at a train station for Eustace and Jill to go to Narnia. Then they all suddenly transported to this place, while Eustace and Jill went to him when he was tied to the tree.
Aslan appears and allows the group to watch him end the world of Narnia from the other side of the stable door. Aslan calls all the people of Narnia, including those who have died in the last battle to the door. The Talking Beasts and people who have been loyal to Aslan and Narnia enter through the door, while those who did not believe in him were sent away. Then Aslan wakes Father Time who was featured in The Silver Chair and orders him to call down the stars and put out the sun. High King Peter shuts the door, which ends the world of Narnia.
All of the Narnians who made it to the new land are amazed to realize it is a better version of Narnia and that they are starting a new life. Aslan leads them to his country where they are greeted by all the former kings and queens of Narnia, along with Reepicheep, Mr. Tumnus, Puddleglum, and other characters from previous books in the series. Aslan explains to Peter, Lucy, Edmund, Jill, Eustace, Digory and Polly that they were killed in a train accident in their world and this is the start of their new life. They are overjoyed and reunite with their old friends from Narnia. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
183 pages

The sixth entry in the Narnia series, though chronologically first within the storyline, is revelatory and enchanting. The book provides a great background story to the  history of  "the comings and goings between our world and Narnia."

Digory Kirke, who becomes the famed Professor in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and his friend Polly Plummer are exploring the space in between the attic of their homes when they accidently enter into Digory's Uncle Andrew's study. They are frightened and try to leave immediately, but Uncle Andrew locks the door to prevent them.

Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching a yellow magic ring he received from his godmother and she disappears. Digory is outraged, but realizes he has no choice but to go after Polly using another yellow ring and brings two green rings with him that will send them home.

Digory arrives at "the Woods between the Worlds", a soporific forest containing many pools of water, but no living creatures in it except for Polly and a gerbil Uncle Andrew used for a previous experiment. When Polly wakes up and gains her senses, the two children figure out how to use the rings and decide to explore other worlds. The first world they jump into through one of the pools is dark and desolate. After walking through an ancient castle for a long time, they reach a room with hundreds of people who are frozen in time. There is a bell with a hammer and a sign that tempts its reader to ring the bell. Polly wants to leave and is about to return to the woods when Digory aggressively prevents her and rings the bell.

After the bell rings several times, an elaborately dressed woman in the back of the room comes to life and demands to know who woke her up. The strange woman tells the children she is Queen Jadis of Charn and that everyone in her world is dead. She reveals that all her people and her rival sister's people were killed when she said "the deplorable word." The children see that she is evil and try to escape her, but she manages to return to England with them.

Queen Jadis, now called the Witch, orders Uncle Andrew to get her a carriage and fine jewelry for her takeover of the world. In the ensuing hours the witch causes a huge uproar in the community for stealing jewels and a horse and carriage from the local townspeople. In Polly and Digory's neighborhood the witch tears a piece of a lamp-post off and has a showdown with policemen and a mob. Just when the situation gets out of control Digory uses the yellow ring to send the witch, Uncle Andrew, Polly, and the stolen horse with his owner to the Woods.

After a struggle to escape the Witch the whole group jumps into a pool that leads them into Narnia at the moment Aslan creates the world. Aslan sings and creates the stars, trees, flowers, hills, waters, etc. The Witch and Uncle Andrew are frightened and want to get away from the lion, while the rest of the group is in awe of Aslan. The witch throws the piece of the lamp-post at Aslan, intending to kill him, but it glances off of him unnoticed. The witch then flees as the piece of the lamp-post grows into a full grown lamp-post--the backstory of the lamp-post Lucy sees as she enters Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.

After Aslan creates the beasts and chooses pairs to give the gift of speech, he gives Digory the task of finding an apple in a garden far away to plant as protection from the Witch he brought to Narnia. Polly and Digory fly to the garden on the back of Fledge, the horse who was brought to Narnia from England who Aslan gives a pair of wings. When Digory reaches the garden and picks the apple he is tempted to eat it, but chooses not to. The Witch attempts to deceive Digory one last time, but fails as Digory refuses her offer. Fledges flies the children back to Aslan and he allows Digory to take an apple from the tree he planted for his dying mother.

Digory and Polly return to England with Uncle Andrew, while the horse and his cabbie, who is coronated as the first King of Narnia, remain. Digory gives his mother the apple and she recovers from her illness. Polly and Digory continue their friendship, while Uncle Andrew never practices magic again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
199 pages

The Horse and His Boy is the fifth published novel in The Chronicles of Narnia series. The main character named Shasta lives in the world of Narnia and his story takes place during the reign of High King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy. Chronologically the events of this book happens third in the series.

Shasta lives as a servant to his father Arsheesh in Calormen. They do not have a close relationship and bear little resemblance to each other. One day a visiting nobleman named Anradin discusses a deal to buy Shasta to be his slave from Arsheesh. Shasta overhears this conversation and learns that Arsheesh is not his father. He also discovers that Anradin's horse is a Talking Horse from the land of Narnia who calls himself Bree. They plan their escape that night.

Bree and Shasta travel for several hours until they see another horse and traveler in the night and want to take cover. When a lion appears the horses and the riders flee to safety into a forest. The other rider introduces herself as Aravis, a young aristocrat from Calormen who is running away from an arranged marriage to an old grand vizier of the court, and her horse is a Talking Horse named Hwin. The four devise a plan to go through the city of Tashbaan in Calormen to get to Narnia.

When Bree, Shasta, Aravis, and Hwin enter Tashbaan they are unexpectedly separated by a procession of visiting royals from Narnia. King Edmund sees Shasta and seizes him, believing him to be Prince Corin of Archenland. Shasta does not reveal his true identity and enters the palace of the Tisroc. While Shasta is in the palace he overhears Queen Susan and King Edmund talk about escaping Calormen to avoid a marriage with the Tisroc's son, Rabadash, who intends to marry Queen Susan despite her indifference. After the royal party leaves Shasta in a room alone, a mud streaked boy climbs through the window and introduces himself as Prince Corin. Shasta tells Corin that he's been mistaken for him and asks him if he can leave. The two boys, who look exactly alike, become friends as Corin tells Shasta how to get out of the palace unnoticed.

While Shasta spends the night in a desert near the palace, Aravis hides out with an aristocrat friend Lasaraleen. Aravis and Lasaraleen sneak into a room and overhear the Tisroc and Rabadash discussing plans to attack Archenland without warning in order to invade Narnia and capture Queen Susan who has escaped Calormen. When Aravis escapes the palace and reunites with Shasta in the desert, she warns him of Rabadash's plans and they agree to hurry to Archenland to warn King Lune. Bree, Shasta, Hwin, and Aravis travel across the desert and mountains for several days before fatigue sets in and Rabadash's army is close behind them. As they approach the forest land of Archenland a lion comes and chases them, pushing them to reach King Lune faster. Shasta runs on foot and meets King Lune to warn them of Rabadash's imminent attack.

King Lune and his court race back to the castle and prepare for battle. Shasta is unable to keep up and gets lost on another path. While Shasta feels sorrowful he hears someone walking beside him and thinks it is a ghost. The figure reveals himself as Aslan and explains that he has been helping Shasta on his journey to Narnia. He states that he was the lion that brought Aravis and him together and he was the lion that scared the Talking Horses into running faster to get to King Lune on time. Shasta ends up in Narnia and informs the Narnians of the battle at Archenland. King Edmund and Queen Lucy bring an army to assist Archenland.

When the Narnians arrive to the battle Rabadash and his army are overtaken and defeated. Rabadash refuses to surrender and is taken captive into King Lune's castle. Rabadash is offered a choice to be released under certain conditions, but he rejects it. Aslan appears and warns Rabadash to take the offer or suffer the consequences. After Rabadash refuses again Aslan turns him into a donkey. Aslan tells him that he can turn back into a human when he goes to the altar of Tash during the Autumn Feast, but he will not be able to go past ten miles of the Temple of Tash or he will turn into a donkey permanently. Rabadash is nicknamed "Rabadash the Ridiculous" from that day forward.

Shasta tells Aravis that he is actually Prince Cor, heir to the throne of Archenland. He is the long-lost identical twin of Prince Corin, who was stolen at birth to prevent the prophecy of Cor helping Archenland in their greatest danger from becoming true . The prophecy was fulfilled nevertheless, when Shasta warned King Lune of the attack on Archenland. Aravis apologizes to Cor for treating him poorly and says she realized he was a good person when he helped her after the lion chased them into Archenland. King Lune invites Aravis to live in the castle with Cor, while Bree and Hwin go to Narnia. Prince Cor and Aravis eventually become King and Queen of Archenland and become the parents of the most famous King in Archenland's history.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
217 pages

Eustace Clarence Scrubb returns to Narnia in the fourth book of the series and has matured after his trip on the Dawn Treader. On this adventure to Narnia he goes with a school mate named Jill Pole.

In the opening scene Jill Pole is crying after being victimized by "Them", a notorious gang of bullies at her school Experiment House. When Eustace finds her in the back of the school he tries to comfort her by telling her about his experiences in Narnia. Jill believes him and they agree to try to get to Narnia by summoning Aslan. Eustace and Jill are promptly chased by some of "Them" until they reach a door that is normally locked and it opens to Aslan's Country.

The ensuing adventure begins after Eustace falls of a cliff into Narnia and Aslan comes to blow him to land safely. Aslan then gives Jill an important task that is crucial to the future of the kingdom of Narnia. Jill must remember four signs that Aslan says will help her and Eustace find King Caspian's long lost son Prince Rilian. Immediately the first sign is botched when Eustace doesn't recognize King Caspian as the elderly king leaving on a ship. When Jill and Eustace find out about Caspian they are allowed to stay at Cair Paravel until the kings returns. However, an owl named Glimfeather tells them they must leave in secret at once if they want to succeed to find Prince Rilian because Regent Trumpkin has banned Narnians from the task after years of failed attempts.

Glimfeather takes Jill and Eustace to a marshland where they meet the lovably pessimistic Marsh-wiggle Puddleglum. He assumes the worst about everything, but is considered too cheerful by his fellow Marsh-wiggles. The three of them journey together to travel to the land of the ancient ruined city of the giants. After they pass by the giants who live in Ettinsmoor unnoticed, they meet the beautiful Lady of the Green Kirtle who is accompanied by a suspiciously silent knight in black armor. The lady tells them to go to the castle of giants at Harfang for the Autumn Feast.

Puddleglum is doubtful and doesn't want to visit the castle, but Jill and Eustace are so cold and tired they go against his concerns and insist on going. By the time they reach Harfang the children are somewhat frightened. The giants at the castle treat them with great respect and take care of their needs. As Puddleglum and the kids plan getting to the ruined city they find out that they are going to be the meals for the Autumn Feast.

At the earliest opportunity they escape from the castle and were chased by several noble giants. They had to hide in a cave to survive. They ended up falling down a slope and slid for miles underground. After finding each other in the darkness, a group of earthmen tell them to follow them by order of the queen. Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum are now in Underland.

After traveling an endless journey further underground and across the Sunless Sea they reach a castle. The three of them meet a man in the castle who tells them how much the queen has helped him deal with his curse where he turns into a lunatic every night for a certain period of time. The man tells them that no matter what he says that he must stay shackled to a silver chair so that he won't turn into a deadly snake. Puddleglum and the kids are scared, but comply with his request.

Though Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum say they don't want to watch the man turn into the lunatic, they feel compelled to witness his transformation. When the man is strapped to the silver chair he begs them to set him free and that he is sane, but being held prisoner. After he says "in the name of Aslan" they recognize the fourth sign and unleash him after a quick debate. The freed man reveals that he is Prince Rilian and was being used by a witch in a nefarious plan to overthrow Narnia.

Prince Rilian and his rescuers have a showdown with the queen of Underland, who is the Lady of the Green Kirtle. The Lady tries to use the same evil magic she used to brainwash Prince Rilian to make them all forget who they are and where they came from, but a brave act by Puddleglum enables them to get their senses back. When the Lady sees her magic has failed she turns into a snake and is about to kill Rilian when Eustace and Puddleglum come to his aid and the three of them kill her.

After the queen's death all of the earthmen are free from her spell and they all escape to Bism--the Bottom of the World. Rilian, Puddleglum, Eustace and Jill use the path to Overland constructed by the earthmen in the evil plot to return to Narnia. After they are pulled from underground to their freedom by dancing Fauns and other Narnian creatures, King Caspian sees his son Rilian one last time before passing away.

King Caspian is resurrected as a young man in Aslan's Country where Jill and Eustace get to speak with him and Aslan. They come up with a plan to get revenge on the bullies in Experiment House when they return to their own world. The bullies are still trying to open the door Jill and Eustace left through in England when they are terrified and beaten by Caspian, Jill and Eustace and see the back of Aslan when the door opens. Afterwards all the bullies are expelled and Experiment House replaces its headmistress and becomes an effective school.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
223 pages

The third entry in The Chronicles of Narnia is an absolute delight and my favorite of the first three in the series. In this book Peter and Susan are left behind--Aslan told them they were too old to come back to Narnia in Prince Caspian--while Edmund and Lucy go on a dangerous trip to the end of the world with their annoying cousin Eustace Clarence Scrubb.

The book opens with Edmund and Lucy staying at their Aunt Alberta and Uncle Harold's house for the summer because their parents and Susan went to America for a job opportunity while Peter stayed with Professor Kirke from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. In the first chapter Edmund and Lucy are talking about Narnia in the guest bedroom when Eustace comes in to make fun of them. He heard the siblings talking of Narnia and thought they were "playing a game."

Suddenly the three of them end up going inside a curious painting on the wall with a queer ship at sea. They end up having to swim for their lives. Luckily it is King Caspian's ship and he helps them get on board. Caspian explains to them that he is on a journey to find the seven noble lords his Uncle Miraz sent away when he stole the throne. They are Lord Rhoop, Lord Bern, Lord Octesian, Lord Restimar, Lord Revilian, Lord Mavramorn, and Lord Argoz. There is also a plan to reach the end of the world if possible where brave mouse Reepicheep believes Aslan's country is located.

They found Lord Bern alive and well on their first stop, he actually bought Caspian from slave traders because he knew Caspian's father. Caspian appointed Bern the Duke of the Lone Islands after seeing how corrupt to governor was who allowed the slave trading. The next part of the journey is interesting because of Eustace's foul attitude. He wrote journal entries where he was convinced Caspian and his cousins were rotten and he was a victim of illegal actions. His character remains annoying and insulting until he turns into a dragon on an island where they discover Lord Octesian's crest. Octesian is presumed dead, either eaten by a dragon or turned into one and passed away in that form. When Eustace turns into a dragon after intentionally leaving his crew behind to get some solitude, he feels lonely for the first time in his life and his perspective changes.

After showing the passengers of the Dawn Treader that he is Eustace in dragon form he enjoyed their company. He turned back to a human in a dream like sequence where Aslan shed his dragon exterior. Afterwards Eustace was no longer an extreme nuisance. They moved onward and found Lord Restimar turned into solid gold on Deathwater Island in a magic body of water that turns everything to gold. They landed on an island where they were threatened to be killed by invisible creatures called Dufflepuds whom were under the spell of a powerful magician. Lucy had to read a spell to make them visible again.

There was a deadly sea serpent attack and a place called Dark Island where they found a nearly insane Lord Rhoop. Dark Island is a place where all your dreams come true, meaning your worst nightmares will come alive and terrorize you. After rescuing Lord Rhoop they discover that Lords Mavramorn, Argoz, and Revilian are on a retired star named Ramandu's island, but they are in an enchanted sleep. The only way for them to wake up is for Caspian's crew to go to the end of the world and for a person to go there and never come back. Reepicheep volunteers. They have a pleasant, non-dramatic voyage to the end of the world where they reach Aslan's country.

Aslan tells Caspian he is to return to Narnia and that Edmund, Lucy, Eustace and Reepicheep are to stay behind. Reepicheep sails off to Aslan's country and is never seen or heard from again, while the children go back to the guest bedroom in England. It is a bittersweet ending because Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy they're too old to come back to Narnia. But he promises they'll see him again one day. Eustace is changed for the better from then on. Caspian gets closure on his evil Uncle Miraz's reign after the return voyage with the surviving lords. He marries the retired star's daughter they met on Ramandu's island and rule Narnia for generations.

The story was very pleasant and I loved the imagery and the adventure. My favorite of all is Reepicheep. He is the bravest character I've ever read about in any book, which makes him one of my favorite ever. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a great, quick read that is good for children and imaginative adults.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
195 pages

The second book in The Chronicles of Narnia takes place one year later in the world of the Pevensies and 1300 years later in Narnia. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are waiting at a train station to return to school when they are magically transported back to Narnia. They arrive on a beach and eventually travel to a land where they see a ruined castle. The children figure out that the ruins is their old castle Cair Paravel.

When they go inside the castle and find their old weapons and gifts they see a boat arriving with two armed soldiers and someone tied up. Susan shoots at the soldiers with her bow and arrow, who then jump off their row boat and swim away out of fright. The children rescue the captive from the boat who is the Talking Dwarf named Trumpkin who tells the story of King Miraz and his nephew Caspian that led him to this point.

King Miraz is the leader of the people called Telmarines who have conquered Narnia and erased the memory and history of ancient Narnia, Aslan, and the Talking Beasts. The remaining old Narnians live in hiding while many of the trees and other magic creatures have fallen into a deep sleep. Caspian lives in the castle with the King and is tutored by a half-dwarf named Doctor Cornelius who tells Caspian of the true history of Narnia and that he is the real King of Narnia. Caspian learns that King Miraz killed his father and sent seven of his father's noble lords away to steal the throne. Miraz also plans to kill Caspian now that he has a newborn son. Doctor Cornelius gives Caspian a magic horn from Queen Susan and helps Caspian escape in the middle of the night. When Caspian's horse runs through a forest and flees out of fright, Caspian is knocked out from hitting his head on a tree.

Caspian awakes in a cave and is questioned by a talking badger named Trufflehunter and two dwarves, Nikabrik and Trumpkin himself. Although the dwarves are wary of Caspian, Trufflehunter is ready to anoint Caspian the rightful King of Narnia. After a long discussion the three agree to take Caspian to the hiding place of the old Narnians. Caspian meets fauns, Talking Mice, including the valiant Repicheep, Talking Beavers, Talking Bears, giants, etc. who are ready to rally and fight for him against King Miraz. Doctor Cornelius arrives and warns everyone that King Miraz's army is approaching and they must be ready to fight. After the king's army reaches the old Narnians and they fight for many hours, Caspian decides to use Queen Susan's horn for help. It was then that the children were transported to Narnia.

The children and Trumpkin take a journey to meet Caspian and his army. On the way Lucy sees Aslan who tells her to follow him. She tells the others, but they don't believe her and continue on their path. The path that the group takes ends up being deadly and they have to turn around and camp in a forest. At night Lucy sees Aslan again and he tells her to wake up the others so they can follow him. Lucy is unsure, but she knows she has to do it. Peter, Susan, and Trumpkin are doubtful, but Edmund is supportive. Eventually they agree to follow her. When Lucy takes them to Aslan, no one can see him but her. She tells them to follow Aslan and they walk behind her since they can't see where he is. After some time they all can see Aslan and apologize to Lucy for their unbelief.

Aslan takes them to Caspian and the Narnians who are facing imminent defeat. Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin overhear a meeting between Caspian and Nikabrik about using dark magic to defeat King Miraz. Nikabrik suggests that his Wer-wolf and Hag friends raise the White Witch from the dead to defeat the King. Caspian, Cornelius, and Trufflehunter disagree and a fight breaks out. Peter, Edmund and Trufflehunter jump in resulting in the deaths of Nikabrik, the Hag and the Wer-wolf. After they recover and dispose of the bodies they come up with a plan of action to defeat King Miraz's army.

The Narnians agree to propose a duel between High King Peter and King Miraz, the winner of the duel wins the battle between the armies. Although this is disadvantageous to Miraz's larger army, Miraz is manipulated into accepting the offer by his traitorous Lords Glozelle and Sopespian. During the duel High King Peter delivers a blow that knocks King Miraz down flat. Lord Glozelle then stealthily murders the King in the ensuing commotion declaring that the Narnians killed Miraz while he was down. The Telmarines charge to attack, but Aslan arrives with the awakened trees and gods of Narnia to defeat them. The Telmarines attempt to escape, but they are trapped at the Great River where there is no bridge.

Aslan, Susan, and Lucy lead a victory parade through the Telmarine inhabited towns, inviting those who wish to join old Narnia and those who don't to join the defeated army. After the celebration Aslan tells the Telmarines that they can return to Earth where their ancestors came from by walking through a magic door he created. Initially most of the Telmarines are reluctant and frightened that it is a trap. Then a brave Telmarine goes through the door and the Pevensies follow him, proving it is safe. Peter and Susan learn that they will never return to Narnia again while Caspian is crowned King of Narnia and the old Narnians can live out in the open once more. The children return to the train station only minutes later in their world just as Susan and Lucy's train to school arrives.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
172 pages

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the incredible first book published in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are four young siblings who are staying at Professor Kirke's estate in the countryside for their safety during a war in London. The children play hide and seek in the large house on a rainy day when Lucy chooses to hide in a wardrobe in an empty room. Lucy tries to reach to the back of the wardrobe and enters into another world where it is snowing. At a lamppost Lucy meets a Faun named Mr. Tumnus who tells her she is in Narnia.

Mr. Tumnus invites Lucy to his home where they have tea and talk for hours. Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy that Narnia has been under a winter spell cast by the White Witch for 100 years. He confesses to her that he was going to turn into the White Witch who commanded Narnians to turn in any Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve. Lucy forgives him then realizes she has to go back to her own world. When she gets out of the wardrobe and finds her brothers and sister in the hallway outside the room she tells them she is back. They question her and she says she was gone for hours in another world. After they respond by saying she was only gone for ten minutes and to stop making things up she runs away crying.

Over the next few days after Edmund makes fun of Lucy for the Narnia story, Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe out of curiosity and enters Narnia too. The White Witch passes Edmund on her sled and orders her servant to stop. She asks Edmund what he is and he tells her he is a human. She offers him Turkish Delight that bewitches Edmund into becoming addicted to it. The White Witch tells Edmund to bring his brother and sisters to her castle in order to get more Turkish Delight. After the witch leaves, Lucy sees Edmund and is delighted that they can both tell Peter and Susan that Narnia is real. However, Edmund denies having went to Narnia when he returns to their world and claims he was playing a make believe game with Lucy. Peter is angry with Edmund for being cruel to Lucy and tries to comfort her. Peter and Susan talk to Professor Kirke in their confusion where Professor Kirke implies that Lucy is telling the truth and that there are other worlds.

Later when the four Pevensies hide from the housekeeper in the wardrobe they all go into Narnia. Peter and Susan apologize to Lucy for not believing her and she says it's okay. The children go to Mr. Tumnus' abode and see a sign that says he's been arrested for treason. They meet Mr. Beaver, a talking beast of Narnia, who invites them to his home where Mrs. Beaver is cooking a meal for their guests. Mr. Beaver tells the children they are in danger in Narnia because the witch fears an old prophecy about two Sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve sitting on the throne of Cair Paravel, thus ending her reign as Queen. Mr. Beaver tells them that Aslan, a great Lion, is coming back to rescue his people. After their meal they notice Edmund is missing. Mr. Beaver states he has betrayed them to the White Witch and they must leave at once.

While the children flee Mr. Beaver's home, Edmund reaches the White Witch's castle in the freezing cold where he sees many Narnians have been turned to statues by the witch. The White Witch is furious with Edmund for not bringing his siblings and makes him her prisoner until she finds them. During her travel to the Beavers' place she notices the snow is melting and flowers are growing, signifying Aslan has returned and her powers are weakening. Peter, Susan, and Lucy are greeted by Father Christmas after leaving their hiding place and given gifts: a sword for Peter, a magic horn for Susan, and a healing potion for Lucy. Soon afterwards the children reach the place where Aslan is and he greets them with the other talking beasts of Narnia. They prepare to go to battle with the White Witch.

The White Witch sends a small army to attack Aslan's camp and decides to kill Edmund. A group from Aslan's army rescue Edmund right before she stabs him. In the same evening the White Witch goes to Aslan and informs him that Edmund is a traitor and belongs to her by the law of deep magic. Aslan acknowledges her claim and negotiates with her in private to free Edmund. The Witch is satisfied with his arrangement and lets Edmund go free. Aslan doesn't tell anyone what he said to free Edmund. After everyone in Aslan's camp goes to sleep Lucy and Susan see Aslan leaving and follow him. Aslan tells them they can come with him but they have to stop when he tells them to. They go to the White Witch at the Stone Table where Aslan is bound by ropes, shaved of his mane, and mocked by the Witch's followers. She calls Aslan a fool and says she will triumph over the prophecy now that he has given himself as a sacrifice. Then the Witch kills Aslan with a knife. Lucy and Susan are horrified, but keep quiet behind bushes. After all the Witch's people leave they go to Aslan's body and cry.

Awhile later the girls are woken up by a loud cracking sound. They see the Stone Table is split in half and Aslan is gone. They search for him and find him on a hill nearby where he tells them he came back to life because a deeper older magic resurrects an innocent person who takes the place of a traitor, but the witch didn't know about that. Aslan lets Lucy and Susan ride on his back to the White Witch's castle where he breathes on the statues and brings them back to life. They all assemble to meet the Narnians at battle with the White Witch. When they arrive at the battle the White Witch is winning by turning her enemies to stone with her wand. Edmund reaches her and breaks her wand with his sword. The Narnians who turned to stone are freed and they are joined by Aslan and the newcomers from the castle. In a matter of minutes the Witch's army is defeated and Aslan kills the White Witch.

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are crowned the Kings and Queens of Narnia, and the thrones are restored at Cair Paravel according to the prophecy. The children rule in Narnia for many years in what was later considered the Golden Age of Narnia. On a hunting trip for a white stag, the now grown Kings and Queens reach a lamp post and get strange feelings. They walk through the forest and go through a wardrobe entering their own world as children again. Professor Kirke smiles when they tell him their story and insinuates he knows all about the kind of adventures they had, alluding to his childhood that is featured in the prequel The Magician's Nephew.