'The Last Battle' - Book Review

The Last Battle
by C. S. Lewis
William Collins Sons, 173 pages

This, the last of the Narnia books, took me a great deal longer to re-read than the others in the series. This is because it is without question my least favourite ("The Magician's Nephew" runs second for that title). Spoiler: everyone dies (although their passing is very gentle, not violent). Of course all the good ones pass on to Aslan's lands (Lewis's not-too-subtle take on Heaven).

The action in the book is started by the ape Shift and the donkey Puzzle: Shift is clever but lazy and evil and puts upon the sweet, gentle, and not very bright Puzzle. When Shift finds a lion's skin, he convinces Puzzle to dress in it and pretend to be Aslan. He tells Puzzle what to say and uses this power over the other talking animals to sell them as slaves to the evil Calormenes. When King Tirian and his best buddy Jewel the unicorn (I kept thinking "get a room!" - a subtext C.S. Lewis most assuredly did not intend, but the two friends are weirdly close) find this out, they get so hot and bothered that they immediately slay two Calormenes. Without issuing a challenge, which is so dastardly they feel the need to turn themselves over to the Calormenes for justice (seriously?). And Lewis gives us a classic line: "Then the dark men came round them in a thick crowd, smelling of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces."

This has led to considerable consternation in my household: do I eat garlic and onions because I'm evil, or am I evil because I eat garlic and onions? And what a heartbreak it would be to give up garlic and onions only to find out that I was inherently evil. But it does give me great pleasure to think of C.S. Lewis rolling in his grave now that curry is the national dish of his precious Great Britain.

There's a great revelation at the end - a man who does things (and I don't say "man" lightly, as C.S. Lewis is a bit of a sexist pig) for an evil god, if he does good things with good intentions, will end up in The Good Place (TM). Likewise a man who does evil things in the name of a good god will end up ... well, not in The Good Place. I don't think that's anywhere in the Bible - awfully liberal of him.

Some day I may read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" again. This one? Not a chance.