I didn’t like this book the first time I read it. I wasn’t happy with the way that Narnia was ending up, I didn’t like that the good guys had their good work perverted by the bad guys and I didn’t like the fact that the world that I had invested so much time in had ended. It was a hard thing to read when I was 8 or 10 or whatever I was when I actually read it for the first time. (It was nice to actually pass my brother on the series, though – we had a race back then and I got stuck on The Horse and His Boy which catapulted my brother way ahead of me.)
This time, the same forboding hit me, though, since I knew what was coming, it was easier for me to make it through. The suffering, it seems, was not quite as drawn out as I remember it. I think the blush of youth and the innocence I had as a reader back then drew the experience out in my mind. (Kind of like my claustrophobia warping the underground sequences in The Silver Chair)
The book is very solid. As I said, it introduced very complex villains who were able to counter everything that the heroes were able to come up with the save the day. In the end, (in the Narnia the story starts in), the bad guys win. They make it to the end, and it’s only Aslan that brings the heroes through. It didn’t feel forced, though. It seems that in Lewis’s world, this is what dying is like. It’s going to Aslan’s country and living happily forever. The characters do that, there is a happy reunion, and they do live happily ever after.
I don’t know that this book needed to have Eustace. He kind of reached his full development in The Silver Chair but I guess they wanted to have the same connection to the Pevinsies that they had throughout the series. Jill was good but also not really all that fully there. It seemed that this was Tirian’s book from the beginning. He was developed, his motivations and character were explored. I would rather that he had either done more with Eustace and Jill or not had them until the end. I can see how they were necessary because of the link, and their story was very important to the endgame, so in that case, it would have been nice to see them developed a little more.
I remember my feelings at the end of the book, bitter at the loss of the series – there would be no more Aslan, no more Pevinsies, no more talking beasts. But sweet because it was a land where joy would never end. I like to think that this was a little bit of magic that Lewis put in there on purpose, because this, to me, is representative of a Christian death. The sadness that the company is parting but a happiness at an eternity in heaven.
I will definitely read this series again, probably when I think that Lily is ready to hear them in a couple of years.
FOR THE LION!