Narnia re-read. The Last Battle Chapter sixteen. Farewell to Shadowlands.

Synopsis: They climb the waterfall, and enter the Western Wild. There they meet old friends, and finally learn what has happened to them, and the true meaning of where they are.

Whenever I read this chapter, the title makes me think of the film made about Lewis and his marriage, which was entitled ‘Shadowlands’. (I’ll be reviewing it in a later post.)

How does Jewel know what to do? Is it an animal thing? A unicorn thing?

Reading this, I can’t imagine that anyone will ever be able to film this book, as they have some others in the series. How would you portray this magical country and the strange things that happen in it? Even animation would struggle.

The clumsy Lewis, who detested sports and found them incredibly difficult, would, I imagine, have liked to suddenly be able to run, swim etc. in this confident manner. Who wouldn’t?

How does Eustace try to frighten himself?

Somehow I’d not noticed on earlier reads just how quickly they travelled, like ‘human speed-boats’.

I love the dogs’ inability to stop barking excitedly, so they keep coughing and sneezing on mouthfuls of water. The waterfall contains images familiar to anyone who has read the Chronicles as positive signs: cool, refreshing water, reflected light and colour, and a combination of potentially conflicting emotions.

Tirian’s reunion with his father is so lovely and tender. I think I even prefer it to the reunions with the favourite characters from previous books. (Fun as it is to see Reepicheep, I’d have loved to hear what Puddleglum has to say about being in heaven. How would he manage to make it sound sufficiently ‘serious’?

Why can’t Ramandu’s daughter ever get her own name?

Have Frank and Helen been sitting in the thrones for long, waiting for everyone to arrive? Do they spend much time like this?

We end the Narniad with Lucy meeting once again with Tumnus, and him explaining the world she is in, and with Polly and Digory ‘flying’ over the Western Wild. Whether you prefer to begin them at LWW or MN, we’ve come full circle in the Chronicles. (We have also come full circle in terms of LB – we are back at Caldron Pool, with Puzzle in the water.)

At this point in the narrative, young me became quite confused by the scale and proportion of everything. How could a world like this be? (I understood old Narnia perfectly because it looked almost exactly like the England I grew up in.) It is still a little odd, but better acquaintance with Plato since my childhood readings has helped me begin to unravel it. The thing that still puzzles me is, if there are multiple Narnias within Narnias, how do you decide which one to go to? And if they keep getting more real and beautiful each time, what’s the point of the outer ones? Is there an end to these Narnias?

I was never keen on the fact that the Pevensies’ parents turned up at this point in the story. I’m still not. They’ve never figured much in the story before, and I don’t want them popping up now. (Particularly because of the horrible implications this has for Susan back in our world.) It just feels odd. Maybe it’s just me being awkward though, because I like the fact that the Professor’s house turns up.

Again, a horn is sounded. This always means something significant in the Chronicles.

Would Aslan really say, ‘No fear of that,’? It sounds a little informal.

After all the mentions of dreams and their significance in every novel in the series, Aslan finally tells us, ‘The dream is ended: this is the morning.’

And so the Chronicles end. For me, not quite as I would like. At the last moment, Aslan begins to turn into something else (i.e. Jesus.) But what I wanted, more than anything as a child, was Aslan to be real, and be Aslan. And for me to find my way to him, and Narnia.

I can’t argue with the beauty of the final paragraph, however. How very Lewisian to explain the idea of eternal life through a metaphor about reading. These books, after all, are our very own wardrobe door into Narnia.






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