Posted in Biography, Liked It, Non-fiction

Joy

  Author:     Abigail Santamaria

Genre:     Biography 

Rating:    LI

Synopsis:

The first full biography of Joy Davidman, known primarily as C.S. Lewis’s late-in-life bride, but who here receives her much deserved rescue from that shadow.

Opinion: You know for the longest time, I didn’t realize that C. S. Lewis was married.  I loved (and still do) the Chronicles of Narnia.  I’ve also read his space travel trilogy- Out of the Silent Planet.  I’ve known that C. S. Lewis was a born again believer, but I never really thought about his personal life.  

I can’t remember when, but my mom watched that movie Shadowlands.  I think I was in college.  That was the first that I realized that he married.  I didn’t think much about his wife though.  I really never thought to find out who she was.  

I know the author of this book.  We went to the same church for a little bit when we were both in high school.  I remember when she started doing the research for this book.  There wasn’t a lot out there on Joy.  I know Abby traveled to England to do some research for this book.  I remember that she got invited to the movie premier of Prince Caspian.  This book has been years in the making, and I was happy that there was finally a release date.  

Abbie’s writing was great.  There is no doubt about that.  It was easy to read, and not dry and boring (which is one of the reasons I usually don’t read non-fiction).  I think the best thing about this book, is that is changed my opinion of C. S. Lewis.  I’ve read some of his other Christian work like Screwtapes Letters.  Lewis was a devout Christian.  I think what surprised me was that Joy was so, well, not really likeable.  I mean I know that all of us have flaws, but she just didn’t strike me as being the sort of woman that Lewis would like.  I mean for crying out loud, she was still married when she started chasing him!!  I think at the end of the day, it made Lewis seem a lot more like a real man.  

I know this was completely not what the book was about.  The whole point of the book was that the reader was supposed to walk away knowing that Joy was something other thab just Lewis’ wife. And she certainly was.  She was definitely a dynamo.  I mean she was well educated; she joined the Communist party in the US; she seemed to be a prolific poetess.  

It really is a pity that she and Lewis didn’t get to spend the majority of their lives together.  

Advertisements
Posted in Fantasy, Rated S, Young Adult

Here, There Be Dragons

Three Oxford men receive letters to meet one Professor Siguersson- Johm, Jack, and Charles. Oh, they all have different reasons for being at the house. It is however, a great pity the Professor is already dead by the time they arrive. Jack was asked to deliver papers from the solicitor; Charles needed the Professors annotations for an article. John was the Protege, who hadn’t been studying much as he was on leave from WWII.

The three men go to a social club at 221B Baker Street (That’s right, Sherlock’s address). There they are met by a mysterious man named Bert. It seems that the three men were chose to be the new Caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica, which is an atlas with the maps of all imaginary and mythological places, also known as the Archipelago of Dreams. The three were chosen for their imagination in addition to the fact that they were Oxford scholars. The Professor was murdered because the evil Winter King wants the Geographica for himself. Thus begins the greatest adventure any of the men had ever taken beginning with take the Indigo Dragon (a dragonship) across the divide between our world and the imaginary one.

The Archipelago of Dreams had been ruled by King Arthur. The Silver throne was passed to his heirs. All the races- Centaurs, Troll, Dwarves, Elves, and Mythical beasts swore allegiance to him. All these years the other races had been content to allow a human king because the dragons in the land answered to the High King. However things began to change in the world as things began to change in our world. There is a spill over effect. The problems in the Archipelago culminated in the death of Arthur’s entire line. The killer was none other than the High King of that time Archibald. As a result, a Parliment was created in order to rule, till they could decide how to replace the king.

In this chaos, the Winter King decides now is an opportune moment to seize control of the Archipelago. First he unleashes the Shadow Born, who are creatures whose Shadow/Sould has been removed. They are immortal and grow stronger the longer they exist. Next he creates Shadowlands by essentially removing the soul from the earth itself. The only thing that keeps him from ultimate power is that he lacks the Geographica.

Although the trio receive help from Bert, his daughter Aven, Capt. Nemo, and the Morgaine, they barely manage to stay one step in front of the Winter King. Things are complicated due to the fact that John was never told for what job he was being prepared. As a result, he cannot always ready everything on the map as it is in many different ancient language because he neglected his studies due to being drafted in the war. It is a particular problem as John is the Caretaker Principia. As the story progresses, Jack and John both have to overcome personal hindrance. They both succeed, but someone must pay a heavy price. In the end the three succeed in saving the Archipelage. When they return to England, Bert reveals to them that all of the past Caretakers had been writers-famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even Sir James Barrie. As the new Caretakers the three men sign the book, and the reader finally understands the destinies these three men are to fulfill. Ok I’m going to pu up a spoiler box. I’d like to do some character analysis but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read the book.

My non-spoiler opinion was that the book was masterfully written. Owens mixed fact and fiction in a seamless way. The Archipelago is both in and not in our world. If you liked the mythology references in Harry Potter, then you will love the book even more. There are mystery elements of this story, and figuring them out prior to having the answer revealed depends entirely on how well read you are. It’s a fun read. It was my train read this week. I couldn’t wait to get on the train. Oh, I’m still trying to figure out who the Cartographer is. If you have any ideas, please share them with me. The second book in this series is called The Search for the Red Dragon and is on the bookshelves now. The third book called The Indigo King comes out October 21, 2008. The author says that this book is being made into a movie by WB.

Spoiler. Go no further on Pain of Death. You have been warned

Bert is revealed to be none other than Hubert G. Wells known as H.G. Wells.

John is J.R.R. Tolkien. This should have been more than abundantly clear with the whole language thing. I mean, Tolkien created several languages and wrote the Lord of the Rings to showcase his talent.

Charles is Charles Williams. I have never read his work nor ever heard of him. I intend to rectify that. Be that as it may, Charles Williams was part of the literary brat pack known as Inklings along with John and Jack.

Jack is C.S. Lewis. I knew lewis went by Jack. It all made sense with he whole shadows and him being able to restore the people and the land. If you didn’t know, Lewis wrote a book called Shadowland. It was about the death of his wife Joyce.

In this book, Owens, provides explanations for where these men got the inspiration for their book. I’ve already bought the second book. I’ll let you know how that one is.

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Space travel, Uncategorized

That Hideous Strength

Dramatis Personae
Main
Mark Studdock- the stuffy university don who wishes to be part of N.I.C.E.
Jane Studdock- wife of the above, also a seer.

N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments)

Francois Alcasan — “The Head”, a French scientist executed for murder early in the book. His head is recovered by the N.I.C.E.
John Wither — “Deputy Director” of the N.I.C.E. He is the true leader of the N.I.C.E.
Professor Frost — A psychologist and assistant to Wither.
Miss/Major Hardcastle (a.k.a “The Fairy”) — The sadistic head of the N.I.C.E. Institutional Police and its female auxiliary, the “Waips”.
Dr. Filostrato — An Italian physiologist, who has seemingly preserved Alcasan’s head.
Lord Feverstone (Richard Devine) -succeeds in bringing Mark into the N.I.C.E. He, along with Weston, kidnapped Ransom in Out of the Silent Planet.
Reverend Straik — “The Mad Parson”. He believes that any sort of power is a manifestation of God’s will..
Horace Jules — the nominal Head of the N.I.C.E.

Logres

Dr. Elwin Ransom — called “The Pendragon.” Upon being made the Pendragon he took the name King-Fisher.
Grace Ironwood — psychologist who helps Jane interpret her dreams; physician to Ransom.
Dr. Cecil Dimble — close advisor on matters of Arthurian scholarship and pre-Norman Britain.
Mrs. Dimble- wife of the above.
Ivy Maggs — Formerly a part-time domestic servant for Jane Studdock; now driven out of the town by the N.I.C.E. and living at St. Anne’s. Her husband is in jail for theft.
Merlinus Ambrosius (Merlin) awoken and returned to serve the Pendragon and save England.
Mr. MacPhee — A scientist, skeptic, and rationalist, and close friend of Dr. Ransom. He is mentioned parenthetically in Perelandra.
Mr. Bultitude — Last of the seven bears of Logres.
Arthur Denniston- old friend as Mark Studdock
Camilla Denniston

I told you it was a complex book. I will be heavily annotating the summary for clarity. The annotations will look like this.

The books starts off with us being introduced to Jane Studdock, who is a newlywed of six months. She is contemplating why her young marriage is falling apart. Her marriage and “modern” views on marriage form the basis for her narrow minded opinions of other as well as aiding her in coming back to God. She is also disturbed by some very realistic dreams one of which is that a scientist’s head is removed from his body yet keeps on living. Also there is an old man with a white beard is being exhumed- and wakes up and starts living again.

We are next introduced to her husband Mark, who is one of those unfortunate men who was a follower in his youth. His obsession is to get in with the “in” crowd. He has recently been appointed as a don. He is friends with a thoughtless man named Curry, who reminds him that he did not achieve his position by talent, but rather through the machinations of Lord Feverstone, whom he is invited to meet for dinner.

The story unfolds back and forth between these two people. They represent the opposite sides in the upcoming battle. Although Jane has never been “religious” she is not able to completely cast off her Christian upbringing. Mark on the other hand has never believed in anything and thus is a representation of the “goats.”

The plot begins to unfold when N.I.C.E. approaches Mark’s College in order to purchase Bragdon Wood. Bradgon Wood is the supposed resting place of Merlin. N.I.C.E. also wants to incorporate the University into itself. Although it appears that the College makes the choice to sell, in reality N.I.C.E. holds the cards.

Later on that day, Jane has lunch with Dr. and Mrs. Dimble and is quite shocked when Dr. Dimble’s talk of Arthurian legend is disturbingly similar to the dream she had. Mark does meet Lord Feverstone for dinner. Here we see the beginnings of the Plan. Feverstone’s reason for getting Mark the position as a don is because N.I.C.E. is very interested in him, although Mark, poor fool that he is, doesn’t see it. Mark ends up being taken to Belbury home of N.I.C.E. for the weekend to see how he likes it. At first Mark doesn’t fit in; in fact Mark has no idea why it is that he is wanted by the organization or what the organization actually does. His experience improves when he is befriended by “Fairy” Hardcastle, who is quite a perverse hyper-feminist. Although Mark is confused, the reader realizes that the organization’s aims are to better mankind. They intend to achieve this by purging those not worthy, cleansing the world or organic life, and brainwashing the public. The night Mark arrives, Hingest who is also a don at his college decides to leave N.I.C.E. and tries to convince Mark to come with him. He is murdered on the way home…
Which is exactly what Jane dreams that night. The Dimbles convince Jane to go to the Manor at St. Anne’s to discuss her dreams with Grace Ironwood, who it seems is some sort of doctor/psychologist. As it turns out, Jane is not having dreams but rather visions. Jane’s comes from the Tudor family of the Warwickshire branch. It turns out that there was a seer in the family and that this sort of thing is genetic. Although Jane is disgusted by this discussion, you can clearly see that her visions have a larger significance and that Grace Ironwood is afraid of what Jane has told her. Eventually she runs into old acquaintances Arthur and Camilla Denniston who urge her to join the “right” side. This is difficult for Jane as she has put notions of right and wrong out of her mind. She eventually meets the Director, Dr. Ransom, to discuss her dreams. But the conversation interesting enough turns to her feelings for Mark. She does not hold an ounce of sympathy for him. In fact she completely blames him for the break down in their marriage. But after some discussion with the Director, Jane understands for the first time why her marriage is failing. She has really never humbled herself enough to truly love her husband. Here you see the contrast of the Dimble and Denniston marriages. These couples were taught to actually care for each other. They’ve grasped the concept that marriage isn’t all about living one’s own life. For this reason, there is a togetherness that defines these couples that is completely lacking in Jane and Mark. At first the Director does not let Jane join their Company feeling that it would become a problem as her husband works for the enemy. In addition, the Director wants Jane to be merciful and reach out to Mark, because he knows what is coming and doesn’t want Mark to be destroyed.

Meanwhile, Mark is becoming more ensnared in the twisted regime of N.I.C.E. But he doesn’t begin to understand what they are about. Namely, N.I.C.E. has contact with macrobes, which are beings higher than man. These macrobes are not from our world. These macrobes have given N.I.C.E. the following information which was partially alluded to in Out of the Silent Planet.

When the inhabitant of the moon, Sulva, fell under the influence of the bent Oysaru of this world, they began to systematically sterilize the moon. This is why the moon appears lifeless to us. On the side of the moon that we can’t see there is still a surface that has not been sterilized with atmosphere. Here too is a battle between the “progressives” and those who “won’t progress.” Ranson later on reveals that the inhabitants of Sulva are perverse. Upon marriage people do not have relations with their spouses. They have found a way to create pseudo bodies identical to their spouse which they animate in some ghastly way. Apparently real flesh does not appeal to them. No children are conceived naturally.

These macrobes have found a way to keep the body alive despite death achieving a pseudo immortality. This is what N.I.C.E. is in the initial stages of accomplishing with Alcasan’s head. I found this description rather unsettling because to a certain extent our society is like this now. Like the moon’s inhabitants, we too try to life in order to make it more “hygenic.” Think of all the anti-bacterial agents we employ on a day to day basis. Also this how far medicine has come- cardiac arrest does not mean death anymore. We can keep the body alive after a the point of “brain” death. The thought of sterilizing our planet or extending/manufacturing consciousness is anathema to us currently. And then there is the whole issue of sex. So much of today’s society has really sterilized sex. It is viewed as a strictly biological function rather than as a relational act. Even when it comes to conception. I understand the need infertile couples have for intervention, but some situations the whole test tube baby thing seems to dehumanize the process some how. Perhaps it is related to the lost of community relationships in our society today. When I consider how much of Nature around us we try to control, I some times wonder where we are headed. But I digress.

As a further means of bringing about a new order, N.I.C.E. has arranged to take over the College’s town of Edgestow by engineering riots as well as buy out to effectively control everything. Then they turn the town into a giant excavation. Meanwhile Jane continues to have more dreams about the old man and realizes she knows where he is buried. It turns out that N.I.C.E. excavation has trying to uncover this man who is none other than Merlin. The macrobe “Masters” require a vessel. As Merlin came from a time when men were more conversant with “powers,” they think he would be most appropriate. Ransom fears the earth will be destroyed if Merlin joins the wrong side. However, this proves to be unfounded because Merlin awakens on his own and shows up at the Manor looking for the Pendragon. It turns that Merlin would never have suited N.I.C.E. purposes as he was a devout Christian.

Meanwhile, we discover that N.I.C.E. was only interested in Mark because they wanted to obtain Jane and her abilities. When they try to press Mark, something in him defies them. He leaves N.I.C.E., but ends up being arrested for the murder of Hingist.

We see that although Merlin is a noble man through and through, he is from a different more savage time. Lewis seems to borrow from heavily from Tolkien’s idea on the English mythology with the fall of Numinor. In this series, there seems to have been a real Golden and Silver Age on earth. There was definitely a point where being conversant with “powers” was not the evil is it today. It seems that the problem with being conversant with powers in this day is that before the physical and spiritual worlds were closer together and now they are separate. I am speculating that this separation in the physical and spiritual world occurred soon after the Ascension because most miraculous abilities also disappeared around this time. Yeah, you’ll have to read it for yourself.

The powers do come. By these powers I mean the Oyarsu Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Merlin is empowered and then sent to Belbury. The end result is a combination of Babel and Sodom and Gomorah. Edgestow is completely destroyed by fire, earthquake and water. I found that Lord Feverstone became the modern day wife of Lot. He was given the opportunity to leave, and in fact was supernaturally taken out of Belbury. But as the town is being destroyed, he just had to take that final look back, and that sealed his doom! Oh yes, Mark escapes courtesy of Melin and makes his way to the Manor. He’s a changed man. He realizes that he was quite the fool; he also realizes how badly he has treated Jane with his “male right.” It is supposed that they live ever after more happily than the start of this book.
I hope the review made sense. It was complex! I think I felt like I had been hit by a truck the first time I read it. There was a great deal of symbolism and ancient mythology. I did have to look up stuff. But hopefully one of you found that helpful.

Posted in Children, Christian, Classic, Fantasy, Liked It

Prince Caspian

This story takes place a year after the events in the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy as summoned to Narnia by Caspian who blows Susan’s magical horn. Readers will remember that Susan was wearing the horn on their last day in Narnia. The horn had been lost for ages. Their job was to help Prince Caspian reclaim his throne. 
After the Pevensie children returned to our world, Narnia was conquered by a race of men known as Telmarines. These men feared the mythical creatures of Narnia as well as the sea. As a result, Narnians went into hiding. The woods grew till Cair Paravel was cut off from the rest of Narnia. Approximately 1300 years have passed when they returned. 

Prince Caspian is the crown prince of Narnia. His uncle Miraz is his Regent as his father, Caspian the IX was dead. Prince Caspian’s nurse taught him about Old Narnia. However, she was sent away when Caspian inadvertently told his uncle of the stories. At this point Caspian was taught the skills necessary to become a warrior. His tutor was Doctor Cornelius, who was part dwarf. Dr. Cornelius also taught him about old Narnia. However, Caspian was now smart enough to realize that he should keep his lessons quiet. Several years past, before Miraz was able to produce an heir. At this point, Caspian’s life was in danger. So Dr. Cornelius sent him from the castle one night with Susan’s horn. During his flight, Caspian fell off his horse. He woke up in the company of Trufflehunter, Trumpkin, Nikabrik- Old Narnians. The trio took Caspian around with them to meet all the true inhabitants of Narnia. After meet Glenstorm, the Centaur, they realize that the time of war is upon Narnia- and Caspian must lead them. In their counsel of war, they decide to use the horn. They believe (Dr. Cornelius has joined them at this point) that the horn will summon the Pevensie four. However, Dr. Cornelius believes that the four will be summoned to their castle at Cair Paravel. Trumpkin is dispatched to bring them back. He is captured along the way, but the four rescue him. 
They reach Caspian before the battle begins. But they have to fight off a werewolf and hag Nikabrik has brought into their counsel in order to resurrect the White Witch. Peter and Edmund stop that but Caspian is injured. In order to give the weary Narnia troops some time to rest, Peter decides to challenge Miraz to personal combat. Meanwhile Lucy and Susan, who are with Aslan, go to wake up Old Narnia. During the combat, Miraz is killed by his own treacherous men, and the battle starts in ernest. Alsan, Lucy, Susan, and the rest of the Old Narnians come to the rescue. Caspian is made the High King of Narnia. Peter and Susan reveal that they will not be coming back to Narnia as they are too old. 

Now the interesting question is how is Caspian. The only reason I bring it up is because Ben Barnes, the character who plays Caspian in the movie is older than the little boy who played Caspian in the BBC version. The clue can be found in a review of the process by which a boy became a knight. There is speculation that Caspian was 13 when the Pevensies returned. I’m thinking he may have been a bit older. A boy began his training as a knight when he was 8 years old. As we see in the beginning of his story, Caspian’s made some dumb comments to his uncle. The type of comments that a small child would make. Soon after his begins his training. The book says some years past before Queen Prunaprismia has her baby. During this time he we are told he learned heraldry, archery as well as sword fighting. Now from what I’ve read, although swordsmanship was taught to pages, the training did not begin for real until they reached the squire level which is when they would have received their first set of armor. This was around 15 or 16 years of age. This would have put him closer to Peter’s age. In fact in chapter entitled Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance, Peter notes that Caspian is about his own age. We know from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader that Peter was taking exams and being tutored by Professor Kirk. I believe in the English school system (Litlove correct me if I’m wrong) there is a set of exams taken when students are around 17 years of age. So Peter was probably 17 in Voyage of the Dawn Treader which would have made him 16 in Prince Caspian. We also know from this same book that a year had passed on Earth since Prince Caspian while 3 years passed in Narnia. We know that at the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Caspian marries Ramandu’s daughter prior to returning to Narnia. Which would make more sense if Caspian was 18 or 19 years old rather than sixteen. In addition, we are told by Caspian that he had waged a major battle against the giants a year before his voyage. I think that’s a bit much for a 15 year old to accomplish. So no, I’m fairly confident that Caspian was probably 15 or 16 when Prince Caspian takes place.

Posted in Fantasy, Liked It

Perelandra

This is the second book in C. S. Lewis’ space trilogy. The first book is Out of the Silent Planet. 
At the close of the last book, the Oyarsa of Malacandra intimated that Ransom might be part of the siege on our world coming to an end. Ransom received orders to go the Perelandra or Venus. The bent Oyarsa of our world was trying some sort of attack on Perelandra. The bent Oyarsa cannot go past our moons orbit so he was using someone else to do his bidding. 
Ransom arrives in a coffin like box au naturale. When he arrives on Perelandra, he discovers it is a neo-Eden complete with neo-Adam and neo-Eve. Venus is an ocean world with mythical creatures roaming the sweet waters. The land masses float much like a raft. There is only one solid land mass on the planet. 

Soon after arriving, Ransom meets Tinidril who is the Queen of the World. Unlike the inhabitants of Mars, she is human with green skin. It is explained that after Maledil became human he populated Perelandra with humans. The Venutian “forbidden tree” is that Tinidril and Tor may not sleep on the Fixed Land. You can see how Ransom is being changed. Although he is fallen, he lives on Perelandra with Tinidril in nakedness without lust for several weeks. 
Then the Temptor comes in the form of Professor Weston, one of Ransom’s abductors in the last book. Weston claims that he has been a changed man; however as time progresses Ransom realizes that Weston has become demon possessed. Ransom’s mission is clear; he is to prevent a Second Fall from happening on this World. Ransom and Weston battle it out for Tinidril’s soul. But Ransom is hard-pressed as Weston’s demonic possession has given him super-human intelligence and brilliance in his arguments. 

As Ransom begins to despair that he will win the struggle, he receives instructions in his dream to kill Weston. At first he is reluctant to do so, but after coming upon some creatures that Weston has mutilated, the battle is on. The two fight and fight. I think it went on for days. Weston was near impossible to destroy as he was demon possessed. In the end, Ransom sent him to a literal hell. The victory was not without cost. Ransom was bitten on the heel; and it never heals properly. It was reminiscent of Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between her seed and thy seed, He saw crush thy head, and you shall bruise His heel. Ransom does meet Tor as well as the Oyarsa of Perelandra. He learns where Tor was during Tinidril’s temptation. He also learns what will happen on Perelandra for the next 10,000 and more of the plans to retake Thulcandra. Then Ransom returns home. 

Posted in Children, Christian, Classic, Fantasy, Loved It

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Professor, although kind, does not spend much time with the children. So they are left to amuse themselves. On the eventful rainy day they play hide and seek inside the house. Lucy hides inside an old wardrobe only to discover she has entered a magic world full of snow. She meets and has tea with the faun Mr. Tumnus. While at tea she is told about the state of affairs of Narnia- namely the White Witch has made it so that it is always winter but never Christmas. After narrowly escaping Tumnus’ treachery, Lucy returns home eager to share her experience with her siblings. However no one realized that she was gone!!! Peter and Susan are convinced that Lucy is either lying or going mad.
Some time goes by and Lucy returns to the wardrobe and re-enters Narnia. Unbeknownst to herself, Edmund follows her inside. He meets the White Witch and is put under and enchantment. She tells him she will make him prince of Narnia if he returns with the rest of his siblings. On his way back to the wardrove he runs into Lucy. Lucy is thrilled at first because she thinks Edmund will back her story. However he betrays her.
Days pass. Eventually the four end up hiding in the wardrobe to escape a group of people touring the house. They all realize that Lucy was right. She decides to take them to visit Tumnus; however, he is gone- he was captured by the White Witch’s secret police. The four are found by Mr. Beaver and taken to his house.
They discover that the White Witch is not the rightful Queen of Narnia. The ruler of Narnia is always human. The Witch rather than being a Daughter of Eve is a Daughter of Lilith Adam’s first wife.
According to Jewish mysticism, Adam had a first wife named Lilith who was made as he was from dirt (rather than the rib like Eve). The legend says that during their intimacy Lilith refused to “lie below.” Lilith fled into the dessert and was responsible for birthing many demons.
Ok, so now you get it- the White Witch is totally evil. The Beavers also tell the children about the prophecy at Cair Paravel. They also tell them that Aslan, the true King of Narnia, is on the move and that they must go to him. During these revelations, Edmund slips away to join the White Witch. Once he is discovered missing, the Beavers and children flee to the Stone Table. When Edmund arrives at the castle, the White Witch gives chase.
In the end they all meet at the Stone Table (Aslan’s army rescues Edmund before the Witch executes him). But the Witch makes a claim on Edmund’s life. See in the magic that was put in Narnia “at the dawn of time” all traitors belonged to the Witch as her lawful prey to be killed on the Stone Table. If she was not given the traitor, then Narnia would perish. Aslan agrees to take Edmund’s place. What the Witch does not realizes is that before the “dawn of time” there was a different incantation. If an innocent victim took a traitor’s place, death would be denied to that victim and the Stone Table would crack.
So anyway, there is an epic battle and the Witch is eventually overthrown. The four become kings and queens and bring a Golden Age to Narnia. One day the chase a stag into the forest and stumble back into the house in the country. No time has passed. They tell the Professor, who doesn’t seem the least bit surprised by their adventure. He does assure them that they won’t get back into Narnia through the Wardrobe again.
I loved this book as a child. I still do. This was the first time that I found myself actually getting lost in the plot. When I would finish the book I would almost stagger to find myself back in the real world. For those not over familiar with Christianity there are a lot of allegorical elements in the book. The biggest is that Aslan dies for Edmund and is resurrected. Make no mistake, this book is NOT an allegory!!!!! (Pilgrim’s Progress and Hind’s Feet on High Places are actual allegories). As you will see from the other books in this series, Aslan is a “type.” But this is Narnia’s version of Christianity; the king of kings in this world is a lion.

Posted in Children, Christian, Classic, Fantasy, Loved It

The Magician’s Nephew

by C. S. Lewis

This book is Simarillion Light. Those out there that have read the Simarillion will understand what I mean. Although this book was not written first, chronologically, it is the first in the Narnian Chronicles.

We are introduced to Diggory and Polly, two young children living in London during the late 1800’s. Diggory’s father is away in India, and his mother is deathly ill. As a result Diggory lives with his Aunt Letty and his mad Uncle Andrew. The two children make friends one day and spend a lot of time in the attic above their houses. One day the children realize that the attics above their houses all connect and that if they go through to the end they will end up in the empty house at the end of their street. The children tried very hard to calculate the distance; but somewhere they messed up and ended up in the mad Uncle’s study.

Uncle Andrew allows the children to leave and gives them each a ring for their troubles. As Polly takes hers she disappears. Uncle Andrew goes on to tell Diggory the story of the rings:

He had a real fairy godmother. When she died she told him to destroy a certain box. Uncle Andrew did not follow her wishes. Instead, he became a Magician and went through great trouble to learn what was in the box. The box was Atlantean in design; but it contained fine sand from outside of our world. The Uncle realized that I one could get the sand in the right form, it would be capable of transporting a person elsewhere. Polly was he first sentient success.

Diggory takes a ring and goes and get Polly. However, the rings didn’t work like expected. The “outward” bound ring took both children to the World between Worlds, a wooded place with countless pools of water. They children decide to explore. The first and only place they go was the world Charn.

Charn is a deserted world with an ancient red sun. Diggory and Polly explore a bit and find themselves in a great hall with wax like figures and a bell. Diggory foolish strikes the bell and releases Jadis, last Queen of Charn from an enchanted sleep. She tells them her story:

The Queens and Kings of Charn possessed magical ability. She and her sister fought for control of the throne. At first they fought with armies, but then supposedly her sister started fighting with magic. It seemed her sister would win because the entirety of Jadis’ army had been slaughtered. Jadis used the Deplorable Word (which she had learned in secret) to destroy every living thing on her planet.

Jadis decides to go back to their world and lay claim to it. The children unsuccessfully leave Charn without her. Then they inadvertantely bring her back to England, where she reeks havoc. The children eventually corner her and use the rings to take her back, but they end up dragging along Uncle Andrew, a cabbie, and horse. Once they reach the World between the Worlds, they drag everyone into the first pool they see. This world is dark– at first.

The whole group are present at Naria’s creation. Unlike the creation of Earth which was spoken into existence, Narnia is sung into to being by Aslan, a lion. During this song, Jadis whose understanding of magic was immense tried to prevent Aslan from singing by throwing the lamp post she was holding at him. When this does no harm, she fled.

The children, Cabbie, and Uncle Andrew witness the creating of animals. They also watch as Aslan creates Talking Beasts. Aslan does address the children and cabbie (Uncle Andrew ran away). Aslan made the cabbie, Frank the King and then summoned his wife Helen as Queen. The children, particularly Diggory, were given a different task. As Diggory had brought evil into the world he had to do something to protect young Narnia for a time. They were sent far away to a hill with an apple orchard. Diggory had to retrieve an apple from the tree in the center and return to plant it.

Diggory and Polly made this journey, on Fledge, the Father of Flying Horses (the cabbie’s horse). Once they arrived Diggory went in alone. To his horror he met Jadis who had climbed the wall into the orchard rather than come in through the front gate. She had also taken and eaten one of the apples. She said that the apple would give immortality and urged him to take the apple back to his mother rather than take it back to Aslan. After much internal stuggle, Diggory takes the apple back to Aslan.

He plants it. Meanwhile the coronation began. During this time the tree grew large in the space of hours. Aslan tells the children that the tree will protect the Narnians from the Witch. When the children question this due to the Witch eating one of the apples, Aslan explains what happens when one takes the apple in the wrong way. If Diggory had taken it upon himself to get the apple, Narnia would have turned out to be a harsh world like Charn rather than gentle. The Witch took the apple to live forever; and the apple would grant her desire. However, her long life would become repulsive to her. Had Diggory taken the apple to his mother, she would have recovered but she would have looked back and thought it preferable to have died in that illness. However, since Aslan gives Diggory the apple, this will not happen.

Aslan takes the children home. They stop by the Woods between the Worlds, and Aslan warns the human race regarding its behavior. He also instructs them to remove the rings from Uncle Andrew’s possession and get rid of them.

Diggory’s mother does get well. The two planted the apple core in the back yard. It grew quickly; and although the tree didn’t have the same magical properties as it was in Narnia, the fruit was unusually healthy. Eventually the tree was destroyed in a storm, and Diggory had a wardrobe built with it.

On one hand this story was very much like the Simarillion because it had almost the same, “In the beginning” feel. However, this book unlike the Simarillion was much easier to read. The Simarillion was like trying to read the King James Version of the Bible. Lewis copied a lot of the elements of tis book from Tolkien, his mentor. In the Simarillion, Middle Earth was sung into being, Also in this “song” evil although discord does bring a greater redemptive “beauty” in time. This was the first set of books that I read more than one time. Reading this book was the first time that I had ever experienced a book drawing me into its pages where I lost myself in it till the book was done.
Although the story has many allegorical elements, i.e. Witch in the Orchard like the snake in the Garden, make no mistake this is not an allegory. This is a completely different world where different laws and physics apply.

This book is a worthwhile addition to the home library.