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All posts for the month December, 2013

Books My Mother Gave Me: Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle (C.S Lewis) Review

Published December 30, 2013 by ElisaChristy

This is the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Nearly all of the characters from earlier Narnia books make an appearance in this one, including Eustace Scrubbs who is a character in one of the two Narnia books I don’t own.

“One always feels better when one has made up one’s mind.”

All the characters come to Narnia, as for most of the book they seem to be pulled there while they are on a train. This has happened before to the Pevensie children in Prince Caspian, but this time it seems to be more of a bumpy transition between the worlds, the reason for which the characters find out at the end.

Most of the book is taken up with a donkey pretending to be Aslan with the help of a monkey, though this takes up much of the book it is not the main focus, the main focus is instead the end of Narnia and how it ends.

“‘She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste the rest of her life trying to stay that age.'”

With most of the characters being together for the first time in all the books, this book acts as a very fitting end to the stories, along with the plot which is about things ending and what happens afterwards. The religious symbolism of this story is probably stronger in this book than in the others because of this being the main focus. However, it doesn’t detract from the story as much as it could do. Instead, it makes the story seem more coherent because of it.

If you like the previous Narnia books, then chances are you will like this noe for all the same reasons. It really does make an interesting end to the series.

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Books My Mother Gave Me: The Magician’s Nephew – Chronicles of Narnia (C.S Lewis) Review

Published December 23, 2013 by ElisaChristy

The Magician’s Nephew was definitely my favourite of the Narnia books growing up. I think because it explained so very much of what happened in later books – even if it did mean I would never be able to find a wardrobe that took me to Narnia because there’s only one, at least I knew why there was only one.

The book is set in a very definite time again – as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was – possibly Edwardian times, although it’s never explicitly stated, instead we are given references such as cabbies still having horse drawn carts etc.

“I don’t mean another planet, you know; they’re part of our world and you could get to them if you went far enough – but a really other world – another Nature – another universe – somewhere you would never reach even if you travelled through the space of this universe for ever and ever.”

The children – Digory and Polly – arrive at Narnia via magic rings and seem to arrive at the beginning of its time as there is nothing there. They had previously been to another world called Charn – also via the rings but I won’t say how the rings work – which was at the end of its time; the sun was nearly dead and there was only one living person in the world.

Once they arrive in Narnia they watch Aslan creating the world, as the world is so new anything that is planted in the ground grows such as a part of a lamp-post…

“‘It’s not the sort of place where things happen. The trees go on growing, that’s all.'”

The religious symbolism from the other books is if anything more prevalent here than in the others, with Aslan creating the world and the witch the children bought with them eating from what must be a form of the tree of knowledge, but it is adapted enough for it to be its own plot and an interesting plot at that.

“The more dressed up you were to begin with, the worse you look after you’ve crawled out of a hansom-cab and fallen into a muddy brook.”

While the children do seem quite out of date compared to how you would expect a child to talk today, even if it is set in Edwardian times – they do seem very much like children in a story rather than children that might actually exist, being a little too good at times, but the imagery which is present in all the Chronicles of Narnia books – including the ones I don’t own – more than makes up for this as you can imagine yourself there so clearly that it doesn’t matter if the other people don’t seem as real.

“Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

The book remains one of my favourite Narnia stories as it ties up so many loose ends, the only question which remains is am I supposed to read it first even though it was not written first?

Books My Mother Gave Me: Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and Hos Boy (C.S Lewis) Review

Published December 16, 2013 by ElisaChristy

The Horse and His Boy is the first story which takes place entirely in the world of Narnia (and the surrounding countries) rather than in England, however it is set in the time when Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were kings and queens in Narnia so its time period is clearly set.

“Shasta thought that beyond the hill there must be some delightful secret which his father wished to hide from him. In reality, however, his father talked like this because he didn’t know what lay to the North.”

The story follows Shasta who runs away from home to avoid being sold as a slave. He finds out his horse can talk as it is a Narnian horse, so the two of them decide to go and live in Narnia. They also meet a princess who is running away from her arranged marriage.

Shasta is taken away by the kings and queens of Narnia who mistake him for a lord’s son who has gone missing, because they look exactly alike – though that is explained later. The mistaken identity only really takes up a few pages, so you don’t have endless pages about him pretending to be the lord’s son.

“‘I mean can you fall and get up again without crying and mount again and fall again and yet not be afraid of falling?'”

The book does spend a lot of time with them travelling. They travel for a certain period if time and then something happens, then they travel more and something else happens. I seem to remember being bored by this story the first time i was read it, whether because of the travelling or because of the story itself I can’t remember, but on re-reading I think I prefer this story to Prince Caspian, which I always thought one of my favourites of the Narnia books. It’s a lot clearer than Prince Caspian, less time seems to be taken up with meetings and choosing sides, which means the battle can be explained in more detail – although explained in detail from a character who isn’t there because he’s watching it in a magic pool.

“Like most days when you are alone and waiting for something this day seemed about a hundred hours long.”

The book certainly works whether you read it in chronological order with the other books (I think that would make it the second book though it was the third written) or even if you read this book before all the others, it is still a coherent enough story to be read on its own and it does not have to be preceded by the other two books to be enjoyed.

 

Books My Mother Gave Me: Prince Caspian (C.S. Lewis) Review

Published December 9, 2013 by ElisaChristy

While Prince Caspian may not be quite as famous as its prequel, it does tell a little bit more about the world of Narnia. The book still follows Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy as they go on their way to school. This time they are called into Narnia rather than walking into it as their help is needed. For them only a year has passed, which of course means in Narnia thousands of years have passed.

“‘In the stories it’s always someone from our world who does the calling. One doesn’t really think about where the jinn is coming from.'”

They are called out of Earth by the Prince Caspian who blew Susan’s horn from the first book, so as to gain help in the battle for his crown. A lot of the book seems to be taken up with them going places. There’s a lot of walking that takes them days, though this does give a chance for the back story of the book to be explained by various characters as they walk.

“‘That’s the worst of girls,’ said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. ‘They never can carry a map in their heads.’ ‘That’s because our heads have something inside them,’ said Lucy.”

The religious symbolism from the first book is still present here. Although many Narnians no longer believe in Aslan as it has been so long since he was seen in Narnia. The Pevensie children can be seen as prophets in this way as they try and tell that Aslan will definitely come to the disbelieving Narnians.

“‘Whoever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back.'”

A lot of the visual description from the first book seems to have been taken out to describe them walking and getting lost instead. Although there is still enough for it to be memorable. The description of places such as Cair Paravel and how it has changed over the thousand years since the children last saw it is definitely memorable.

Though the story may not be quite as unforgettable as The Lion, The Witch  and The Wardrobe, nor be the kind of book you remember even in you have never read it. It is a very good sequel to the first book bringing in new characters and keeping some of the old ones, so you feel as if you know what is going on from the very beginning.

Books My Mother Gave Me: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) Review

Published December 2, 2013 by ElisaChristy

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the ultimate modern fairy tale. The title alone is recognisable to almost everyone whether they have read the book or not and it is the sort of story you already know even before you read it.

“‘There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling the lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

The story starts quick. The Pevensie children are evacuated from London and sent to the Professor’s house within the first three sentences. Lucy first encounters Narnia by the end of the first chapter. This puts the focus firmly on Narnia rather than on Earth.

At first, no-one believes Lucy, but when her brother Edmund finds Narnia and immediately is spotted by the white witch instead of a kind faun like Lucy was that the plot really starts to get going.

I’ve been told that the first time I was read this, I was terrified of Edmund being given turkish delight by the white witch, and my mother had to stop reading. I can only assume I thought it was poisoned, which it is of course, but not in a particularly scary way.

“That is how beavers talk when they are excited; I mean, in Narnia – in our world they usually don’t talk at all.”

The religious symbolism throughout the book is clear. Aslan is always portrayed as their god, albeit a god with a physical form and presence, however the religious aspects are not the main focus of the book, as C.S Lewis has said himself, that that all came later after his initial idea of a magic world covered in snow.

Instead the main focus is more on Edmund and journey from accidental traitor to purposeful traitor to him redeeming himself by killing the white witch and becoming badly injured in the process.

The writing style of the book is the third person, but the narrator is given a definite personality saying things such as:

“This lasted longer than I could describe even if I wrote pages and pages about it.”

This fits with the story being a children’s story, as you can almost imagine someone reading it to you even if you are reading alone.

The visual descriptions of Narnia also help bring the world to life,as it is easy to imagine the world covered with snow, the lamp-post in the middle of the forest, and the many magical creatures that live in Narnia.

The way the children speak may be deemed slightly old fashioned these days, but as the book is clearly set during the second world war, then that does not matter. There is a reason the book is a modern classic – everything in it is so memorable, so easily pictured right down to the title.