BTT ~ Stickin’ it to ya!

 

saw this over at Shelley’s, and thought it sounded like a great question for all of you:

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

Fifteen books that will always stick with me, right off the top of my head….  K, here goes:

  1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  2. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  5. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  9. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  10. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  11. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  13. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  14. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  15. A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

Now, not all are on my top 10 list, oddly enough, and not all of them are what I’d call “great novels.”  Of course, there are many others that will also stick with me, but I’ve written this post while Gwen and Maggie are fighting and tattling, my friend came over to chat and The Departed is playing on the TV, so we’re all lucky Dick and Jane wasn’t the only book title I could think of.

The Sunday Salon ~ Guaranteed Job-Winning Interview

The Sunday Salon.com

I’ve been travelling through space and time a lot this week.  I’ve been to the desert planet of Arrakis, 8000 years into the future.  I’ve been to late 19th century England and Narnia (again) to watch the world’s beginning and the entrance of evil before it was even 5 hours old.  And now, I’ve just returned from a frightening not-to-distant future United States.  Oddly enough, they have more in common than just time.

In all three books, Dune, The Magician’s Nephew, and Fahrenheit 451, there is oppressive rulers and the reaching into the minds of people to control their very thoughts.  With Dune, the Bene Gesserit wish to control who gets knowledge and sight, who marries whom, and even what sex a child will be.  The Harkonnens and Sardukars viciously hunt and kill the Fremen in a pogrom, because the Fremen are independent and refuse to kiss the perverse butts of the disgusting Harkonnen “rulers.”

With The Magician’s Nephew, the Witch destroyed her own world in a bid to control it and take the throne from her sister, using the deplorable word to kill all life except the one who speaks it.  Then she tries to take over England, but without her magic, she’s just a violent nutter on a thieving rampage.  Once in Narnia, however, she’ll hide and bide her time… then make the move to enslave and opress the land for her own pleasure.

Fahrenheit 451, though, is the one I’ve most recently finished, so the thoughts about it are still tumbling around.

The fun thing with Fahrenheit 451 is that it’s been on Mt. TBR since before there was a Mt. TBR, way back when it was just an “I’m gonna read that soon” pile, when there were maybe 20 books on that pile.  I have NO idea how many books are on Mt. TBR now. Library Thing says I have catalogued almost 1000 books, but some of those are books I’ve read, or books I’ve mooched away and NOT read.  I have tagged 493 books either unread or TBR, but I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t been tagging any of the books I add, so I’d say Mt. TBR is well over 300 books (simply “unread” don’t count as TBR books).

So, some of my thoughts on Fahrenheit 451… 

One of the things that Guy Montag has to do is to decide which book he’ll sacrifice.  Captain Beatty knows he took a book and tells him if he turns it in within 24 hours, it’ll be forgiven.  Montag’s not sure if Beatty knows he has one book, a hundred books or which title, so he figures if he brings him one book, any book, he’ll pass without suspicion.  But how can he choose?  He decides not to turn over the last known surviving copy of The Bible, which was a funny moment with his wife, who asked him:  Which is more important, me or that book?  Der, easy answer… 

*SORTA SPOILER ALERT*  After running from the police, Montag finds a group of men hobo’ing who have memorized a chapter of a book, or even entire books, and burned the hard copies, and now wait for a time when society will return to it’s senses and want literature again.  They half-jokingly introduce themselves as the particular book title, i.e. “Hi!  I am Plato’s Republic, and Simmons is Marcus Aurelius.”  Knowing how the statement “I am” is an affirmation, and also that the more you say it, the more it takes hold and becomes a truth about you,  I wonder who they’ll be in 20 years.  Their personalities, and such.

In Fahrenheit 451, Mildred, Montag’s wife, is very attached to her “family,” the people on the television.  These “relatives” yell at each other, call each other names, act the fool, and are otherwise “entertaining”.  They have a device that allows the owner to hear their own name in messages and shows, and the picture is even adjusted to make the actor’s lips appear to say the name.  So that for her, the announcer says, “Mrs. Montag, wouldn’t you love to try Denham’s Dentifrice?”  And their living room, or parlor room, has wall-sized screens (remember, this was written in the late 40’s – early 50s), and when you had all 4 of your wall-screens installed, it would be just like being in the show… surrounded by your “family”.  Creepy!  and sad…

Clarisse McClellen is the oddball neighbor that sets Montag’s feet on the road of awakening.  She tells him of how kids her age frighten her.  They enjoy killing each other and themselves and destroying things.  They go to the “amusement park” and break windows in “Vandalism Town” or drag race legally, as long as they have enough insurance they can destroy whatever they want. 

One of Mrs. Montag’s friends tells how she thinks it was nice having kids, and she does her best to accommodate them the 3 days out of a month she has them (the rest of the time they’re away at school… grade schoolers, btw).  She just plopped them down in the parlor with the “relatives” as soon as they got home from the hospital.   But, she doesn’t know why they hate her.  Hmm…

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And now for something completely random and different  (because the vid clip I wanted to post is embedding disabled).

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So, If you had to sacrifice one of your books to save the rest, which one would go into the fire?

I’d be tossing the Babysitter’s Club ones… maybe the stray Captain Underpants one I think’s somewhere around here. The Reader’s Digest condensed books could be chucked, too… if they’re still here.

If you were one of the books (which was the vid clip, btw… Montag meeting the Books), what book would you be and why?

It’s a book I’d re-read mentally and recite every day… it’d become a part of me and eventually I’d become that book to an extent…. I think I’d pick the book of Proverbs (Montag was the Book of Ecclesiastes) because it’s wisdom. Everything you need to know about dealing with people, living life, psychology… everything…. is in Proverbs.

Your turn! What book would you sacrifice? Which would you be? Why?

Back from Lunch WITH a headache :-\

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After everyone settled down, we made quick work of Chapter Four in The Magician’s Nephew. The kids were quite engrossed with the reading by the time Digory grabbed Polly with his one hand to keep her from slipping her yellow ring on and ringing the bell with the other. They were chanting, “Next chapter! Next chapter!” but it’s one chapter a day, and no more :-) They’re dying to know what magic thing will happen after Digory rang that bell ;-)

We trotted off to the library and lunch, where I got a monster headache and don’t know why, then carted three takeout dinners of lasagna for supper tonight. One less thing to worry about.

So here I sit, ibuprofen consumed, and ready to pick up where I left off in How to Be a Villian. Gwen’s sighing… loudly… for her computer time. I have quite rudely routed her from the chair for my own selfish need to blog an update. Tcha! What was I thinking!

Reading update hour four:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis ~ chapter four, pp 45-60, read.
How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki ~ starting page 88, “Location for Your Lair: corporate tower” section.

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Last Battle

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The copy I have read is in a complete book.  There aren’t 767 pages in The Last Battle alone.

 

 

 

“Look!  What’s that?”

 “What’s what?” said Puzzle.

 “That yellow thing that’s just come down the waterfall.  Look!  There it is again, it’s floating.  We must find out what it is.”

 “Must we?” said Puzzle.

 “Of course we must,” said Shift.  “It may be something useful.  Just hop into the Pool like a good fellow and fish it out.  Then we can have a proper look at it.”

 … He flung it down in front of Shift and stood dripping and shivering and trying to get his breath back.  But the Ape never looked at him or asked him how he felt.  The Ape was too busy going round and round the thing and spreading it out and patting it and smelling it.  Then a wicked gleam came into his eye and he said:  “It is a lion’s skin…. We’ll make this skin into a fine warm winter coat for you.”

 …As soon as he was alone Shift went… into his little house.  He found needle and thread and a big pair of scissors… Then he came down the tree and shambled across to the lion-skin.  He squatted down and got to work…

 Late in the afternoon Puzzle came back.  He was not trotting but only plodding patiently along, the way donkeys do…  “Come and try on your beautiful new lion-skin coat,” said Shift.

 … The skin was very heavy for him to lift, but in the end… he got it on to the donkey… No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment.  But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion…  “If anyone saw you now, they’d think you were Aslan, the Great Lion, himself.”

 

-The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, pages 671-673

 

Thus begins the great deception and the beginning of the end of Narnia.  Shift the Ape manipulates and bullies Puzzle the Donkey into believing that Aslan himself wants them to go to the people of Narnia and claim Puzzle is really the Great Lion, and to rule the land through this pretense.  Puzzle has been used by Shift for so long (under the guise of “friendship,” though “servitude” might better describe the Donkey’s side of the relationship), that he is unable to stand up to the damn, dirty Ape (nod to Heston and “Planet of the Apes” hehe).

It is through this false-Aslan that Shift enslaves the land of Narnia, using the Animals as slaves and threatening anyone who dares to question his authority with the Wrath of Aslan.  “He is not a tame lion” is repeated over and over to fill their minds with terror, and, even when they know this new “Aslan” is the opposite of everything they’ve always been taught is the nature of the true Aslan, the Narnians are unable to throw off the Ape’s bonds and fight back.

Even when Shift brings in Calormene soldiers and announces that the Narnian Animals are to be sent to work, and all their wages are to be paid to “Aslan’s” treasury, for only “Aslan” can care for their true needs.  Compounding a lie with a lie, the Calormene Captain and Shift tell the Animals that Tash, the Calormene god to whom men are sacrificed, and Aslan are one in the same; two different names for the same person.  This new god is called “Tashlan,” the meshing of the two names.

When Tirian, the last King of Narnia, calls on Aslan to rescue his country, the Great Lion is silent, so Tirian, remembering how children from another world had saved Narnia in it’s darkest periods of history, calls on the friends of Narnia to come and save his land.  And, after a vision-dream of the seven legendary Friends sitting down to dinner and seeing the phantom of Tirian among them, he is surprised by the appearance of Jill and Eustace.  Along with Jewel the Unicorn, who is Tirian’s best friend, the two children and a Dwarf named Poggin, the stage is set for the last battle of Narnia.

 

In the shadow of the trees on the far side of the clearing something was moving.  It was gliding very slowly Northward.  At a first glance you might have mistaken it for smoke, for it was grey and you could see things through it.  But the deathly smell was not the smell of smoke.  Also, this thing kept its shape instead of billowing and curling as smoke would have done.  It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak.  It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip; and its fingers – all twenty of them – were curved like its beak and had long, pointed, bird-like claws instead of nails.  It floated on the grass instead of walking, and the grass seemed to wither beneath it…. [They] watched it… until it streamed away… and disappeared.  Then the sun came out again, and the birds once more began to sing….

“I have seen it once before,” said Tirian. “But that time it was carved in stone and overlaid with gold and had solid diamonds for eyes…. [It was in] the great temple of Tash… carved above the altar.”

“What was it?” said Eustace in a whisper.

 

-The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 712

 

 The entrance of the Calormene god Tash takes this final fight into the realm of the supernatural, as it becomes the epic battle of the ultimate good, Aslan, and his antithesis Tash:  Life versus Death.

 The message of The Last Battle, I believe, is this:  We are not always meant to win the good fight, only to FIGHT the good fight.  Early on in the book we know this is a lost cause, the side of evil will prevail, and the heroes’ lives  will be forfeit.  But, even then, Aslan will have the final say.

 In The Last Battle, Lewis also addresses two major questions of Christianity.  First, how can a person who has known the goodness and greatness of Christ turn his or her back on Him, choosing, instead, their own will.  Second, what of those people who have never heard the Gospel and therefore had no chance to believe?  Will He condemn them to Hell?

 Missing for the Friends of Narnia is Susan, and somehow I knew this immediate when I counted eight helpers of Narnia, but only seven Friends of Narnia.  Somehow I knew the missing person was Susan.

 

“Sire,” said Tirian… “there should be another… Where is Queen Susan?”

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”

“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have!  Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.”

“Oh, Susan!”  said Jill.  “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations.  She always was a jolly sight to keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up indeed,” said the Lady Polly.  “I wish she would grow up.  She wasted all her shool time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age.  Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

 

-The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 741

 

Susan turned away from Narnia and Aslan and, instead, made vanity and things of the world her focus.  BUT, Lewis did not say she could not become a Friend of Narnia again.  Further, someone had to survive to tell The Chronicles of Narnia.

 As the Seven plus Tirian go “further up, further in,” they meet a Calormene who tells them of his meeting Aslan:

 

“Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him.  Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.  Both the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my fourehead with his tongue and said, ‘Son, thou art welcome.’  But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’  He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service to me.’ Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, “It is false.  Not because4 he and I are one, but because we are opposites – I take to me the service which thou hast done to him.  For I and he are such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.  Dost thou understand, Child?’  I said, ‘Lord, thou knowest how much I understand.’   But I said also (for the truth constrained me), ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’  ‘Beloved,’ said the Glorious One, ‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.  For all find what they truly seek.’

 

-The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 757

 

 Honestly, it was impossible to review this book without incorporating the religious aspects of it.  That is not to say it can’t be enjoyed without being religious.  It stands alone as the heart-wrenching finale of a much loved and favorite literary classic series.  I couldn’t help but cry at the end; for the beauty, for the Friends, for all who had been were together again… and for Susan, who, by her folly, missed the train (if you’ve read this, or when you do read this, book you’ll get that reference).

 The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis is beyond words, and I sigh with a bittersweet happiness, as I have come to the end of my journey through Narnia.  I leave you with the last paragraph of the last book of Narnia:

 

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page:  now at last they were beginning Chaper One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on for ever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

 

-The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis, page 767

 

5 out of 5 stars.

hated it!didn't like itit was okayliked itLoved it!

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Silver Chair

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The Silver Chair was published fifth in the Narnia Series, but was meant to be read sixth by Lewis.  The copy I have read is in a complete book.

 

After that all happened quickly.  There was a wild cry, a swishing, dusty, gravelly noise, a rattle of stones, and Jill found herself sliding, sliding, hopelessly sliding, and sliding quicker every moment down a slope that grew steeper every moment…  From the sharp cries and swearing of the other two, Jill got the idea that many of the stones which she was dislodging were hitting Scrubb and Puddleglum pretty hard.  And now she was going at a furious rate and felt sure she would be broken to bits at the bottom.

 Yet somehow they weren’t.  They were a mass of bruises, and the wet sticky stuff on her face appeared to be blood.  And such a mass of loose earth, shingle, and larger stones was piled up round her (and partly over her) that she couldn’t get up.  The darkness was so complete that it made no difference at all whether you had your eyes open or shut.  There was no noise.  And that was the very worst moment Jill had ever known in her life.  Supposing she was alone:  supposing the others… The she heard movements around her.  And presently all three, in shaken voices, were explaining that none of them seemed to have any broken bones….

 No one suggested doing anything.  There was so obviously nothing to be done.  For the moment, they did not feel it quite so badly as one might have expected; that was because they were so tired.

 Long, long afterwards, without the slightest warning, an utterly strange voice spoke.  They knew at once that it was not the one voice in the whole world for which each had secretly been hoping; the voice of Aslan.  It was a dark, flat voice – almost, if you know what that means, a pitch-black voice.  It said:

 “What make you here, creatures of the Overworld?”

 

-The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis, pages 612-613

 

In The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis, we accompany a kinder, more human Eustace Scrubb back to his school, Experiment House, which seems to be a topsy-turvy socialistic school where the bullies are commended for preying on the weak and the Bible, and anything found within It’s covers, is forbidden.  We also meet Jill Pole, one of the weaker ones and somewhat-friend of Eustace, who is crying after being tormented and hiding from Them.  In an effort to comfort her, Eustace takes her into his confidence and tells her of the world of Narnia.  Wanting to visit this other world, the two call on Aslan and ask him to bring them there.  Thus begins the adventures of this, the sixth Narnian book.

 After showing off and causing Eustace to fall from an unimaginable precipice, Jill is given the harder task of keeping the four signs that will help them on their quest to find and rescue the lost Prince Rillian, only son and heir to the now elderly King Caspian. 

 Right away, the two muff (as Lewis says) the first sign:  Eustace was to speak to the first person he saw in Narnia, who would be an old friend, realizing after his boat has left the harbor that King Caspian was with whom he was to speak.  Things continue to go wrong throughout their journey, as they are almost made into a dinner for a giant’s festival and nearly enchanted into forgetting Narnia entirely.

 In the fashion of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Silver Chair is a fast-paced adventure story with the sense of impending doom and close-call escapes.  Unlike the first book, though, there is no great battle in which Aslan himself defeats the evil.  Instead, it is through the unity of the four that gathers their combined strength, as well as the sacrifice of one, that enables them to overcome the evil enchantress.

 Like the previous five Narnias, The Silver Chair is a Christian Allegory, and second only to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in references.  From the four signs Jill is given, to meeting the beautiful Lady of the Green Kirtle with the lilting voice and musical laughter, to the piercing of Aslan’s paw that resurrects and rejuvenates King Caspian, the reader is shown the nature of a called life with a purpose given by the Omniscient, Omnipresent Ruler of all.

 The Silver Chair is by far my favorite Narnian tale.  It is perhaps the best written of the six I’ve read so far, and is the most exciting and inspiring of all thus far.  I love the Owls in this book, and find Lewis’s conversational voice given to them to be a delight that begs to be read aloud.

 

“Now,” said Glimfeather, “I think we’re all here.  Let us hold a parliament of owls.”

“Tu-whoo, tu-whoo.  True for you.  That’s the right thing to do,” said several voices.

“Half a moment,” said Scrubb’s voice.  “There’s something I want to say first.”

“Do, do do,” said the owls…

“… I’m the King’s man; and if this parliament of owls is any sort of plot against the King, I’m having nothing to do with it.”

“Tu-whoo, tu-whoo, we’re all the King’s owls too,” said the owls.

 

-The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis, page 573

  And Puddleglum, part Marvin the Robot, part Eeyore, is a wonderful comic relief (and given the tension in this thrilling adventure, an exceptional one is needed), and is now one of my favorite literary characters.

 

“Why the dickens couldn’t you have held her feet?” said Eustace.

“I don’t know, Scrubb,” groaned Puddleglum.  “Born to be a misfit, I shouldn’t wonder.  Fated.  Fated to be Pole’s death, just as I was fated to eat Talking Stag at Harfang.  Not that it isn’t my own fault as well, of course.”

“This is the greatest shame and sorrow that could have fallen on us,” said the Prince.  “We have sent a brave lady into the hands of enemies and stayed behind in safety.”

“Don’t paint it too black, Sir,” said Puddleglum.  “We’re not very safe except for death by starvation in this hole.”

 

-The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis, page 650

 

Puddleglum is that sort of character whom we all know in our own lives:  The one who always thinks of, and points out, the worst of all possibilities.  He is a Marsh-wiggle, a people described as considering every terrible thing that could possible happen, then putting on a brave face in preparation of meeting it.  Those people who seem to almost enjoy spreading the doubt, fear, and negativity, and who “cry wolf” so often that when real danger comes along, they are ignored and their warnings blown off. 

 However, Puddleglum has as much courage and cheek as caution, and without him the quest would have failed time and again.  As Jill describes him, “Puddleglum!  You’re a regular old humbug.  You sound as doleful as a funeral and I believe you’re perfectly happy.  And you talk as if you were afraid of everything, when you’re really as brave as -as a lion.”

 For it’s thrilling drama, fraught with dangers and a wonderful cast of characters, and for the fantastically descriptive writing by Lewis, I give The Silver Chair 5 out of 5 stars, and highly recommend it as the best of the Narnias.

hated it!didn't like itit was okayliked itLoved it!

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was published third in the Narnia Series, but was meant to be read fifth by Lewis.  The copy I have read is in a complete book.

 

“Don’t they admire you?” asked Lucy.

 “Oh, not me,” said the magician.  “They wouldn’t admire me.”

 “What was it you uglified them for – I mean, what they call uglified?”

 “Well, they wouldn’t do what they were told.  Their work is to mind the garden and raise food – not for me, as they imagine, but for themselves.  They wouldn’t do it at all if I didn’t make them.   And of course, for a garden you want water.  There is a beautiful spring about half a mile away up the hill.  And from that spring there flows a stream which comes right past the garden.  All I asked them to do was to take their water from the stream instead of trudging up to the spring with their buckets two or three times a day and tiring themselves out besides spilling half of it on the way back.  But they wouldn’t see it.  In the end they refused point blank.”

 “Are they as stupid as all that?” asked Lucy.

 The Magician sighed.  “You wouldn’t believe the troubles I’ve had with them.  A few months ago they were all for washing up the plates and knives before dinner:  they said it saved time afterwards.  I’ve caught them planting boiled potatoes to save  cooking them when they were dug up.  One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat….”

 …now they were jumping in all directions and calling out to one another, “Hey, lads!  We’re visible again….

 “She’s caught the old man napping, that little girl did,” said the Chief Monopod.  “We’ve beaten him this time….

 “But do they dare talk about you like that?” said Lucy.  “They seemed to be so afraid of you yesterday.  Don’t they know you might be listening?”

 “That’s one of the funny things about the Duffers,” said the Magician.  “One minute they talk as if I ran everything and overheard everything and was extremely dangerous.  The next morning they think they can take me in by tricks that a baby would see through – bless them!”

 

 -The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, pages 501-502

 

With an opportunity for Mr. Pevensie to lecture in America for sixteen weeks, it is decided that Susan will go with her parents, while Peter prepares for his exams with Professor Kirke, and the two youngest children, Edmund and Lucy, will spend the summer at their Aunt Alberta’s house.  This prospect is made miserable by the fact they will be forced to spend time with their beastly cousin Eustace, who is a mean-spirited bully.  When the three children are in Lucy’s bedroom, the picture on the wall comes to life and they are drawn into the world of Narnia, finding themselves aboard the Dawn Treader with their old friend Caspian, now King of Narnia.

 Immediately, Eustace makes an intolerable pain of himself, demanding to be taken to the British Consul and threatening to write strongly worded letters to the head of the line for his poor treatment on ship.  It isn’t until Eustace finds himself in a horrible predicament that he can’t bully or talk his way out of that he begins to take a good look at himself, and quickly realizes he doesn’t like what he sees.

 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader chronicles the quest of King Caspian to discover the fate of the seven Narnian Lords, friends of his father, who were sent off by Caspian’s usurping uncle Miraz.  Along the way, he discovers the slave trade still continues in some parts of Narnia, dragons do exist, the waters of one island turns objects (and people) into gold, an island where dreams come alive (and not just those wishful-type dreams, but the ones that make you terrified to close your eyes again, too), and more.  They’re goal is to sail to the Utter East, even to Aslan’s country, and to find what lies at the end of the world.

 Like the other Narnian tales, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a Christian Allegory, though I see this one as the least obvious of all.  It is a good adventure tale, and it has a positive message of living your life with courage and honor.  This lesson is given through Eustace’s self-discovery, Reepicheep’s voice of valor and encouragement, Lucy’s magically eavesdropping on her schoolmates and disliking what she  hears what’s said about her, and the admonishment Caspian receives when he decides to abandon his responsibilities as King to live an adventurer’s life. 

 Aslan is seen more in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader than in Prince Caspian, however, his visits and sightings are more private and tailor-made for their specific needs:  as a glowing albatross leading the ship to safety, in the artwork of the Magician’s book keeping Lucy from falling to the temptation of pride, and as a lion sculpted on the wall of Caspian’s quarters.  The best Aslan appearance, and the easiest to recognize reference, is at the end of Dawn Treader when the children encounter a lamb who offers them food by a warm fire.

 

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?”

“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.”

“What!”  said Edmund.  “Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?”

“There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy.  “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“…are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name…”

 

-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, pages 540-541

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was an interesting adventure, but it lacked a lot of the sense of movement and urgency the previous Narnia books have had.  I felt the story dragging in parts, like a ship run aground on one or two occasions, and I had to force myself through to the finish.  Even so, there were parts where I said, “Oh!  I remember reading that before,” which have stuck with me from the time my mom read them to me when I was little (she swears she read them all to us, but I don’t remember it).  And, since this book was third in publication, I can see why so many people haven’t read the whole series.  But it ends well, and everyone likes a good ending.  I give Dawn Treader 3 out of 5 stars.

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Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

Title: Prince Caspian
Author: C. S. Lewis
Paperback: 767 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 0066298501
Miscellaneous: Second book to be published, Lewis intended it to be read fourth in the series. ALSO, a few of you have wondered about the number of pages listed in my Narnia books. Don’t fret! The book I’ve been reading is a collection of all seven books. The books themselves average 100-150 pages.

“Oh!” said Edmund in a voice which made everyone stop talking and listen to him.

“I’ve just seen it all,” he said.

“Seen what?” asked Peter.

“Why, the whole thing,” said Edmund. “You know what we were puzzling about last night, that it was only a year ago since we left Narnia byt everything looks as if no one had lived in Cair Paravel for hundreds of years? Well, don’t you see? You know that, however long we seemed to have lived in Narnia, when we got back through the wardrobe it seemed to have taken no time at all?”

“Go on,” said Susan. “I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“And that means,” continued Edmund, “that, once you’re out of Narnia, you have no idea how Narnian time is going. Why shouldn’t hundreds of years have gone past in Narnia while only one year has passed for us in England?”

“By Jove, Ed,” said Peter. “I believe you’ve got it. In that sense it really was hundreds of years ago that we lived in Cair Paravel. And now we’re coming back to Narnia just as if we were Crusaders or Anglo-Saxons or Ancient Britons or someone coming back to modern England!”

“How excited they’ll be to see us -” began Lucy, but at the same moment everyone else said, “Hush!” or, “Look!” For now something was happening.

-Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis, page 330

In Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children return to Narnia after what was to them a year’s time, to find Narnia almost unrecognizably altered. Lucy’s naive statement that the Narnians will be happy to see their return is quickly quashed, when many that they encounter feel bitter towards the Kings and Queens of Old as having abandoned them.

In the hundreds of Narnian years that has passed, Narnia has slipped into a dark age. A group of people who were once pirates of Spanish descent called Telmarines, rule with an undying prejudice and hatred of the original Narnians, talking animals, Dwarfs, and other magical creatures. To Lucy’s dismay, the trees have lost their voice and retreated within themselves, and many other Narnians have withdrawn and taken to hiding in the mountains and deep forests where the Telmarines are afraid to go.

The rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, survives an assassination attempt by his uncle, who wishes to secure the throne for his newly born son. With the help of the Pevensies and Narnians, Prince Caspian stands against the cruelty and evil rule of his uncle. But is it enough? Or have the Pevensies returned too late?

I read this book a couple weeks ago, but evidently forgot to blog the review. It was during a crazy time of the year: Two birthdays, a double birthday party at the hotel, the heat went out, the digital part of my cable (my internet is through my cable company) went out a couple times (and stayed out both times for more than a day), and other various craziness. But, at any rate, here it is :-)

Prince Caspian is the second most read and well-known book in the Narnia series. Second to be written and published, most people reading it in the order of publication, manage to get through the second book. Like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian has been made into a movie, a BBC mini-series, dramatic audio recording, and audio books.

In this book, Aslan is absent for most of the story. Lucy alone sees him, but chooses not to follow him because her siblings do not believe her as they didn’t see him. The main message of this book is that seeing is not believing, and faith comes from believing and leaning on those around you no matter what “reality” says nor how the odds seem to be stacked against you.

Like the rest of the Narnia books, Prince Caspian is written as a Christian Allegory. Trusting that God is with you, even when you don’t see or feel the evidence of his presence, and that He has planned for you to prosper, not fail.

My favorite character in Prince Caspian, second to Aslan of course, is Reepicheep. This warrior mouse proves that the size of the body is NOT the indication of the size of the heart found within. He is courageous beyond those ten times his size, and inspires loyalty in his followers, who are willing to even cut off their own tails so that their leader does not have to carry the dishonor of the loss of his own tail alone.

While Prince Caspian is not my favorite Narnia book, that would be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor my second favorite, The Horse and His Boy is, I did enjoy reading it. It’s definitely worth reading, and should be counted among the must-read classics in English Literature.

I give Prince Caspian four out of five stars.

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The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis


Title:  The Horse and His Boy

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  1998

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  This edition is part of a complete collection in one book copy.   It was chronologically published fifth but is meant to be read third in the series.

He was just going to run for it when suddenly, between him and the desert, a huge animal bounded into view.  As the moon was behind it, it looked quite black, and Shasta did not know what it was, except that it had a very big, shaggy head and went on four legs.  It did not seem to have noticed Shasta, for it suddenly stopped, turned its head towards the desert and let out a roar which re-echoed through the Tombs and seemed to shake the sand under Shasta’s feet.  The cries of the other creatures suddenly stopped and he thought he could hear feet scampering away.  Then the great beast turned to examine Shasta.

“It’s a lion, I know it’s a lion,” thought Shasta.  “I’m done.  I wonder, will it hurt much?  I wish it was over.  I wonder, does anything happen to people after they’re dead?  O-o-oh!  Here it comes!”  And he shut his eyes and his teeth tight.

But instead of teeth and claws he only felt something warm lying down at his feet.  And when he opened his eyes he said, “Why, it’s not nearly as big as I thought!  It’s only half the size.  No, it isn’t even quarter the size.  I do declare it’s only the cat!!  I must have dreamed all that about it being as big as a horse.”

And whether he really had been dreaming or not, what was now lying at his feet, and staring him out of countenance with its big, green, unwinking eyes, was the cat; though certainly one of the largest cats he had ever seen.

-The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis, page 246

The Horse and His Boy, though published fifth, is meant to be read third in the series.  It is an interim book telling a story that takes place within the time of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and features the adults Kings Peter and Edmund and Queens Susan and Lucy.

The book begins, “This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him.”  And then opens on a poor fisherman’s hut where a cruel middle-aged bachelor and his foundling son, Shasta,  live.  When a Tarkaan (something like a lord or baron) stops at the house and offers to buy Shasta, the boy is relieved to be leaving the man he’d always thought was his father but had never loved.

However, his relief is short-lived when the Tarkaan’s horse turns out to be one of the talking Horses of Narnia who tells him that he’d be better off lying dead on the roadside than as the slave of the Tarkaan.  Bree, the Horse, tells Shasta he was kidnapped as a Foal and is really a Freeperson of Narnia.  He further tells the boy that he himself is not a Caloremenian, but is a Narnian (or Archenlander) as well.

The two devise a plan of escape, and when the men are sleeping in the house, the Horse and the boy set off for Narnia and the North.  Along the way, they meet up with another Narnian Horse, a mare named Hwin, and a young girl named Aravis, who is a Tarkeena running away from an arranged marriage to a horribly wicked and hideous old man.

As they set out to pass through the capital city, though, the four are stopped by a procession of the Narnian Royals and Shasta is snatched out of crowd by Edmund who mistakes him for the missing Archenland Prince in their company.  This turns out to be a blessing, as Shasta learns of a hidden path that greatly shortens the trek through the desert that lies between Calormen and the lands of the North.

Throughout this book, there is a force leading, guiding, and protecting the four.  Of course, anyone who’s read the previous Narnia book knows this is Aslan, who has been working behind the scenes for the past 10-15 years (Shasta’s age is never given) to ensure that Archenland and Narnia will be safe from the attack of the Calormenian Prince Rabadash.

The Horse and His Boyis also Christian allegory, this time expressing the steadfastness and ever-present nature of Christ, even when we don’t realize he’s there (as Shasta was unaware of the true identity of the cat that protected and comforted him in the Tombs), and even before we know Him or follow Him (as neither Shasta nor Aravis new of Aslan, and in fact served other gods).  You cannot help but love Aslan as he reveals himself, and how he has been watching after them throughout their lives.  It’s very comforting to know He is always with us and caring for us, even when we’re stubbornly going our own way and resisting His hand.

Though I can’t say I liked The Horse and His Boy more that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I definitely liked it more than The Magician’s Nephew (though I still love the Creation of Narnia), and thoroughly loved and enjoyed it.  I absolutely give this book 5 out of 5 stars :-D

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Author: C. S. Lewis

Paperback: 767 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publish Date: 1998

ISBN: 0066238501

Miscellaneous: This copy is included in a complete collection of The Chronicles of Narnia.

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.

“Well,” said Aslan. “His offence was not against you.”

“Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch.

“Let us say I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. “Tell us of this Deep Magic.”

“Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on the very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill… And so,” continued the Witch, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.”

“Come and take it then,” said the Bull with the man’s head, in a great bellowing voice.

“Fool,” said the Witch with a savage smile that was almost a snarl, “do you really think your master can rob me of my rights by mere force? He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says, all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.”

“It is very true,” said Aslan. “I do not deny it…. Fall back, all of you… and I will talk to the Witch alone….”

At last they heard Aslan’s voice. “You can all come back,” he said. “I have settled the matter. She has renounced the claim on your brother’s blood…”

The Witch was just turning away with a look of fierce joy on her face when she stopped and said, “But how do I know this promise will be kept?”

“Haa-a-arrh!” roared Aslan, half rising from his throne; and his great mouth opened wider and wider and the roar grew louder and louder, and the Witch, after staring for a moment with her lips wide apart, picked up her skirts and fairly ran for her life.

-The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, pages 175-176

 

At the very heart of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe lies the message of redemption of the guilty by the substitution of an innocent and willing sacrifice. In all honesty, it is impossible for me to read this book without seeing the parallels to Christianity. As much as I tried to stay away from it in The Magician’s Nephew, I find I am unable to see this book in any other light.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is by far my favorite Narnia book. This has been my fourth time reading it, as well as watching the BBC production and the Disney version of it (also, multiple times each). It was read to me by my mother when I was still in elementary, I’ve read it to my children, and I’ve read it for my own pleasure, and each time the Salvation story: The redemption of the lost and those who have chosen to follow evil, even as they know in their hearts that it IS evil they follow, by Jesus’ offering Himself as payment for the sin of all mankind.

The story itself is a beautiful and emotionally touching story of forgiveness and redemption and the power of love to overcome evil. As Susan and Lucy watch Aslan lay down his life to satisfy the Witch’s claim for Edmund’s blood, their hearts break as they witness his utter humiliation; his main is shorn off and he is trussed up in ropes and muzzled. Even as the battle rages on not far from them, they are compelled to sit with the lifeless body of the mighty lion, the Creator and Protector of Narnia, the true King.

It is the Deeper Magic that goes back before the Witch’s knowledge, “when a willing victim who had committed no trachery was killed in a traitor’s stead,” that breaks the claim of the Law and “Death itself would start working backwards.” The one concept the Witch could never comprehend is that a person without blame would take the place of the guilty, without machinations, but purely out of LOVE.

Obviously, I love this book… I wouldn’t have read it so many times if I didn’t ;-) . As it was the first of the Narnias written, it can stand alone, and is often the only Narnia book people have read. I could read this book once a month… possibly even once a week… and always get something new out of it. For all these reasons, and more, I give The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis 5 out of 5 stars. Even if you’re not a Christian, this book is beyond worth reading. You will be a better person for it :-D .

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Friday Fill-In –

1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, “How far to the nearest 7-Eleven?”
2. The first Noel, the angel did say, was a sweet, little pastel calico that my middle daughter still misses terribly (we found the kitty at our town’s Christmas parade and named her “Noel”).
3. Pigeons fly and poo, Over the hills and everywhere.
4. It came upon the midnight clear, from the murky depths to challenge Santa’s hold as Lord of the Chimney and Master of the Sleigh.
5. A six inch incision and rib spread will, Let your heart be light.
6. And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing on the tv shows “In the Heat of the Night” and “All in the Family” (the actor’s name is Carol O’Connor).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing and reviewing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, tomorrow my plans include finishing and reviewing as many of the rest of the Narnia books as possible and Sunday, I want to have all the Narnias done, my Sunday Salon posted, and start in on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

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