The Last Battle
By C. S. Lewis
An Unabridged Audio Recording on CD
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 27, 2010
The Last Battle is the final volume of the seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia. It tells the tale of a self-centered and old, but clever ape that was very evil and a donkey that was profoundly stupid and did everything the ape told him to do
One day the ape found a lion skin, sewed it up and dressed the donkey in the skin, so that he looked like Aslan, the noble lion, the founder and protector, the god-figure of Narnia. The ape gathered the Narnian beings, animals who talk, as well as Calormene, dark skinned beings from another land. He enslaved the Narnians to the Calormene and forced the Narnians to cut down the holy trees of Narnia and perform menial tasks for him, such as bringing him nuts and bananas. He claimed that he was the spokes-being of Aslan, who was the donkey in disguise, and insisted that he was more than an ape, that he was a human.
(C. S. Lewis was probably having some fun here. The Calormene probably represented colored-men, as they were called in his day, blacks, who were the masters and not the slaves.)
The king of Narnia, a lad between twenty and twenty five years old, heard about the cutting of the trees and rushed with his friend, a unicorn, to stop the outrage. He did not believe that Aslan could have ordered such an unholy deed. The two chance upon two Calormenes beating a Narnian and kill the Calormenes (reminiscent of the act of the biblical Moses in Egypt). Rethinking that perhaps Aslan did order the tree cuttings, they surrender to the Ape, who immediately ties the king to a tree and plans to kill him.
Many adventures follow. How the king prays for the interventions of the humans from the other world, the sudden vision of the king before the previous seven visitors to Narnia, and the appearance of Eustace and Jill in Narnia. There are also three adventures of the saving of the king, the unicorn and the dwarfs.
When all are freed, more boisterous adventures follow: the appearance of the god of the Calormenes, a hideous looking being; the revolt against the ape by other evil beings; the appearance of a large Calormenesian army that takes over Narnia and kills many of the king's friends, including the leaders of his army.
Readers will discover if Aslan appears and if he saves the Narnians, or if this is the end of the Narnian kingdom, and why this is the last battle. Will Eustace and Jill be able to return to England? Was Alan's prediction true, that when they come they will be unable to return?
The final question is, "Will the readers miss the adventures of Narnia?" The answer is an emphatic, "Yes."
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.