The Last Battle: beginnings and endings

Treasure from N’s trip through the floor tile to Narnia

N has adopted some Narnian expressions. “By the Lion’s mane! What shall we have for breakfast?” Or, “By the Lion’s mane! What shall we read when Narnia is done?”

We’ve got a few pages left in The Last Battle, the seventh and final book in the series, and she has already suggested that we read them all over again when we’re done. She said the same thing when we finished the Harry Potter books, and we managed to steer her in a different direction, so hopefully that will happen this time too.

I’m so curious to see what our reading tonight will bring. With their beloved Aslan the Lion, the characters from all seven books have returned, and are prancing through a transformed Narnia — a Narnia even more beautiful than the earlier Narnia — and N hasn’t yet realized it’s because all the characters have died in the real world and now will live forever in Narnia-heaven. It is the end of all the stories, CS Lewis tells us, but for Lucy and Edmund and Peter and Eustace and Jill, it is “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 the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

What will N make of this ending/beginning?  I suspect she won’t be pleased that Lucy et al are dead, nice as Lewis makes it sound. And she will be full of questions — direct, eye-locking ones about what happens when you die and how does one know it is an ever-greatening Great Story that goes on forever if no one on earth has ever read it?

By the way, what did you read today?


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17 responses to “The Last Battle: beginnings and endings

  1. Have you seen The Emerald Atlas? It has been billed as similar to the Narnia books. We’ve only read the first chapter, so I can’t attest to that description. It may be too early, but there’s also Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. I LOVED it. Very spirited heroine. I’m slowly re-reading Paradise Lost after having read the trilogy to my older two boys.

    • kristendenhartog

      Great suggestions as always, thanks! I’ve been curious about the Dark Materials trilogy myself. Also thinking of A Wrinkle in Time etc. Have you read those with your kids?

  2. Marilyn

    I’m interested to see how N takes to the ending/beginning and what will come next.

  3. Nancy Jo Cartwright

    You could tell N that there is a book that tells us that someone lived in heaven and came to earth to tell us how to get there. He loved us so much that He died in our place, taking the penalty that we deserve for our sins, and rose from the dead – proving He is God. He did all this so that we can be there with Him in the great forever after we die. Now, this is a story worth reading. It’s an account of the truth that many in N’s family believe and live by. There are some scary parts, but it has a great ending – it is a love story after all.

    • kristendenhartog

      Thank you Nancy. Please know that I too think it is a beautiful story. What it proves for me is that stories are powerful and help us understand a huge and mysterious world, as well as our place within it. I hope that — by reading stories; by making meaningful connections with the people around her; by exploring the natural world; and by following her heart and her sense of curiosity – N will discover what truth means for her.

  4. I much preferred Narnia when I could read it innocently and as pure fantasy rather than Christian allegory. Somehow, even growing up in a strict Catholic family, I was able to do that the first time. I still think of the books as magical but it’s very hard not to cringe at his obvious comparisons.

    What I’ve found changed it a little for me was the Focus on the Family full dramatization of them on CD. N may love to listen to those on her own time (though I bet you get caught listening too!) We listen on long drives or while painting or whatever. They’re amazing (though Aslan is my least favourite); Here’s the link: All there, unabridged.

    It’s so cute she says “By Aslan’s mane”!

    Good luck on answering those serious direct eye-contact questions. Yikes.

    PS. I loved His Dark Materials, but I do think it’s too early for them They’re very complex. What about the Inkheart trilogy?

  5. Henrika

    I fist read the Narnia series when I was 8 or 9 years old. At that time I was completely unaware of the religious aspect and enjoyed them for the fantasy story I preceived them as. These books inspired a life long enjoyment of reading which continues to this day. While I read most of the books only once, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was read numerous times, as it was my favourite. I don’t watch the movie or television versions, as my imagination has its own ideas about the characters and settings etc. I’m hopeful that N will do the same and enjoy them for the stories they are.

    • kristendenhartog

      We have seen the movies — there are only three, I think. But we do read the books first. Luckily they were mostly quite well done, and very true to the story. But I agree — getting lost in the books, and in your own imagination as you read them, is infinitely better.

  6. I read all five Fablehaven books out loud to my daughters, and they loved them. I think they would have loved it if I started at the beginning again, too.

  7. Lenny

    Kd – Very moved by your thoughtful response to Nancy Jo. Seems to be a recipe we could all follow in raising our much- loved children. Also, thanks to Beth for the tip on the Fablehaven books. Had hit a bit of a brickwall for our E. and it looks as though this will do the trick.

    • kristendenhartog

      Thanks Lenny. I think I’m wiser on paper than in real life. Yes, I think we’ll check out Beth’s recommendation too!

      • Lenny

        To quote a famous Canadian author once referred to as Alice Munroe’s literary younger sister 🙂 you are “v-wise”.

  8. Waiting to hear what N makes of it all!
    We are reading The NeverEnding Story. Bit scary for my 5-yr-old, but perfect for slightly older kids, IMO.

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