Sunday, May 28, 2006

Book Club: The other Narnia books

Here's a loooong entry...Technically, we're only supposed to read The Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian, the next 2 books in the Narnia series. I had a burning desire to meet Prince Rilian and these are easy to read, I finished them all. So...I guess I'll be planning my own book club for one until the others finish. Now that I've completed them all, I know they only get better. I really enjoyed the next to last (word for the day: penultimate) book, The Silver Chair. Partly, because I finally found Rilian, but they are also very clear illustrations about both the nature of God/Aslan and the Christian life.

Here's what I liked about each:
The Horse and His Boy-much more satisfying journey and battle than Lion, Witch, Wardrobe. Slave boy becomes a prince and finds his family again (maybe a little Joseph with a dash of Moses?). About Aslan, we learn that he has different forms: a cat to comfort you when you're alone and afraid, a lion when you need strength, and even when you can't see him, he's there, protecting you from the precipice. Aslan calls himself "Myself" which reminds of Jesus' name "I Am."

...the Voice continued: "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore, where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."

Prince Caspian-another pretty good battle where the Prince rises up with his people against a bad king, he asks for help and it comes in an unexpected form. Caspian reminds me a little of Moses too (must be a Moses kind of day) because he leads the talking animals out of hiding/captivity. Lucy's a heroine in this book, too. She has faith enough to see and follow Aslan, even when it's not popular, when others want to take the easy way. Lucy says, "Wouldn't it be dreadful if some day, in our own world, at home, men started going wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you'd never know which were which?" My favorite character is Trufflehunter the badger because he remembers, he doesn't change, he holds on. Maybe someday I'll be like Trufflehunter.

Dawn Treader-in this one, Caspian sails to the end of the world to try to find Aslan's country. Here Aslan appears as a Lamb, a sweet, milky lamb, then changes. He calls himself the great Bridge Builder, which sort of reminds me of the Way. When he sends Lucy and Edmund back to their own world, Lucy is afraid she'll never see Aslan again. His answer: "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there." The more each of the children go through, the better they know Aslan.

The Silver Chair-found Rilian, finally! I really liked Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle. He's my kind of guy. This story is so much like life and the Christian journey. Aslan gives Jill 4 signs to remember and follow. Their quest will be easy enough if she just remembers them...and then she doesn't, so the quest becomes dangerous, frightening. Aslan had the goal in mind and set in place everything that they needed to find and free Rilian. When they messed it all up, help came in other ways because, no matter what happened, they had to accomplish the goal. The logic vs. faith conversation (the sun vs a lamp, which is the real world?) is also interesting.

"Don't you mind him," said Puddleglum. "There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things would come of them; including this."

The Last Battle-The last Narnian king has to battle a false prophet/god masquerading as Aslan. Even when the false Aslan is exposed, the animals don't want to believe in the real Aslan. More than one character says that Aslan is not a tame lion...there's a power to Aslan. This story shows how Aslan is going to divide up believers from those who are for themselves like the Dwarves when Narnia comes to an end. Nice touch that it all comes down to what happens in the stable. Once the animals enter, Aslan tells Peter to "Shut the Door." The Way is closed for the talking animals of Narnia. They say goodbye to the shadowlands (copies of the real Narnia, England, etc.)

Digory says, "When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all is only a shadow or a copy of something. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as the real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream." It's all in Plato, like the Professor says.

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