(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)
Hello everyone! As always, I love these discussions and getting to chat all things Narnia with y’all and am looking forward to your thoughts! So let’s dive in shall we?
Everytime I read C.S. Lewis’ humor in his books, it gives me hope that if we lived at the same time we would have been great friends. This book starts off with this hilarious line:
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
It sets up Eustace’s character so perfectly.
I figured I’d start with some overall thoughts of the book. I love the adventures in this one. From finding out what happened to each of the Lords, to encountering Stars to sea serpents and other such mischief, I found this one most full of adventure. I also love how Lewis reminds us of the past stories (he’s done this before, not just in this one). It’s like the cool kids know what he’s talking about. I will admit to this geekery, I feel special knowing all the details.
“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real.”
Sigh…I’ll never stop wishing this place was real.
Can we also all agree that Eustace is a bit of a hot mess early on? 🙂 His journal entries cracked me up, along with his thoughts on Reep. Like this one:
“Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too.”
I’ll get to more of this soon, but I absolutely loved what Lewis did with his character and what it took for Eustace to change.
This story is full of so much adventure, yet Aslan is still always there. When they least expect it, when their hearts are being tempted to go astray, Aslan loves them enough to remind them of who they really are. The process isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:
“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”
“You mean it spoke?”
“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund
(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.
“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”
“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”
I really love Edmund’s character. In all ways he isn’t afraid to mention his mistake and what he learned from it. Our stories have the chance to encourage and impact others.
In another Aslan scene, when all he does is stand on a hillside when Caspian and Edmund start fighting over a lake of turning things into gold? He doesn’t even have to say anything:
“Across the gray hillside above them—gray, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen.”
I loved the same impact when Lucy encountered the beauty spell while in the Magician’s house:
“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming toward her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterward that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.”
One more thought on Aslan (I know, I’m obsessed), but I love that He brings comfort in their darkest of time. This part was after they were in the dark cloud creepy-as-shanaynays island where dreams (not happy ones) come to life. They had already picked up crazy guy who survived so far and were seemingly lost on the way out:
“Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.”
Then this (which y’all might recognize a favorite quote of mine):
“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”
I’d also like to take a moment to also say how much I love Reepicheep. Bound by honor and one of the bravest character you’ll meet in literature, he’s one of my favorites. Plus he cracks me up in this book. From picking a fight with Eustace early on to making it to Aslan’s country. I heart him. This scene:
“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not?”
No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:
“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”
“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.
“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”
Several of the sailors said things under their breath that sounded like, “Honor be blowed,” but Caspian said: “Oh, bother you, Reepicheep. I almost wish we’d left you at home. All right! If you put it that way, I suppose we shall have to go on.”
You gotta love little Reep!
“Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
There is the utter East.”
This final quote I want to share is also one of my favorites of the series. It says so much about Aslan and who Lewis made him to be. It’s after Edmund and Lucy find out their adventures in Narnia have come to an end and Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:
“I am,” said Aslan. “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.”
As always, feel free to answer any or all the questions. I’d love to hear from you!
1. How does this rank in the Narnia series for you?
I really enjoyed this, as I do with all of Narnia tales, but it doesn’t rank in my top of top lists. It’s hard to beat my favorites. Still loved this one though.
2. Do you have a favorite scene or part?
Outside of scenes I’ve already mentioned, I found the idea of the creepy/dark cloud island scene fascinating. That would have to be one of the most scary possibilities in existence.
3. What about favorite characters?
I really liked seeing how Eustace changed and of course little Reep!
4. Finally, what were some of your favorite quotes?