I'm not blind drunk, I'm just blind.
Unlike the prior novels, The Last Battle begins in the land of Narnia. Many generations have passed since Eustace and Jill freed Prince Rillian from the sinister enchantments of theEmerald Witch in The Silver Chair. Since tat time, Narnia has enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity. But now a new evil threatens Narnia in the form of Shift, an old, cunning Ape, who finds a lion's skin and persuades his friend Puzzle, a well-meaning if simple donkey, to don the skin and pretend to be Aslan, who has not been seen in Narnia for many geneations. Far away from this, King Tirian of Narnia is enjoying a vacation at a hunting lodge with his riend Jewel, a unicorn. He is visited by Runewit, a Centaur, who warns that Narnia is facing an era of darkness and chaos. The first signs of this become apparent when the king receives news that talking trees are being cut down for lumber, which is being sold to the Calormenes, who have always been enemies of Narnia. The situation becomes even more desperate when Tirian is captured and bound to a tree. But all is not lost, for Aslan summons all those who ave had a hand in the creation and protection of Narnia, minus Susan, who has drifted away from Narnia and its values over the years. Together these friends prepare to fight a battle that could mark the end of Narnia.
As with the other books in the series, THe Last Battle is read by a distinguished British actor, in this case Patrick Stewart, best known to some as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He does this tale reat justice with his deep, calm and versitile voice. I finished the entire book in less than a day simply because I couldn't put it down.
Set some years after the events of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe but before Prince Caspian, The Horse and his Boy tells the tale of how young Shasta, an orphan boy raised on a small island by a solitary, dour fisherman, suddenly finds himself embarked on a grand adventure to reach the land of Narnia. He is accompanied by the talking horse Bree, former steed of a cruel lord from Callormen who intended to buy Shasta as a slave. THe pair is soon joined by Aravis, a girl who fled her father's estate with her own steed Hwin, another talking horse, to escape an arranged marriage . An excellently written tale brought superbly to life by British actor Alex Jennings. Each character has his or her own personality, from Shasta and Aravis to the horses to the sinister Tarkons of Callormen, who even now plot an invasion of Narnia to steal away Queen Susan. This of course puts Shasta in the desperate position of having to reach Narnia's southern neighbor, Archenland, in time to warn of the invasion. And in the course of his adventure, Shasta lerns a startling truth about his own past and how he came to be raised by the fisherman.
All in all this is an excellent listen. As I said in the title I could hardly turn off my IPod.
The Silver Chair picks up not long after the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. As the tale opens, Jill Pole, a student at Experiment House, is hiding behind the gym after being bullied by some of the other students. She encounters Eustace Scrubb who, since his experience in Narnia with his cousins, has undergone a dramatic personality change and is therefore now a target of the students he used to associate with. Eustace tells a skeptical Jill about Narnia, at which point they're forced to flee from the bullies again. Finding a garden door unlocked for a change, they find themselves in a land unlike anything they'd ever seen. Things become complicated when ill recklessly runs toward the edge of a cliff and Eustace, attempting to stop her, falls over and is blown away by a mysterious lion. The lion then appears to Jill, telling her that he brought her and Eustace out of their own world to seek out the lost prince of Narnia, who went missing many years ago during an outing with his mother, who died during that trip as a result of a snake bite. To aid her on the quest, the lion, who is of course Aslan, gives Jill four signs before sending her to join Eustace. After a shaky start, the two are soon underway, aided by the dour Marshwiggle Puddleglum. Will they be able to find Prince Rillian? And what are the motives of the mysterious Lady of the Green Curtle?
This was probably one of my favorite Narnia books as a child. Fortunately Jeremy Northam does an excellent job of bringing it to life. As with all the previous ones, I couldn't put it down. I fact all seven books are more or less permanently on my IPod.
The story remains enchanting.
This would be a lovely audiobook for young children.
That said, from an adult perspective, Ms. Hathaway overacts and takes away from the overall experience. A lot of her character choices are very extreme or just plain odd, as though she strained to come up with something unique and new. A child will likely find the different characters fun, this audiobook really is incredibly colorful, there are no default characters. But as an adult, I found that a lot of her choices make no sense (the wizard, above all) and was a little annoyed by some of the more grating ones, like the over-affected stage English of the queen mouse, for example, the valley girl stork, or the Marge Simpson scare crow. In essence, the magic she captures in her narration is the magical range of Anne Hathaway, not that of the Wonderful Wizard.
Other reviewers rave about this version though, so I recommend listening to a sample before you buy.