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Literature / The Last Battle

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"All their life in this world and all their adventures 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 for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

The seventh and final installment in The Chronicles of Narnia and the seventh book chronologically. Over a year (on Earth) after the events of The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace are summoned back for one last adventure, to aid the current King of Narnia against the treachery of the ape, Shift, and his quasi-Arabian Calormene allies.

This book provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-B 
  • Action Girl: Jill has developed into one of these, being even better than Tirian at woodcraft, and a reliable archer.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Shift the ape, who becomes a false prophet to the false Aslan out of ambition and greed.
  • The Anti-God: Tash is the God of Evil in opposition to Aslan's Crystal Dragon Jesus. It is explained by Aslan himself that, far from being two facets of the same god, he and Tash are such opposites that anyone who does good in the name of Tash is actually serving Aslan, and anyone who does evil in Aslan's name is actually serving Tash.
    Aslan: No service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending tells the reader that the previous books were just the covers of the true stories, and that the true stories will continue on forever and ever, each chapter better than the last in the true Narnia - that is, Heaven.
  • The Antichrist: Shift, a literal ape of God. Though according to Biblical roles, he is arguably closer to the False Prophet of Revelation.
  • Anti Anti Christ: Puzzle the donkey, whom Shift duped into wearing a lion's skin and becoming the fake Aslan. Like the ape, he is weak-willed and not too bright; unlike the ape, he is never deliberately malicious.
  • Apocalypse How: Anywhere from Planetary to Universal Physical Destruction, depending on the actual nature of Narnia.
  • Apocalypse Wow
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the last chapter, anyone who loves and serves Aslan may enter the door to the True Narnia. Also, one from a previous story is brought up when those who are entering the true Narnia are greeted by Reepicheep the Mouse, who went over the wave at the End of the World in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  • Ass in a Lion Skin: Literally. Puzzle the Donkey is put into a lion skin by Shift the ape (probably an allusion to Aesop's Fables).
  • Astral Projection: Tirian has some sort of out-of-body experience in which he's in a room in our world with the seven friends minus Susan who have visited Narnia. They can all see each other; Tirian can hear them and they speak to him, but finds he can't speak aloud to them. When the room fades from Tirian's view, he overhears them saying "He's fading away!" Fortunately they pick up on the message that they're needed in Narnia again.
  • Author Tract: Like several other Narnia books, this one is a Biblical allegory, and perhaps the most obvious one in the series. Here, most of the plot is adapted from the Apocalypse.
  • Be Careful What You Say: Rishda Tarkaan really wasn't expecting Tash to respond to his summons, given that he didn't actually believe in the Calormene god in the first place.
    "Thou hast called me Rishda Tarkaan; I have come."
  • Big Bad: Zig-Zagged. At first we think it's Shift, pulling the strings with Puzzle, but as soon as he brings in the Calormenes to rule, he loses all his authority and is reduced to a figurehead for Rishda and Ginger. The latter two were Dragons in chief with Rishda being the dominant. Turns out, though, they're not the Big Bads either — they all immediately take an extremely distant back seat to Tash once he shows up, who has been the evil force behind the antagonists all along.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: In the first chapter, Aslan sends one when Shift begins to think of using the lion-skin to impersonate him. Puzzle sees it for the sign it is, but Shift brushes it off.
  • Book Ends: Back in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the Pevensies (and the reader) hear about Aslan for the first time, Lucy gets "the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of Summer.". At the end of The Last Battle, explains that the friends of Narnia (including Lucy) have died and come to his country to stay thusly:
    "The term is over; the holidays have begun. The dream is ended; this is the morning."
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Shift claims that the Narnian Aslan and the Calormene god Tash are the same, referring to this combined being as "Tashlan".
  • Brownface: Tirian, Eustace, and Jill wear the Narnian version of fake tan as part of their disguises to darken their faces enough to pass as Calormene. It works well enough to briefly convince some Calormenes.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Puzzle to Shift, who gets abused and emotionally blackmailed so often that the Heel–Face Turn comes hardly as a surprise.
    Shift had one friend and neighbor who was a donkey called Puzzle. At least they both said they were friends, but from the way things went on you might have thought Puzzle was more like Shift's servant than his friend.

    Tropes C-F 
  • Cats Are Mean: Ginger the Cat is clever enough to see through the fraud of the false Aslan early on, but humors it anyway for his own benefit, even as the other animals suffer under Shift's tyranny.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Pretty much every significant character of the past six books (sans Susan) appears in the final chapter.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Tirian, Eustace, and Jill need to disguise themselves as Calormenes, and the small guard tower they are staying in just happens to have three sets of Calormene armor, turbans, and some ointment for making their skin the same color as Calormene skin. (The tower is near the Calormene border, so not as unreasonable as most instances).
  • Darker and Edgier: By far the darkest of the seven books. It was almost inevitable, because The Last Battle draws heavily upon the Biblical Apocalypse.
  • Dead All Along: At the end of the book, the protagonists find out that they died in a train crash near the beginning of the book, so their entire adventure in Narnia occurred after their deaths. Eustace had suspected it earlier though.
  • Demoted Memories: Susan gradually develops a refusal to believe in her own life. In this book, she refuses to believe that any of her adventures ever happened. This saves her life, which is not a good thing in this kind of setting: she's left behind on Earth while everyone else go to heaven to be Pals With Aslan.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Tash is real and everybody dies and goes to heaven.
  • Distressed Dude: When Tirian accuses Shift of lying, the Calormenes tie him to a tree and he has to be rescued.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Eventually, Rishda Tarkaan ends up in complete control of Shift, although he keeps up the illusion that Shift is still in charge to manipulate others.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Tirian, Eustace, and Jill disguise themselves as Calormene soldiers at one point, using Calormene armors and painting their faces to appear darker.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: The eventual fate of Rishda Tarkaan.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Susan survives having not been on the train, but is written out of the story. The Pevensie children claim that she stopped believing in Narnia and started dismissing her adventures as childhood games.
  • Dying Dream: The Pevensie children are revealed to have been involved in a train crash. They will never leave the true Narnia—not that they want to.
  • Easily Forgiven: Aslan has some words with Puzzle over impersonating him, but in the end he's forgiven and is allowed into Aslan's Country. Though to be fair, he did try to undo the damage he caused.
  • Eaten Alive: After Tirian throws Shift through the Door, they hear the sound of Tash appearing on the other side. The Pevensies later reveal that as soon as he appeared, Tash ate Shift in one bite.
  • End of an Age/The End of the World as We Know It: For the Pevensie children, it is the former. For the citizens of Narnia, it is the latter.
  • Evil Genius: Ginger the Cat fits into this role, serving as The Mole and as Rishda Tarkaan's secret advisor and schemer.
  • Evil Old Folks: Shift the Ape is described as so old that nobody remembers when he arrived.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Tash is described as smelling like death, and the stench is so bad that other characters can smell him before they see him.
  • Exact Words:
    • The Pevensies were told by Aslan that they'd never return to Narnia again. They don't, because they along with Digory and Polly are taken directly to Aslan's Country after they die (unlike Eustace and Jill), and while they do view the end of Narnia through a doorway they never actually step foot inside.
    • Eustace and Jill were told by Aslan at the end of The Silver Chair that the next time they meet in Aslan's Country it will be to stay. They do indeed stay there forever, because they've died and can't go back even if they wanted to.
  • False Prophet: With the help of a lion skin and his dimwitted friend Puzzle the donkey, the talking ape Shift subjugates the Narnians by insisting Aslan wants them to submit to the invading Calormenes; in the meantime he sets himself up as a prophet and demands food and riches. Later he insists that Aslan and the Calormene god Tash are the same being, Tashlan. Interestingly, Aslan doesn't punish Shift for his blasphemy.... The demonic Tash himself does.
  • Famed in Story: Tirian and Jewel are overwhelmed to encounter all the great kings and heroes of Narnian history, but the one that really staggers Tirian is to be welcomed into Aslan's Country by none other than Reepicheep the Mouse.
  • Fantastic Underclass: After the conquest of Narnia by Calormen, Talking Animals have been reduced to the level of dumb beasts - perhaps worse, in that the Calormenes treat them worse than they do many of their own valued animals (such as war horses).
  • Fate Worse than Death: After Ginger goes into the stable to speak to "Tashlan", when he comes out, he turns into a regular non-talking cat.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist:
    • The Dwarfs except for Poggin. They pay for it by not being able to see their surroundings in Heaven.
    • Rishda Tarkaan and Ginger believe in neither Aslan nor Tash. Tash is not happy about this.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Jewel the unicorn does this during the battle.
    The King's party were cutting their way right into the enemy. The unicorn was tossing men as you'd toss hay on a fork.

    Tropes G-H 
  • God Guise: Puzzle the donkey agrees to wear the skin of a lion while his so-called friend Shift tells everyone that Puzzle is Aslan. Shift's intentions are evil, collaborating with the evil empire of Calormen, but Puzzle himself is mostly just impressionable and bad at saying no. It was quite an idiotic move, agreeing to impersonate Aslan and enable the betrayal of the country of Narnia, but the only character who really calls Puzzle out on this is Eustace.
  • God of Evil: Tash is described this way, with Crystal Dragon Jesus Aslan outright stating that Tash is his antithesis. Interestingly, while Tash is very much a Card-Carrying Villain, his own religion is not a Religion of Evil, given that it apparently includes a number of sincere followers who believe Tash to be a just and righteous god. It gets better - Tash is so evil that you cannot commit a good act in his name - they automatically are assumed as your service to Aslan. The opposite is also true - if you do something terrible in the name of Aslan, you're really serving Tash.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid:
    • Subversion: Tirian and the crew head back to find Roonwit and the troops he was bringing from Cair Paravel only to find out from Farsight the eagle that Cair Paravel has been sacked by Calormen, and Roonwit is dead.
    • Played straight with the Calormenes. They call for help, and it comes! ("Mordor Calls for Help"?)
  • Gone Horribly Right: Rishda didn't really intend to summon the God of Evil Tash — just to invoke his authority. However, his prayer was answered ... literally.
  • Grand Finale: The Chronicles of Narnia end with a supremely dramatic and indeed apocalyptic final battle and the journey into a new world, following the downfall of the old.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Shift brings the Calormenes into Narnia to help him rule it, they promptly reduce him to a figurehead. Tarkaan Rishda perpetuates the idea of "Tashlan" and is taken to Hell by Tash.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted, most notably when Jill and Farsight - the only ranged combatants - are sent to flank the attacking Calormenes. Also when the Calormene spears are very effective at killing dangerous but unarmed animals like boars, bears, and unicorns.
  • Honor Before Reason: Tirian and Jewel are so ashamed of killing the Calormene slavemasters in unfair combat that they voluntarily surrender their weapons and allow themselves to be captured. They were under the belief that Aslan had ordered the Calormenes to use the Talking Horses, so they felt it was necessary to be punished because they had deeply blasphemed.
    "Do you think I care if Aslan dooms me to death?" said the King. "That would be nothing, nothing at all. Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun."
  • Hope Spot: The Talking Horses charging to the rescue, only to be shot down by the dwarves.

    Tropes I-R 
  • I Don't Think That's Such a Good Idea: Puzzle is very reluctant to impersonate Aslan, especially after the Bolt of Divine Retribution warning, but Shift browbeats him into doing it anyway.
  • Inspiration Nod: C. S. Lewis' version of Heaven looks exactly like Plato's (which is mentioned by the Professor). Real life Narnia and England are but a reflection of the better, truer Narnia and England within Aslan's heaven. This is a good illustration of Plato's "theory of forms" where everything we experience in real life objects is a copy or reflection of a perfect model "beyond heaven". This is also known as a Platonic Realm.
  • Interspecies Friendship: One prominent example, to the point of Heterosexual Life-Partners: Prince Tirian and Jewel the Unicorn have been best friends ever since their childhood, and have even saved each other's lives in battle more than once. As they prepare for the final battle, Tirian asks Jewel to forgive him for any past offence he might have caused in their long friendship, and Jewel's response is that he almost wishes Tirian had ever given such offence so that he had something to forgive, assuring Tirian that he wouldn't have chosen any life but the life he has lived. When Tirian and Jewel meet Tirian's father in the True Narnia, Jewel reflects that the king often slipped him sugar cubes when he was a colt, reaffirming their long friendship.
  • Jerkass: A lot of the time, Shift doesn't even pretend to be nice. Even while posing as Aslan's spokesperson he never passes off an opportunity to verbally abuse his fellow Narnians. Even when he does put on a friendly facade, he's nothing but condescending and manipulative.
  • Killed Off for Real: EVERY human from our world that had ever had the fortune to enter Narnia over the course of the books died in a train accident at the end, save for Susan, who was elsewhere at the time of the train accident and has reduced Narnia as a fairy tale in her efforts to "be grown up". The good news is that those who died were welcomed into the remade Aslan's Country.
  • King in the Mountain: Father Time was once a great king, but sleeps underground (some of the characters saw him in The Silver Chair), to wake at the end of the world.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ginger the cat, who takes over from Shift, creates the idea of "Tashlan", and doesn't believe either Tash or Aslan are real. He ends up being driven out of his mind and reduced to a dumb beast after seeing the real Tash.
  • The Last Title: The title.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Whatever one interprets the core reason for Susan not appearing in Narnia this time to be, an excessive interest in make-up and shallow beauty is at least a part of its symptoms.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Puzzle" may be a reference to the "Mystery Babylon" false religion of the Apocalypse.
    • Emeth's name is derived from the Hebrew word for "truth."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Tirian and Jewel after they kill two of the Calormene soldiers they saw murdering the dryads and overworking and whipping a Talking Horse.
  • Narnia Time: We see it this time from the Narnians' perspective. Tirian has a vision of the people on earth and tries to communicate that they're needed in Narnia. A few moments later Eustace and Jill show up in Narnia, but for them at least a week has passed. Also, Tirian is astonished to find out that Digory and Polly were still alive in our world, since they were there at the moment of Narnia's creation.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The Calormenes take Cair Paravel and eventually defeat Tirian's forces through sheer weight of numbers. However when that happens Aslan decides to destroy Narnia.
  • No Animosity in the Afterlife: Some people who have opposed Aslan turn towards him in the end. Some of the dwarves manage to give up their cynicism, and there is that famous heartwarming story about Emeth, a young Calormene soldier and formerly a devoted worshipper of Tash, who accepts Aslan and makes peace with the Narnians.
  • Nostalgia Heaven: The end of the book. They find themselves in "The England within England, the real England", where "no good thing is destroyed".
  • Omnicidal Neutral: The dwarves attack both sides in the final battle to prevent either from getting the upper hand, claiming, "The dwarves are for the dwarves."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Puzzle's disguise as Aslan is woefully bad. The only reason anybody falls for it is because it's dark when they see him and no one is allowed very close, because he never says anything, and because it's been years since anybody saw a living lion.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "This is my password. The light is dawning, the lie broken. Now guard thee, miscreant, for I am Tirian of Narnia."
  • Put on a Bus: Although the other Pevensie children (now older) appear in the story, Susan doesn't.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Edmund is described as "the sort of person who knows about trains".
  • Real After All: The false prophets pretend to perform a ritual to call forth Tash, the God of Evil. He shows up.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The train crash is based on a real accident that happened in Britain in 1955. Both real and fictional accidents were caused by a train bound for Bristol taking a sharp curve through a station at excessive speed and derailing.
  • Recursive Reality: Mr. Tumnus touches on the true nature of Narnia as "an onion where the layers get bigger as you peel them away"

    Tropes S-T 
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The dryad who comes to warn the king that the Talking Trees of Lantern Waste are being cut down (killing the dryads who inhabit them) dies right in front of Tirian and co. to emphasize the brutality and horror of the situation to the reader.
  • Satanic Archetype: Tash.
  • Scam Religion: Shift sets up a religious cult of sorts around his false Aslan, which he identifies with the Calormene Tash. However, the Calormenes he cooperates with become the ones really running the show before long.
  • Scout-Out: Averted; Jill Pole is flat-out called a member of the Girl Guides and has various skills enhanced by her membership, namely tracking and archery.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Shift is pretty good at these, convincing Puzzle that a thunderbolt is a good omen rather than a bad one; that a fake Aslan is wandering about once Puzzle escapes with Tirian, Eustace and Jill; and later (along with Ginger), convincing some of the talking animals that Aslan and Tash are the same being.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell:
    • The "Last Judgment" of Narnia is precisely this. Aslan says not a word; the creatures all come up to him, look him in the face, and either love him or reject him, essentially judging themselves and determining their own fate.
    • The dwarves in the stable are a more concrete example. They believe themselves to be in a dark stable, so they are.
  • Shape Shifter Mashup: Tash, who has four arms, a bird's head, and projects an aura of utter terror and horror.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Tirian tries, early in the book, but he is cut short and silenced by Shift's followers.
  • Signs of the End Times: Very much like the Biblical signs, in fact. Given that it's a Christian allegory, this should not come as a surprise.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: The dwarves end up in Aslan's Country with everybody else, but they're too cynical to believe it, and manage to delude themselves into believing they're still locked in a dark stable eating rotten food.
  • Smug Snake: Both Shift and Ginger are far less formidable than they pretend to be, and even than they believe themselves to be. With Aslan involved, Pride Before a Fall may be counted on, and he does not disappoint.
  • Snowball Lie: Shift's lies about the fake Aslan start to pile up when the Calormenes get involved in conquering Narnia.
  • Sole Survivor: Susan's fate: she's had a falling-out with her family, with the book implying that she's neglected them due to prioritizing her social life over everything else. And then they all die in a horrific train accident, destroying her chance of ever making amends with them.
  • Spanner in the Works: Shift and his Calormene allies are taken quite off-guard by the fact that the Calormene god Tash actually exists, and will come when you summon him properly. Oddly, this doesn't appear absolute. Some of the Calormene soldiers are cheering when he shows up.
  • Species Loyalty: After seemingly being betrayed by everyone they trusted, most of the dwarves (though not all) decide that they won't be suckers anymore, and will fight only for their own people in the future.
  • Stairway to Heaven: "Further up and further in."
  • Stupid Neutral: The Dwarves refuse to ally themselves with the Calormenes or with the heroes. Then they start shooting at either side to prevent either side from gaining the upper hand. The worst example is their passing the Moral Event Horizon by killing a whole herd of horses who were rushing to Tirian's aid, then jeering at him before invoking the Stupid Neutral idea behind their behaviour.
  • Swallowed Whole: This is the fate of Shift the ape. In the words of Edmund:
    "...Tash made one peck and the Monkey was gone!"
  • Take Our Word for It: Lewis ends the story by claiming that the previous adventures were book covers to the main stories that will follow. We'll never read about them, though. At least not in this world...
  • Title Drop: In Chapter 12:
    "And then the last battle of the last king of Narnia began."
  • That Liar Lies: Tirian to Shift. "Ape, you lie damnably. You lie like a Calormene. You lie like an ape." There would have been more, but he gets smacked down before he can finish.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Jill has honed her survival skills since her last trip to Narnia.
    • Technically, Eustace has taken two since his first appearance. He's stronger and more capable in The Silver Chair and in the final book, he's a warrior, and even kills at least one man.

    Tropes U-Z 
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: Rishda Tarkaan really wasn't expecting Tash to respond to his summons, given that he didn't actually believe in the Calormene god in the first place.
    "Thou hast called me Rishda Tarkaan; I have come."
  • Unicorn: Jewel, but Good is Not Nice nor soft.
  • Villainous Valor: The Dwarves, and to a certain extent the Calormenes, when it's pointed out that although they are the enemy, they're still brave and capable soldiers.
  • Walking Wasteland: The grass that Tash's avatar treads upon dies instantly.
  • War Is Hell
  • The War to End All Wars: It's in the title. It's not quite as dramatic as it sounds, however.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played straight by the Calormenes, who enslave the talking beasts and cut down the dryads' trees in the forest. Averted by the king, however, who is outraged when he learns of this.
  • Worthy Opponent
    • Emeth, a noble Calormene soldier, is revealed to have been transported to Aslan's Country after he volunteered to investigate the stable and see his god Tash for himself. The reason for this that the man honestly and truly believed in his god with a pure love and spirit, i.e. exactly what Aslan would look for in a follower, and thus he counted him among his "flock". (This is definitely inspired by the "virtuous pagan" doctrine.) By contrast, if the soldier had been a Narnian and had done cruel/evil things in Aslan's name, this would have given him over to Tash.
    • This was Emeth's own reaction on meeting High King Peter: "I know not whether you are a friend or an enemy, but I would be proud to have you for either. Has not one of the poets said that a noble friend is the best gift and a noble enemy the next best?"
  • Xanatos Speed Chess
    • Puzzle is captured and Tirian plans to reveal him to the Narnians as the false Aslan they've been following. By the time they return, however, Shift has already spread the word about a false Aslan and is using that to frame Tirian and his allies with the blame of deceiving everyone.
    • Shift's noted early on to be very good at this. When a Bolt of Divine Retribution strikes nearby after Shift and Puzzle think up the plan to pass himself off as Aslan, a quick-thinking Shift says he was about to say Aslan would send such a bolt of lightning to tell them he approves, only the bolt happened before he could get the words out. Later when a lamb protests allying with the Calormenes because they worship the evil Tash, Shift just rebukes him and tells him Aslan and Tash are the same being.
    • Ginger is also good at this. When Puzzle runs away, he comes up with the story that there's an impostor running around in a lion's skin pretending to be Aslan, and that the real Aslan is now so furious at the Narnians that he won't come out of the stable.
  • A Year and a Day: Jewel the Unicorn tells a story about Swanwhite the Queen, who ruled Narnia before the coming of the White Witch and the Great Winter. She was so beautiful that when she looked in a forest pool, the reflection of her face shone out of the water like a star at night for a year and a day afterward.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: A reversal of the usual pattern of Narnian time running faster when Eustace and Jill arrive moments after Tirian's vision in Narnia, but days later in Earth time.
  • Zerg Rush: The Calormenes eventually outmatch Tirian with sheer numbers.