All’s made right as the White Witch is killed and her army defeated. Aslan revives all the people who were turned to stone in the battle, and reminds Lucy of her magical healing cordial so she can tend to the wounded (including Edmund). They all make their way to Cair Paravel for the coronation (and on a complete tangent: I know the Brits like to romanticize seagulls, but personally, I’ve always associated them with parking lots and fast food way more than the sea, because they’re EVERYWHERE in Michigan, but particularly the parking lots).
But amid all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn’t there they said nothing about it. For Mr. Beaver had warned them, “He’ll be coming and going,” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down – and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
I feel like splitting this last one up by characters again, but this time I’ll start with Lucy and work my way up. From that first chapter where she thought there might be something interesting in a dusty old wardrobe until Aslan prods her to help clean up after the final battle, this was mostly her story. As she’s always been the adventurous, imaginative heart of the group, it’s only fitting that she go down in Narnian history as Queen Lucy the Valiant (and was apparently rather popular among the local princes who knew her personally even if she wasn’t a stunning beauty).
Then there’s Edmund. He’s got the clearest character arc of the four (as evidenced by his title of Edmund the Just), and he’s just so likeable by the end of the book! I won’t say he undergoes the most dramatic change of any character in the entire series, but it’s definitely among the most memorable, and it’s just great that he plays such a large role in future books as well. But as for his role in this book, it’s a nice touch that he’s the first to figure out how rightly to fight the White Witch, stopping her from doing nearly as much damage by destroying her wand. It’s not just “redemption” – he had that already; it’s the fact that he only knew how to combat that evil because he knew it so well.
As for Susan and Peter, they’re more or less the same as kings and queens as they were as schoolchildren, just older and allegedly gorgeous (only a hunch on “Peter the Magnificent”, of course).
Finally, we get to the titular hunt, which leads the four rulers to a certain lamppost.
Then said King Edmund,
“I know not how it is, but this lamp on the post worketh upon me strangely. It runs in my mind that I have seen the like before; as it were in a dream, or in the dream of a dream.”
“Sir,” answered they all, “it is even so with us also.”
“And more,” said Queen Lucy, “for it will not go out of my mind that if we pass this post and lantern either we shall find strange adventures or else some great change of our fortunes.”
They find their way back through the wardrobe, and they’re just children again, not a day older than when they left. Strange adventures, indeed. They feel the need to explain the disappearance of four coats from the wardrobe, however, and the professor is as awesome as always. He cautions them not to start talking about their adventures to just anyone – after all, not all grown-ups are as understanding as he. He adds that they might very well get back to Narnia someday, but probably when (and how) they least expect to.
And so ends The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Overall, it was better than I remembered! As I said before, it’s one of the more flawed books, but it still manages to cultivate the sort of joy and wonder that’s practically a hallmark of the series, while still maintaining a sense of tension by making you care about the characters.
I figure I might as well give my thoughts on the 2005 film adaptation here: It’s OK. It does some things really well (the cast has wonderful chemistry, at least for the non-CG characters), and the first half hour or so is magical, but it stumbled when it tried to epicify the second half. It’s just not an action-oriented story (there’s a reason the battle occurred almost completely “off-screen” in the book, and it wasn’t for lack of budget). I don’t regret owning it (it’s a nice movie to watch in December), but it’s hardly a definitive adaptation.
Next week: Prince Caspian