Review for That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 3rd book in the Ransom trilogy

Rating – PG-13 for strong violence and language

Synopsis –

Jane and Mark Studdock have had a rough patch in their marriage. Mark teaches at Bracton college and has recently joined the Fellowship there; he is constantly endeavoring to be a part of the inner circle. This leads him to joining an evil organization called N. I. C. E. Jane on the other hand prefers her independence, but that is changed when she has visions that begin to scare her. With help from an older couple, Jane meets the Director aka Ransom. Will Mark realize his mistake before its too late? Should Jane trust what the Director is telling her?

My Thoughts –

dule hill happy dance GIF

I did it!! I finished the Ransom trilogy!! Whew, that has taken me on quite a journey. I actually really liked this last installment as it felt completely different from first 2 books. Lewis moves the story back to earth with a little time gap between Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. We also alternate between the N. I. C. E. stronghold at Belbery and Ransom’s group at St. Anne.

The characters that Lewis added in this book were my kind of jam. Jane and Mark felt flushed out, yet pretty relatable. I actually liked Mark, despite some of his views/flaws, and wanted him to see the error of his ways, but he was kind of fooled by N. I. C. E. flowery phrases. Jane, while stubborn, at least realized she needed help. The group at St. Anne’s was kind of funny in their own way – a band of misfits who no one would think could impact Britain. How can you not like a bear named Mr. Beltitude? Plus, Ransom was more of a background character which I think fit after his transformation on Venus. He was like the wise father to the group. In Perelandra, Ransom was odd and a bit idiotic at times, and I just didn’t care for him. So, it was definitely a breath of fresh air to see him change.

One thing Lewis add to That Hideous Strength is a bit of Arthurian legend which was not in his previous books. I liked it. Merlin was kind of kooky, but he added to the plot and was a vehicle for climax. After listening to a talk on this book, I learned that Lewis became friends with Charles Williams while writing. He influenced Lewis quite a bit. I ‘ll add a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61w7SHOJQEg

Spiritual warfare is also heavily present. The N. I. C. E. have found a way to keep a dead head alive. This invites the “macrobes” or demons to speak through this head to the key people in N. I. C. E. Their whole philosophy is to brainwash the public into a very sterile way of thinking. Meanwhile, Ransom has been conversing with the Oyarsa, who are equivalent to angels. At one point, Ransom is talking to Jane and he tells her that she will have to convert to Christianity which goes against Jane’s strong sense of will. Eventually she submits.

One downside for me at least was the ending. I kind of expected a huge battle between the Oyarsa and the bent one, but really all it took was Merlin freeing the animals, who then brought justice. It felt a little odd to me.

Language – Pretty frequently used, although mostly by the nonbelievers. I would say used more often then in the previous books. Kept within the bounds of PG though.

Violence – The directors of N. I. C. E. murder a couple of people who try to leave their organization. Mostly done off the page. Also, mentioned that they want to murder large groups of people to cleanse the world and perform experiments upon animals. They orchestrate riots in Edgestow. Miss Hardcastle takes pleasure in torturing the prisoners. In one instance she burns Jane with a cigarette. Towards the end, Merlin releases animals during a banquet at the N. I. C. E. headquarters, who proceed to kill and maul the guests. References to the room filled with blood. One character’s arm is mauled off. Later a character kills several characters and covers the room in blood. He is then eaten by a bear. So, yeah, violence is also stepped up a bit compared to previous books.

Innuendo – Miss Hardcastle takes off her tunic revealing that she isn’t wearing a corset, while it doesn’t outright say, it hinted that Hardcastle is a lesbian. One of N. I. C. E. goals is to get rid of sex. Mention that on one side of the Moon they don’t breed, but live forever. The other side is depicted as savages. Later on, 3 N. I. C. E. members strip naked before their head. After everything is set right, Venus draws near. This leads to all the animals mating. Jane and Mark spend the night together with a promise of a child.

Conclusion –

It feels really good to have finished this series. It will probably be one that I will reread in future. It wasn’t what I expected for the final book, but it worked. I would say that this one is my favorite of the trilogy. Followed by Out of the Silent Planet then Perelandra. The N. I. C. E. organization really reminded me of the Nazis so you could see how the war impacted what Lewis wrote. Funny little anecdote, Lewis mentions Middle-earth and Numinor which is from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings/ Simarillion. I thought that was kinda neat!

Have you read this trilogy? Have a favorite book by Lewis? Cannot wait to hear from you all!

Anna

Review of Perelandra

Perelandra by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Science fiction, Fantasy, Christian fiction

Series – 2nd book in the Ransom Trilogy

Rating – PG for violence and innuendo

Synopsis –

Ransom has been home a while since his adventure on Malacandra or Mars. Lewis is taking a trip to meet Ransom when stumbling upon Ransom’s house Lewis encounters an Oyarsa. Eventually Ransom shows up an explains to Lewis why he needs his help. The Oyarsa have summoned Ransom to go to Perelandra (Venus), and Lewis is supposed to help Ransom upon his return. Lewis agrees and so off Ransom goes. Perelandra is a lush planet with a variety of unique wildlife. While there, Ransom meets a Green Lady who is looking for her missing husband, the king. Will Ransom be able to figure out why he was called to Perelandra?

My Thoughts –

Well, I am now 2/3 the way through the series and can say that it is different then I had expected. This second book is much more descriptive then the first, not to say that first was descriptive, but this has an elegant feel to it. Again, like Out of the Silent Planet, this book tries to get you to think outside the box as Lewis tackles some tough subjects.

Let’s talk characters! First, yeah, Lewis sort of wrote himself into the book although albeit in a minor role. I found it kinda humorous as not many authors do that. Maybe Tolkien did as well, cannot remember though. The Green Lady is very innocent and naive, partly because she has just been awakened. Her and Ransom have many philosophical conversations, not gonna lie, but some of it went over my head. Yet, she didn’t have much of a personality. She does go through some development, but not in a way you would expect. Also, Weston comes back and this time he is possessed by Satan which makes for an interesting and odd character.

I will say that the plot is slower then the first. There isn’t much action until closer to the end. A fair amount of the story takes place in conversations arguing this and that. I loved the first few chapters with Lewis and his trip to Ransom’s house. For me it just flowed nicely and kept me engaged.

Lewis delves into several topics that Ransom, the Lady, and Weston discuss. One of the first things they go into is what is evil/good. It kinda plays on the Garden of Eden and what would have happened if Eve never sinned. The Lady doesn’t know what evil is, so Ransom tries to explain it. Lewis also mentions myths a couple times and how a myth on our world could be reality on another. Weston tries to get the Lady to disobey Maleldil’s one rule that he gave her and her husband. That is only scratching the surface. πŸ˜‰

Lewis does a great job weaving Christian elements throughout the story. Here and there Ransom will mention Genesis and the similarities with Perelandra. Multiple times they discuss how Maleldil had been made into a man on our planet and died. Ransom himself is a Christ-like character not in his characteristics, but in how he sacrifices himself. There is also mention of a cleansing of our world. So, there is a lot of Christian content which is nice to see.

Language – One use of mild language.

Violence – Ransom wakes up to find a trail of sliced frog like creatures that are dying. Turns out Weston is mutilating them. Later on Ransom attacks Weston after prompting from Maleldil. They bite, scratch, rip each other up pretty bad. Weston tears Ransom back which bleeds. They chase each other across the world until eventually Ransom pushes him over a cave ledge and he burns up. Ransom realizes as he recovers that he was hurt in his heel. Bleeds for quite a while, meaning weeks.

Innuendo – Upon meeting the Lady, Ransom realizes that both of them are naked. Later on Weston sees Random and the Lady close together (due to Random trying to warn the Lady) and thinks Ransom was seducing her. Weston cannot believe that their interaction truly wasn’t sexual. Near the end Ransom compares something to a women’s breasts.

Conclusion –

This has been an interesting series so far. Lewis delves in deep into some philosophical and spiritual issues all while conveying an interesting story. Although, I cannot say that I liked his characters which ranged from Ransom being idiotic at times to Weston, a pure form of evil. I believe that these books will need to be reread a couple times to fully appreciate what Lewis is doing. Perelandra made me ponder things that I never thought to consider. Would I recommend it? Yes, but take the time to think on what you are reading. πŸ™‚

Review for Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis

Genre – Christian fiction, Fantasy, Science fiction

Series – First book in Cosmic or Space Trilogy

Rating – PG for mild language and peril

Synopsis –

Dr. Ransom is out on a walking holiday when he meets an older women who is worried about her boy. After endeavoring to save the boy, Ransom is drugged and taken aboard a spaceship. His kidnappers are Devine and Weston. They proceed to take Ransom to Malacandra as a sacrifice to the inhabitants who live there. Ransom embarks on a journey across the planet as his misconceptions are challenged by the inhabitants. Will Ransom be able to escape the clutches of Devine and Weston? Or will he be forced to stay on Malacandra forever?

My Thoughts –

This is a tough book to review as there is a lot to unpack in this small book. It is very different from the Narnia books. In fact it almost felt more like J. R. R. Tolkien’s style of writing. Yet, there are a few moments that reminded me of scenes from Narnia. It goes deeper into theology and philosophy then Narnia does, although some of it kinda hidden underneath the plot. Lewis’s goal was to get people to stop thinking about space and think of it in terms of the heavens. I found a lecture that does a pretty good job explaining Lewis’s perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP-7lc52IZ0&t=3s.

The characters were unique and had some interesting characteristics, but focus is on the allegory. Ransom is a likeable character whose preconceptions about the universe around him are stretched as he learns from the creatures living on Malacandra, which is Mars. There are 3 types of creatures that live on Malacandra and each have different gifts: Sorns, Hross, and Pfifktriggi. Hross were the poets and storytellers, while the Sorns were the philosophers, and lastly the Pfifktriggi are inventors. I have to say that I liked the Hross the best as they felt the most fleshed out of the three. I liked how they were simple creatures who took life as it is without worrying about tomorrow.

However, the villains felt flat to me and at times foolish. They never really added much to the story. Plus, they had such a minor role. As a reader, I want the villain to stand out and make me worry that he will actually do something evil to our characters. I never felt that way in this book. A good example is Thanos or Loki from the Marvel universe. πŸ™‚

I have always been fascinated with space and space travel. Even when I was little and learning about the Apollo missions, it excited me that we could travel to the moon. So, I loved how Lewis describes space and gives it beauty. He also gives Mars a lush landscape with a variety of terrains. Ransom goes from odd jungles with purple tree like plants to a barren Alp like place. He gives the creatures on Mars a unique language that Ransom is able to learn. Hands down Lewis is a master wordsmith.

Overall the plot felt slow and methodical. Lewis has a plan and reason for writing this series, and you can tell. There really weren’t any intense moments. It is defiantly a book that makes you think.

Language – Whenever the two antagonists are around, they use mild language. A few uses of “God” as exclamation by villains. Ransom does not swear.

Violence – Devine and Weston threaten a boy and try to kidnap him. They try to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the Sorns. They shoot and kill a couple Hross as they believe the Hross are hostile.

Innuendo – A couple mentions of procreating with the Mars inhabitants, mostly as a joke. At one point during there space travel, the ship becomes so hot that they only wear weighted belts. As a character is traveling, he notices that an island looks like a women’s breast.

Conclusion –

It was really interesting to dip my toes into something by Lewis other then the Narnia series. I have read The Screwtape Letters, but it has been a while. So, I really enjoyed getting to go on a space odyssey to Mars! It gave me a new perspective on the heavens. Normally we think of space an empty void, but there is beauty and creativity in all that God made. I would highly recommend this book. Although don’t expect it to be a light read. πŸ˜‰