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News: I moved the keyboard to my room and now I feel strongly inclined to tell the world that I adore Phantom of the Opera. Everything is perfectly normal and no, I don't have access to any secret underground labyrinth...yet.

--12 August 2017 --

Quote: Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest of hearts. --Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The Fellowship

August 4, 2010

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Exact cover of book I have

Perelandra. The word itself raises eyebrows and brings forth grunts from the mouths of people. It's a very curious word. Perhaps even more curious that C.S. Lewis chose it to represent the name of what is now known as the planet Venus. 

Although I'm only partway through Perelandra (the second book in C.S. Lewis's space trilogy) I find it haunting and enchanting; perhaps more like hauntingly enchanting, at least once I'm able to get past all the formal English language used.

The entire story reminds me somewhat of Dante's Inferno and is quite chilling in parts (although not as intensely as Dante's work). I wouldn't classify it as science fiction, rather it seems to fall within a category of religious fiction, especially since it deals strongly with theological issues. I have found it to be a very good read so far and, I expect, it will continue to be a good read through to the end. If you're interested in fantasy mixed with a bit of twisted history and science, then these books are for you. 

The other two books in the series include Out of the Silent Planet, which covers Ransom's journey to Malacandra (aka. Mars) and That Hideous Strength, which talks about nothing I'm familiar with because I haven't even read the back cover of the book XD

One last note; if you don't like reading formal English then this might not be terribly exciting for you. There are some parts where the big words send me running to a dictionary screaming "Where is it? Where is it?" It really can annoy one after a while, but I've learned to just plug through and *gasp* skip some parts. 


The following review, written by the users of Wikipedia at this next link and, is (to my current understanding) completely accurate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perelandra). Another good review can be accessed at this link: http://tal.forum2.org/cosmic2  Enjoy the review!

Squeaks.



{WARNING!! SPOILER ALERT!}


The story starts with the philologist Elwin Ransom, some years after his return from Mars at the end of Out of the Silent Planet, receiving a new mission from Oyarsa, the angelic ruler of Mars. Ransom is to travel to Perelandra (Venus), where is located a new Garden of Eden and a new Adam and Eve, to oppose the diabolically-inspired human physicist Professor Weston, who has been sent to corrupt the Eve figure. He is transported in a boxlike vessel seemingly made of ice, which contains only himself. He gets Lewis to blindfold him so he is not blinded by the travel due to the sunlight.
Ransom arrives in Venus, which he finds to be an oceanic paradise. One day is about 23 Earth hours, in contrast to the (roughly) 24 and 25-hour days of Earth and Mars. The sky is golden and very bright but opaque. The sun cannot be seen; hence the night is pitch black with no stars visible.
Strange, mythical creatures like winged small dragons roam the planetary sweet-water ocean, which is dotted with floating rafts of vegetation. These rafts look like small islands, and actually have plant life growing on them and animals living on them; however, having no tectonic foundations, they are in a constant state of motion. A single mountain, called the Fixed Land, exists on the planet.
Ransom quickly meets Tinidril, the Queen of the planet; a cheerful being who soon accepts him as a friend. Unlike the inhabitants of Mars in Out of the Silent Planet, she is very much like a human in physical appearance (except for her green skin); this is said to be the preferred form assumed by civilized animals as a result of the manifestation of the story's God, Maleldil, in that form. She and the King of the planet, who is largely unseen until the end, are the only human inhabitants and are the Eve and Adam of their world. They live on the floating rafts Ransom has seen and are forbidden to sleep on the "Fixed Land".
The rafts or floating islands are indeed Paradise, not only in the sense that they provide a pleasant and care-free life (until the arrival of Weston) but also in the sense that Ransom is for weeks and months naked in the presence of a beautiful, also naked woman without once lusting after her or being tempted to seduce her.
The plot thickens when Professor Weston arrives in a spaceship and lands in a part of the ocean quite close to the Fixed Land. He at first announces that he is a reformed man, but appears to still be in search of power. He pledges allegiance to what he calls the "Life-Force", and subsequently shows signs of demonic possession. Weston finds the Queen and tries to tempt her into defying Maleldil's orders by spending a night on the Fixed Land. Ransom, perceiving this, believes that he must act as a counter-tempter.
Well versed in the Bible and Christian theology, Ransom realises that if the pristine Queen, who has never heard of Evil, succumbs to Weston's arguments, the Fall of Man will be re-enacted on Perelandra. He does his best during day after day of lengthy arguments illustrating various approaches to temptation, but the demonic Weston shows super-human brilliance in debate (though when "off-duty" he displays moronic, asinine behaviour and small-minded viciousness) and moreover appears in no need of sleep.
With the demonic Weston on the verge of winning, the desperate Ransom hears in the night what he gradually realises is a Divine voice, commanding him to physically attack the Tempter. Ransom is highly reluctant, and debates with the divine (inner) voice for the entire duration of the night. A curious twist is introduced here; whereas the name "Ransom" is said to be derived from the title "Ranolf's Son", it can also refer to a reward given in exchange for a treasured life. Recalling this, and recalling that his God would (and has) sacrifice Himself in a similar situation, Ransom decides to confront the Tempter outright.
Ransom attacks his opponent bare-handed, using only physical force. The Tempter, unable to withstand this despite his superior abilities of rhetoric, flees, whereupon Ransom chases him over the ocean, both riding the backs of giant and friendly fish. During a fleeting truce, the 'real' Weston momentarily re-inhabits his body, and displays his experience of Hell, wherein the damned soul is not consigned to the pain of flames, but is absorbed and "digested" by the Devil, eventually losing all personality completely.
While Ransom is distracted by his horror and his feelings of pity and compassion for Weston, the demon takes control of the body, surprises Ransom, and tries to drown him. The two continue the chase and enter a subterranean cavern, where Ransom seemingly kills Weston and having done so searches for a route to the surface. Weston's body, horribly injured but still animated by the Devil, follows him. When they meet for the last time in another cavern, Ransom smashes Weston's head with a stone and consigns the body to volcanic flames.
Returning to the planet's surface after a long travail through the caverns of Perelandra, Ransom recuperates from his injuries, all of which heal fully except for a bite on his heel which he sustained at some point in the battle, which continues bleeding for the rest of his time on earth.
Ransom meets the King and Queen together with the Oyéresu of Mars and Venus, all of whom celebrate the prevention of a second biblical "Fall" and begin to create their utopia. The story climaxes with Ransom's vision of the essential truth of life in the Solar System, and possibly of the nature of God: strongly paralleling the journeys of Dante in the Divine Comedy.
His mission accomplished, he returns, rather reluctantly, to Earth to continue the fight against the forces of evil on their own territory.

5 comments:

  1. I love the first two books in this series! Love 'em. :)

    However, be warned that the last book isn't quite as good, unfortunately. It's good, but not quite of the caliber of the first two. :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Drats! I was expecting this big face-off but now it seems like... bah, I was kind of hoping (before I read the review for That Hideous Strength) that another planet would be introduced...but apparently it's on earth :(

    So I take it you read the books; how did you find them? Did they keep you interested?

    Squeaks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I actually have read all three. While Perelandra is my favorite, I have to respectfully disagree with Jake. Just because That Hidious Strength occurs on Earth doesn't make it boring. In fact, the fact that Deep Heaven descends makes it a thrilling read.
    P.S. You might want to put a spoiler warning on the review.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Galadriel, I put up the spoiler alert :)
    I hope that the third book will be good; I'm already at the part in Perelandra where Un-Man is trying to drown Ransom :S Creepy lolz! The devil in disguise...always freaks me out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Best. book(s). ever.

    I'm going to (strongly) disagree with Jake, in that I think That Hideous Strength is even more intense than the first two. Since it takes place on earth, it is, in fact, a lot freakier. Especially since it's rather 1984ish (but with a happy ending), and frighteningly accurate. That, and Mr. Bultitude and McPhee are both just wonderful. :D

    ReplyDelete

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