August Read: The Dark Tower (and Other Stories)

Hey everyone! I’m here with my monthly book review, a C.S Lewis book. The title, The Dark Tower, intrigued me, and I decided to try it, since I wanted to read a Lewis book and we have a lot of them! So without further ado, here is the review on The Dark Tower and Other Stories!

Taken from Goodreads

The Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads)

Available from HarperOne, now the exclusive publisher of all of C. S. Lewis’s adult religious books, a repackaged edition of the revered author’s definitive collection of short fiction, which explores enduring spiritual and science fiction themes such as space, time, reality, fantasy, God, and the fate of humankind.

From C.S. Lewis—the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics—comes a collection of his dazzling short fiction.

This collection of futuristic fiction includes a breathtaking science fiction story written early in his career in which Cambridge intellectuals witness the breach of space-time through a chronoscope—a telescope that looks not just into another world, but into another time. 

As powerful, inventive, and profound as his theological and philosophical works, The Dark Tower reveals another side of Lewis’s creative mind and his longtime fascination with reality and spirituality. It is ideal reading for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis’s longtime friend and colleague.

Content Review

Positive Messages: This book is a little hard to write a typical review on, because there are multiple stories in the book, and most of the stories are not finished, therefore it is hard to find a clear message or point to the story that C.S. Lewis was probably going to add.

One positive thing show in the main story, The Dark Tower, was the love the main character, Scudamour, had for his fiancee. When he saw her appearing to be endangered, without thinking anything of himself, he jumped in to save her, selflessly.

Another positive message in a different short story, The Shoddy Lands. C.S. Lewis writes from his point of view about a vision he receives into the life of a certain young lady. He sees a dull, formless landscape which is blurry and depressing, but sees beautiful flowers in clarity, along with women’s shops, dresses, and so on. He also sees the woman, but she is as large as a giantess and is admiring her body, ignoring two people knocking on her door, one being her fiancé, and the other being Christ.

The story was an allegory into the priorities of the woman; she was more concerned about her appearance, her clothes, her body, and she had too much love for herself (noted by her giant size) and therefore blocked out those who wanted to be close to her but couldn’t (her fiancé and Jesus). I thought it was a very interesting, as if our own lives were shown in such a way, what would they be?

Rating: 3.5/5

Spiritual Content: As I said above, because most of the stories were partials, it is hard to figure out what spiritual message, if any, C.S Lewis intended on putting into these stories. However, in The Dark Tower, he has two Christian characters, Ransom, and himself (who he made a character in both this story and The Shoddy Lands). Ransom does talk about Christ a little bit as he, Lewis, and four other friends are talking about the possibility of time travel.

Another Spiritual thing I can remember from it, is what I stated above in the story The Shoddy Lands. He sees the woman is too caught up in the things important to her, to making herself look like a model, that everything else, the beauty of the world around her, the people who care about her, and even Jesus Christ, are shut out as she dwells in her vanity. It’s a good lesson to spend time with Jesus, others, and treasure the world around us which He created.

The last Spiritual thing I can recall is in another story, Ministering Angels. There’s a man in the story known as “the Monk”. He goes to Mars, as it is the closest thing to a hermitage he can think of, and prays to the Lord that he will rely on man less and Him more. At the end of the excerpt, after he meets an ugly woman who’s been sent to Mars to be a mistress for the men, he realizes that the Lord may not have sent him to Mars just for his own spiritual journey, but to try and lead others (starting with this poor woman who he pities) to Christ as well.

Rating: 3/5

Romantic Content: In The Dark Tower, the main romance comes from the main character Scudamour and his fiancee, Camilla, and it’s very light. Once he thinks about kissing her, and when they look at each other, there’s love in their eyes, and they talk about their love briefly.

In the Shoddy Lands, the vain woman is described as being in a two-piece bathing suit, and then elsewhere, naked, to show just how vain she was in admiring her body (which, according to the author, was actually very sickening looking, like she had leprosy).

In another story, Ministering Angels, its short partial introduced us to a bunch of men living on Mars. The main character is a newly married man, but his wife is on Earth. A spaceship arrives from earth, bringing with it two women (two ugly women) who are supposed to be like mistresses to the men, but none of them like them in that way, so for the extent of the excerpt, it’s the men trying to humor them as well as get them to go back to Earth and leave them alone.

In the story, Forms of Things Unknown, there is mention of a girl who dumped a guy. And finally, in the excerpt, After Ten Years, there is mention of the infidelity of Helen of Troy to her husband, Menelaus. There is also a mention of a man, during the fall of Troy, touching a girl, which Menelaus quickly puts a stop to, and mentions of men chasing girls throughout the city.

Rating: 3/5

Violent Content: In The Dark Tower, the main “violent” content was from one of the individuals in the alternate universe, called a stingman. The stingman was a man, but he had a long stinger on his forehead, like a unicorn horn. He would sting his victims and they would struggle for a few minutes, then like turn into automatic machines like, from what I gathered. Also, someone gives someone a head-butt.

In the story, The Man Born Blind, the simple violence in this is that a man unintentionally commits suicide, trying to understand what “light” is, by throwing himself over a cliff.

In the story, Forms of Things Unknown, there is rumors of things being on the moon that have somehow killed the last few spacemen who have gone to see the Moon, or otherwise driven them mad. The main character of this excerpt goes to investigate, and he sees a human head with her hair blowing behind her, but there’s no wind blowing. The excerpt cuts off there.

In the last excerpt, After Ten Years, Menelaus thinks about how he will torture and kill Helen when he finds her, if he will torture or kill her. There is also some details about the fall of Troy and their sack of the city.

Rating: 4/5

Language: I was rather surprised to see language in a C.S Lewis book. The D-word and H-word are scattered about around a half a dozen times each, and there is one reference to the bi-word and a-word.

Rating: 2.5/5

Other Negative Content: Since this story was an excerpt story, it was rather hard to really enjoy or get invested into any of the stories. Two of the five stories within were actually finished short stories, and they were all rather… weird, in my opinion, not like C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia at all. Perhaps if he would have finished them, they would have been better, but they definitely weren’t my favorite of his writings.

Rating: 4/5

Total Content Rating: 3.3/5 Stars

Personal Review

When I first grabbed this book, I didn’t actually realize they were a collection of C.S. Lewis’ unfinished stories. While interesting to see some of Mr. Lewis’ other ideas which he never got to publish, it was hard to get into any one of the stories because of how partial most of them were. There were a couple that were finished, honestly, my favorite one was one of those. But it was hard to really enjoy the story when it ended so abruptly, and when I wasn’t quite sure what the point of it was.

The Dark Tower was the longest partial story, and it was pretty interesting, despite being cut off so quickly. I’m still wondering what C.S Lewis’ point in it was, though. After Ten Years was another interesting partial, being a retelling of the fall of Troy, and since I was always interested in that time period, it was cool, but it still cut off so early I wasn’t able to get invested. My favorite of the stories was The Shoddy Lands, a short story actually finished. Even then, it was rather weird, but it was the only one I clearly understood the allegory and point to, which made it very intriguing for me.

Besides that, I was surprised at the dozen or so times I spotted some language scattered about, seeing as this is a C.S Lewis book. Maybe Mr. Lewis was planning on taking the language out before he published it, but never got around to doing it? I don’t know, but it really surprised me.

As of that, for this personal review, I will probably give this book three stars.

Personal Rating: 3/5 Stars

I hope you enjoyed this review! Do you think you’ll read this book? Have you read this book? Have you read any C.S Lewis books? Let me know in the comments below! God bless! ~ Kay Leigh

(And of course, Nicky’s stamp of approval, can’t miss that!)

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