Book Review: That Hideous Strength

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength (The Space Trilogy, #3)
by C.S. Lewis
4 out of 5 stars
Jane and Mark are caught between the forces of good and evil. As the N.I.C.E. corporation offers Mark a job to lure him into their wicked schemes, Jane is approached by a very different group of people who have gathered around Ransom. They each have to decide what they believe in when it turns out that archangels and ancient legends are real.

This book has a very different format from the other books in the series, and Ransom is a side character in his own story. The trouble with Jane and Mark being the main characters, is that I don’t really like either of them. They are so wishy-washy and both their personalities are unattractive. However, they do both have extreme character development and really interesting internal journeys.

I really love the vivid writing style. Lewis is a master of words, and he really brings out strong emotions in every scene. However, the philosophical ramblings and the religious explorations go on for entire chapters, and they slow down the story. And there were a lot of gruesome details that were upsetting to read about. Brilliant writing, but not comfortable or enjoyable to read. There’s also some seriously questionable theology in there, but maybe that was just imaginative license for the story.

One of the things that I find really exciting and attractive about the first two books in the series is the world-building of the alien planets. Of course, that is missing in this book, but we do get a lot of mystical history of Avalon and the legends of Merlin and King Arthur Pendragon. I enjoyed all the references to these old legends and how they were incorporated into the story.

Overall, I don’t think this is Lewis’ best work. It’s fine, but it is not as enjoyable as the rest of the series. I think Lewis was trying too hard to make a point to the detriment of basic storytelling.
I can see where many things about this book are absolute genius. But I didn’t personally find it enjoyable to read.

Keep Reading to See My SPOILER Chapter-by-Chapter Notes!


That Hideous Strength Notes
Chapter 1

The theme of the destruction of beautiful woodland and the sanctity of nature reminds me very much of Tolkien and the hobbit’s love of “good tilled earth.” All the evils of tearing down the Bragdon Wood are brought to the forefront to emphasize the evil minds of these men, and how easily good people like Mark can be led astray.

Jane’s dream is such a fairy tale way to start a story with a prophetic vision that gives the dreamer some special knowledge that they don’t quite understand.

Chapter 2

Both Mark and Jane are being influenced by people but in different ways. Jane needs companionship and comfort, and Mark wants to be a “big man” with the in-crowd (he really is terribly insecure), and people around them use those needs to manipulate them.

Chapter 3

I love the vibrant words in the first scene of this chapter. Mark is being “enfolded” in the “vague” “drugged atmosphere” of NICE, and nothing definite is said about the role NICE plays, because it is all shrouded in mystery. They don’t want anything definite coming to the light. And sweet silly Mark falls for it. 

When Mark doesn’t have the money to pay the club fees of 200 GBP, I did a little research. Accounting for inflation, it would be about 5,000 GBP today, or about $7,000 USD. No wonder he doesn’t have that in the bank!! I don’t have that in the bank. Any you rich people got $7,000 to spend on stupid club fees for evil demonic organizations? No? Nobody? Okay good. Continuing on….

Mark, why don’t you listen to Hingest?!?! He tried to warn you! Hingest, why don’t you make it more clear to Mark?!?! and why do you keep saying, “None of my business…”  You just don’t want to take responsibility or actually stand your ground on anything. Cowardice, plain and simple! Ugh. You both disgust me, you fools!  And yet… I’m utterly fascinated and glued to the page! haha!

Chapter 4

We start to see how the NICE really do have power. They can tear down people’s homes without any prior notice. No one can pin them down to protest because they will always say you are complaining to the wrong department. I hated hearing about the Dimble’s beautiful garden and trees being destroyed. And those nasty workmen!  No respect at all.

Of course, it is obvious at once that Jane’s dream of a man being attacked on the road is Hingest being murdered. Poor Hingest. I was so annoyed with him in the last chapter, and I’m afraid I called him a coward, but I forgive him now, and I take it all back. He fought valiantly at the end. And the rods of light all around… I wonder if they are demons spurring on the NICE police to do their nasty deeds, or are they angels waiting to welcome Hingest into the afterlife and give him courage in his last moments? Maybe both.

I’m not surprised that Lewis uses a clergyman in this chapter as one of NICE’s henchmen. Lewis was always writing about nasty “religious” people who pervert the Word of God and twist it to their own ends just the way that Rev. Straik does in this chapter. It’s awful to hear his wild ideas about religion. Blasphemy of the worst kind!

I wish that Jane and Mark would stop playing these social games with each other, and just be honest with each other! They are both trying to “look good”, and it is destroying their relationship. Tell each other the truth! Be vulnerable with each other. Trust each other! You are husband and wife, for pete’s sake! Agh. So frustrating to see them being stupid.

Of course I had to look up “saeva sonare verbera, tum stridor ferri tractaeque catenae”. Apparently it’s a Latin quote from Virgil describing Tartarus with “the savage lash;, as well as the gnashing of iron: and the dragging of chains”, and the fellow aptly uses this quote to describe the building project going on in Bragdon Wood.

Chapter 5

Poor Mark is being manipulated from every side in this chapter. They have made it completely impossible for him to refuse the job at NICE. Awful to see these little strings weaving around him, choking him. That Feverstone is just malicious. Ugh. and that horrible Deputy Director with his vacant stare. Ew. I think he’s possessed. But I think the worst one is the Fairy. She’s really nasty and gross. She makes me think of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda. Ewwww.

And then Jane meets the Dennistons and hears about Ransom under a new name. He is the “Head” of their society, with a wound in his foot. Just as Christ is the Head of the church, and was prophesied to have a wound in his heel, like Genesis says signifying a small injury or setback, and as discussed in Perelandra. I just love all these Biblical allusions, and the way that Ransom is a typification of Christ. And of course there is a little mythology thrown in as well, since the myth of the Fisher King is an Arthurian legend about the Holy Grail. And the Fisher King is an invalid who guards the Holy Grail, and who has a wound in his leg or thigh, and he waits for someone to ask the right question that will heal his wound. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and the significance of Ransom taking on the name of the Fisher King and the Pendragon.

Poor Jane, it must be horrible to be all confused about weird visions and dreams, and then have these people trying to get you to join their weird cult. I got really frustrated with the Dennistons because they seem to be saying all the wrong things. They don’t make the right side sound attractive at all. Then again, isn’t that often the way when Christians try to explain to non-believers just how wonderful Jesus is, and it all comes out incomprehensible because the non-believer has no context for most of what you are saying? Jane has no context, so she misunderstands everything. And the Dennistons can’t explain too fully without compromising their secrecy and safety. Agh, it’s frustrating! But fascinating. 

At first I admired Jane for being independent and not wanting to be “drawn in”, but now she’s taking it way too far. You’re in, girl. You have to be IN someplace. You have to pick a side. You can’t straddle that fence. 

As Mark and Jane are moving in opposite directions, I’m reminded of the Bible verse that says that a house divided against itself cannot stand. 

Chapter 6

I wonder if the fog is a result of the Enemy trying to hide their movements, all the better to do more evil in the dark; or if the fog is a result of so many eldil from both sides converging on that one spot.

A “shy little article” in the newspaper “a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand.” That cloud reference is from Elijah asking his servant if he saw any sign that the drought was over. 1Kings 18:44  I think the little article is also a sign of big things that are coming.

The Hingest funeral being interrupted by the noise of the workmen is also a very telling sign. When men don’t even respect the mourning of the dead, then society is truly deteriorating. 

When Mark meets with Feverstone and the Fairy in the library, Feverstone says “ad metam properate simul” which is “hasten to the goal at the same time” in Latin.

It’s disturbing to see how easily Mark slides into doing criminal acts, without really thinking it through, even though he knows it is wrong. Going quietly into the darkness, into sin and evil, is a particular warning throughout the Bible. Lewis talks about it in Screwtape Letters; a slow gradual decline that escapes your notice, until you are so far down into the pit that you find it difficult to climb your way out again.

The reference to the “witches prophesying on a blasted heath” is obviously from Macbeth. Turn back, Mark! Macbeth didn’t listen to the warnings and sealed his own fate. Don’t be a fool, Mark!  But Mark is too happy in his “belonging” feeling, so glad to be part of the popular crowd. Ugh. I don’t know whether to pity him or be disgusted by his lack of backbone. 

Mark’s article refers to “the Mrs. Grundies”, so I had to look it up…. “Mrs Grundy is a figurative name for an extremely conventional or priggish person, a personification of the tyranny of conventional propriety. A tendency to be overly fearful of what others might think is sometimes referred to as grundyism.” – Wikipedia

And once Mark has written his articles, he is pleased with his work and thinks it’s all a great joke. He knows he is writing lies, but thinks that if he writes with “his tongue in his cheek” then it won’t matter. He is drunk with power, and laughing off any scruples he might have had. This is another thing that Lewis talks about in Screwtape Letters. The Enemy tries to get us to laugh at sin, to make it seem unimportant.

I’m sure that Jane is dreaming of the corpse of Merlin, and that the reincarnation of Arthur the Pendragon (i.e. Ransom) is the “someone” who is coming to let her out. There have already been so many references to Merlin and Arthur, and I am loving all this foreshadowing.

And then when Jane steps out of the fog into the sunshine as she arrives at St, Anne’s (St. Anne is one of the patron saints of Brittany and housewives, and her emblem is a door.), what a wonderful sign of the spiritual light that she is choosing. And there are little mountains that peek out from the fog all along the horizon, strongholds of faith in the middle of the battle.

Chapter 7

I really dislike Grace Ironwood. She’s not agreeable or personable. Her personality is not attractive in any way. She’s so stand-offish and almost rude. But it does make me curious to see how her character might be further revealed in the story. Maybe she has hidden depths.

Jane’s interview with Ransom is really grand and deep and glorious. I feel like I need to reread those paragraphs several times to unpack everything in there. I think it is strange that Ransom’s wound in his heel is causing him so much pain. It didn’t seem to bother him that much at the end of Perelandra. Maybe over time it has started to bother him more.

 I love that Ransom talks about George MacDonald’s book The Princess and Curdie. Lewis was a big fan of MacDonald’s work, and Princess and Curdie is an old-fashioned fairy tale for children. It’s a delightful book, and one of my favorites! The first book in the series is The Princess and the Goblin.

I’m not sure about the significance of the trained mice. Is that a reference to something?

Agh! Horrible Miss Hardcastle torturing Jane! I can’t stand it. This is gonna give me nightmares. Now I remember, it gave me nightmares last time I read it. Ugh. Why did I ever think I wanted to reread this awful trash? I hate it so much. This is just like the frogs in Perelandra. I can’t stand it. This is why I mostly read children’s books. I’m too sensitive and my imagination is too strong to be reading about people getting tortured.

Chapter 8

I’m so glad that Lewis spends a little time describing the calming room and the restful day that Jane has back at St. Anne’s, because I really needed to know that she is okay, so that I can be okay. Even so, I never really like Jane. I don’t connect with her personality. But that doesn’t mean I want to see her tortured!!

And of course he has a pet bear. Apparently, King Arthur was known as the Bear King, since the name Arthur is derived from an ancient word “arto-rīg,” meaning “bear/warrior-king”. There is also a fictional Order of the Bear that awaits the second coming of Arthur.

In some ways, the house arrangements at St. Anne’s feels very comfortable, but in other ways, the social roles that each person plays are so unconventional that it feels uncomfortable, because Jane doesn’t quite see where everyone fits in, and naturally doesn’t feel like she fits in. She’s unsure what role she is going to play in that strange household. I think it all sounds kind of awkward.

Several times now when Mark is contemplating his social status among the Progressive Element or the inner circle at NICE, he thinks that his own fluctuating emotions show that he is “maturing” and leaving behind “childish” things because he can hobnob with nasty people. But those exact things that he is observing in himself as “maturity” are actually his insecurities which stem from his childish need to be noticed by the “grown ups”.  At the same time, Jane is being shaken and frightened into a child-like state where she just wants to be comforted by “nice” people and feel safe. The more she acknowledges her childish side and allows those natural feelings to guide her instead of overthinking it all, the more mature and “good” she becomes. The real grownups don’t have a fear of appearing childish. It’s only the emotional children who are so very anxious to appear mature. There’s a quote from Lewis somewhere else where he paraphrases a Bible verse saying something about “When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the desire to appear very grown up.” I can’t remember the exact quote. Something like that.

I think it’s very telling that Mark would not like to have Jane see his behavior at Belbury. She would see the truth behind all the vulgar jokes and “back-biting”, the truth Mark himself knows, that these are not good people. But Mark has so thoroughly deceived himself, even though deep down he knows that it’s all a sham, that he doesn’t want anyone to come into that sphere who will ruin his little dream of being in the inner circle. He knows that Jane will burst that bubble he has been living in, and he would rather live in filthy lies than hear the truth. I’ve actually known people like that. They will do anything to keep their mantle of lies wrapped tightly around them, and they will viciously attack anyone or anything that threatens their pretty fabrications. Oh Mark, you petty little imbecile. Make way for the prodigal.

Chapter 9

Ugh. The nasty horrid Head. Bleh. Made me nauseated to read about. I’m not surprised that Mark was sick. And the next morning he realizes that everyone, every single person at NICE, is always afraid. Fear is the engine that drives it all. Lewis says that Mark is a “man of straw” with no moral compass to hold him up. Reminds me of “All we like sheep have gone astray.” I’m also alarmed at how much Mark is drinking alcohol. He is even drinking before breakfast?! Honestly, that is just idiotic. And then he tries to make a break for it, and sees some freaky apparition of the Deputy Director being demon possessed, and loses his nerve. I just despise Mark so much. Get the h— out of there, Mark!

So then Mr. MacPhee starts to explain things, and… wait, what? Feverstone IS Devine?!?!?  Where did that come from? Was I supposed to know that, and I missed it somewhere? Oh, for Pete’s sake.

 I love all the Arthurian references to Logres and the way the moon is described with allusions to Diana/Artemis. This whole story is steeped in ancient myths.

 “Corvus is the Latin word for “raven”, a bird closely related to the jackdaw.”

I know that Lewis is famous for mixing his myths in a slapdash manner, but seriously… at the end of this chapter we get a rundown about Merlin’s magic that is apparently left over from Tolkien’s Numenor and the legends of Atlantis. Oh boy. It’s Christmas in Narnia all over again. haha!

Chapter 10

As if they didn’t already have their claws deep into Mark, they have to fabricate this suspicion of murder to pin on him too. And then when he runs out to escape, he sees that vision of Wither again blocking his path. Some kind of astral projection maybe. I’m so glad that Mark finally found some courage and tried to fight the vision, and was able to escape! Hooray! 

And then the devastation at Edgestow, and Mark is annoyed that Jane is not home. Ugh. I had one tiny sliver of respect for him when he escaped, but now he is being so selfish again! And he wants to “bluster” and be the big man again, and shout his annoyance to the Dimbles. I really can’t stand Mark. I’m sick to death of him. AND he’s drinking too. Nasty, brutish, filthy, selfish Mark. Ugh. “His youth approached the moment at which he would begin to be a person.” That’s it exactly. He isn’t a complete person. He’s a toddler throwing tantrums and being scared in the dark. 

I just love that Dimble is struggling so mightily to view Mark with pity and compassion, when really all he feels is disgust. Dude, we’re all there with you, Dimble.”Stop posturing and acting..!” Dimble says. YES! OMG, stop play-acting and be sincere for once in your life, Mark.

While Mark is thinking over Dimble’s offer to help him leave the NICE, his one instinct that is true and good is the child-like need for a grown-up to swoop in and save him. Just like Jane’s child-like instincts led her to make good decisions, and led her to actual maturity instead of all this foolish pretending that Mark keeps doing. And all Mark does is blame everything else for his own inability to make a decision. He blames his heredity, his education, Jane, Dimble, everyone else, but never takes responsibility for himself. Toddler. And yet, I didn’t want him to get arrested. I wanted him to be redeemed.

And then Dimble starts to blame himself and criticize himself. Dude, you did the best you could in a difficult situation, and it’s not your fault if Mark misunderstood your attitude. Maybe it did Mark some good to see that you despised him. Maybe it will give him a clearer look at his own miserable self. 

I loved the meeting in the kitchen as Ransom gives out orders to find the reawakened Merlin, and Dimble speaks the Language. I love how Ransom continually assures MacPhee that he can’t go because he is not protected as the others are, because he has not put his faith in God/Maleldil. I just love the implications of this, that they are protected and surrounded by good eldila and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, so that no demonic force could ever harm them or fool them. Solid theology.

But the next bit, where Jane places herself in obedience to Ransom, and Ransom says it is enough to protect her, because “when you mean well, He always takes you to have meant better than you knew.” That bit is not exactly sound theology. If Jane has not made a confession of faith to God, there is nothing protecting her. Maybe she is a believer in her heart, but doesn’t know how to express it yet. That would make sense, but how could Ransom know her heart? This bit is iffy.  Just like Emeth in The Last Battle. Definitely iffy theology.

Chapter 11

I love getting inside the heads of each of the characters as they approach where they will meet Merlin. Dimble thinks of the weight of history that falls on them, and Jane is still wondering about what she really believes.”…the old ring-fence” refers to an animal pen that would keep animals in and predators out. But this passage says that the fence has been smashed, and a new world has been revealed to Jane, and the old ideas that penned in her mind no longer hold her back from understanding the reality of Maleldil.

I think that Merlin is using his tricks to hide himself, so they can barely see him or mistake him for a donkey or a log as they approach. They see him in modern clothes, but he’s probably wearing some ancient robes. Ransom did say earlier that most of Merlin’s old magic was probably hypnotism.

I think it’s such a genius insight for Lewis to write that the Fairy almost completely dismisses Dimble as not being a threat. “He’s a Christian, there isn’t really much against him. … Not the kind that would make a public man.” The Enemy think there isn’t a threat in quiet goodness and simple obedience. They can’t see the power of plain innocence. They only look for power in violence and corruption. 

The whole conversation between Withers and  Frost reminds me strongly of Screwtape Letters. Mean and nasty and calculating. and Withers basically says that he wants to demon-possess Mark. Ugh. This scene actually made me ill. They are both certainly demon possessed. Ew.

And Mark’s horror at imagining himself dead also made me feel sick. What a contrast between the way Ransom talked about death just a few scenes ago! “You can’t lose your soul, whatever happens.” Ransom has courage to face death cheerfully because he knows what Joy awaits him on the other side. But Mark is a snivelling coward. Again.

But at last Mark is seeing his life more clearly than he ever has before. That descent where he examines his entire life and realizes that he has always been a fool… oooh, that’s powerful writing. Because we all secretly in our innermost hearts are just as foolish and afraid as Mark. Our whole lives we have been fools, and misunderstood the world, and made the wrong decisions, and lost the only really important things in our lives because we couldn’t recognize what IS important. Dang. Lewis breaks down your entire existence in one paragraph. and like Mark, we have to “begin over again as though he were an infant.” For myself, the only good things I’ve ever done were the steps I took towards God. Any step I tried to make for myself has always gone wrong.

I am filled with hope for Mark! He is finally seeing some truth. It is uncomfortable, as truth always is, but if he can just hold on to the truth, we will see him as a free man yet.

Chapter 12

I think it is absolutely adorable that “Orion dominated the whole sky” while Jane and Dimble and Denniston are following the tracks and footprints. The Hunter in the sky, and the hunt is on to find Merlin.

The whole conversation that Mark has with Frost is actually sort of fascinating, to hear all these ridiculous lies about “macrobes” (the eldila) with just the tiniest hint of truth. Such well-constructed lies, very thoroughly and thoughtfully designed to deceive, and appealing to the emotions that they pretend to discard.

I just love the mysterious appearance of Merlin. Is the real Merlin with Ransom? Is the real Merlin drinking beer in the Withers’ office? Love the mystery!

12.7 And as soon as Frost leaves, Mark feels a “sense of liberation”. Didn’t I literally just now say that the truth would set him free?  Called it. I’m so proud of Mark in this scene for fighting those mental battles and being strong in his resolution to be on “Jane’s side.”

Chapter 13

Oooh, I love the imaginative concepts while Merlin questions Ransom about the Moon and ancient legends and prophecies of King Arthur. Of course the stuff about Numenor being the True West is not right. Valinor is the True West. You would think that Lewis would check with Tolkien before using his mythology.

And later we see that Ransom has laid aside his crutch. Just like the myth of the Fisher King, once the right questions are asked, his wound is healed. I think it’s so delightful that Merlin is crusty and fierce and doesn’t get on well with anyone. haha! What great storytelling!

It was so funny to see poor MacPhee getting angry and with perfect reason. I would be distrustful and angry too if some creepy old dude came bursting into the house and put everyone to sleep. and then to have Merlin think that MacPhee is a sort of King’s jester! haha! That made me laugh.

However, I am dismayed about the whole thing that Jane should have had a child, and the implication that she has disobeyed God in some way because she wanted to wait to have a child. As if a woman’s only spiritual obligation is to have children. It makes it sound like she was being selfish to not want children yet. Some people don’t want children and that is okay. And especially because it is mentioned several times in the beginning of the book that Jane had no desire to have children! God gives us the desires of our heart to lead us in His will. If it is God’s will for you to do something, then He gives you the desire and the joy for that thing. So I’m just not sure what is being implied here that Jane did something wrong in not having children yet. First of all, she didn’t really know God yet, so how could she obey Him before now? And secondly if God was somehow giving her a command or a destiny to have a child before this point in the story, then why did she have such a strong aversion to having a child in the beginning of the book? If God commands someone to do something, there is some level of desire to obey that command. Of course, we can suppress that desire. The Bible tells Christians not to “grieve the Holy Spirit”, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Jane. I’m just very confused about the theology here, and I’m offended at the implications about women being forced by society to have children or their whole life is worthless or something. ugh. That is NOT what the Bible teaches!

But on a storytelling level, I do think it is interesting that Jane and Mark are discussed by Withers and Frost as having “eugenic possibilities”. Something about any child of Jane and Mark’s will be a spiritual focus in this battle.

Then the Dimbles sit down to have a little chat about everything. They mention that Jane and Mark have a difficult relationship because of the difference between the Spiritual and Material. I wonder if Lewis had it in his mind all the time that Jane would represent the Spiritual with her dreams, and Mark represents the Material with his obsession about his career and ‘getting ahead.’

Lewis gets into some dodgy theology again with this idea of “neutral Intelligences”, beings who aren’t exactly angels or demons… yet. I don’t know if he is really promoting this idea as something real, or just another fictional imagining. And then he says that polygamy wasn’t wrong for Abraham. Where is he getting this stuff? Of course, polygamy was wrong. It always was. It was just culturally accepted. Oh for Pete’s sake. Lewis has some weird ideas sometimes. We don’t always see eye to eye.

It’s really funny to hear Ransom trying to explain to Merlin why they can’t overthrow the King of England. haha! The whole dynamic between those two is really strong and robust. I just love it!

Chapter 14

I love that Mark recognizes Frost’s arguments as the “logical conclusions of thoughts which he had always hitherto accepted…”  So many people believe things and think things about the world, but they don’t follow that belief down to its logical conclusion. They don’t think it through and realize what the outcome would be if those things were really true. If they did, they would be horrified. And they would realize that those beliefs are obviously untrue.

I hated the whole description of the creepy conference room where Mark sees weird paintings and random dots and off-center architecture. Ugh. Horrible! But it’s brilliant writing. It made me feel awful, just like it did to Mark.

I don’t really get the point of Jane’s vision of Perelandra and the dwarves setting the room on fire and messing up the bed. I know it’s explained at length in Jane’s conversation with Ransom, but it seems like the explanation just clouds the issue, and raises more questions. I think I’m just tired. Tired of having to milk meaning out of every scene. I want to get on with the plot, and not have so many lengthy detours into heavy philosophy.

I also don’t like that Ransom is basically saying that all the ancient Greek gods were real, but that they were demons taking on the forms of the Oyarsa of other planets. You’re weirding me out. I mean, I guess it fits within the imaginary structure of the world. It makes sense within the story. I just.. I don’t like it. I’m in a mood. I don’t like anything.

I found Jane’s “spiritual experience” in the garden very interesting. She feels a “rightful demand” and the Presence of God, but it’s not really clear yet whether she is believing in Christ.

Chapter 15

I really like that the only thing that saves Ransom from losing his mind in the presence of so many archangels is that he has a knowledge of poetry. Brilliant!

As everyone reacts to the different Oyarsa entering the house, I was annoyed because no one reacts in these ways when they encounter Oyarsa in the rest of the books. Ransom isn’t seized with overwhelming emotions of courage when he first meets the Oyarsa of Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet. Maybe in their own spheres they don’t have the same effect. Then why didn’t the character of Lewis react that way at the beginning of Perelandra when he stumbles into the dark hallway and is frightened by the archangel and so relieved when Ransom arrives??  Inconsistent. Is there some explanation given for this that I am missing?

I also don’t like that Glund/Jove/Jupiter is referred to as the “King of Kings”. That title is ONLY applied to Christ. Badly written.

I like the faint stirrings of decency and goodness in Mark that are growing stronger and stronger when he is told to stomp on the cross. I like the gradual way that he first identifies goodness as the ‘straight’ and the ‘normal’ things, and now he is starting to recognize that Christianity is connected with those things. It’s a great internal journey for him, and I’m starting to like him more!

Chapter 16

The scene in the dining room when they all have the curse of Babel and the panic and blood… ugh. It’s brilliant writing, but it’s upsetting to read about because it’s so vivid and nasty. And the scene where Filostrato is decapitated is just gruesome and vulgar. I mean, was it really necessary for them to be naked? Disgusting. Obviously that is the entire point, but still… I did not need to read that. I hated this entire chapter. Too many grisly details.

Chapter 17

I love that Mark finishes reading a children’s story that he had abandoned as a child. This is one of the hallmarks of maturity: losing your fear of childishness.

I loved the descriptions of the ladies putting on their beautiful dresses and robes, and how each of them begins to shine with her own style of beauty. But where is Grace Ironwood? I still don’t like her because she has no personality other than being curt and crisp. She never did get any further development or backstory.

The whole long discussion of Logres by the fireside completely lost my attention. It’s so long and involved and doesn’t quite make sense. It slows down the story right in the middle of the climax.

And I found the reconciliation of Mark and Jane to be anticlimactic.  It was fine, but it didn’t leave me feeling happy or satisfied with the ending.

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