That Hideous Strength

In the third and final entry of the Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength subtitled A Modern Fairy Tale for Adults we stay on Earth for the entire book. This book is about the same length of the first two books, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra combine. Once again I found that this book is appropriate for reading in the Lenten season as it deal with good and evil. Lewis puts it nicely that “Good is always getting better and bad is always getting worse: the possibilities of even apparent neutrality are always diminishing.”

This story picks up after the Second World War around 1948 or so at Bracton College in the University of Edgestow, where we meet one of our two main characters a fellow of sociology at the College named Mark Studdock, the Fellows of the University are meeting as the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.) wants to buy some of the land that the College owns which includes Bragdon Wood, which is an ancient woodland believed to be the resting place of Merlin. After the deal is agreeed upon Mark is asked if he would want to take a job at N.I.C.E by Lord Feverstone, we later learn that he is Dick Devine from the first book. Our other main protagonist is Mark’s wife Jane Studdock is a PhD student at the university who is having dreams, Jane and Mark are in a rocky spot in their marriage. One of Jane’s former teacher’s wives Mrs. Dimble, having been evited from her house since the sale,  suggests that Jane go to St. Anne’s to talk with a Miss Ironwood about Jane’s dreams. At this point the book shifts between these two stories with Mark working for N.I.C.E and Jane working with those at St. Anne’s.

It is in St. Anne’s where we find another familiar face as Ransom the main character from the first two books is now the Director at St. Anne’s  or the Pendragon. Ransom surmises that the dreams of Jane are clues to help win the day that those at N.I.C.E. are looking for Merlin to be resurrected and hopes that he’s on their side. Although the same is true with those at St. Anne’s. It is cool to see Merlin and the Arthurian legend being brought into modern times.

This book was difficult for me to get into as the first couple of chapters seem to be about College politics and that but once we get to NICE and St. Anne’s it get a bit easier to follow. Some say that this book is flawed as there are too many deaths and characters. While it is a bit different from the other two book being set on Earth I think makes the deaths and abundance of characters seem real, as Earth or Thulcandra is the realm of the bent Oyarsa. If you liked the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid these three books might hit the spot as an adult.