Completed 11/4/2017, Reviewed 11/4/2017
Perelandra is the second book in CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy. It began with Out of the Silent Planet, taking place on Mars. This book takes place on Venus, or Perelandra. Elwis Ransom, the protagonist from the first book, is asked to travel to Perelandra with little detail. There he meets a solitary green woman. Soon they are joined by Professor Weston, Ransom’s nemesis from the first book. This time he seems to be the devil incarnate, tempting the green woman to disobey the one commandment given by Maleldil. Ransom’s mission seems to be to stop the temptation and let Perelandra exist in a way that Earth never could.
So does this all sound like an allegory for the Genesis story and the fall of Adam and Eve? Well, then you guessed right. Even in the story, Ransom is aware of the biblical nature of the events in which he’s embroiled. The woman is the new Eve and Weston is the new Serpent. But this time, Ransom is thrown in as someone who just may give this Eve a fighting chance to defeat the Serpent.
In some ways, I liked this book better than the first, in other ways, not. I liked the first half of the book very much. The interactions with the woman, aka the Lady and the Queen, are very entertaining. It is also exciting to watch Ransom’s reaction when Weston appears and engages the Lady in the temptation. Eventually, this begins to unravel when Weston and Ransom begin to engage in philosophical arguments. I could see this coming and was hoping it would be good reading, but I found it to be pretty dry.
CS Lewis comes from the school of “tell me, don’t show me”, rather than the opposite. So the world building occurs in extremely long passages that feel like they run on forever. It’s the equivalent of a science fiction film where the characters are standing mouths agape at unfolding special effects. There is some awe to what’s transpiring, but it goes on so long, it gets boring.
I was very surprised at the number of glowing reviews this book had out on the net. I think it comes from people who like the Garden of Eden allegory. While I liked the allegory too, the execution just got in the way for me. The enormous descriptions of the planet were simply too prosy, even for me. And the last twenty pages took me three hours to read: I kept falling asleep. I give this book two stars out of five. What I liked in the first half was outweighed by the tediousness of the second half. My next book is the third in the trilogy. Considering it was a book assigned to my fantasy lit class back in college, I’m hoping its better than the first two.