The Place of the Lion

This was my first experience with Charles Williams, in spite of having had a couple of his books sitting on my shelf for more than a decade. Reading in A Severe Mercy about how much value the Vanaukens had found in Williams’ writing, I decided it was finally time to take the plunge — and am I glad I did.

The Place of the Lion is a novel of ideas, in both a figurative and literal sense of the phrase. It revolves around the incursion of certain forces into our world — embodiements of ideals from a Platonic perspective, celestial beings from a Christian. As these beings, which manifest as giant animals, take on more solid existence, the people who have devoted themselves to the qualities they represent (strength, guile, etc.) begin to fall under their control. Conflict quickly emerges among the forces and people involved, and we follow the three principal characters as they struggle to come to terms with this new existence. A philisophical and theological speculation cleverly disguised as a novel, the book makes for engaging (and sometimes befuddling) reading which kept me thinking for a long time after I closed it. And now I have three more of Williams’ novels in my reading queue.