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The Place of the Lion

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,073 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. Beneath the brilliant and imaginative surface of his "supernatural thrillers" lies a concealed and meticulously thought-out Christian message.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published 1965 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1931)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,073 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ideas, fantasy
I thought I had read Williams' All Hallows' Eve, but I am reading it now and it is unfamiliar, so I think it must have been this one that I read years ago.

Come to think of it, I do have a vague memory of a character seeing a lion... that may be autosuggestion, though.
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ideas
Now that I've reread this I can confirm that yes, it is the Charles Williams book I read like 20 years ago. I think it is less theological orthodox but more imaginative than his other book I've read in between, All Hallows Eve. Giant ferocious animals that are Platonic Forms that are Angelic Powers stalk through a small English town, bringing disaster to those who align themselves too excessively with one quality or another. Because too much of anything is a bad thing!
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-inklings
As an author, Charles Williams writes stiffly, his stories are strange enough to be nearly inaccessible, and his characters who find clarity start speaking in a way which makes The Fairie Queene look folksy. All that being true, I love this man. After finishing this one I slept not just better, but more happily (merrily, even?) then in months. Goodness became more solidly true than usual. A few days later I was taking a shower and suddenly thought of the Idea of the Lion and Plato's Butterfly an ...more
Literature can be considered good on any of about four counts: general beauty of language (often found in brevity), character, story, and excursiveness (often found in expansive, sometimes philosophical meanderings). The Place of the Lion excels at excursiveness, stinks at character, and passes on the other two counts. Here's a great excursion from the text:

"His friend. The many moments of joy and deep content which their room had held had in them something of the nature of holy innocence. There
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some ways "The Place of the Lion" is as remarkable as the two previous volumes written by Charles Williams. The supernatural that imposes itself on the mundane world is the Platonic world of primary images from which all conceptual ideas derive. The world of the senses is portrayed as an illusion—a mere reflection of the “real world” from which it derives. This makes for some absolutely spellbinding scenes as individuals find themselves suddenly confronted with a reality they cannot comprehen ...more
I just can't stay with this -- a lion, a butterfly, philosophy -- I think I'll first read more about the author, one of the Inklings.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book a lot more, but Charles Williams' status as the odd Inkling out is not entirely undeserved. His style, to say the least, is both dense and eccentric. For the most part readable, but difficult to fully enjoy.
This book can perhaps be most worthwhile if you pretend it's an archaic text that's been badly translated and adapted/revised in places. To Williams' credit, speckled throughout are truly fascinating, "out-there" mystic concepts, and some gems of real wisdom
Dave Maddock
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, inklings
I read War in Heaven, Williams' first novel, a few months ago and was underwhelmed. So, I decided to skip Many Dimensions for now (it's something of a sequel) and read The Place of the Lion. In short: it is fantastic.

I expected The Place of the Lion to be decent, but mainly worth reading due to its influence on CSL. Instead, I think Lion is better than anything Lewis wrote (of what I've read anyway). Williams has moved up in my estimation from an Inklings fringe character to a hidden and under-a
Peet Nichols
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So confusing but so good. I can't imagine how this came out of his head and onto paper. I think that above all is what so intrigues me about him, are his intangible imaginings that become very tangible. For instance, occasionally I feel confused with a bunch of important brain clutter, and I can only fix it by going somewhere quiet and talking out loud to myself in order to marshal my thoughts and make sense of the fender bender of ideas and emotions. He consistently organizes those elusive thou ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Williams has taken me to the edge of the physical and provided a peek of the metaphysical. His allegories are revealing of what we will all face, in one form of another. His reading is not for the easily distracted or for the faint of heart regarding future events.
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inklings, fiction
Here is my summary of this book!
Russell Fox
Much better, in my opinion, than All Hallows Eve (which I kind of admired but couldn't ever really get into), though still not really my kind of fantasy. But it's good enough to work for my class; I wonder how my students will respond. In this story, Williams comes up with a fantastical approach to Neoplatonism, which the Forms that stand behind our mental ideals of courage or desire, etc.--Williams usually refers to them as "Principals," though Christian talk of angels is mixed into their descr ...more
Mar 10, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
See one review here.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, complex, and wickedly absorbing. I’m not quite sure how to process this. I’ve never read anything quite like it, but I love it!
Joe Dantona
Whispers of conspiracy obsessively echo through our era. We are entangled in the kingdom of lies behind lies. Politicians rant of the New World Order, authors write Da Vinci Codes and Golden Compasses, mass-market video gaming produces the likes of Assassin's Creed. Conspiracies inhabit our mind.

But among all the conspiracies, if that is even the real word for this remarkable book, this one stands as a stained glass mural among shattered pots and pans.

When platonic archetypes begin to invade Lon
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say about this deeply odd book?

I'd read a couple of Charles Williams' novels along time ago. They were out of print and it was fun tracking them down, before the internet destroyed the fun of hunting for books in ramshackle stores.

The fantastical story of The Place of the Lion moves along at a fair pace. Some of the strange phenomena are rather beautifully described. Beyond that? Anomalies and contradictions... Unlike his drinking partners, Tolkien and Lewis, Williams makes explicit
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this - and all his other works - in the 1960's. I liked them a lot, bought copies and kept them. In the last six weeks I have shed most of my hard copy books but kept the Charles Williams to reread, beginning with The Place of the Lion.

His sentence structure is unnecessarily convoluted at times and his conceptualisation of relationships based on traditional interpretation of the Adam and Eve creation story seems uncritical and limiting to me in 2015. Nonetheless, it is still a brill
Mike (the Paladin)
This book is very much "its own" thing. I like it and I recommend it. It is one of the most esoteric reads I've experienced in a long time, but it's a great book. You'll need your brain in gear for this one...but it's worth it.

I love C.S.Lewis and discovered Williams as he was one of Lewis's favorite writers. Williams' books take a little work to track down (though I have noticed Amazon does have a pretty good selection LOL). On the whole they are worth tracking down however.

The (I suppose) Arch
Alex Boyd
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started out being a little skeptical of this book before I realized that it's one of those where the plot and philosophy are revealed slowly, as you make progress. I thought this was pretty cool, because instead of being the omnipotent reader, you were figuring things out and growing in understanding WITH the actual characters. This story is jam packed with a lot of philosophical ideas, so be prepared to be a tad confused. There was a lot I feel like I didn't fully grasp, but that didn't inhib ...more
Steven Tryon
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with all Charles Williams' books, marvelously strange, exploring the mingling of the physical and spiritual realms.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Williams is the master of symbolism. This is another rip-roaring Charles Williams novel. Huge ideas about spiritual reality and our world, particularly the human virtues, in a gripping thriller/romance/unique genre. I really enjoyed it, and took a few notes on the cosmology afterwards.
Roger Miller
Platonic archetypes begin to manifest themselves outside a small Hertfordshire town, wreaking havoc and drawing to the surface the spiritual strengths and flaws of individual characters. Their focus is the home of Mr. Berringer, the leader of a group interested in magical symbolism who falls into a coma after contact with the first archetype unloosed, the lion of the title. (Wikipedia) The Place of the lion ends by becoming armed with the secret names of the archetypes from a grimoire, Anthony s ...more
Carl Hempel
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Place Of The Lion. This book has been such a pleasant surprise.  I was a bit tentative going into it as I'd read how confusing it can be. Though it is at times hard to parse out what is going on, it's thoughts and reflections have firmly placed it as one of my favorite books.

Another reviewer has mentioned that one of the strengths of the book are the insightful excursions into philosophy or an exposition on an idea like that of friendship.  Here are a few quoted:

"Much was possible to a man i
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know how to classify Williams.

I don't suppose I'm his target audience: I struggle through his stuff in places, but I did straight up enjoy what felt like his spookier stuff, like The Greater Trumps and All Hallows Eve.

I suspect this would benefit from a reread and a theology class.

What's striking on this first read is the similarity in thinking between Lewis and Williams, that a very little fault is enough to draw you into hell (or, A hell, at least). The two people who end by bein
I know Williams is a literary mastermind, which is why I gave 3 stars instead of 2: I know that he has created a story that is able to be unpacked with careful and intentional study. This story is not one that you just pick up for enjoyment but rather one that is best understood and properly interpreted with study tools and/or a literary group.

Much of this book flew high and fast over my head. I find it hard to explain what it’s about to those who ask; it’s usually something like, “Well there’s
Lucas Freitas
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, regent

I don't read a lot of fantasy because I think dragons are a little silly (go ahead, judge me), so reading one that does not involve magic and fairies was a pleasant surprise.

The book is HEAVILY platonic, in an interesting way. Not your classic cave myth, for sure. It is actually quite surrealistic in the way Charles Williams describe the inbreaking of the realm of ideas into the "real" world. Many times I found myself wondering: "How on earth did we get here? Have I skipped a page?", until
First off I have to admit I was very irritated by the self-satisfied Christian white maleness of the main character and the narration. Which I should have realized, going in ... I haven't read any Charles Williams since college when white Christian maleness was the default setting for most of what I was reading. It seems I have far less patience for that sort of thing these days!

Still. Williams WAS brilliant, and the premise of the novel is intriguing, and it's certainly a good mental stretch to
Jill Risner
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Place of the Lion
By: Charles Williams
Year Published: 1933
Genre: Adult Fantasy Novel

If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, you are familiar with the Inklings, the small group of writers that met regularly to read and critique each other’s work in Oxford in the 1930s and 1940s. If you are like me, when you picture this group you may picture C.S. Lewis sitting by the fire at the Eagle and Child pub smoking a pipe with J.R.R. Tolkien by his side. But there were others in the group who helped to develop
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, theology
Williams uses a sense of place to explore the spiritual world, rather than an object as in his earlier novels. The effect is more overwhelming and frightening but gives him much more scope to explore ideas (or Ideas) and powers beyond our understanding, and usually outside our awareness. Much is left unknown, which enhances the power of the novel I think. I enjoyed it and was fascinated by it, but found Many Dimensions more fun, if less thought provoking.
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Charles Walter Stansby Williams is probably best known, to those who have heard of him, as a leading member (albeit for a short time) of the Oxford literary group, the "Inklings", whose chief figures were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. He was, however, a figure of enormous interest in his own right: a prolific author of plays, fantasy novels (strikingly different in kind from those of his friends), ...more
“I hope you still think that ideas are more dangerous than material thing," Quentin said. "That is what you were arguing at lunch."
Anthony pondered while glancing from side to side before he answered, "Yes, I do. All material danger is limited, whereas interior danger is unlimited. It's more dangerous for you to hate than kill, isn't it?”
“Have you by any chance an edition of St. Ignatius's treatise against the Gnostics?" he asked in a low clear voice.
The young assistant looked gravely back. "Not for sale, I'm afraid," he said. "Nor, if it comes to that, the Gnostic treatises against St. Ignatius."
"Quite," Anthony answered.”
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