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The Place of the Lion

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Novelist, poet, critic, and dramatist Williams uses fiction to explore how people react when the supernatural enters their lives, and how then to find the path of peace.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published February 14th 2003 by Regent College Publishing (first published January 1st 1931)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  1,215 ratings  ·  162 reviews


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Tara
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mir
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ideas
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.
...more
Mir
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Daniel
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
D.J. Edwardson
Some books give you the sense that the author behind them is a brilliant person, but that somehow that brilliance did not translate into a good book. I believe it is more common in non-fiction, or at least the non-fiction I've had occasion to read.

Sadly, such is the case with Place of the Lion. There is a fairly straightforward premise behind it: what if virtues or concepts took physical form and interacted with our world? At least I think that is the premise. I wandered through so many pages in
...more
Richard
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jacob Stock
I found it to be very odd, weird in fact, and strange, and while yes, the structure was hard and I got lost several times...low and behold I liked it. It was certainly different than most anything I have read. I did come to enjoy the sense of the supernatural, it was like I too walked with Anthony and did not know why or how, but I didn't need to because I was caught up in the moment. Oh, that I walked daily in the supernatural power of Jesus. Oh, that I just submitted myself to his ways and let ...more
Paul
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
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
Laurie
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. ...more
Lee
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
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
...more
Matthew
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I am going back to look at my butterflies, and recollect everything we saw [...] It's the only thing I can do. I was always certain they were true." ...more
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
...more
P.D. Maior
Platonic realities, archetypes, come crashing in to every day life when a modern day wizard of sorts sets up shop in the UK: the Place of the Lion.

A great book by one of the Inklings (Tolkien and Lewis being other members of such group along with some Anthroposophists). Now for the devil of me, I find it too coincidental Ouspensky, the wizard of the 1900’s, set up shop in his grand mansion called “Lyne Place” just 1 hour east of where the Inklings were meeting in the exact same decade, the 1930
...more
Joshua
Feb 01, 2020 added it
Shelves: fantasy
Charles Williams, the third Inkling, wrote perhaps the most obscure novels of the three (Tolkein and Lewis). I don't profess to understand all the symbolism of this novel. For instance, I can understand the image of the butterfly as a symbol of beauty, but it's not a particularly common symbol for beauty. Nevertheless, a basic grasp of Christian theology gives you the general logic of this story. **Spoiler warning**

The story opens with a lioness that has escaped, which foreshadows the main probl
...more
Roy
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sørina
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inklings, sff
Here is my summary of this book! https://theoddestinkling.wordpress.co....
...more
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
Sally Ewan
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I came to this book in an odd way..... I knew Charles Williams was a friend of CS Lewis, so when I saw a set of his novels in a book sale, I picked them up. But my impression was that he was kind of odd, so I didn't read them right away. Then about six months ago I read an article about Williams that made it clear that he was VERY odd, so I continued my disinterest.

Then I heard Greg Wilbur talk about this book at the CiRCE conference in Louisville this summer, and it really piqued my interest. I
...more
Morris Nelms
I've never read anything quite like this book. It's easy to see how he was one of the Inklings, because he is as deep and provocative in his way as Lewis or Tolkien. His language is both thrilling and challenging. The book takes a minute to get going, but the conclusion is fantastic. Mind bending writing throughout. I would have enjoyed meeting this fellow. The premise alone is unique. The "forms" from Plato's world of forms are entering the world we occupy. The collision produces unexpected res ...more
Jeremy
Mar 10, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
See one review here. ...more
Ben
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
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!
Conchita Matson
Don’t know what to think or what to rate this.
Ali
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird, delightful, and mysterious as only Charles Williams can be.
Jesse Broussard
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classic
When first I encountered Charles Williams, I sat stunned at his feet as the heavens were rolled back as a scroll and earth opened to receive my abandoned flesh. This time, not so much.

I give this book a solid 3.5 stars, but Goodreads allows for no such nuance, so I (ever the cheerful cynic) err on the side of "all shall be hell" and just give it three. But don't get me wrong: it is a book well worth the read, just not so, well, not so tight, if you will, as Descent Into Hell. Yet it is vintage
...more
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
...more
Chrystal
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.
Jillian
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Cindy Rollins
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a hard book to review. I cannot claim that it is a compelling read. I have now read it twice. Once at 19 and now at 50. At 19 the fantasy was the most alluring part of the story and I spent several years reading many of the books in the style of George MacDonald's Phantastes. At 50, I am better able to understand the philosophy. I now know who Abelard is and I have read much about order and creation. Still the book was a slog. I am willing to admit that I am the deficient one though. In ...more
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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

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“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?”
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“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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