The Chronicles of Narnia – by C. S. Lewis

Let me begin this review by saying that I REALLY wish I had read these books as a kid. I think my affection for them would be so much greater now if I had loved them then. They are a beautiful thing to behold at any time but not being exposed to them until I was an adult takes away a lot of the wonder and mystery I would have experienced as a child since they were written specifically for children.

The only exposure I had to the Narnia stories as a kid was with a neighbor down the street. She would tell me these stories about a witch and a lion and a magic wardrobe. She was clearly enamored with it all and I thought she was coo-coo.  She told me that sometimes the lion would come to her window at night and talk to her. (Or maybe she just pretended that, I’m not sure). Either way, I wasn’t into it. I was more into Shaun Cassidy.

There are seven books in the series, the most famous being The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That one, (number two in the series), is the one to read if you’re not going to read them all. You get the feel for the whole series in that one and it is a great stand alone title for a clear beginning and end. Fans of the series often discuss which one is their favorite and I have seen among my friends, and my children, the answers vary across the board.

The Chronicles of Narnia, all together, are an allegory for the Christian faith. Aslan the Lion is the Christ-figure, the White Witch represents Satan, and the children represent the church. You can read the entire series separate from any spiritual connotations and still enjoy the stories and their literary merit-love them even-but I believe the original intent was to explain Biblical concepts like creation, the Gospel and Heaven from a Christian perspective, in a friendly, creative, child-like way.

Lewis’ voice is so patient and friendly in the telling and I love it when he occasionally stops the story and addresses the reader for a moment. I’ve been told there is a literary term for that but I don’t know what it is. I have even asked around about it. If you know what that is, please enlighten me in the comments.

The stories begin with The Magician’s Nephew. (Caleb’s favorite) This one covers the creation of Narnia and gives an allegorical account of the Garden of Eden. I wanted to love this one but I didn’t. The White Witch was just all over the place and I wanted just a lovely, peaceful creation.
It figures…..Satan…..messing everything up.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- definitely a favorite of mine. We meet the Pevensie children and they find Narnia through the magic wardrobe. They experience the story of sacrifice and redemption, and they fight in a mighty battle at the end. Just when they are about to be overcome by the White Witch and her army, the ressurrected Aslan appears and kills her. Dead. It’s kinda awesome. (My boys say he eats her head, but I can’t confirm that.)

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***The cutie pies in the photo above are Isaac and Brielle. They are the children of a friend and when she posted this picture to her facebook status she wrote “For Narnia!” – I was inspired.- Issac and Brielle? or Peter and Lucy? You decide.***

The Horse and His Boy- This one reminds me of an Arabian Nights story.  That’s the visual and the mood I get from it. I liked it pretty well.

Prince Caspian – Definitely a favorite of mine. Mainly because it was so LOST-y in mood. There was a secret professor teaching Caspian the long lost history of Narnia and Caspian’s family heritage. There was a great escape in the night, the gathering up of an underground army, and I PROMISE you I am telling the truth…one day I had watched a LOST episode where several of the characters were traipsing through the jungle and this giant, pre-historic looking bird flew down and called out one of the characters names. (Hurley). THEN, later that day, I’m reading Prince Caspian and the EXACT same thing happened! Except the bird didn’t say “Hurley”. (I don’t remember what it said, it’s been a while).

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – (Jonathan’s favorite). I found it to be kind of long and one of the characters, Eustace, was terribly annoying. But it was a wonderful story that takes place almost completely on the water, there was a treasure hunt of sorts traveling from island to island and it had a lovely Heavenly focused ending.

The Silver Chair – Another one of my favorites! I liked it because it was weird.

The Last Battle – The final book in the series. It was a wonderful “wrap-up” for an epic type story. It was a regathering of all the previous characters and their moving on into eternity in Narnia. And if you are reading from a Christian perspective, it offers thought provoking theological questions.

I am so glad these books are on the LOST list. I didn’t read them all together, I spread them out because sometimes I just needed a light read after reading some of the heavier stuff. And because I’ve read them, I’m now a fan, and so are my boys. That’s beautiful.

So, I know you’ve read them too. Please, do tell me your favorite in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “The Chronicles of Narnia – by C. S. Lewis

  1. I loved prince caspian and the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. They were my favorites, though its been a while since ive read them. My least favorites were the silver chair and voyage of the dawn treader. I need to
    Reread them all. I love cs lewis! Btw, i didnt read the entire series till college. I was way into shaun cassidy as well. I do remember loving the boxcar children too and read all the time. Not sure why narnia was not included….

  2. Daniel’s favorites are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as well. Jack’s favorite was The Horse and His Boy. I’m in agreement with Daniel (and you!) on this one. You didn’t mention this so I’m wondering if you know that they were released in a different order from chronological order (Narnian time, of course 🙂 ). We have just finished the entire series with the boys for the first time, but we read them in order of publication. I think that the series is more exciting that way, but that is all highly debated. 🙂

    • I knew there was hoop-la out there about the order. I read them in the order I listed except I read wardrobe first for school for Lindsay I think, then I started with Magician’s Nephew and read the rest in order for the reading challenge. I don’t know which camp of thought this order belongs in.

  3. The term where the author addresses the reader… I know it! But I can’t remember it. I know we talked about it in my English class this semester. I’ll ask my teacher and let you know.

    Of course, I love Narnia, and they were a childhood favorite for me. They are dear to me still, but there is a level of magic that they held for me as a child that they no longer have anymore (growing up, boo). That being said, I hold Lewis’s writings as an ultimate example of what fiction written by Christians (*not* Christian fiction) should be. Like you mentioned, they are just good, period (stylistically, content-wise–the quality of the story itself is stellar), but they also hold deeper meaning for those who understand where the worldview that Lewis built the world on is coming from. Basically, its how I want to write.

    And favorites. My most favorite is Voyage followed by LW&W, Silver Chair, Magician’s Nephew, Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, and Last Battle. (The Last Battle is an interesting one. Overall, I feel the tone of the entire book is different from the rest of the series, which is why it is last on my list. However, the last two/three chapters of that book are the best–and also my favorite–of the entire series. I love them so much I have an entire pinterest board dedicated to them http://www.pinterest.com/andsarahashley/further-up-and-further-in).

    Sorry for nerding out on you. I love Narnia so much and am glad you have come to love them too. (:

  4. Not sure I can choose a favorite, Darlene! You know how far back Narnia and I go! I had a bumper sticker on my first new car (1982!) that said “There’s no place like Narnia” and a drawing of a lamp post! Want to talk about favorite scenes? that’s another post altogether! Narnia is part of my ‘comfort reading’ list-books that I read even though I know what happened just when I need a friend. Sarah, I’ll have to check out your pinterest board!

  5. Ahhh! I’m so glad you liked them, but I must make a correction! I read these as a kid and have an original set. The Magician’s Nephew is actually book 6 and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is book 1. Some of the others are in different order as well, but it is these two that it is important to read in the correct order. If you know why and how the wardrobe works, there is no magic to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All “ah-ha” moments are gone.

    You can Google the story about the order change. Lewis was asked about putting them in chronological order, as opposed to the original order and he basically smiled and nodded, but didn’t do it. Fast forward to the 1990s and his step son gives publishers the rights to switch the order, which is what you’ve listed above. If you take a look at the movies made so far, they are following Lewis’s original order, which makes me so very happy. The best part of a story is the “ah-ha” moment.

    (Good review too, by the way!)

    • Oh and a funny little story. I have a closet in my classroom that actually goes the length of my classroom, but it’s just a door in the corner that I rarely go near, let alone into, during class time, so it’s possible not to notice it’s there or think it’s just a linen closet type thing.

      One day I went in it during my seventh grade class and I actually heard kids saying, “what’s that?” “Where did she go?” and “What’s in there.” Then there was silence and suddenly one kid, “It’s Narnia!” followed by laughter and agreement from others. I totally forgot what I had gone in there for by that time. They called my closet the wardrobe or Narnia the rest of the year.

    • Thank you for explaining the order!! I knew there were a few thoughts on that out there. I have really enjoyed the movies, especially the first one. And at least I did read LW&W before Magician’s Nephew. Even though I didn’t love Nephew like I wanted to…(it was the creation thing I was so looking forward to), I did get to have the cool “ah ha” moment with the origin of the wardrobe.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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