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.)
***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.