The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
In seven books, first published in seven consecutive years in the 1950s, British poet, literary critic, and Oxford don Clive Staples Lewis created a landmark in children's fantasy literature. An early landmark, to be sure, but one that still casts a long shadow!
From the beginning of the adventures of the Pevensie children-- Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy-- in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, you will be enchanted by the magical land of Narnia: where there are satyrs and fauns, unicorns and centaurs, dwarfs and mermaids, giants and evil witches, many kinds of talking animals, and much more.
In seven adventures that canvas a wide area of this interesting world, and its entire history from Creation to the Last Trump, the Pevensies and other English children (like Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer) intervene at crucial points in Narnia's history. And never far off is the guiding presence of Narnia's recurring Christ figure, a mighty lion named Aslan.
The stories range from a Wizard of Oz-like uprising against an evil witch, a fairy-tale search for a missing prince, and an Arabian Nights style tale of a runaway slave seeking his fortune abroad, to a Shakespearean tale of a prince and his usurper uncle going to war over a royal succession, a Homeric odyssey (by ship, of course) to the edge of the world, and a quite ahead-of-its-time science fiction story about visiting other universes.
Yet at the same time, Aslan teaches his friends lessons about faith, courage, obedience, and honesty. You see a redemptive sacrifice, a world's creation, a primeval temptation, and a Judgment Day. And in a clever way that somehow never spoils the sense of reality of his wonderful fantasy world, Lewis deals out pointed opinions about modern education, existentialist philosophy, and religious skepticism.
His language is beautiful. His sense of irony is breathtaking. Narnia and its surrounding countries are rich in imagery, full of memorable characters, and packed with exciting action. These are stories that children can read, or have read to them. And these are stories that adults can come back to time and time again.
An alert reader named StephHP has pointed out that there is another possible order in which you may choose to read these books. Rather than the order in which C. S. Lewis wrote and published them (which you will find on the Book Trolley main page), you can read them in chronological order of the events in the books, as follows:
StephHP says this is the order Lewis said they should be read, but I would like to see evidence of that. In my opinion, this is like the issue of what order to read C.S. Forester's Hornblower novels
in. You can either enjoy the way C.S. Lewis developed the concept, or you can experience the story of Narnia from its beginnings to its end. Personally, I feel strongly that you should read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
first. The Magician's Nephew
assumes that you already know Digory Kirke from his earlier appearance as the grown-up Professor, and that the world that Aslan creates toward the end of the book is already known to you. Sometimes an author does have second thoughts, but sometimes his first thoughts were better. But it's really up to you!
Recommended Age: 8+
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