Wednesday, November 04, 2009

104 - 109 The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis

A year ago, I decided to begin at the first reading this series of books. Loved The Magician's Nephew. There's no explanation for the fact that I had not read the rest, but now I have remedied it. I wanted to read all the books before any more movies are made to color my reading. I'll do a brief synopsis of each book for those few who, like me, have never read them. I understand there is some controversy over the order of the books, but I'm calling The Magician's Nephew number one and going on from there.

2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  If you haven't read this book, surely you've seen the movie. I had and maybe that's why I hadn't read the book. I thought it was fun, James McAvoy cute, and the entire production quite inventive. Overall though, it was just okay for me. So I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the book so much and didn't have images of the movie in my mind as I read it. Basically, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy explore a house they are staying in during the evacuation of London in WWII. They come upon a wardrobe, hide in it and magically find themselves in the land of Narnia. There is an evil witch who uses Edmund for her wicked purposes. The other three find their way to Aslan, the Lion ruler, who helps in the battle against the witch. Strong Biblical symbolism like the first book.
Rating: 4.5
3. The Horse and His Boy  What's not to love about a talking horse. I'm sure Mr. Ed was patterned after Bree, the Narnian horse who helps Shasta escape from Calormene. Shasta is a very heroic boy who does what is right even though he is petrified. Susan, Edmund and Lucy play small parts in this book, but as adults. Rating: 4.25
4. Prince Caspian  I also saw the movie based on this book and enjoyed it very much. Therefore, I was disappointed in the book. There is not nearly as much interaction between the Pevensies children and Prince Caspian as was depicted in the movie. Romance between Caspian and Suan? Not at all. In fact, Susan whines a lot. There just seemed to be a lot more traveling in this book and not as much action. The talking animals were fun though, and I love the descriptions of the trees awakening. Rating: 3.5
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia bringing their obnoxious cousin, Eustace Scrubb, along. They join King Caspian on his ship, the Dawn Treader, as he goes on a quest to find the seven noblemen banished by his uncle in the last book. They must sail to the End of the World to complete the quest and have some great adventures along the way. Joining them is Reedicheep, the fighting mouse, who brings some great comic relief to the whole voyage. This book is one of my favorites in the series. Lewis shows great imagination and his descriptions are so vivid. Rating: 4.75
6.  The Silver Chair  Isn't it sad that as the children age, they are no longer able to return to Narnia?  I miss the four Pevensies; but fortunately, Eustace Scrubb is no longer obnoxious and can still visit.  On this go-round, Scrubb and a schoolmate, Jill Poole, are sent into Narnia with the task to find and rescue Price Rilian.  Puddleglum, a Marsh-wiggle, serves as their guide and is one of the funniest characters in the series.  He is such a pessimist but also brave and resourceful.  Scrubb, Poole, and Puddleglum have some great adventures as they travel to the northern world of the giants and then underground into the lair of the wicked witch.  Another fun read.  Rating:  4.75
7.  The Last Battle  In this book, Scrubb and Poole return to Narnia where many years have passed since their last visit.  An ape has convinced many Narnians that a donkey wearing a lion skin is really Aslan and commands them to do things in Aslan's name.  In this way, he slowly gives Narnia over to its enemies.  Tirian is the king and along with his friends makes a last stand against the Calorenes and evil.  While I know there is a lot of Biblical allegory in all the books, it is certainly the strongest in this one, which may explain why I didn't like it as well.  In the others, I could enjoy the adventures and the fantasy; but Battle is so Biblically heavy-handed that the story suffered for me.  Or maybe I just got tired of the whole series.  Or I'm not into stories about Armageddon.  Whatever.  Not only that, but I really hated what happens to Susan.  Sorry, can't tell you more.  Rating:  3.25

My seven books in this series were published by different publishers.  The first four were from Harper Trophy and I definitely liked them the best.  Each book had a map of Narnia and outlying areas in the back, plus a map in the front which showed greater detail of where that book's action takes place.  I love maps.  Plus the cover art on these four by Chris Van Allsburg was wonderful, reminded me of The Goose Girl cover on the first edition.  The Silver Chair did have a map and a listing of the main characters of all seven books.  Always helpful.  I know there are those who feel the books should be read in the order that Lewis wrote them as it helps the reader to understand the allegories better.  I read them chronologically and liked that just fine.  It's pretty hard to miss the symbolism anyway.  I liked reading my own feelings into them except for the last book pretty much spelled it all out.  I think my favorite book was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  My favorite characters were Puddleglum and Shasta.  Overall, I really liked this series and wished I had read it when I was younger. 


  1. I have seen the first movie but have never read the books. They sound fun. Thanks for the reviews!

  2. It might be time for me to reread these. I can't remember many details, even though it has only been a couple of years. All I remember is that I liked them very much.

  3. See, I have a problem with the Prince Caspian movie because it adds to the book (which I foudn unnecessary). Esp. the romance between Susan & Caspian!

    No matter how many times I poke through this series, my favorite is always The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The runner up for me is Voyage of the Dawn Treader. THe Last Battle just makes me sad.

    I enjoyed reading through your thoughts on this series. If you are up for it, every July I host a Chronicles of Narnia reading challenge. It would be fun to have you along for the journey.