Author: C.S. Lewis

Year: 1953, 54, 55, & 56

There are two sides to the argument over how to read Lewis’ iconic collection of books: in release or chronological order.  He wrote the seven books, one per year, from 1950 to 1956, starting with Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe and ending with The Last Battle.  But in the middle are several stories displaced in time, a prequel, a side quest, until the Narnian chronology becomes mixed up.  So, do you read his books in the order in which he wrote them or do you read them in the order in which they take place in this magical world?  I think the answer is quite simple; it doesn’t matter.  As I read these marvelous books to my children, I will read them in the order Lewis created them, but if I ever read them aloud again I’d probably go for chronological order.  These are great stories no matter in what manner they are enjoyed, books that demand a reread right after you finish, classics that will be a part of your shelves forever.

I consider the last four that Lewis wrote to be Part 2 of the entire set: Silver Chair, Horse and His Boy, Magician’s Nephew, and Last Battle.  These four all include secondary characters, not the Pevensie children alone, and their adventures in Narnia.  In Silver Chair, Eustace and a girl named Jill must save Caspian’s son from deadly peril.  In Horse and His Boy, we live a tale told often in Narnia, the adventures of Shasta and the brave horse Bree.  In Magician’s Nephew, we learn of the birth of Narnia, how it came to be and how it might someday end.  And in Last Battle, the final days of Narnia dawn, because nothing gold can stay.  These four books further broaden a world we have learned to love dearly.

I can recall reading these stories when I was young, over & over again until I knew them by heart.  They are quick & easy, fun to blast through, and always entertaining to both children & adults.  But they are also laden with meaning, both Christian and pagan, based on ancient lore, and full of the myths our world is based upon.  Read from a Christian perspective, since Lewis was that, obvious parallels emerge, but the stories can be enjoyed by those who are non-religious as well.  It’s a beautiful world that he created, with colorful characters and adventures that will never grow old.  The first three books are the strongest, I believe, setting the stage for the rest, never being outdone by those to come, but the next four are marvelous as well, enriching a land we have come to hold so dear.  Read these classics to yourself or to your children, and then go back years later to revisit old friends; this series is special in that way, allowing us to travel to Narnia whenever we want and as often as we can.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆