The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Can you really say anything bad about The Chronicles of Narnia? I personally love this childhood series. Yet as a child, I confess that I did not find it interesting. Though my brother loved them all growing up. A couple years ago I had a goal of reading through a novel series and started to read through the Chronicles. I got stuck somewhere in book three (The Vogage of the Dawn Treader).
Then I heard Barbara Rainey about a year ago mention that after dealing with her daughter’s miscarriage, the only thing that seemed to help was reading through this series of books. After that and a few other cues, I decided to finish reading through the series. My husband joined me at about book four or five and we finished out the series reading aloud together.
As a Christian especially, I have found this series helpful. It gives you such a picture of Heaven and of things beyond our world. Not that Heaven will be exactly like Narnia, but I do believe that Lewis got a lot of things right about Heaven when he created Narnia. My personal favorite book was The Horse and His Boy. I just found the imagery of a royalty vs. slavery fascinating! A girl of royalty gives up royalty to seek Narnia. A boy who thinks he was born a slave, acts as such until one day he realizes he actually is of royal blood! Then he still struggles somewhat to come to grips with that idea. I find that so true in our Christian walk. Jesus is worth giving up riches and “royalty.” Yet when we become a part of His family, we become royalty ourselves—yet we often forget to act like we’re a part of His royal family. Often we find ourselves still acting out of our sin nature, a slave to sin, forgetting we’ve been set free.
I also really appreciated the last book, The Last Battle, but I can’t imagine one appreciating it unless they’ve read the other six books beforehand! I believe the imagery in that book speaks very well to the end times that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels. Jesus says people will be lovers of themselves (like the trolls for the trolls) and that they will follow an antichrist (the false Aslan), and that many will be fooled (as many are in this book!). As Aslan comes and makes everything right and separates the “sheep from the goats” we see a powerful imagery there as well. Then we see an everlasting “Heaven” in Narnia as the children are allowed to stay there forever. Yet not all believed and not all made it. Again I find this very true, yet sobering, about reading and seeing this narrative played out in fantasy.
So yes, I believe this classic novel series is one of the best that will ever be! It’s already outlasted it’s time. Certain books in the series definitely are more interesting or more “fast-moving” in the series than others, but I also appreciate the journey that each book takes the reader on. I highly encourage this series to children and adults. I do believe for those grieving, these books give a sense of hope beyond our world.
Some argue about the order of the books, saying The Magician’s Nephew is the first book because chronologically it occurred before the others. Others say to read them in the order in which they were written, which begins with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I heard a commentary on Breakpoint about this and I think I agree with it. I believe we should read them in the order written first. If after reading them through the first time, one wants to read them through again in a different order, I think that’s fine. But I agree as they mentioned in Breakpoint that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe gives a better total understanding of the series and a neater reveal of the character of Aslan than the other books.