The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children written by C. S. Lewis. A classic of children's literature, it is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages. Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, The Chronicles of Narnia have been adapted many times, for radio, television, stage, and cinema. In addition to many traditional Christian themes, the series takes characters and ideas from Greek and Roman myths, as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales.
The Chronicles of Narnia present the adventures of children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common, and good battles evil. All of the books, except The Horse and His Boy, have as the main characters children from our world, who are magically taken to Narnia, where they are called upon to help the lion Aslan save Narnia.
I have read the first two books, and to tell the truth I'm shocked. While the first book was simply bad written, the second was blatant propaganda of religious extremism. If you don't want your children to end up shahids, don't allow them to touch this book. — Hellerick 12:42, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
This is an excellent series of books. It's pretty much the only series I read and own. I've learned a lot from C.S. Lewis's work, and the Chronicles puts many good lessons into entertaining stories. The only book I somewhat disliked was Prince Caspian (a little bit boring), but it all makes sense after reading the whole series. Great books! -FlagFreak (talk) 14:20, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
I'd recommend this series as modern classics of children's literature. Christian themes are strong throughout the series, although I think C.S. Lewis never maintained these stories were entirely allegorical. The children who are the main characters are well portrayed - they sometimes get things wrong, make mistakes, or are deliberately mean. The morality is strong throughout the series. Several of the books feature spirits of trees, water, the earth etc. which are drawn from Greek mythology rather than Biblical / Christian tradition - this could serve to confuse uninformed readers, so the books should not be seen as a clear presentation of Christian message.
By far one of the best series of books I have ever read, if you haven't read these books you must read them! Entertaining, exciting, adventure-packed, and filled with many moral lessons. Prince Caspian is a long way behind the other books. My favourite of the seven is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, followed by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Brilliant, very good series!!!
I liked them all but Prince Caspian was not very good.
These books are wonderful, and though these are children's books and the first few are very simply written, I'd recommend them to anyone who like imaginative works. Most people will like them, unless they're prejudiced against morality or any hint and form of Christianity.
I have read all the books and I liked them all very much.
I have found these books to be a wonderful gift to the world of reading. While so many books in the current day and age foster over acceptance of mixed morality and political correctness, these books show a strong sense of right and wrong and good and evil. Something our children need to understand in the world of today, which turns a blind eye to these issues and embraces a whatever feels good, do it attitude. They are books to teach by.
My favourite book of the series is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Horse and His Boy is my least favourite but they are all very good. I really like listening to them on CD as well. I love the different sides of the White Witch and her army and Aslan and his army. They have really good voices on the CDs. Once I read all of the books in one go. That was really fun and challenging. (Olivia Age 14)
I read them a while ago and I must say that these are beautiful books and one of my favorites. My favorite books are: The Silver Chair, The Magician's Nephew, The Horse and His Boy and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. My least favorite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The Chronicles of Narnia were actually among the first chapter books that I read as a child, though I've re-read them many times since. The writing is excellent for children of an appropriate age range; they are considered classics for good reason. Since the religious/moral angle has attracted a lot of attention, and since the books in the series have diverse narratives, I'll focus mostly on appropriateness of different books for different audiences in my review.
As a disclaimer, I may be unusual in two ways. For one, I first read these books at an unusually young age (5-6 years old). For another, although I was raised in a Christian (Protestant) church, I drifted into atheism over time (something which these books neither helped nor hindered, except that in a vague sense they were part of what made me feel positively about Christian culture). So consider the review in that light.
- Based on people I've spoken to, kids from age 8 and up are most likely to be able to understand the books. I read these books earlier, but I was a very precocious reader, and I still misunderstood some parts of the narrative the first time through. Having the ability and willingness to use a dictionary, or ask an adult, would be helpful. For instance, modern kids in the US usually have no idea what "Turkish Delight" is, which is important early in the most popular book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
- Regarding violence, the books are probably fine for anyone old enough to be able to read them. There are depictions of death and mourning that might be an issue for very sensitive or traumatized children, but there is nothing graphic present, as I recall.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are probably the most engaging books, while Prince Caspian and The Horse and His Boy have some dull sections that will tempt most children (and some adults) to put the book down.
- All the books have religious messages to some extent, but most of the Christian parallels will sail right over many kids' heads, unless pointed out by an adult. Regardless of what you think of the religious content, and however obvious it is to adults that certain stories depict Christian theology, most children are simply not going to identify a magical lion named Aslan as representing Jesus, at least not all by themselves, without some hints. Notably, the references to Christianity, or for that matter the connection between any aspect of Narnia and a real world religion or nation, are never made explict. The analogies tend to be obvious to adults that know about the religious/historical narratives being referenced, but not everyone will make all of the connections.
- Also, some "references" are not even meaningful in the first place; dryads are included purely because they are interesting fantasy creatures, not because C.S. Lewis is trying to endorse any pagan belief system that includes them. Being a well-known Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis presumably included Christian themes to try to reach kids in a different way, not to trivialize them.
- That said, the most theologically charged, and potentially objectionable, books are The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, and The Last Battle. The Silver Chair contains an ham-handed parody of religious skepticism, while The Horse and His Boy is notorious for being a thinly-disguised critique of Islam. The Last Battle contains more of the same, while adding more explicit theology that many Christians will also find dubious. This guarantees that almost everyone has at least something to object to in the series.
- In summary, most of the religious messages are either too subtle for children to really get them, or objectionable to many adults (often both).
- While villains in the series tend to be pretty two-dimensional, one virtue of The Chronicles of Narnia is that the "good guys" and neutral characters are more realistic, particularly in the earlier books. This is one thing that distinguishes this series from a lot of the modern Christian material, which reads more like propaganda. The children who are the heroes of the stories, as well as their friends, do some bad things. But they don't do those things because they are rotten to the core, or have a complete lack of faith, but rather for reasons that are similar to why people misbehave in reality. They may be innocents making mistakes, or somewhat guilty of rationalizing how what they are doing is right when they should know better, or doing something dangerous out of curiosity, or being overcome by a temporary impulse to hurt someone who wronged them. This makes the themes of redemption and forgiveness more meaningful, because the stories are not about people who are totally bad becoming totally good, but rather about flawed people learning from their mistakes how to become better over time.
- The Chronicles of Narnia is one of those series where the adults are usually more knowledgeable about the world than the children, but are sometimes untrustworthy or foolish. The implied message, that one should not trust strange adults, doesn't mesh completely well with the Christian messages (after all, the children *are* encouraged to trust Aslan completely in several of the books, even when they don't know much about him). Still, that one moral, that lone children should be careful around strangers bearing gifts, is probably for the best.
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Books in the Series
In total, C. S. Lewis wrote seven Chronicles of Narnia. There is much debate over what order the books should be read; some people suggest reading them in chronological order, while others suggest publication order. See the illustration below for the differences.
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The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Reading Age: 8+
- Read Aloud Age: 7+
Narnia is a fantasy world inhabited by lots of strange creatures, including Witches, Giants, Boggles, Minotaurs and others.
Magic is present throughout the series, with the "only way" to get to Narnia being by magic. In The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Jadis, also known as the White Witch, uses magic spells for her own ends. In The Silver Chair, the Lady of the Green Kirtle uses magic spells as well. The whole world is said to be governed by magic, and the "deeper magic from the dawn of time" is mentioned in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
In three books there are spirits of trees and waters, with some from Greek mythology.
There is a fair bit of fighting in all of the books, but not graphic and rarely described.
If you like this you might like
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (a good friend of C. S. Lewis) is another fantasy-adventure, although a little more difficult than Narnia.
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien is set in the same world as The Hobbit, and is split into three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. It is a classic of fantasy-adventure, similar to Narnia in some ways, but is written for adults.
- His Dark Materials is a good adventure series for non-religious readers, written by Philip Pullman.
- WikiNarnia, a wiki for everything related to The Chronicles of Narnia.
- Chronicles of Narnia in depth synopsis and commentaries
- ↑ Kelly, Clint (2006) "Dear Mr. Lewis". Respone 29. "The seven books of Narnia have sold more than 100 million copies in 30 languages, nearly 20 million in the last 10 years alone."
- ↑ Edward, Guthmann (2005-12-11). "'Narnia' tries to cash in on dual audience". www.sfgate.com (San Francisco Chronicle). "In the 55 years since the first "Narnia" installment was published, the books have sold more than 95 million copies in 41 languages."
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