on June 6, 2003
The Chronicles of Narnia are my favorite books ever. They are true classics and I would recommend them to any child or adult who has the slightest interest in the realm of fantasy. My old paperbacks were read and re-read until they were literally falling apart, so I purchased this very good looking hardcover edition. However, I've since relegated it to the bookshelf (where it sure looks nice) and purchased a boxed set instead. There are a couple of things wrong with this edition. First, the books are presented in chronological order, not the order in which they were originally written by C.S. Lewis. Second, the text is printed in two columns - this may be okay for magazines, but it's rather hard to read a book that's printed this way. Last but not least, this is a mighty hefty book - making it rather hard to read to your children propped up on your lap - or indeed to read in any way except laid out on a desk or table.
So - if you are new to Narnia, do yourself a favor and get an edition where you can read the books in their original order. If you are a die-hard Narnia lover however, this book maybe worthwhile just for the enlarged maps (by illustrator Paulline Bayned) that accompany each book/section. Keep the book on your bookshelf and use it as a reference, while you wear out another edition.
on December 15, 1999
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA were the most wonderful and important books I read as a child. I am still upset by this set HarperCollins has published in the last few years that has re-ordered the seven volumes chronologically based on the historical line in the novels. This is apparently according to Lewis's wishes, if so, Lewis was wrong! The best part of the series was reading "The Magician's Nephew" sixth and discovering with a beautiful and never-replicated surprise about all the things that happened before "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." (See several reviews below that already say this better.) By all means buy these books for your children, godchildren, nieces and nephews, but PLEASE, specify that the FIRST time they read them that they read them in the original order: LWW, PC, VDT, SC, HHB, MN, LB. They will reread them for the rest of their lives, in every possible order, but something great and beautiful and unsurpassed will be stolen from them if they read The Magician's Nephew first.
on May 28, 2003
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia books. The main characters are Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy that were sent to London during the war because of air raids. When they got to London they were sent to a professers house to stay for the summer.
The children started to explore in the house but the first few doors only led into spare bedrooms. After they searched some more doors they came across an empty room that had a wardrobe in it . Lucy and her siblings went inside ,they looked around for a bit and went to the end and then they weren't in the wardrobe any more. They were in a land called Narnia. Later they met amazing creatures such as a fawn Mr. Tumnus and a lion god named Aslan. The animals talked and amazing things started to happen. The children get caught up in a war with the evil snow queen after she cast a spell on Edmund, he starts to like her and does every thing the witch desires.
I liked the book because it has lots of adventure and action and because it's a series and it goes on. I think anyone who likes good over evil will like this book because good wins over evil and the kids become Kings and Queens.
on October 4, 2002
Of the many C.S. Lewis books I have read, the Narnia Chronicles are his best. I should stress that I am not a christian. These books stand on their own quite well without the christian-myth overtones. Duty, honor, loyalty, courage, and the consequences of wrongdoing come through vividly. The stories are not simple morality tales, however. They present stories of similar scope and complexity to the Middle Earth series, but more accessible to younger readers. I read it when I was eight or nine, at the same time as I first read "The Hobbit" and (tried to read) its sequels. I finished the Narnia chronicles, but it took me a few years to mature enough to "get" the last two books of the Middle Earth series. Lewis targets youngsters who are far more prone to search their own attics for magical wardrobes and relics of times past than they are to get caught up in the minutia of Hobbit history. That kind of attention comes later. The christian angle never really hit me, despite being raised catholic, until I was twenty. The "Jesus figure" Aslan is hardly similar to the traditional christian conception of the "son of god" - the Aslan character is actually far more morally consistent and a better spiritual guide. The story is also broader in scope than the christian myth. Deliberately so - christianinty is based on "real" events, whereas Narnia was composed in the imagination. Lewis' imagination and grasp of moral principles and his ability to convey them in a compelling story elevate these books above even the beliefs (and intent) of their author. No mean feat. They are a great starting place for future book-lovers.
on February 1, 2002
When I was a kid, this was a truly magical series. It's lost some of its luster, but I think I can see the appeal. They are still delightful adventure stories and real page turners. Where it loses its luster is in the Christian allegories. In my younger days, these went right over my head. Now, the rivets are showing a little more than I'm comfortable with, but it's still easy enough to gloss over those bits and focus on the storytelling parts. The characters are strong, and the fantasy aura still entrancing. I noticed this time how much natural history Lewis throws in: he's always referring to constellations, trees, flowers, and other elements of the Narnian natural world. It definitely adds to the realism of the stories.
I was somewhat surprised at my revised opinions of the individual books. If you'd asked me a week ago what my favorites were, I would have said Lion, Dawn Treader, and Horse, with The Magician's Nephew, The Last Battle, and The Silver Chair as the weakest. Now, I would put Prince Caspian and Horse at the top, possibly still with Dawn Treader, but move Lion down a notch and Magician's Nephew and The Silver Chair each up a notch.
on December 3, 2001
The Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set is a good series. For those of you who have read Lord of the Rings and such, these are very closely on the same line.
I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in fifth grade, and had thought it a good book. Recently I got the whole set, and I was very impressed. I will do a review on each book.
The Magician's Nephew: This is to show you how the land of Narnia began, and gives insight into the others. It's not that great of a book on it's own, but great as a prelude to the ones to come. Story seems to end rather abruptly, but it was worth reading, probably the worse of them all. It show how Narnia was created and such.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: This is the book that really kicked off the series. It has plenty of action, and has a very creative element to it. The story has an old feel to it, but a good one I should add. Probably one of the better out of the series. Four children are find a doorway to Narnia in a wardrobe.
The Horse and His Boy: A truly awesome book, I think this might have been the best one. This focuses on a boy and a talking horse who are trying to get to Narnia.
Prince Caspian: This had a slow start, but picked up and was going strong, but ends rather abruptly as well. The four (Peter, Lucy, Edmund, Susan) children are summoned once again to Narnia to restore peace to the land, thousands of years after their first adventure in Narnian years.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The second best out of them. This takes place only 3 years after Prince Caspian, in which Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin Eustace are brought on board the Narnian ship The Dawn Treader to look for men that were exiled years ago.
The Silver Chair: A decent read, not the worse, but it could have used improvement in places. Eustace returns to Narnia, with a friend Jill, nearly 60 years after the last adventure to help Caspian find his lost son Prince Rilian.
The Last Battle: I haven't gotten to this book yet, not very far at least, so I can't give an accurate review.
Overall, it's worth buying this series, if you like Fantasy, and it's long enough to keep anyone busy for awhile.
on January 5, 2001
Have you ever wondered what might be beyond an ordinary wardrobe? In the book, The Lion ,the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four children,named Peter Susan, Edmund, and Lucymove into an old professors house for the summer. One day they decide to play a game of hide and go seek and Lucy hides in the wardrobe. Having no idea that it is magic, Lucy just climb into the wardrobe. Lucy soon finds herself in a winter wonderland.In this place called, Narnia, Lucy meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus. Lucy is told that the White Witch wants to capture humans and turn them into stone. Later Lucy returns into the real world. She tells everyone about her adventures in Narnia but everyone thinks she is kidding. Soon everyone finds out Narnia. They meet a beaver and then the beaver tells them the White Witch has caught Mr. Tumnus. They have to meet a lion named Aslan to set him free. Later they meet him and they make a plan to kill the queen. They go to the queens's castle and kill the queen's army. Ladies and gentlemen, I invite and encourage you to read the book The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
on November 9, 2000
Let me say one thing: these books are highly escapist fantasy. Now whether or not that's a good thing is debatable.
Lewis was a friend of Tolkiens, and they were friends at college. However, Lewis differs from Tolkiens writing quite a bit. First of all, his stories are more allegorical, with a biblical theme. Also his stories are more accessible to children, who will most likely have fond memories of them. I read these books at a relatively mature age (30s) and see them slightly differently.
The stories themselves are gems of children's literature. They have a magic all their own. I could relate to the heroes somewhat, and the entertainment factor is very high. As a fun read, these books are worth it.
However, to me they seemed less readable by adults than some other 'children's books'. Firstly, the books are very comforting, with absolute good and evil tht a child may need but an adult should not. I was somewhat annoyed by that, because personally I don't believe in absolute morality. Furthermore, the stories show us heaven as the ultimate goal, and our heroes who will buy passage by their spiritual superiority. Along the way, the real world is portrayed as a sort of second-best to heaven. At one point the old professor says "It's all in Plato" meaning the physical world is a shadow on the wall of the real suff. Its not very provoking (as the best art should be). You can easily sympathize with the good guys and deplore the badguys. For these reasons I wouldn't give the book a 5 star rating, which I reserve for a very few books that I consider masterpieces.
Children should be introduced to this series, as they will probably love it. I don't know about adults who haven't read it before.
PS If you like this series and want a completely opposite view, read Pullman's His Dark Materials.
on October 9, 2000
I first read these books as a child and loved them, re-reading them several times. It was not until I was in high school that I noticed the (rather obvious) allegorical themes. This says more about my naive approach to reading at the time (and now, for that matter) than it does for the subtlety of the allegory. I'm not a fan of allegory, but the stories here are strong enough to stand on their own, and the moral issues raised are well-handled and pertinent in or out of a Christian context. These are definitely books I want to share with my children. Regarding this new 50th anniversary edition, my first copies of these books included the full set of the beautiful illustrations by Pauline Baynes. It was a hand-me-down from my grandmother and unfortunately was missing one volume. The replacement I bought and all other editions I have seen since discarded most of the illustrations, keeping only one at the beginning of each chapter. I was pleased to see that this addition restores the missing illustrations as well as returning to the original, far superior, covers (also done by Baynes). That is why I am buying this edition. I did not look closely enough to make a judgment on the coloration of the drawings, usually I am not in favor of this kind of "improvement" (and I love pen-and-ink anyway). However apparently they went back to the original illustrator for the work, and judging by her magnificent covers I trust her to do it well. Realistically, color pictures are probably essential to sell childrens books in the video-game era. NOTE: A previous reviewer recommends reading the books in the order published. This may be good advice if you are more interested in the allegorical content. If you are more focused on the stories, I recommend reading them in chronological order.
on August 19, 2000
My first encounter with the Narnia chronicles was the animated feature "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" when I was six or seven. Some time after that, I was given the collection which I read avidly over the proceeding years.
In recent months, I have been reading a lot of books which were special to me as a child: "Narnia", "Arabian Nights", and various versions of fairytales and King Arthur. I received the Narnia Chronicles as an introduction to the Folio Society, and have been reading a chronicle a day.
The Narnia chronicles have been a very special part of my life in one way or another over the last 21 years. I have observed that these books are one of those perennial favourites which bridge not only the generations, but also age-groups and interests, and have played an important role in many people's childhood.
Having said that, during the re-readings, I find the 'messianic' aspects of these books quite disturbing: the parallels between the sacrifice of Aslan and the Book of Revelations, the parallels between Aslan and Jesus, and Aslan's 'kingdom' or 'legions' as Jesus' 'warriors'. Though it is worth mentioning that children are probably oblivious to these aspects, and adults have a certain maturity to recognise this as it arises.
Certainly, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" is the highlight of the Chronicles, but "The Magician's Nephew" and "Prince Caspian" are good as well.
How often did you as a child take a peek into an antique wardrobe in the vain hope of it been a portal to a brilliant, magickal world?