on June 17, 2003
corpus-callosum's [Amazon.com] review mentions "At the end of the articles, Ford has placed in parentheses an abbreviated reference to the specific book and page number that coincides with the topic being discussed. "
There are two numbers separated by a comma- the first is the tradepaperback/hardback HaperCollins or Harper Trophy page number, the second (after the comma) is for the Harper Trophy rack sized (mass market) paperback editions.
Examples from the Companion book listings to check pagination of the Narnia editions you have to see if they match up on the correct page:
Lion Witch Wardrobe: Hosea 11:10 "at the sound of his roar" 79,85
Prince Caspian:Isaiah 9:1"the people that lived in hiding" 72,75
Dawn Treader: Isaiah 6:6 "a little live coal" 207,224
Silver Chair: Psalms103:9 "I will not always be scolding" 236,250
Horse & His Boy: Daniel 4:24 "not a donkey!" 219,235
Magician's Nephew: Job 38:7 "stars themselves singing" 107,117
Last Battle: Deut.33:27 "between the paws of the true Aslan" 121, 134
I have the trade paperback Harper Trophy "full-color collector's edition of Narnia, boxed set ISBN: 0064409392 and the first number of the two (the one before the comma) matches perfectly in all the Narnia books.
on October 22, 2000
I have read and re-read all seven of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia many times in my adult life. And plan to do so again and again. The remarkable thing is that the stories still seem fresh and alive. They never seem to get boring and there are always new insights waiting to be discovered. Even for the adult reader. I would highly recommend the stories to all young readers, even though I myself did not read them as a child. I think I was so bent on trying to read the entire works of Enid Blyton at the time, that I failed to notice anything Narnian about my local library.
"New insights" are what the Companion To Narnia is all about. Paul F. Ford has done a wonderful job of assembling all of the myriad of characters, places, themes; all the rich history and lore of Narnia and beyond, into this one encyclopedic book. I really cannot see how it could be improved upon. It is massive in scope. I have read it and "used" it for years now.
The book is arranged alphebetically and all topics are meticulously cross-referenced (an asterisk follows any word or phrase which is an entry elsewhere). Even though this is not the type of book that is commonly read from cover to cover, picking it up and starting from any topic will surely tempt you to the reading of the asterisk-linked articles. In Narnian terms, I think of this as the hidden "Turkish-Delight" feature of the book. Let it take you where your curiosity and interest leads.
At the end of the articles, Ford has placed in parentheses an abbreviated reference to the specific book and page number that coincides with the topic being discussed. This sends us back to the original source of the material if necessary, and allows Ford's book to be not only a companion, but a sort-of concordance as well. It is a very useful feature.
The copious footnotes will definitely appeal to those who are interested in learning more about the creator of Narnia. These notes clearly show that Paul Ford is an expert in his knowledge of the man C.S. Lewis. (A good example is the numerous footnotes to the article entitled "Digory Kurke").
Another great feature of the book is that not only are characters and place-names discussed, but also the IDEAS and THEMES of the Chronicles are examined. For instance there are comprehensive articles on such things as: Dreams, Knowledge, Fear, Privacy, Sounds, Music, Obedience, Birds, Ecology, etc. Of particular worthy mention is the great five page section on Biblical Allusions.
The final thing I will mention is that there are wonderful illustrations throughout the book, and these serve to take the imagination even further into the world that is Narnia.
The book is appropriately titled. My desk-dictionary has, as one of its definitions for the word companion... "one of a pair of matching things". In my opinion, any bookshelf that has its Narnia, ought to have its Companion.
on June 13, 2000
I received Companion to Narnia, as well as a boxed set of the Chronicles themselves, as a birthday gift. I must say it was one of the best gifts I have ever received.
I initially read the Chronicles as a young child, then again in Jr. High. I'm afraid I let my passion for the stories slip through my high school years, just when I needed them most, but now, after my third year of college, I have renewed my interest in the works of Mr. Lewis.
The Companion is easy to use, extremely informative, and actually fun to read straight through, even without using it as a reference. The entries are encyclopedia-style, alphabetically listed, with the page numbers the entry appears on in the Chronicles, related entries, and often very extensive footnotes referring the reader to books and articles by Mr. Lewis and other renowned Fanstasy and Religious authors, as well as background into what specific uses could have meant to the author, or his inspirations for them.
There are annexes at the end on everything to how old the Pevensie children and others are in the books, Narnia time vs Earth time, the age of Lewis during the writing of the Chronicles, maps of Narnia and more. Wonderful illustrations are distributed throughout the book, just waiting to surprise you when you turn the page.
I would HIGHLY recommend this book to any lover of Narnia, whether it's your first time around or your fortieth. A lot of questions I remember having when I was younger are answered, and you gain a deeper meaning of what it "behind everyone's story".
on December 23, 1999
If you think that the Chronicles of Narnia ought to be required reading for children, then the Companion to Narnia ought to be required reading for us adults that fell in love with Narnia as children. Yes, I'm sure that if you had to write a paper or do a report on any of the Chronicles for school, this book would be invaluable. But the fact is, it goes far beyond that to a much broader audience...
C.S. Lewis's Chronicles represent some of the finest high-Fantasy novels ever written, period. But for most of us, at least at the first reading, this is all they were. As we grow older, and read the Chronicles again and again, we begin to discover more of the meaning behind the writing; this book guides you further along that path of discovery. It is well-organized and very thorough; I have had little difficulty finding any of the references I wanted to explore.
If you want a person to love the Chronicles, buy the series for them when they are a child. If you want them to appreciate it the way you do, buy them the Companion when they grow a bit older...
on December 3, 1998
When I read the Chronicals of Narnia years ago, I was not into fantasy-- I was a very stoic 9-year-old who lived only in the linear world and could relate to little else. The books were only OK to me-- a nice read on a rainy afternoon, ho-hum and who-cares. This is like having a good college professor sit down with the class for a fire-side chat before he gives his students a reading assignment, giving his students things to look for and appreciate. Now that I am much older and able to free-think, I occasioally have epiphanies on what C.S. Lewis was conveying. My own children are a bit on the linear side of thinking as well, and before I give them the Chronicals to read, I will be brushing up on this in order to whet their appetites! It should make great dinner time discussion. . .
on December 23, 1999
I've adored this series since grade school and I reread it periodically, but until the last few times I never understood the allegory in the book. I bought the companion just because I collect books that go along and I just finished reading it. I was not disappointed....it answered so many questions that I had about characters and themes and the maps/timeline were excellent in helping to understand the geography and time of Narnia vs Earth. I plan on using it as a reference the next time I read the series despite having already read it straight through. This is a must have for any Narnia enthusiast.
on April 12, 1999
I absolutely loved this book. It was priceless in writing a paper for my English class and got me an A! I was amazed by the throughness of this book. You can't get any better than this. I would suggest this book to anyone who has to do any kind of report on anything to do with the Chronicles. Also, this book tells you so much that it seems unreal. It makes you check on things and you see it is true and you also see things you missed. It is truly amazing and spellbinding. GET THIS BOOK! It will open up new worlds to you in Narnia.
on March 25, 2000
This is a great book. It is arranged alphabetically, in encyclopedia form, and contains over 500 pages of entries. Every single obscure character is listed (remember who Lord Tarva was?), descriptions of places, ages, weaponry, even philosophers who had an impact on the author and the book are discussed and explained.
This book is a wonderful resource for those who are writing research papers on Narnia, or for those of us who just love the world and like to expand our grasp of Narnian trivia. Don't hesitate!
on August 1, 2001
Is it strange to think that you need a companion for a set of books that take place in a world that doesn't even exist? No, not really. I read the companion thoroughly, then re-read the books, and I can say that they really did add something. There were some jokes (like in "The Magician's Nephew) that needed explaining, and some translations that brought the story a little closer to home. If you love Narnia, you'll love the companion.
on December 27, 2003
I resold this book immediately, without even browsing all the way through it! The way it was typeset and laid out was awful - one section ran on forever. I thought it would be a cute, fun book to help me re-enter the Chronicles of Narnia world, but the book takes itself much too seriously. It offered no quick-n-easy summaries, rather long references to obscure characters. Very bad.