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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time...
C.S. Lewis was many things - a popular theologian (almost a contradiction in terms today), an engaging academic (see above qualification, as it applies here, too), and an expert storyteller, the craft of which came from his careful blending and imaginative use of the previous two. The Chronicles of Narnia stand up favourable to the work of Lewis' longtime friend and...
Published on Dec 19 2005 by FrKurt Messick

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Tamper With Perfection
(please note that this review concerns only the new publications)
The Chronicles of Narnia are perfect books. They are wonderful for children and adults, and can be read again and again. C. S. Lewis was a brilliant author and theologian, and was competent in what he was doing. I have been reading these books since I was young enough to pick up a book, and I was...
Published on Dec 9 2002 by C. N. White


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time..., Dec 19 2005
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
C.S. Lewis was many things - a popular theologian (almost a contradiction in terms today), an engaging academic (see above qualification, as it applies here, too), and an expert storyteller, the craft of which came from his careful blending and imaginative use of the previous two. The Chronicles of Narnia stand up favourable to the work of Lewis' longtime friend and contemporary academic and storyteller, Tolkien (of Lord of the Rings fame). Narnia, however, does not go off into the same fantastic realms of Tolkien, but rather charts a different path, in that while Tolkien strives to use fantasy and mythic elements to tell more general philosophy, Lewis in the Narnia tales deliberately crafts the imagery to fit a Christian framework, and a fairly Anglo-catholic one at that.
Narnia is series of adventures for children, but like the best of such stories, continues to hold power for adults who read them as well. Resurgence in popularity of late has occurred because of the film, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', second in the series (depending upon which chronology one follows), but the whole series is a charmer. In 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', the story focuses upon Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, four exiles from war-time London in the English countryside who discover the portal to Narnia in the back of a mysterious wardrobe. The king of Narnia, Aslan the lion (whose imagery fits both Christian and English mythic lore) is battling the icy witch, who styles herself as Queen of Narnia. Through a classic struggle of good and evil in epic battle format, the pure-hearted children and the graceful king Aslan win the day, but eventually the children must return to their own world, even after such adventures.
'Prince Caspian' takes place long after (in Narnia time - one discovers the passage of time from one world to the next is variable), as Caspian befriends many of the creatures of Narnia, both natural and fantastic. The four children, enthroned as kings and queens of Narnia at the end of the first adventure, must return to help Caspian, whose main desire is to live in old Narnia, forbidden tales of which he has heard.
'Voyage of the Dawn' sees Edmund and Lucy drawn back into Narnia through a painting, together with their horrid cousin Eustace Scrubb. Caspian is now king, on a knightly quest to discover lost knights of old, and also to seek the end of the world (in a literal sense). Sea voyages and other journeys take them far and wide, until Aslan again appears to return the children home. Eustace becomes a better person for his Narnia adventures, much as Edmund had transformed during his first major Narnia experience.
Eustace returns in the 'The Silver Chair', this time from his school, with fellow student Jill, who is also less than popular. Jill, like the earlier Edmund, must find redemption, and seeks to save Rilian (son of the now-dying Caspian). Here we encounter the Parliament of Owls as well as the bottom of the world - once again, Aslan helps to save the day, despite the nay-saying of Puddleglum.
Shasta is the boy and Bree is the horse in 'The Horse and His Boy'. Shasta is about to be sold into slavery when he escapes with Bree, and they meet Aravis and Hwin, another escaping duo, on their way to Narnia. They uncover a plot against Narnia, and must work to save the kingdom of their dreams.
'The Magician's Nephew' is often considered the first of the series, with events that preceed 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. It gives background and insight into the overall workings of Narnia. Polly and Digory discover the portal to the Woods between the Worlds, and there is a greater mix of worlds here than in any other story. However, this is also the beginning of the other stories, with Aslan providing the same kind of guidance he would throughout the series.
'The Last Battle' is, as the title suggests, the last of the series. Narnia falls into the final conflict of good and evil, with a false Aslan (a false messiah figure) appearing and humans destroying all things around, particularly the natural environment. Old Narnia must pass away, but a new Narnia is held in promise as the real Aslan returns to lead the faithful.
While many of Lewis' original readers were occasionally disturbed by the Christian overall (and indeed, at Lewis' interpretation of Christian lore), in fact the state of biblical illiteracy is such today that most will miss much of the Christian allegory unless it is specially spelled out. Narnia can stand on its own merits as a story independent of its underpinnings, but just as most mythological and even biblical stories can achieve, this one becomes stronger the deeper one explores the symbolic meanings.
Lewis is very much a creature of his culture - this is very post-Victorian (read, more Victorian than the Victorians) in style and morals, even in the 1950s (a time so many in our present culture look back to as a high point in moral culture) he was looking back to a better time - perhaps it is no surprise that instead of finding it in the past, he found it in Narnia?
This is a series that is wonderful for children of all ages, and for adults - the tales bear repeating over and over, and many editions of these texts come with wonderful artwork. This particular one has illustrations by Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator for the series, and they are wonderful indeed.
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70 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER IS FOR ADULTS!!!, July 14 2004
By 
If you are new to this series, especially if you are going to read it to a child, DO NOT READ THEM IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER! A child will lose interest after a few chapters. Few great stories are told strictly in chronological order and the hook for Narnia is "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe".
Many of these other reviews done by people saying that they like reading these books in chronological order are adults who fell in love with the series years ago, and now see this new order as making better grown-up sense. Reading it this way for the first time will leave you with many details that shouldn't be discovered until after reading the first few books in the original order, and won't keep a child interested the way I and so many others were as kids.
So please, if you are an adult familiar and returning to this series, feel free to read it in any order you choose, (I certainly do) but if this is your first time, read it in the order below...cheers
1) The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, 2) Prince Caspian, 3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 4) The Silver Chair, 5) The Horse and His Boy, 6) The Magician's Nephew, and 7) The Last Battle
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Reading, But Sadly Altered, Feb. 18 2000
By A Customer
There is a modern misconception concerning C.S. Lewis's great children's series, 'The Chronicles of Narnia.' Due to changes during reprinting, the orginal order of his seven-part series was disrupted to conform to the overall story-line. When the books were written, Mr. Lewis began his series with the classic Christian allegory, 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.' He then went on to write the remaining novels in a non-traditional, non-chronological order: part two of the 'Chronicles' was 'Prince Caspian'. Next came, 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader', 'The Silver Chair', 'The Horse and His Boy', 'The Magician's Nephew', and finally, 'The Last Battle.' Lewis released his novels in this order for a reason and I urge every reader to follow the original, proper sequence. It transforms a mere fantasy series into some of the single best children's novels in print. The symbolism of Christian allegory and the honest and noble morals that rest among the pages will stay with you and your children for years to come. May Aslan be with you and your family as you take the delightful trip into the fantastic and amasing land of Narnia!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful way to visit (or revisit) the land of Narnia!!, Nov. 8 2003
By 
Carla (Genoa Township, MI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I loved the Narnia series as a child and bought this for my children (ages 5 and 9) as an introduction, hoping they would eventually want to read the books, and wanting to keep them occupied on a long car trip. We were hooked from the beginning! We ended up carrying the CD's from the car to the house and back again - unable to "put them down." The actors did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life and the narration filled in the gaps perfectly. I was worried when I purchased this set that time considerations would force the producers to leave bits of the book out - not so! I would recommend this audio series for anyone - whether they be a Chronicles of Naria fan or not - though some of it may be a little scary for very young children. A radio production is so much more enjoyable to listen to than a book being read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Narnia, Feb. 22 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
In the first half of the twentieth century, two drinking buddies wrote vastly different fantasy series -- one was the classic "Lord of the Rings," and the other was the "Narnia" series. A close pal of J.R.R. Tolkien's and a fellow "Inkling," C.S. Lewis was one of the first widely-read fantasy writers, and his books are still widely read and enjoyed by children and adults alike.

"The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" opens as four children (Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter) are being shipped to the English countryside at the beginning of World War II. While exploring the vast house where they are staying, Lucy accidently ventures into a winter-locked world called Narnia, which is ruled over by the evil White Witch. The king Aslan is about to return -- but the Witch quickly gets a hold on Edmund's soul.

"Prince Caspian" takes place long after the events of "Lion" (though in our world, only a short time has passed). Young Prince Caspian escapes his uncle's castle when his life is threatened, and he finds refuge with the hidden races of Narnia -- dwarves, talking animals, dryads, centaurs and many others. And to help Caspian regain the throne, the two kings and two queens of Narnia are called back...

"Voyage of the Dawn Treader" begins when Edmund, Lucy and their obnoxious cousin Eustace are sucked through a painting into Narnia, where their pal Caspian is now king of Narnia (and an adult to boot). Caspian is heading toward the end of the world to find several knights who were banished, and vanished into the perilous islands along the sea.

"The Silver Chair" heads into slightly darker territory when Eustace returns to boarding school. He and outcast girl Jill Pole are drawn into Narnia, where Jill must perform a task to redeem herself for a stupid act. She must find the dying Caspian's son Rilian, who vanished many years before. The search will send the two children across Narnia with the pessimistic Puddleglum, to carnivorous Giants, creepy underground creatures, and an enemy worse than they could have imagined...

"Horse and His Boy" shoots back in time to the middle of "Lion." Shasta lives with the man he thinks to be his father in a hovel by the sea, but when a Calormene warrior purchases him, he escapes with the man's talking horse, Bree. He meets the escaping noblewoman Aravis (who also has a talking horse), and the two are planning to escape to Narnia and freedom. But in the capital city, there is a conspiracy brewing against the visiting Narnian kings and queens...

"Magician's Nephew" clears up many of the questions about Narnia, Aslan and the White Witch. Digory and Polly end up in very serious trouble when they encounter Digory's weird, slightly nutty uncle, a magician who has created magical rings that send the user to other worlds. The two kids end up in the "wood between the worlds," and venture into a dying land where they set loose the evil Queen Jadis -- who follows them to the newborn world of Narnia.

"The Last Battle" is definitely the end of the series, where Narnia decays slowly into the final battle between good and evil. Humans are destroying the trees and killing the dryads, and a false Aslan is appearing to mislead the inhabitants of Narnia. Old and new friends will band together as the true Aslan prepares to lead them to a new land.

If you don't like allegory (religious or otherwise), then steer clear of the Chronicles. While Lewis's beliefs are presented in a more complicated and subtle manner in his other fictional works, here the parallels to basic Christian beliefs are very obvious. Reportedly even Tolkien, one of Lewis's best pals, found the allegory annoying.

But if you can get past the slightly ham-handed treatment, it's a fantastic read. Lewis reshapes typical mythical elements like dwarves, nymphs, talking animals, centaurs and wicked witches into shape in his invented world. And Narnia is an inviting place -- it isn't always fun or pleasant, but there is always the feeling that the good guys will ultimately -- if not immediately -- come out on top.

Lewis's writing can become a bit precious at times, in the tradition of many British authors writing for children. But he puts plenty of detail and mystery in his stories, sprinkling them with little mysteries and questions that are explained as the story goes on. Where did the lamppost come from, for example?

Now, enough with the story. I was able to see this edition on bookshelves a bit before its official release, and it's a gorgeous edition -- well-made, good extras from "Beyond the Wardrobe" that add a bit of depth to the story, and a map illustrated by Pauline Baynes (the artist who drew the charming pen-and-ink illustrations for the actual series).

While not quite as well known as his pal Tolkien's work, C.S. Lewis's Narnia series still a fun and dramatic fantasy story. For a bit more insight into the origins of fantasy as we know it, check out "The Chronicles of Narnia."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Exceptional Stories for ALL ages!, March 19 2000
By A Customer
The Narnian Chronicles have been my favorite series since I first read (and devoured) them in third grade (I'm now 30). I have since reread them many times, enjoying them even more each time as I see new things previously undiscovered or not understood. They are entertaining, imaginative, and thought-provoking from many perspectives, and will appeal even to the mature 5 or 6-year-old child as a read-aloud adventure. These books are truly worthy of discussion with your elementary, middle school, or high school student. College students have even written theses about these books and their many intriguing themes. I recently gave the entire set to my eighty-year-old grandmother as a gift, and she read them all within a couple of weeks! She said they were so good, she couldn't put them down, and she has loved talking to me about them ever since! My husband's 90-year-old grandmother is also an avid reader, finishing a book every few days. I am planning on giving the Narnia books to her as well! You simply can't go wrong purchasing these books. This is a wonderfully appealing fantasy series for all ages- it will surely be an enduring classic for generations to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original Order Is VITAL Upon The First Reading, Dec 15 1999
By 
oh_pete (Cambridge. MA USA) - See all my reviews
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My all time favorite, Aug. 28 2003
C.S.Lewis had said that "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty." This is so true about Narnia. I wasn't lucky to get my hands on this series when I was a kid, but I can imagine how it would absolutely fascinate a child, and how that child would then re-discover the books as an adult, seeing them in a totally different light. I have heard many people say that they had such experience.
I highly recommend these books to everyone. It is never too late to fall in love with Narnia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time..., Dec 19 2005
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
C.S. Lewis was many things - a popular theologian (almost a contradiction in terms today), an engaging academic (see above qualification, as it applies here, too), and an expert storyteller, the craft of which came from his careful blending and imaginative use of the previous two. The Chronicles of Narnia stand up favourable to the work of Lewis' longtime friend and contemporary academic and storyteller, Tolkien (of Lord of the Rings fame). Narnia, however, does not go off into the same fantastic realms of Tolkien, but rather charts a different path, in that while Tolkien strives to use fantasy and mythic elements to tell more general philosophy, Lewis in the Narnia tales deliberately crafts the imagery to fit a Christian framework, and a fairly Anglo-catholic one at that.
Narnia is series of adventures for children, but like the best of such stories, continues to hold power for adults who read them as well. Resurgence in popularity of late has occurred because of the film, 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', second in the series (depending upon which chronology one follows), but the whole series is a charmer. In 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', the story focuses upon Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, four exiles from war-time London in the English countryside who discover the portal to Narnia in the back of a mysterious wardrobe. The king of Narnia, Aslan the lion (whose imagery fits both Christian and English mythic lore) is battling the icy witch, who styles herself as Queen of Narnia. Through a classic struggle of good and evil in epic battle format, the pure-hearted children and the graceful king Aslan win the day, but eventually the children must return to their own world, even after such adventures.
'Prince Caspian' takes place long after (in Narnia time - one discovers the passage of time from one world to the next is variable), as Caspian befriends many of the creatures of Narnia, both natural and fantastic. The four children, enthroned as kings and queens of Narnia at the end of the first adventure, must return to help Caspian, whose main desire is to live in old Narnia, forbidden tales of which he has heard.
'Voyage of the Dawn' sees Edmund and Lucy drawn back into Narnia through a painting, together with their horrid cousin Eustace Scrubb. Caspian is now king, on a knightly quest to discover lost knights of old, and also to seek the end of the world (in a literal sense). Sea voyages and other journeys take them far and wide, until Aslan again appears to return the children home. Eustace becomes a better person for his Narnia adventures, much as Edmund had transformed during his first major Narnia experience.
Eustace returns in the 'The Silver Chair', this time from his school, with fellow student Jill, who is also less than popular. Jill, like the earlier Edmund, must find redemption, and seeks to save Rilian (son of the now-dying Caspian). Here we encounter the Parliament of Owls as well as the bottom of the world - once again, Aslan helps to save the day, despite the nay-saying of Puddleglum.
Shasta is the boy and Bree is the horse in 'The Horse and His Boy'. Shasta is about to be sold into slavery when he escapes with Bree, and they meet Aravis and Hwin, another escaping duo, on their way to Narnia. They uncover a plot against Narnia, and must work to save the kingdom of their dreams.
'The Magician's Nephew' is often considered the first of the series, with events that preceed 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. It gives background and insight into the overall workings of Narnia. Polly and Digory discover the portal to the Woods between the Worlds, and there is a greater mix of worlds here than in any other story. However, this is also the beginning of the other stories, with Aslan providing the same kind of guidance he would throughout the series.
'The Last Battle' is, as the title suggests, the last of the series. Narnia falls into the final conflict of good and evil, with a false Aslan (a false messiah figure) appearing and humans destroying all things around, particularly the natural environment. Old Narnia must pass away, but a new Narnia is held in promise as the real Aslan returns to lead the faithful.
While many of Lewis' original readers were occasionally disturbed by the Christian overall (and indeed, at Lewis' interpretation of Christian lore), in fact the state of biblical illiteracy is such today that most will miss much of the Christian allegory unless it is specially spelled out. Narnia can stand on its own merits as a story independent of its underpinnings, but just as most mythological and even biblical stories can achieve, this one becomes stronger the deeper one explores the symbolic meanings.
Lewis is very much a creature of his culture - this is very post-Victorian (read, more Victorian than the Victorians) in style and morals, even in the 1950s (a time so many in our present culture look back to as a high point in moral culture) he was looking back to a better time - perhaps it is no surprise that instead of finding it in the past, he found it in Narnia?
This is a series that is wonderful for children of all ages, and for adults - the tales bear repeating over and over, and many editions of these texts come with wonderful artwork. This particular one has illustrations by Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator for the series, and they are wonderful indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT BOXED SET, June 11 2004
By 
(This refers to the full-color collector's edition set)
What you see here is the very best edition of this standard in children's fantasy. This boxed set is simply gorgeous, with attractive covers, nice layouts with large text, and wonderful illustrations. Even better, you get the books individually, which is good for children who may not have the stamina to hold up that giant collected edition. Well worth the money.
Over the last century, C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles have become among the most beloved works of children's literature ever published, and with good reason. The seven volumes of this series offer stories that are absolutely timeless, fairy tales mixing adventurous journeys, marvelous characters, mythical creatures, terrible evils, and moral lessons. That they are well told only helps them stand the test of time.
Each of the seven volumes can be read as an independent story, yet each are linked together by reoccurring themes and characters. Together the separate books form a unified whole, the grand and epic tale that is the Narnia Chronicles. Only "The Horse And His Boy" stands alone as a tale outside the core story arc, though there are cameos by core characters. Over the course of the six core volumes, the interwoven story of Narnia is told from that magical land's creation to its glorious end.
The books are not always of consistent quality, but a strong book always follows the weaker volumes. Such was the case when the Homeresque "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" followed the forgettable "Prince Caspian," for instance.
Of course, calling the seven-book series a single epic brings into mind a long-running debate. In what order should the books be read; chronologically or in published order? In truth, either order will work because the stories are strong enough to withstand any amount of juggling.
The Narnia Chronicles are classics because they offer rich and rewarding stories, glimpses of far off and magical lands, and present entertaining characters to the reader. They stand the test of time because they contain age-old moral lessons, are written in an eminently readable way that just begs to be read aloud, and are simple enough for kids while deep enough for adults. The cliché holds true here: the books are great for young and old alike.
No fan of young adult or juvenile literature should pass up on the Narnia Chronicles. Neither should any fan of fantasy, either. And probably nor should any reader at all, period. Recommended classics and near essential reading.
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Chronicles Of Narnia Collection, The
Chronicles Of Narnia Collection, The by C S Lewis (Audio Cassette - Oct. 26 2000)
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