June 6, 2016
Classic of the Month
Welcome to June's classic of the month- The Chronicles of Narnia. As you can see by my books, I love this series. They have been hugely popular ever since the first one was published in 1950. Fun fact: did you know Tolkien and Lewis were friends? They were even in the same writing club, the Inklings.
The Chronicles of Narnia
The series consists of seven novels, each taking place in the mythical land called Narnia. While the characters change from book to book, they're all connected. Digory, one of the characters from the first book, is the professor who has the magic wardrobe through which the Pevensies travel. Eustace is their cousin, who in turn brings in Jill. If you've never read the books, heaven forbid, you'll just have to read them to find out what I mean. So, I'm just going to give a short overview of each book.
The Magicians Nephew- This is the first book chronologically, the sixth in publication order. (People read them both ways. I prefer chronologically.) This story follows Digory and Polly, two children who find magical world by the means of magic rings Digory's uncle made. They are there when Narnia is created.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe- This time, the story takes place during WWII. The Pevensies, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, have been sent out of London due to the air raids. At the house of old Professor Kirk, Lucy discovers a wardrobe that lets her into a magical land. The rest of her siblings follow her and together they defeat the witch who has enslaved the land and take their place as its rulers.
The Horse and His Boy- The story of this book falls right in the middle of the Pevensies reign, which is why it is placed third. Our protagonist this time is Shasta, a slave boy in Calormen. He meets a talking horse and the two of them decide to run away to Narnia. Along the way they are joined by a second talking horse and a girl named Aravis. But on their journey, they learn of deadly plot and must race to stop it before it's too late.
Prince Caspian- The Pevensies have returned to Narnia, only to discover it's been hundreds of years since their reign (time moves differently between the worlds). They must help the young prince Caspian in driving out his uncle and restoring the land to freedom.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader- Edmund, Lucy, and their horrid cousin Eustace, are sucked by to their favorite world through a painting. Only this time, they won't actually be in Narnia. Caspian has set out on a quest to find the seven lost lords and will not stop until finds them, even if he has to sail to the end of the world.
The Silver Chair- Eustace has return to school and there meets Jill, a girl bullied by a gang in the school. He tells her of this magical world he travels too, and through a door in the wall, they return there. By this time Caspian has died, and left no heir, though he did have a son. Aslan (if you don't know who this is, shame on you) sends Eustace and Jill on a quest to find him. They are joined by a marshwiggle named Puddleglum. The three of them follow the signs they've been given to an underground kingdom, where they must rescue the prince from under a witch's spell.
The Last Battle- It is the end times for Narnia. Alsan is being impersonated by a ape and a donkey. The land is falling to ruin. Eustace and Jill return one last time to help save the land. The last battle is not what they expected, and in the end, they find themselves in the real Narnia, where Aslan had been preparing them for all along.
What I Like About It
Oh, where to even begin? I like so much of it, I could go on for ages. But I'll choose some of my top things for sake of the post length.
The deeper meaning behind it all. On the surface, this seems to be just another children's story about a different world with magic, strange creatures, and talking animals. And it is all that. But it also has Christian meanings that anyone can see if they choose to look. There have been many books written on the subject, so I won't go into depth. Find those books if you want to know more.
The characters. You come to know and love these characters as the series progress. The way the stories connect is very clever. The girls have always been my favorites. Polly, Susan, Lucy, and Jill. Such normal names attached to extraordinary girls. They're all brave and strong, but can also be vulnerable. But of course, Aslan is unbeatable. Who doesn't love him?
The names. C. S. Lewis, like Tolkien, had a way with names. They sound beautiful and roll off the tongue. The Dawn Treader. Narnia. Rilian. Aravis. Mr. Tumus. They're awesome. Period.
The writing style. As I've said before, I love that old style of writing like Lewis, Tolkien, and other such authors use. The words they choose, the way they write, it's all very different than the style we use today. I can't replicate it, but I love to read it.
First of all, if you can find the audio drama of this series by Focus on the Family, get it. It's beautifully done. The actors are excellent and most of the material is exactly quoted from the book. I still read the books and can hear their voices in my head.
Second, there's the BBC TV series made in 1988-1990. They did The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair. While old, they are a great one to watch. Before the movies, that's all I knew of.
And finally, the recent movies. They did the three books with the Pevensies. They are well done, even if they did stray further and further from the books. I like the casting and the way they were made. Definitely look at them too.
What's your favorite book in the series? Mine's either the first or the second. What do you like about them?