I have just finished re-reading “Narnia” for the first time for at least 10 years!
I had forgotten how amazing the story is! I remember feeling captivated by these books as a child and I still find them as magical as ever!
You get to read about the beginnings of the world of Narnia and how it progresses through its history before it ends.
As there are 7 books to cover, I will simply go through them one by one:
“The Magician’s Nephew” – The first book, which shows us how Narnia came to be and how its inhabitants are so different from our world. It’s a fascinating book, although it’s not really my favourite of the series. I like how Digory and Polly accidently bring the evil Witch from Charn into Narnia but they make up for it by protecting the people of Narnia and giving them their first King and Queen.
“The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” – The best known book because it is where the Pevensie Children first discover Narnia, save it from the evil Witch and then rule as 4 kings and queens. I do like this book, even though Edmund is a bit of an idiot for a while!
“The Horse and His Boy” – This book shows us a different part of the world of Narnia, starting where the Calormenes live and set during the reign of the High King Peter and his 3 siblings, who we get to see a small glimpse of as they rule as adults. I like the Talking Horses, Bree and Hwin, who help Sasha and Aravis to escape their home and travel to Narnia. This isn’t my favourite book but it’s grown on me more than the first time I read it!
“Prince Caspian” – The Pevensies return to Narnia many years after their great reign as Kings and Queens to find everything changed and King Caspian struggling to fight his usurping Uncle Miraz for the Narnian throne. It’s sort of a story of two halves: the boys fight Miraz and his army, while the girls meet Aslan and, together with the fascinating creatures of Narnia, go and free the creatures and people of Narnia. Maybe a bit sexist?!
“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” – Edmund and Lucy, and their awful cousin Eustace are pulled into Narnia while King Caspian is searching the seas for new lands and the edge of the world. Life is different on board the ship, but the places they discover are fascinating. I like how Eustace changes into a much nicer person due to the effect Narnia has on him: the novel is really about his change.
“The Silver Chair” – Eustace pulls his schoolmate Jill into Narnia to escape their horrible school and they end up on a quest with Puddleglum the Marshwiggle to find the lost Prince Rillian before time runs out for his aged father King Caspian, who is away sailing the seas. Another evil witch is keeping him captive, and this time we visit the wild lands above Narnia and the underworld beneath Narnia, which are home to more strange creatures. I love Puddleglum: he’s so gloomy and pessimistic but his heart is in the right place! Also, the change in Eustace is so obvious in this book!
“The Last Battle” – Eustace and Jill end up back in Narnia and try to help King Tirian to protect Narnia from a false Aslan who is destroying the world as they know it. Narnia has become a lot darker now with so many evil forces at work and the struggle to understand which side of the battle is the right one. I like how this is a fitting end to the Chronicles, with the world ending and the Friends of Narnia (except Susan) coming back to their beloved world, especially with Polly and Digory coming back. I never liked this book when I first read it but now I can appreciate how good an ending it has. The ending is a bit weird and it’s a little bit complicated, especially with the train crash which caused Eustace and Jill to arrive in Narnia.
It’s really sad reading “The Last Battle”, but the stories all weave together so well throughout the Chronicles so we get a good view of life in Narnia at different times in its history. The characters are great, although at times they are a bit stereotypical of their sex and role! And, of course, Aslan the great lion is the fascinating creator and puppeteer who controls the destiny of Narnia and its inhabitants. He is like a friend to the good people, but is “not a tame lion”, which makes him both loved and mysterious.
The whole series is about faith and religion, right and wrong, and love and friendship. There’s lot of important lessons to learn from the books. I don’t really have a favourite book, but I suppose the 2nd one is the obvious choice! I’ve really enjoyed re-reading the series and I will definitely read it again at some point!
I can’t help but think that although Digory and Polly, Peter, Edmund and Lucy, Jill and Eustace and even the Pevensie’s parents all died in the train crash, the other Pevensie girl, Susan, is still alive in our world and grieving over her dead siblings and parents, separated from them because she stopped believing in Narnia. She doesn’t get the happy ending that the rest of them do. And they don’t seem to miss her much, even when it turns out they are all dead and their parents are dead too, but Susan isn’t even mentioned. It seems quite sad and rather harsh. But is this her punishment because she discovered sex and lived a “silly” life and didn’t keep her faith in Narnia? This issue is covered quite nicely by an article called “The Problem of Susan” by AshSilverLock over on her Fabulous Realms blog!