To treat myself after my last exam I went on a slight book buying spree and one of the books I treated myself to was a massive bind up edition of The Chronicles of Narnia. One of my absolute favourite childhood series, I was so excited to re-read them. I was surprised at how different my interpretation of the books is now I’m an adult – I noticed a lot more of the symbolism and imagery that obviously flew over my head when I was younger! Anyhow, on with the review…
The Magicians Nephew
‘When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.
Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.’
This for me is probably one of the weakest books in the series. Although I loved the idea of the woods between the world and it was fascinating seeing the creation of Narnia, there was absolutely no character development of our two main characters whatsoever – I felt that both Polly and Diggory were very similar to the Penvensie’s. There was obvious biblical parallels – again I really didn’t notice these when I was younger. However, I absolutely LOVE C.S Lewis’s writing style – its like talking to an old friend and beautifully written. Overall, although not my favourite book in the series, it is a great addition to the series and I do love the fact that we see Narnia from the beginning.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
‘When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.’
I LOVE this book. Its my favourite of the series and re-reading it was just so nostalgic. My favourite character has to be Lucy and I love her relationship with Mr Tumnus. However, I could already see the belittlement of Susan in this book – she seemed not to be a fully formed character, just a pawn. This book is classic though and I really enjoyed re-reading it.
The Horse and his Boy
‘Shasta is a young boy living in Calormene with a cruel man who claims to be his father. One night he overhears his “father” offering to sell him as a slave, so Shasta makes a break and sets out for the North. He meets Bree, a talking horse who becomes his companion. On their way they encounter Aravis, a high-born girl escaping an arranged marriage, and her talking horse. Despite their differences the children and horses learn to work together to reach the freedom they long for. In the meantime, they uncover a Calormene plot to conquer Narnia.’
I loved this book – it is the first time we see Narnia from a different perspective and that makes it really interesting. I loved the small cameos of the grown up Penvensie’s as Kings and Queens, and our glimpse into the Golden Age of Narnia. Aravis is a really great female character, and I love that she is strong and tough and brave – such a departure from the way that Lucy and Susan are written (as unable to do things because they are girls). Bree is an extremely sharp witted horse – and only when reading The Chronicles of Narnia can you say that a horse has a great character arc – I completely got his fear about not fitting in in Narnia. Overall, I really loved this book – and it is often underestimated but I don’t think its weak.
‘A prince fights for his crown. Narnia… where animals talk… where trees walk… here a battle is about to begin. A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.’
Yay, the Penvensie’s are back. I loved this story, but continue to hate Susan’s poor characterisation. Prince Caspian is such a cool character and I LOVE Reepicheep with all my heart!
The Voyage of The Dawn Treader
‘The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan’s country at the End of the World. Enter this enchanted world countless times in The Chronicles of Narnia.’
A close second favourite, I loved that we got to explore so much of the surrounding area of Narnia. The adventures are just amazing in this book – something is always going on and I LOVED it. Also kudos to Eustace Stubb for the most impressive character development in history by being turned into a dragon. King Caspian is amazing, Reepicheep is his usual hilarious self and the journey across the ocean is just really cool.
The Silver Chair
‘Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch.
NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins.
Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face and face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved’
This book is one of my least favourites. The plot is SO simple, and easily guessed a mile away from finishing. I didn’t like the explanation for the witch and the journey and climax of the book seemed to be just too easy – there was never any real danger to any of the ‘good’ characters. That being said, I do like Jill Pole.
The Last Battle
‘Many Narnian years have passed since Eustace and Jill helped ensure the Royal line. But when they are jerked back violently into this strangest of lands they find the present King in danger and Narnia facing its darkest hour. With Eustace and Jill at his side, the King, the noble unicorn Jewel and a few remaining loyal subjects must stand fast against the powers of evil and darkness and fight the Last Battle to decide the future of this once glorious kingdom’
Eurghh is roughly how I feel about The Last Battle. It is probably my least favourite because it is really depressing and what the hell is that ending?!?!! It doesn’t make sense. I also really didn’t like the exclusion of Susan and the fact that the rest of the Pevensies died in a train crash was meant to be good? In my mind I like to pretend this book didn’t happen, because it really is a horrid conclusion to the series and really weak plot wise.
Final Thoughts – I think it was Neil Gaiman who said that if you read a book at the right age, then it will stay with you forever and I think this can be said about The Chronicles of Narnia. I adored the books when I was younger and I really enjoyed re-reading them as an adult. I think that C.S Lewis is a great writer, and I adore his unique style. I love the world of Narnia, all the mythological and talking creatures are just so cool. There are some things I dislike; namely the treatment of girls, however as a whole, I love this series and I will read them again and again.