Why The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis are such popular children's books
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The magical books of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia are seven story-books written by C.S. Lewis and some of the author's most successful work ever. Set in a magical land the stories manage to cast their spell over the minds of children throughout the world and adults as well - I am still re-reading them.
Nearly everyone has heard of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and many writers have credited Lewis and his books as being part of the inspiration for their own works. C.S. Lewis is a master-storyteller and he captivated me when I was around the age of 10 and had started to read in earnest any books that grabbed me and these most certainly did! I read all The Chronicles of Narnia as a boy and then again several times in my teens and have been re-reading them at regular intervals ever since. These books have never lost their magical appeal!
So inspired was I by Aslan the Lion, the central figure of each of the seven books that I chose that name as my son's second Christian name. It was such a powerful symbol to me, and indeed "aslan" means a lion in Turkish.
The Magician's Nephew
Although not the best-known of The Chronicles of Narnia, which volume would easily be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the series is The Magician's Nephew.
Two children, Digory and Polly, are exploring a passageway that leads between the houses in a row but they end up getting caught by Digory's mad Uncle Andrew who turns out as having magic rings.
Wood Beyond The Worlds
They are sent as human guinea-pigs into other worlds and encounter an evil witch-queen Jadis in one of these after they discover that other worlds can be reached via the "Wood between the Worlds". After accidentally bringing the evil witch back into London where she causes havoc they end up using the rings again and witnessing the formation of Narnia by the Lion Aslan. He creates talking beasts among the animals that are going to live in Narnia. Aslan also explains that evil has already entered his new world because the Witch had done so.
This sets the scene for the following stories and Aslan is the only character who appears in each book of The Chronicles of Narnia.
The children and Uncle Andrew are returned to their usual lives but links have been forged between this world and the new world of Narnia.
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
This story was published first in 1950, though it was second in the chronological order of the books in the series The Chronicles of Narnia. It is set in WW2 and four children Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying at their uncle Professor Digory Kirke's old house in the countryside. We can work out that he is Digory from The Magician's Nephew now grown up and an old man.
Mr Tumnus the Faun
Lucy is the first of the children to discover that an old wardrobe provides a way of getting suddenly into the magical world of Narnia where she encounters a friendly Faun known as Mr Tumnus. She is told about how the land is ruled over by an evil White Witch who keeps it in a permanent winter. Lucy returns to her own world and tells her brothers and sisters but they do not believe her.
Edmund, however, investigates and ends up in Narnia where he meets the White Witch and is enchanted by her. She feeds him magical Turkish delight and turns him into a traitor against his own brother and sisters whom the Witch asks him to go and bring back to Narnia and to her. Tempted by the Turkish delight he plans to do so.
All the children eventually enter Narnia via the wardrobe and meet Mr and Mrs Beaver. They learn how Mr Tumnus has been caught as a traitor to the White Witch and about a prophecy that says that the witch's power will be over when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve claim their thrones in the castle of Cair Paravel. The Beavers also tell them that Aslan, who is the true king of Narnia is "on the move." Edmund sneaks away to the White Witch and the story continues...
The Horse And His Boy
The Horse And His Boy begins in the harsh land of Calormen where an orphaned boy called Shasta lives and works for a fisherman. A Tarkaan, or lord of Calormen turns up and wants to buy the boy.
Shasta is worried that as a slave his life will become even worse and he plans to run away. He discovers that the Tarkaan's horse can talk. It is a magical talking beast from Narnia who had been kidnapped long ago. The two new friends decide to escape together.
A girl called Aravis
Later on their perilous journey they meet up with a runaway girl called Aravis and another talking horse. They all set out for Narnia and the North but must cross a great desert and with Calormenes in pursuit. Shasta is the double of a Narnian Prince Corin to add a twist to the story, and the Calormenes decide to make war on Narnia..
Prince Caspian: Lucy meets Aslan
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In Prince Caspian all four Pevensie children get pulled from a railway station back into Narnia by a mysterious force but they don't recognise it now that they are back due to the big changes that have taken place. Eventually they work out that they have actually found Cair Paravel castle but it is now in ruins. When you leave Narnia you have no idea how long the time is that has past there. It can be minutes, weeks, months or many years! All the children had been made kings and queens when they were last there and they find their old royal belongings.
While they have been away a Prince Caspian has been denied his rightful throne and not much is left of old Narnia. Miraz, the tyrant of a king that has usurped it by killing Caspian's father King Caspian IX has suppressed all knowledge of Talking Beasts and the magic of the world as it was. His people are known as the Telmarines.
Prince Caspian, with the aid of what is left of the Old Narnians, puts an army together to take his rightful place as ruler of Narnia and to restore the happy old ways that once were the way. The Pevensies are drafted in to aid him in his fight. We are introduced to Reepicheep the valiant talking mouse who will play a part in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eventually the good side wins and the children go back to their lives in their home world but Aslan tells Peter and Susan they will never go to Narnia again because they are now too old.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Official Trailer [HD]
The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying with their badly behaved cousin Eustace Scrubb. All the children get into Narnia after being magically pulled through a painting of a ship.
They are rescued by the Dawn Treader, a ship that is under the command of King Caspian X who was Prince Caspian in the previous story but has now grown older. He and his crew, including the talking mouse Reepicheep, are on a mission to search for the seven lost Lords of Narnia.
Edmund and Lucy are happy to be back in Narnia but Eustace can do nothing but complain. In the course of the story they sail to many mysterious islands and have all sorts of adventures. Eustace becomes a reformed character later on after he gets lost and is transformed into a dragon but eventually gets magically changed back by Aslan.
They either find the lost Lords or discover what happened to them. Towards the very ending of the book, Reepicheep goes onward up a waterfall alone into Aslan's Country. Caspian and his men make plans to return to Cair Paravel and their homes. The children meet a lamb who changes into Aslan who tells them that Lucy and Edmund will not be going to Narnia again but will come to know him in their own world. They are all returned home.
The Silver Chair
In The Silver Chair none of the Pevensies appear but Eustace takes another leading role. This time he and fellow-schoolmate Jill Pole seek Narnia and find it after Jill has been having a hard time with bullies at the modern Experiment House school.
The children get off to a very bad start in Aslan's Country which they have stumbled into through a door in a garden wall. Jill endangers Eustace by standing on the edge of a very steep cliff. He tries to pull her back and falls over but is blown by Aslan to Narnia. Both children are given a quest by Aslan that they must seek out and rescue a Prince Rilian who is the son of King Caspian X and who disappeared some years earlier. Aslan gives them four signs to look out for. They are aided by some talking owls and joined on the main part of their quest by the marsh-wiggle Puddleglum.
They have to go through a part of the country where giants live and are in great danger there. After escaping they end up in Underland where a company of gnomes take them to the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She is attended by a young man who she explains must be bound to a silver chair at night because he starts raving at that time.
It turns out that he is Prince Rilian who has been enchanted by the Lady with the Green Kirtle who is really an evil witch who can change into a serpent. They manage to kill her and in so doing free the gnomes who had been her slaves. Prince Rilian goes home to Cair Paravel.
The children are returned to their world and as Aslan roars part of the wall around Experiment House collapses. Eustace and Jill arrive back over the broken wall and scare away the bullies who have glimpsed Aslan.
The Last Battle
The Last Battle really is the last of the Chronicles of Narnia and thought by many to be the best book of them all. It actually won the prestigious Carnegie Medal in Literature back in 1956.
Set in the last days on Narnia when all is falling apart in the once happy lives of the people, talking beasts, animals and other inhabitants of the magical land. Shift, a very intelligent but corrupt ape has persuaded Puzzle, a not-so-bright but nevertheless gentle donkey, to dress in a lion-skin and to pretend he is Aslan. He is made to give out orders the real Aslan would never have given. Nobody knows what to believe any more. The fake Aslan orders the Narnians to work for the Calormenes and to cut down Talking Trees.
King Tirian, great-grandson of Rilian, is doing all he can to restore order to the once happy kingdom that is falling into chaos and anarchy. Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Jill and Eustace are brought to help him.
In the closing chapters, in dramatic fashion, Aslan brings to an end the old Narnia he created but takes all the loyal people and beasts with him to Aslan's Country. It is revealed that this ending is only the beginning of the true story, "which goes on forever, and in which every chapter is better than the one before."
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle
Chronicles of Narnia links on Wikipedia
- The Magician\'s Nephew - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Horse and His Boy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Prince Caspian - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Silver Chair - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Last Battle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Chronicles of Narnia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conclusion about the Chronicles of Narnia
All of the Chronicles of Narnia have many obvious references to Biblical ideas and Aslan is very obviously Jesus or God. This is not surprising because C.S. Lewis was a Christian and these books allowed him to preach in a way and interpret his ideas about his religion yet within what can otherwise be read as fairy-tales or fantasies.
The stories incorporate mythical creatures and deities from legend. There are dwarves, centaurs, fauns, unicorns, dryads, giants, and even the god Bacchus puts in an appearance in one tale.
Someone who is an atheist can probably enjoy these stories just as much as someone who believes in spiritual matters because of the twists and turns in the narratives, the excitement and at times the humour. The stories blend many elements of chivalric tales of knights in armour and medieval romance in with a mythic world and all of this runs parallel to normal life in Britain which the children leave to enter Narnia.
I entered Narnia many years ago as a boy and have kept re-entering it ever since through the pages on the Chronicles of Narnia.
© 2011 Steve Andrews
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