Chronicles of Narnia: Best to Worst Books in the Series
1. Prince Caspian (Book 4)
The top books in this series are somewhat hard to place, but Prince Caspian comes out on top. It is the second and final book in which all the Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) play a major part. The story of Caspian and his rise to power is compelling and sets up the next two books very well. It introduces interesting characters that continue in those books, such as Reepicheep the Mouse, Trumpkin the Dwarf, and of course Caspian himself. the It also helps the reader understand the time disparity between Narnian time and our time.
2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book 5)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is very nearly the best book in the series. It is full of adventure, has interesting protagonists and introduces a lot of heretofore unknown magical elements. The reader feels more like part of the discovery as the characters they meet and places they see had been unknown to Narnians before their discovery in this book. One is also introduced to and sees the transformation of Eustace Clarence Scrubb, a central character in the remaining books in the series. This book does employ b bit too much deus ex machina for my tastes, as Aslan himself saves them from situations at least three times throughout the book.
3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Book 2)
Chronologically, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the book that started the whole series. It introduces the Pevensies and all the other major characters. The story is extremely compelling and the character portrayals and conflicts are well written. The reason that this book falls to third in my opinion is simply that it does not provide enough detail for much of the story, being only 85% as long as Prince Caspian and 76% as long as Dawn Treader.
4. The Last Battle (Book 7)
The Last Battle is one of the more interesting books in that you find yourself looking at how many pages you have left and constantly thinking, "How are they going to pull this off?" It is a good example of what happens when people start things that they can't control. However in the last chapter, the book devolves into preachy allegory, which the rest of the books had been able to avoid.
5. The Silver Chair (Book 6)
The Silver Chair is a very average book as far as this series goes. The new characters (Jill Pole, Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle) that are introduced are interesting, but become a bit tired after a while. The story is compelling enough, but there are holes in the plot that are distracting and confusing. How did the witch survive if she was in fact destroyed by Aslan? Why are the giants in league with the witch? The ending of the book (which I won't give away here) is somewhat unsatisfying as well.
6. The Magicain's Nephew (Book 1)
Written as a prequel to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Nephew is intended to explain how the connection between Narnia and our world was first made. While it does this well, it also introduces unanswered questions about the creation of the Narnian world and about the inhabitants. Some of the unanswered questions include:
- What happen to the humans between the end of this book and the beginning of the next?
- Does Aslan only create Narnia or the whole planet at that time?
- Where do the Giants (in later books) come from?
7. The Horse and His Boy (Book 3)
What can I say about The Horse and His Boy? It is by far the weakest book in the series for the following reasons:
- It has no relevance to the rest of the books in the series
- It has only a few of the characters from the rest of the series
- It is in the "Chronicles of Narnia" but 90% of the book takes place in Calormen and Archenland
It is an interesting enough story unto itself, I suppose, but it does not fit into the series very well at all. Let's put it this way: there is a reason why they skipped over this book when making the movie series.