I was in the middle of rereading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia when I decided to do the new reading challenge, so I didn’t finish the series. I was looking forward to reading the others, too. Maybe I’ll come back to them later. For now, here’s my opinions on the first three. FYI, there may be spoilers ahead.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, A
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first book of the series and also the best. I love Lewis’s simple style. It’s easy to read and the story unfolds at a fast, but comfortable, pace. The idea of getting into a magical world by way of a wardrobe is wonderful. The main characters (Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter) are likable. The magical beings and creatures of Narnia, particularly Mr. Tumnus, the beavers, Aslan, and the White Witch, are all memorable. The Christian underpinnings of the series are not, IMHO, so obvious in this book. You don’t have to be Christian to enjoy it, and you can read it without feeling like you’re being preached at. Totally recommended.
Prince Caspian, A-
I don’t know why Prince Caspian isn’t as popular as TLTWATW. Maybe it’s because Lewis tore down so much of the world he had built in the first book. Thousands of years have gone by. The talking animals, centaurs, and other magical animals of Narnia are almost gone, virtually wiped out by the race of man. Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter are whisked back into Narnia to set things right.
The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader,” B+
This book was one of my favorites as a child. Have you ever seen a work of art so realistic that you can almost believe it’s real? You almost expect to feel the wind blowing or see something moving in the picture. That’s what happens in this book. The scene comes alive and the children are drawn in. What a great way to travel! Lucy and Edmund, along with their cousin Eustace, get into Narnia via a painting of a ship and there they join King Caspian on a voyage to the very end of the world. This is the first book in which the Christian elements become obvious. It spoils the ending of an otherwise fine tale, IMHO, but I still recommend the book because most of the stops on the journey are interesting.