Book Review: The Chronicles of Narnia

Rating: ★★★★★

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is one of the definitive works of children’s fantasy literature that still influences the imagination of our present culture.  Lewis, one of the great Christian thinkers of the past century, was a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien and together they formed a literary discussion group called The Inklings, meeting at the University of Oxford, England in the 1930′s to 1940′s.

This superlative fantasy begins when the Pevensies, a family of British children, stumble upon the doorway to a magical world called Narnia, wherein they are called upon to oppose evil forces.  The world is populated with dryads, unicorns, and large talking Beasts as well as humans, and the ruler of this world is Aslan, the great lion.  The interaction of Narnia with our world is developed throughout the series as more magical doors open for the Pevensies and other children, just when they are needed most.

The series is an allegory of the Christian Gospel, wherein Aslan represents Jesus.  However, it has become a classic in its own right because of its excellent writing and outstanding imaginative qualities.  Narnia has had a resounding impact on the fantasy of today, and there is still a lively discussion among scholars and other thinkers about the profound themes of Lewis’s vision (one interesting example of the ongoing discussion is here).

While the books are worthwhile simply for the experience of reading the stories, there are a number of resources to help readers interact with their literary, religious and cultural themes.  Elisabeth Wilson in Books Children Love recommends Paul Ford’s Companion to Narnia to assist in this process.

The series is available as a boxed set (which I recommend for ease of reading), but also as a nice single-volume edition with original illustrations.  There are also several audio versions including the unabridged read-aloud, a dramatized audio version, and a radio theatre version.

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Publication Information: Lewis, C.S.. Chronicles of Narnia, The. Baynes, Pauline. The Chronicles of Narnia; . 1954. ISBN: 0064409392.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 08-12, Amblesideonline, Book Tree, Books Children Love, Books That Build Character,, Honey For a Child's Heart, NEH Summertime Favorites, Read-Aloud Handbook, What Stories Does My Son Need, World Books That Show, World Nifty 50
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Posted on May 20, 2009

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