The Chronicles of Narnia: Which Book is Your Favorite?

Imagine you’re a teenager in Britain whose godfather is the writer extraordinaire C.S. Lewis. One day he comes to visit and presents you with his latest manuscript. Not only does he use your name as one of the main characters, he dedicates the book to you. That’s exactly what happened to Lucy Barfield in May of 1950.

I hope that by now everyone who reads The Scriblerians would already be aware of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, but in case I’m wrong, let me introduce you. The first book published in this series of seven is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Set in 1940 England as well as in the fantastical land of Narnia, the story highlights the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy when they walk into a magical wardrobe and find themselves in a different world.

 

lion witch wardrobe

While the children do become heroes as they fight epic battles against evil, another hero outshines them all, beyond what any excellent king or queen of Narnia would ever hope to accomplish. Aslan, the great and terrifying Lion. (“’Course he’s not safe, but he’s good. He’s the King.”) He knows the deepest magic, and he sacrifices himself for the unworthy.

“Hmmm, 1950,” you’re thinking. “The world was more conservative then. I bet this book was accepted with open arms by the reading public. What wonderful lessons for our children!”

Think again. The literary leaders in the U.K. had already been bitten by liberal theology. Strike one: the book was fantasy, not realism. Stories of witches and make-believe worlds should only be in picture books for little children. Strike 2: using a novel to display an obvious Christian allegory was a method of brainwashing older children. Strike 3: the story was too violent. Children might be frightened.

However, Lewis and his publisher did not strike out. Children loved the book, and it sold, and it sold, and it sold.

 

love books

Later, in some fundamentalist circles in America, he had the opposite problem. The word, “witch,” was in the title. What kind of Christian author writes about witches? While I was teaching in a Christian school in the 1990’s, one of my students was not allowed to read the book in our literature unit.

In recent years, movies have been made that remain quite true to the novel, but if you haven’t read it yet, READ IT! Words on the page of a classic can outperform the best actors and scripts every time. And once you’ve read it, keep going.

My advice? Don’t read them in order of publication. The Magician’s Nephew has so many delicious secrets to reveal, it would be a shame to miss odd details throughout the series by reading it last! Either read them in chronological order of the characters’ adventures, which means start with The Magician’s Nephew, or do what I used to with my fifth grade classes. I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe aloud first, followed by The Magician’s Nephew. The final chapter elicited so many delighted “ahas,” the local library had a difficult time keeping Prince Caspian and the other four books on the shelves!

 

chronicles of Narnia

Short survey: which of the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia is your favorite? My best friend loves The Last Battle. Mine is the Magician’s Nephew.

 

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15 thoughts on “The Chronicles of Narnia: Which Book is Your Favorite?

  1. Fantastic post. It’s great hearing the story behind the stories. ❤

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  2. Voyage of the Dawn Treader has my favorite scene in literature. Eustace the dragon. I just love that scene!

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  3. I was torn in answering your poll. I love The Silver Chair, as an allegory of the Christian life it is extraordinary and encouraging. I also love the Dawn Treader because of the Eustace character (portrayed marvelously in the movie) and the biting commentary of the local church (Read it again and then come chat with me if you can’t see it).

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  4. I love Chronicles of Narnia. 🙂

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  5. There’s no “whichever one I’m reading” option!
    Seriously, Narnia has always been my absolute favorite book series. My dad bought me the set when I was in 3rd grade. It’s a British edition he bought on a TDY and has the original version of the Dark Island (though my understanding is the newer US editions went back to the original text). I reread the series every year until I was an adult and still reread them every few years. The books are so worn I’ve had to tape the covers back on and several pages, too. But I love the pictures on the covers and will never replace them. Besides, they have the dates inscribed inside of the first time I read each one, & my mother signed them, too. We had a “read the whole series and you get an Aslan t-shirt” deal. Though I don’t think I ever actually got the t-shirt…

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  6. It’s really hard to choose a favorite, but i voted for the silver chair. Thanks for the historical background–it was quite illuminating!

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post. Your vote currently leaves an even split among six books with Dawn Treader way ahead.

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  7. Such a difficult choice! It’s like being asked to choose a favorite child!!! I ended up chosing The Magician’s Nephew, though, simply because I was always utterly transfixed with the images of Aslan creating Narnia. And the Wood Between the Worlds made my imagination go wild as a kid … the entrance to hundreds of other worlds?! Yes, please 🙂

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  8. Exactly! The Wood Between the Worlds left me breathless with the possibilities and with the fear of getting lost (I must have a similar personality to Polly’s). And the idea of singing a world into existence – my heart for music soars at the thought of it! One other favorite part (I could bore you going on and on) is when Digory must face Aslan about his part in allowing the White Witch into Narnia. C.S. Lewis created an amazingly powerful scene to show God’s absolute insistence on truth and his grace that relieves the burden of sin.
    Thanks for adding a vote to my favorite!

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