C. S. Lewis is a remarkable author and perhaps most well known for his Chronicles of Narnia series. However, his Space Odyssey Trilogy as well as his religious novels are very popular too. Yet in regards to his many books I’m afraid I’m only familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia series and Mere Christianity. I do own his Space Odyssey trilogy, but have not yet had the time to read them. Soon you will all get to hear about them, and I’m sure they will be just as excellent as Lewis’ other novels.
However, my focus of this post is the first book in this wonderful childrens’ series. The book begins during the WWII bombings of London. In an attempt to keep them safe, the Pevensies children; Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy; are sent into the country to stay with an old professor. In his mansion house they have free reign and their outlook on the situation begins to improve, but soon their world is turned upside down when they discover a magical land through a wardrobe in a spare room. However, their new found world is not a place of joy or fun and they are soon made aware of the evil force known as the White Witch. The White Witch has cursed the land into an eternal winter, a curse that could be broken now that the Pevensies have arrived.
For those of the Christian faith, or at least an understanding of the theology, there is much more depth in this book than is normally found in children’s literature. I discussed this book in one of my English classes last semester and I found that I only knew a fraction of the symbolism found in the book. Some of it may have been interpreted by the reader on their own, but much of it was well established and clearly expressed. I say “clearly” but it’s only clear now that I was shown what to look for.
This is another of those beloved books that I grew up with. My dad read it to me at least once and I listened to them on CD so many times that the disks wore out. You’d think I’d know the series backwards and forwards, but I don’t. This is mostly because I listened to them while falling asleep.
I do want to mention that I am a little disappointed with the new order they gave the books. Although I can understand why the publishers would want the books to be in chronological order, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. This causes some minor problems when you try to read The Magician’s Nephew first. This is the only complaint I have about these books and it’s a publisher thing, which speaks for itself in saying that I consider this to be a great book.
There are some people who have found problems with this book because they were not religious, but they are few and far between. From an secular perspective the story is a work of art. Critics may be less inclined to give this high a praise because of the young audience it was meant to entertain, but I personally don’t believe it deserves any less praise. As you read through the series you will see the depth to Lewis’ simplicity. He creates a world, a history, and a theology; carefully crafted and inserted in pieces to create a picture that is more sophisticated than many mature fantasy novels. Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between you will find these books to be well worth the read. I promise.