Saturday, January 12, 2008
First two in the Chronicles of Narnia
Becky's Review of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
My review of C.S. Lewis' classic children's book The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is going to be chatty--quite chatty--and there's nothing I can do about it. I first encountered the magic of Narnia in fourth grade when my teacher read it aloud to us. My teacher, Mrs. Watts, was known for many things. She inspired much fear and trembling. Like Aslan, she was not safe, but good. While, other students may remember the discipline or the hard work...I'll always remember my magical introduction to Narnia. Soon after, I added book by book the series to my collection. Most of my copies were used. Most were ugly. But I devoured each one. I seem to remember my sister reading a few of the series at least. But unlike Little House and Ramona and Anne, this series was more me and less her. Narnia belonged to me--the magic, the wonder, the glory of it all. I remember the pure pleasure I experienced each and every time I opened up a book. I remember the book covers, yes. And I definitely have strong opinions on which book covers through the years are 'the best' of the bunch. But more precisely, I fell in love with the proper order of the series. Few things irritate me more than someone who insists on that new-fangled order. Which is why, if you could see me, you'd know how frustrating it is to read my 7-in-1 novel. But some things must be preserved at all costs.
Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids. (p. 111 in the 7-in-1 edition)
The adventures in and out of the wardrobe that these four experience during the course of the novel is oh-so-magical. The characters--both major and minor--so memorable. The story, familiar yet resilient, even after having read it a dozen times. So many wonderful scenes. Scenes that resonate. In case you haven't read it, let me give you a teaser. Lucy, the youngest of the children, accidentally discovers a magical land of ice and snow while hiding in a wardrobe in the Professor's house. Her three siblings--Peter, Susan, and Edmund--at first don't believe her. They take her tale as a wild, silly, foolish story of a girl whose homesick and wanting attention. Edmund, the brother closest to her in age and thus her biggest tormentor, also wanders into Narnia unexpectedly. But who he meets there, will perhaps undo them all. Narnia is not a land at peace. Not at all. For the land is under a spell--an enchantment--the White Witch--the supposed Queen of the land--has made it always winter and never Christmas. And the lives of the children--all four children--are in grave danger when they're in Narnia. For there is a prophecy that four humans--two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve--will come to rule the land as Kings and Queens and restore peace and order to the kingdom.
The heart and soul of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the revelation of Aslan, the King of the land, a lion.
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it has some enormous meaning--either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer. (141 of 7-in-1 edition)
The children's journey to Narnia, their quest to meet Aslan at the Stone Table, and their battle to save Narnia and their brother from the grasp of the evil and wicked witch....are unforgettable adventures that deserve to be experienced again and again by readers of all ages. You're never too old to experience the magic of Narnia.
Lewis, C.S. Prince Caspian.
Prince Caspian, the second of the novels in the Chronicles of Narnia series, takes place one year after the close of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are preparing to return to school when they're instantly, magically transported (or translated) to Narnia. What they find there shocks them. Shocks them for many reasons. You see, it hasn't been a year in Narnia time. It hasn't even been just a hundred years. Their castle, their lands, unrecognizable ruins. The adventures are about to begin. Again. Many surprises, many adventures await them, along with one old friend. A friend that takes a little more faith to recognize these days.
Prince Caspian centers on a new hero. Caspian. The son of Caspian the Ninth, king of Narnia. But it is Caspian's uncle, King Miraz, that rules the land, and rules it harshly. Gone are the days of talking animals and other fantastical creatures. No the "old Narnians" must hide if they are to survive at all. Caspian may have been raised by his aunt and uncle, but his upbringing was left to an old nurse who believed in the old ways. Now, Caspian is a young man who longs to restore the golden days of the past. Who longs to restore Narnia to its former glory. Who longs to create a peaceful age where old Narnians can live and live well. But he can't do it alone. What he needs is help. Divine help.
Can a horn of old bring much-needed help from afar?
I love Prince Caspian. I do. It is exciting. It is thrilling. Again, Lewis has created memorable characters and memorable scenes.