#6 The Magician’s Nephew
Prequel to the series and presents Narnia’s origin story: how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it. Digory Kirke and his friend Polly Plummer stumble into different worlds by experimenting with magic rings made by Digory’s uncle. In the dying world of Charn they awaken Queen Jadis, and another world turns out to be the beginnings of the Narnian world (where Jadis later becomes the White Witch). The story is set in 1900, when Digory was a 12-year-old boy. He is a middle-aged Professor by the time he hosts the Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 40 years later.
#1 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, who have been evacuated to the English countryside from London in 1940 following the outbreak of World War II. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke’s house that leads to the magical land of Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan, a talking lion, save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who had reigned over the land of Narnia for a century of perpetual winter with no Christmas. The children become Kings and Queens of this new-found land and establish the Golden Age of Narnia, leaving a legacy to be rediscovered in later books.
#2 Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia tells the story of the Pevensie children’s second trip to Narnia. They are drawn back by the power of Susan’s horn, blown by Prince Caspian to summon help in his hour of need. Narnia as they knew it no more, as 1,3000 years have passed, their castle is in ruin, and all Narnians have retreated so far within themselves that only Aslan’s magic can wake them. Caspian has fled into the woods to escape his uncle, Miraz, who has usurped the throne. The children set out once again to save Narnia.
#3 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Sees Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, return to Narnia, three years after their last departure. Once there, they join Caspian’s voyage on the ship Dawn Treader to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail towards Aslan’s country at the edge of t he world.
#4 The Silver Chair
Is the first book not involving the Pevensie children, focusing on Eustace instead. Several months after the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aslan calls Eustace back to Narnia along with his classmate Jill Pole. They are given four signs to aid them in the search for Prince Caspian’s son Rilian, who disappeared ten years earlier on a quest to avenge his month’s death. Fifty years have passed in Narnia since the events from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustace is still a child, but Caspian, barely an adult in the previous book, is now an old man. Eustace and Jill, with the help of Puddleglum and Marsh-wiggle, face danger and betrayal on their quest to find Rilian.
#5 The Horse and His Boy
The story takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia, an era which begins and ends in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The protagonists, a young boy named Shasta and a talking horse named Bree, both begin in bondage in the country of Calormen. By “chance” they meet and plan their return to Narnia and freedom. Along the way they meed Aravis and her talking horse, Hwin, who are also fleeing to Narnia.
#7 The Last Battle
The Last Battle chronicles the end of the world of Narnia. Jill and Eustace return to save Narnia from the ape Shift, who tricks Puzzle the donkey into impersonating the lion Aslan, thereby precipitating a showdown between the Calormenes and King Tirian. This leads to the end of Narnia as it is known throughout the series, but allows Aslan to lead the characters to the “true” Narnia.
(All summaries are from The Chronicles of Narnia Wikipedia page)
Age when first read – Bit blurry but I think probably between 7-9
Importance – Well before Harry Potter became my obsession, I was read The Chronicles of Narnia by my Dad (I think) or perhaps my Mum. These books are old, as you can see from the picture and I believe they were my Dad’s before they were mine. To me, these books were so magical and I was determined to find Narnia at the back of my own wardrobe. I remember having many vivid dreams where I would find Narnia and become more important to Aslan than the Pevensies and restore Narnia to its former glory. I was obsessed with the series.
What was learnt – I suppose I learnt to believe in myself more. I learnt to stand up on my own two feet and make more decisions for myself. I learnt that it was ok to make mistakes as long as you learnt from them. I learnt that magic could be found anywhere and that adventure was waiting just around the corner if you looked hard enough. I mostly got a strong sense of friendship from the books, a need for belonging and a need to prove self-worth. I understood that all the characters that found their way to Narnia were their because they had something to prove for themselves and had something that Aslan deemed they should work on. I always worried about Susan and her limitations on belief, it saddened me the way her life went.
Reading as an adult -As an adult I obviously understood all the religious undertones that C.S. Lewis threaded through the story. It is quite hard not to miss them when reading as an adult. I know many adult friends who have gone off the series because of those aspects, which I think is a shame because the series of books are still terrific and a great piece of fiction even with those undertones. I was also overjoyed when they decided to make the books into films, though the films were discontinued after Prince Caspian due to poor box-office records, I still enjoyed watching them and rediscovering the joy I felt as a child while reading the books.
Overall rating – 9.5