Friday, May 30, 2008

Great Read this Summer: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Disney's new film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," has been out in theaters for two weeks and has already made over 150 million dollars.

Both Chronicles of Narnia adaptations have revitalized interest in C. S. Lewis' original series. It's a great time to jump on the bandwagon and encourage the children in your life, and yourself, to read the original C. S. Lewis books.

Although Lewis very much strayed from telling people that his books were purely allegorical, he liked to call them symbolic myths. You will find The Chronicles of Narnia an easy but uplifting read. Lewis' favorite uncle-like storytelling voice is engaging for adults and children alike.

The most recent editions of The Chronicles of Narnia have printed the books in Narnia-time chronological order. The movies, however, are being released in the order that Lewis wrote the books, which is also the order of reading I suggest, as follows:

1) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2) Prince Caspian
3) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4) The Silver Chair
5) The Horse and His Boy
6) The Magician's Nephew
7) The Last Battle

If you’re new to The Chronicles of Narnia, here is some information about the first three books and highlights to look for as you read to get you started.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a great way to start reading C. S. Lewis. The new publication of the series has you read The Magician’s Nephew first, but I recommend starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The overall themes of the return of Aslan, his sacrifice for Edmund, and the realization of the role Aslan has in store for all four children in Narnia are captivating. None of the Narnia books are very long, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe jots along at such an exciting pace that you wish there was more when you finish.

In Prince Caspian, the four children return to Narnia. While only a year has passed in England, hundreds of years have passed in Narnia. They are brought back to help Prince Caspian overthrow his usurper uncle and return harmony between talking beasts and humans in Narnia. The beginning of the book is a bit slow until the children (and the reader) are brought up to speed with Narnian history, but the battle scene at the end of the book is well worth the wait. In addition, Prince Caspian is an important set-up volume for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The only other Narnia book that comes close to rivaling The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in adventure is The Silver Chair. Because we already know Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy, there is only a little background story for Eustace, a new character, before we jump right into adventure. During the voyage, the characters travel to different islands. Each island is full of symbolic occurrences and culminates with the children meeting Aslan in his own land. This is one of Lewis’ best in Christian symbolism.Enjoy this great time to read, or re-read, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia!
Fun Trivia Fact:When first published, The Chronicles of Narnia were as popular for British and American children as the Harry Potter series is today.
* Add a comment!
Which is your favorite Narnia book? What is your opinion of the new movie?

1 comment:

Summer said...

Hi, I recently found this blog and I really enjoy it. I wanted to thank you for your endorsement to read the Narnia Chronicles in the order written. I adore all the books (I have read them several times myself and with my children and we have listened to them on audio CDs). I can't imagine reading them in any other order as I have told several others when they start the series.
I just recently saw the movie and was a little disappointed how much they strayed from the original story, but, that is Hollywood for you! They did it in the first film as well.
Thanks also for the book recommendations. I love to read and always need something on my "to read next" list. In fact I have a pile of books 5 deep next to my bed!
Keep up the great work.