S-BOMB warning. That’s SPOILER-ALERT, for those less crude than I.
Now, there’s an interesting aspect to reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Do you read via publication order, or chronological order? Personally, I was too young to have known there was a difference when I first read the series, so I continue to read by chronological. That makes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe book two, in my world. And boy, is it magical.
This particular journey is very special to me. I still have no clear memory of the first time I read it. What I do remember is this old, freaky-looking production VHS of it that was two parts long. The freakiest part of it for me was introduced at the very end of tape one, Maugrim the wolf! His makeup was the first time I’d see a human dressed as an animal (that I’m able to remember). I watched this VHS at my grandmother’s every time I visited. As far as I’m concerned, this was the first time I believed in magic. At some point, someone had the book and I read it. I didn’t personally own a copy of it until about 2001. I’m pretty sure I picked it up when my aunt began this magical tradition of taking me out on Tuesdays to Barnes and Noble for a book and a coffee/hot chocolate. Many things started with that. I started regularly visiting book stores, more frequently drinking coffee, and had a return to the magic of reading that I’d lost for a couple of years. Tuesdays have since become my favorite of days.
But, to the novel! It’s a story about magic, faith, and doing what’s right, brought to the reader via talking animals and new worlds. If you’ve read The Magician’s Nephew, then you are familiar with the country of Narnia itself, as well as Professor Kirk. The Pevensies are introduced here (though not as the Pevensies, but rather, their first names–Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy), and they are arguably the most important of all the children of Adam and Eve that visit Narnia. Peter may be the high king above all kings, but Lucy is easily argued to be Aslan’s favorite. Who is Aslan? Not a tame lion, to be sure. For religious readers, he is allegorical Jesus, but for others, he is enjoyable without this connection. He is a symbol of all that is good about Narnia, and his struggle against the White Witch is aided by the Pevensies, who must reclaim Narnia for the Talking Beasts.
My absolute favorite of Narnia is Edmund Pevensie. He has the most growth of the four English children, and I probably identified with the concept of being rotten for rotten’s sake, and what he did to overcome this behavior. Without him, one could argue that the battle would have been lost, because only he had the sense to strike Jadis’ wand, shattering it. One could also argue that Aslan would have defeated the enemy anyway, but he does not ever do anything of great significance without it being an act of aid of those who place their faith in him and act on their own in his name.
This was the original tale of Narnia, and it is very much its own story and feels very complete. Other tales include a sort of aside that alludes to another tale, or at least, the potential of one. If I’m not mistaken, this story is also mentioned in some small way (and in some cases, in some not-so-small) in every other book. It is the story of Narnia, of the start of the Golden Age. Its citizens are quite fond of this battle, of the Pevensies. You can’t help but feel the same. Narnia was won here, as was my heart.
If you wish to stir an imagination to life, a love of reading, and perhaps even goodness for the sake of being good, I say The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the place to start. It’s not a particularly modern tale, but it is an everlasting one. The artwork, should you choose a publication that features it, is gorgeous and encourages the imagination to flourish. I cannot recommend this story enough. Even if you never read the other books in the series, this is certainly the one.
Interested in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? It can be purchased here.