Before I begin my review, I would like to begin with these factors:
- I watched the 2005 movie before I read the book years ago.
- Back in the late 2000’s, I tried reading The Magicians Nephew before reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I never completed the book, and felt discouraged about reading the entire series.
- I will also refer to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as “The Lion” because that title is lengthy.
- I will do a “part two” to discuss the Christianity references in the two books I read.Just so you know, this is how everything worked this weekend: I read The Lion in two hours on Friday, talked with my Mother about the book, and then watched the movie that night. I didn’t start The Magicians Nephew until late Friday, and took my time reading it till I finished it late Sunday night.
For most of the month of February, I had been reading Alexander Hamilton and Guns, Germs, and Steel. This weekend I decided to take a break from the history books to read some children literature. I also, was determined to stay at home this entire weekend (a complete success, by the way). The copy I had with me, is my Grandmother’s copy of C.S. Lewis’s box set of all seven Narnia stories. This set was published in 1970, with the original first book (The Lion) was written in 1950.
For those who have read (or have not read) The Chronicles of Narnia, there are two different ways you can read the books, just like watching the Star Wars movies. There’s the chronological order and the Published Order. I hadn’t realized this when I started reading, so I ended up reading The Lion first, then Magicians Nephew. I’ll discuss more about this later.
Yes, while they talked about air raids on the first page (World War Two), I thought that the stories were written before World War One or Two. “Contemporary Children’s Literature at the time” is what my Grandmother told me on Saturday.
Now, I am a fan of Harry Potter. So when Lucy (Hufflepuff), Edmund (Slytherin), Susan (Ravenclaw), and Peter (Gryffindor) conversed during the first night at the Professor’s house, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Harry Potter. The four children were wide awake that night, as they discussed what they could do during that summer. Lucy was excited about the possibility of Badgers, and that made me laugh and read that entire dialogue series again. Finally, a character excited about Badgers. #GoHufflepuff
When I read books, I always like to carry my Doctor Who journal with me. Inside, I write down book quotes, the author, and the book title; even who said it. The Professor intrigues me. Does he know about Narnia? What if the Professor is Dumbledore?
I read Harry Potter before the Narnia series. My Grandmother read Narnia before Potter; wonder how what order you read YA and Children’s Literature changes how you read or understand a book?
Back to the quotes journal: Peter and Susan are sitting down with the Professor, talking about Lucy and Edmund’s “are they telling the truth” situation. Was Lucy telling the Truth about the Wardrobe? The Professors answer is one of those book quotes.
“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”
Right on point.
Let’s talk about the Wardrobe
So while I read The Lion first, I was confused about the origins of the wardrobe itself. How was it made? How did it get there? If you recall in the book, Lucy steps into the Wardrobe lined with coats. Because of the time and setting, I I pictured a Armoire with shelving on the bottom. So was Lucy having to take a step in, instead of just walking in?
If you read The Lion first, your introduction to the wardrobe is with Lucy. If you read The Magicians Nephew first, you learn about it through Digory. Here are the two different introductions to the wardrobe.
“And shortly after that they look into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking- glass in the door.”
“Looking into the inside, she saw several coats hanging up- mostly fur coats… She immediately stepped into the wardrobe and got in among the coats and rubbed her face against them, leaving the door open, of course because she knew that it is very foolish to shut oneself into any wardrobe.”
C.S. Lewis repeats the importance of not locking yourself in the wardrobe through out the next few chapters.
Digory’s talk about the wardrobe in the last chapter of The Magicians Nephew:
“He couldn’t bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did. That was the beginning of all the comings and going between Narnia and our world, which you can read of in other books.”
Now, I didn’t get to finish The Magicians Nephew until last night, but I had this “Ah-Ha” moment when it came to how the wardrobe became the wardrobe. The Magicians Nephew wasn’t published until 1955. He must’ve had lots of questions (like I did) about how Narnia was created and such.
I’ve only seen one spelling of ‘Edmund’ before in stories: ‘Edmond.’ Maybe Lewis used a more British/ correct English spelling then I’ve seen.
Because of how Edmund interacted with Lucy, my distaste for his actions and words towards her made me feel sick inside (good job Lewis, it worked). For example, Edmund is making fun of Lucy and her stories about Narnia, and his comment was rude.
“Just like a girl, sulking somewhere ,and won’t accept an apology.” I found that a distasteful comment for him to say. I had to remind myself that this book was written in a time where women weren’t entirely independent, and how sexist that comment was for a child to say.
Within the first sixty five pages, Edmund is weary of animals and beings of the forests (this is when all four siblings have now gone into Narnia). While he was the first sibling to meet the “White Witch,” his loyalty to becoming Price (and getting those Turkish Delights) is a parallel to temptation.
Also- I want to know how the White Witch knew what Turkish Delights were. That’s besides the point…
Edmund’s character turn happened sooner that I expected, actually. I would’ve pictured him working with the Witch up until the battle, and then turning on her. It is something to note that the reason Edmund acted the way he did, was because of how he felt he was being treated (from his siblings to being a bully at school).
Also, am I the only one who wishes C.S. Lewis had written what Aslan said to Edmund when he did return to help his siblings and Aslan’s army?
Family Conversations after reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
After I had finished reading book one, I talked with my Mother for an hour about the book, the author, and the movie adaptions. The version my family had, which was originally mine, was published in 2005, shortly after they had produced the movie. The cover had the characters from the 2005 movie adaptation; it also had all seven stories together in chronological order.
The thing me and my Mom mainly talked about was which stories were harder to read then others, because of how C.S. Lewis changed his writing style. The Magicians Nephew was difficult for me to read ten years ago, because I had just seen the movie, and wanted to read what I had just watched. The Magicians Nephew also was difficult at the time, because my Father resembled Uncle Andrew (bullying and abusive nature) and I kinda was mean to my younger sister, like how Digory was mean to Polly at times. To read the parallels at that time made me uncomfortable.
The only part that me and my Mother disagreed on, was about C.S. Lewis’s writing style. For me, he didn’t cover as much dialogue in the books as he did with describing the scenery. The descriptions were what my Mother enjoyed about his books.
On Saturday, I also spent a hour talking with my Grandmother, and we mainly talked about what C.S. Lewis was trying to teach. Hence why I am doing a Part Two review for these two books.
Does it matter which book you read first?
While I read The Lion first, my view of the Witch still didn’t change after reading The Magicians Nephew. Depending on what order you read the two, you get almost two different introductions to the Lion (Aslan) and the White Witch (Jadis). In The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan is a being that only comes around once in awhile, helping Narnia. The White Witch is the “true Queen” and rules Narnia her way; stones, snow and all.
In The Magicians Nephew, the Lion is more of a creator, while Jadis is the evil being that ends up in Narnia. In this book, you learn more about how Jadis became evil, and what happened to where she actually came from.
Personally, I am glad I read The Lion first, and then Magicians Nephew. While it chronologically doesn’t make sense, I was able to read what I knew first; then read the history and was truly intrigued about how Narnia became Narnia.
The Magicians Nephew was okay, in the end. It was more of a “this is how it all started” kind of book. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was a better action packed story.
Which story will I read next? Most likely Prince Caspian, because of its lead to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I will probably only read the Narnia books on the weekend, because last night I started a different book. One day I’ll go back to reading my history books- one day.
Thank you for reading, as always.
You can follow me on Twitter here.