Category Archives: Reading

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter are spending the summer in the English countryside with a reclusive Professor. They hope to make the most of their time their by exploring the fields and meadows beyond the house, but the rain keeps them inside their first day there. While playing a game of hide and seek, Lucy, the youngest, chooses to hide in a wardrobe. As she hides further behind the coats, she discovers that she is no longer brushing against coats, but against tree branches. She has found her way to Narnia, a magical land under enchantment from an evil Witch that makes it winter all the time but never Christmas. Although her sister and brothers doubt her story at first, (even after Edmund sees the world himself he still denies her story to their siblings), they all eventually take refuge in the wardrobe to get away from the housekeeper and stumble into Narnia together. The children run into a friendly Beaver, who gives them shelter and sustenance while telling them about how the great Lion, Aslan, is rumored to have returned to reverse the Witch’s enchantment, and it turns out the four children have a very important role to play in the future of Narnia.

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis is the second book in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, though it was actually published before the first book in the series (The Magician’s Nephew). The story and the characters in the story almost seem to go through a rapid aging process. The story starts with the adventures of Lucy, the youngest sibling and, perhaps because of her age, the one with the greatest imagination. When listening to her story, the possibility that Narnia exists seems like a fantasy. As the older children are brought into the storyline, the land of Narnia seems to become more real because a greater number of people, and older people, now know of Narnia’s existence. Moreover, the adventures become more dangerous and demand more from the children. By the end of the story, the children have grown old, and Narnia’s existence is unquestionable. If adults believe the story, then it must certainly be true (and it is interesting to note that the eccentric old Professor believes the story from Lucy’s first experience in Narnia). Written for young adult readers, the adventures in this book offer exciting possibilities.

This book moves quickly, and I like that Lewis continues to make the occasional aside to share some secret plot piece directly with the reader. I was a bit shocked at the level of gruesome detail toward the end of the book, but I’ve definitely read more graphic descriptions in other young adult novels. Some of the plot points felt a bit glossed over, like Edmund’s betrayal and redemption, but I’m sure if I spent a bit more time analyzing it I would find plenty of content. Overall, this book is fun and easy to read.

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The Magician’s Newphew

By C.S. Lewis

Digory is headed to London for what he thinks will be the dreariest summer holiday on record. Having grown up in the country, he is disappointed by the abundance of streets, cabbies, and fences. Meanwhile, his aunt and uncle care for his chronically ill mother while his father is away in India for work. One day, his luck turns up when he meets his neighbor, Polly. Together the two devise an adventure through the row of houses where they both live, but their adventures are only beginning when they accidentally end up in the off-limits workroom of Digory’s Uncle Andrew. Uncle Andrew proclaims himself a magician, and has devised a set of rings to send the children into another world. Having been too scared to test the rings himself, Digory and Polly explore the extent of their power, jumping between more than London and the world Uncle Andrew thinks exists. When they meet a powerful and evil Witch the first dead world they visit, trouble follows them not only to London, but also to the new land of Narnia, the next world they end up in. Aslan, the lion who founded Narnia, sends Digory on a quest to help protect Narnia from the Evil he helped bring to Narnia.

“The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis is the introductory novel to the land of Narnia. In this novel, Lewis lays the groundwork for magic, different types of magic across different worlds, and the possibility of traveling between worlds with the help of magic. Although the children are first tricked into traveling between worlds by Uncle Andrew, the majority of their magical adventures are initiated by children and centered on their experiences, rather than those of the adults that occasionally tag along. The chapters move quickly, aided by illustrations throughout the book and quick pacing of adventures. At each turn of the page, Digory and Polly have some new dilemma, decision, or predicament, though they always seem to find a helping hand or have some turn of luck before their adventures turn into perilous misadventures. Most of the novel is told in third person narration, though Lewis makes some asides from the first person perspective, giving the reader a sense that they are being let in on a special secret. This book is filled with wonder, enchantment, and possibility, and sets the tone for more of the same in the rest of the series.

I enjoyed this book, but I had a hard time stepping away from my adult perspective and kept finding myself questioning how Digory and Polly got into so many situations which they felt required complete secrecy and relied only on their ability to resolve the situation without involving any adults. Overprotectiveness aside, this is a fun book. It moves quickly, both in terms of getting through the pages, and also in jumping from one adventure to the next. Good for a quick break from reality.

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