One of my goals this year is to go back and re-read books. When I was younger, I used to re-read books all the time. Certain characters became as beloved and well known to me as my closest friends were. But as an adult, I have found that I hardly ever go back and re-read books. I think a big part of that is because I have easy access to a library, and I don’t have to wait for a ride anytime I want a new book. So I’m going back through my Goodreads “Read” list and working my way through it backwards.
Although I was familiar with the BBC version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I didn’t sit down and read this series until I was an adult. It was at that time that I discovered there was some controversy about the reading order of this series. Although The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was published first, it is actually often considered the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Prince Caspian is the first book in the series, chronologically (that is, the events in Prince Caspian take place before the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). I am not going to sit here and tell you that you MUST read one of these books before the other. You are in charge of what you read, so you can make the decision. Instead, I’m going to gently suggest that if the only story of the series you are familiar with is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, then I think you should start with that book. It will give you the best idea of Narnia and Lewis’ style of writing. And you’re starting with the familiar. Then you can treat Prince Caspian as a prequel.
This series is very allegorical to Christian ideologies, and as the series progresses, the allegory becomes more and more obvious. In these first books, though, the allegory is very subtle, which I prefer. You can read it as a straight children’s story and enjoy it deeply for that alone. Or, if you want, you can read more into it and find symbolism that will enhance your reading experience.
I listened to the story this time on audio, performed by Michael York, and I think York does a brilliant job of catching the warmth and whimsy of the story, while adding just a touch of gravitas. The story is whimsical, while at the same time addressing heavier topics, such as lying, stealing, and death. I think it can be hard for an author to capture a balance between the whimsical and the heavy, but Lewis does so brilliantly.
Violence: Very, very little
You may also like: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum; The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (although, fair warning, this is not a children’s book)