1,269 of 1,295 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I loved these stories as a child. I read "The Lion, the With and the Wardrobe" in fourth grade as a part of class. I was reluctant to read it and had no interest (school kids are like that) but I was sucked into the story very quickly. I had my parents buy me the boxed set and I believe I ended up reading 5 of the 7 books. I absolutely love this story.
After at least 40 minutes of Googling, I finally found out what the difference between the "adult" version and the regular version is. Apparently the "adult" version includes some essay material about the literature and each book contains a synopsis of information you'd need to know from the other books to read the one you're holding. Other than that, only the packaging is different. The stories all remain the same. I only wish Amazon.com would have provided me this information and saved me the time.
2,495 of 2,630 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2001
The order in which the Narnia Chronicles should be read and published is a matter of great controversy. In my view, the answer to this question lies in a proper understanding of the deeper level of Narnia. When read on an adult level, the Narnia Chronicles function as a powerful medium used by Lewis to impart powerful spiritual truths about Christianity and theology. But these spiritual truths are conveyed more by Biblical allusions than by rigid allegory. This also has implications for the order of the volumes in this series.
The publishers of this edition have elected to follow the chronological order of the series: 1. The Magician's Nephew; 2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe; 3. The Horse and His Boy; 4. Prince Caspian; 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; 6. The Silver Chair; 7. The Last Battle. The chronological order makes the books more strictly allegorical than they really were intended to be, and gives the impression that they are an extended allegory rather than incidental allusions, an incorrect impression in my view. Despite all the talk about allegory, it seems to me that Lewis is more fond of incorporating Biblical allusions where and when he pleases, rather than working with a strict and rigid allegory that tightly binds the plot. Certainly the central Biblical themes of creation, fall, redemption and consummation are present, and form the broad chronological coat-hanger on which the series rests. But ultimately Lewis does not want us to become obsessed with chronology, but with content.
Thus there is something to the vehemence with which so many readers argue that the books must be read in the order in which they were first published, namely: 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. While it is true that this originally published order is not chronological, it does enhance the process of discovery about the magical world of Narnia, and slowly uncovers various aspects of its history.
It must be conceded that in a letter written in 1957 (published in "Letters to Children"), Lewis did appear to state a mild preference for the chronological order. But in that same letter Lewis concluded: "So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them." Surely Lewis' own conclusion is correct. Although my personal thoughts are that the originally published order is perhaps to be marginally preferred, in the end each book is a separate story and an independent glimpse into the exciting world of Narnia. It is the understanding of the allusions that deserves our attention, not an artificial reconstruction of a complicated allegory. These allusions do not need to be artificially joined together in a strict chronological sequence to be enjoyed - they are equally profound and enjoyable as they were read by the first readers, namely, in the originally published order.
359 of 380 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 1998
What can I add to the discussion of the Narnia books themselves? They're fantastic, and, as a long-time reader of Lewis's work, all I can say is that it's heartening to see that new generations are continuing to discover how wonderful the Chronicles of Narnia are, just as I did about 20 years ago. It's also great to see how many adults continue to treasure them, just as I do today.
The only thing I would say to first-time readers is the same thing that a lot of other reviewers are saying: DON'T READ THE BOOKS IN THE ORDER THAT U.S. PUBLISHERS ARE PUTTING THEM OUT THESE DAYS! Lewis always intended the Narnia books to be published and read in the order in which he wrote them: LWW, PC, VDT, SC, HHB, MN, and LB. It's true that, near the end of his life, Lewis pondered the notion of having the books published and read in chronological order -- but only after an extensive set of internal revisions.
As it turned out, Lewis never had the chance to complete those revisions. So, as they stand now, the books really should be read in the original sequence. For one thing, that's the only way for new readers to discover Narnia in the way that Lewis himself discovered it. Since Lewis never got around to his intended rewriting, the overall story unfolds much more meaningfully -- and much more dramatically -- when it's read OUT of order. For instance, part of the enjoyment of reading The Magician's Nephew is realizing just how a land that the reader has already fallen in love with actually came into being; there's an almost archaeological ("oh, NOW I understand") feel to it. If you read MN first, you miss completely that very important -- and very rich -- subtext.
I could go on: about why The Horse and His Boy should be Book #5, why The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is THE only real gateway into Narnia, and so forth. But the point is clear. I have a strong suspicion that publishers have changed the order of the books not to adhere to any wishes that Lewis himself may or may not have had, but because some corporate executive decided that less complexity would result in more sales. Publishers should have more faith in the ability of readers to appreciate complicated textual issues, even if (or especially if!) those readers are children. To read the Narnia Chronicles in the order they're in now is to deprive oneself of the most meaningful reading of the story as a whole. So read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first -- and, while you're at it, maybe let the publishers know that you'd like to see future editions appear in the original order. But whatever sequence you follow, enjoy the books themselves!
3,289 of 3,592 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2002
(please note that this review concerns only the new publications)
The Chronicles of Narnia are perfect books. They are wonderful for children and adults, and can be read again and again. C. S. Lewis was a brilliant author and theologian, and was competent in what he was doing. I have been reading these books since I was young enough to pick up a book, and I was horrified when I found out they were reprinting them in chronological order! Why have the publishers decided to tamper with the order? reading these books in chronological order spoils all of the surprise and magic out of the first visit to Narnia (in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), because we already know what's going on. You're not supposed to know about the lightpole or who the professor is yet! Things don't always need to be put in chronological order. If you're going to read them, please read them in the correct order: 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, and 7) The Last Battle
392 of 426 people found the following review helpful
In the first half of the twentieth century, two drinking buddies wrote vastly different fantasy series -- one was the classic "Lord of the Rings," and the other was the "Narnia" series. A close pal of J.R.R. Tolkien's and a fellow "Inkling," C.S. Lewis was one of the first widely-read fantasy writers, and his books are still widely read and enjoyed by children and adults alike.
"The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" opens as four children (Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter) are being shipped to the English countryside at the beginning of World War II. While exploring the vast house where they are staying, Lucy accidently ventures into a winter-locked world called Narnia, which is ruled over by the evil White Witch. The king Aslan is about to return -- but the Witch quickly gets a hold on Edmund's soul.
"Prince Caspian" takes place long after the events of "Lion" (though in our world, only a short time has passed). Young Prince Caspian escapes his uncle's castle when his life is threatened, and he finds refuge with the hidden races of Narnia -- dwarves, talking animals, dryads, centaurs and many others. And to help Caspian regain the throne, the two kings and two queens of Narnia are called back...
"Voyage of the Dawn Treader" begins when Edmund, Lucy and their obnoxious cousin Eustace are sucked through a painting into Narnia, where their pal Caspian is now king of Narnia (and an adult to boot). Caspian is heading toward the end of the world to find several knights who were banished, and vanished into the perilous islands along the sea.
"The Silver Chair" heads into slightly darker territory when Eustace returns to boarding school. He and outcast girl Jill Pole are drawn into Narnia, where Jill must perform a task to redeem herself for a stupid act. She must find the dying Caspian's son Rilian, who vanished many years before. The search will send the two children across Narnia with the pessimistic Puddleglum, to carnivorous Giants, creepy underground creatures, and an enemy worse than they could have imagined...
"Horse and His Boy" shoots back in time to the middle of "Lion." Shasta lives with the man he thinks to be his father in a hovel by the sea, but when a Calormene warrior purchases him, he escapes with the man's talking horse, Bree. He meets the escaping noblewoman Aravis (who also has a talking horse), and the two are planning to escape to Narnia and freedom. But in the capital city, there is a conspiracy brewing against the visiting Narnian kings and queens...
"Magician's Nephew" clears up many of the questions about Narnia, Aslan and the White Witch. Digory and Polly end up in very serious trouble when they encounter Digory's weird, slightly nutty uncle, a magician who has created magical rings that send the user to other worlds. The two kids end up in the "wood between the worlds," and venture into a dying land where they set loose the evil Queen Jadis -- who follows them to the newborn world of Narnia.
"The Last Battle" is definitely the end of the series, where Narnia decays slowly into the final battle between good and evil. Humans are destroying the trees and killing the dryads, and a false Aslan is appearing to mislead the inhabitants of Narnia. Old and new friends will band together as the true Aslan prepares to lead them to a new land.
If you don't like allegory (religious or otherwise), then steer clear of the Chronicles. While Lewis's beliefs are presented in a more complicated and subtle manner in his other fictional works, here the parallels to basic Christian beliefs are very obvious. Reportedly even Tolkien, one of Lewis's best pals, found the allegory annoying.
But if you can get past the slightly ham-handed treatment, it's a fantastic read. Lewis reshapes typical mythical elements like dwarves, nymphs, talking animals, centaurs and wicked witches into shape in his invented world. And Narnia is an inviting place -- it isn't always fun or pleasant, but there is always the feeling that the good guys will ultimately -- if not immediately -- come out on top.
Lewis's writing can become a bit precious at times, in the tradition of many British authors writing for children. But he puts plenty of detail and mystery in his stories, sprinkling them with little mysteries and questions that are explained as the story goes on. Where did the lamppost come from, for example?
While not quite as well known as his pal Tolkien's work, C.S. Lewis's Narnia series still a fun and dramatic fantasy story. For a bit more insight into the origins of fantasy as we know it, check out "The Chronicles of Narnia."
209 of 225 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2000
With two publication orders of Narnia, many people question which to read. For several reasons, I recommend the first publication order to be read first, the internal chronology second..
If one reads the history of Narnia as strictly that, one is much more likely to lose the truths Lewis was trying to impart. When one reads The Lion, if they had not read Magician's Nephew, they will be unaware of where the Lamp-Post came. Lion is essential a story about Edmond coming into the salvation of God. It creates a real sense of wonder, a wonder that would be diluted with knowledge of its creation. It's a mystery, an account. You become less concerned with the book in context of the whole series, and more concerned with the book in context of the book. Some things you might miss or not pay much attention to because you have already taken into account in context of the story's chronology, and not examined what Lewis was trying to say through this. Also, you get to follow the characters throughout the books, which is lost in the new order. The four Pevensies are in Books I and II, then only the two younger are in III, along with a new character, a cousin named Eustace. Then They can no longer go on, and Eustace and Jill Pole is in Book IV. This is lost in the new order. Also, you can see Lewis's growth as a writer, getting more and more realistic in characterization as each book was written. Of course, when he was writing these he was already a phenomenal writer: but this provided room for more growth, and he developed his already great gift even more so.
Also, as Paul Ford points out in his excellent Companion to Narnia, the old order is reflective of Biblical history. God's people are in bondage to the Egyptians, and he frees them. But the wine and groan, and in the end many die in the wilderness. Then they go into Babylon, and hear all these creation stories. After this, they go and record their own history. Lewis, after trying to write a creation story, found he could not, and went on telling other stories of Narnia. Only after coming more and more into the spirit of the series, after a good deal of history had been written, could he go back and finish Magician. To quote the preface, Ford says the original order allows "the reader to experience something experience something truer than even Lewis intended: the primordial necessity of passing first thru redemption, then into a reinterpretation of one's own story, and finally allowing the future to take its providence course". And how true that is. How many times can one understand what God is doing in your life until you come to know him? When you come to the salvation and knowledge of Christ, after some time elapses you can go back and examine your life, and can see where God's hand was on you, guiding you to that place where you met Christ. And in so doing, you come to trust God in a deeper sense, and as he took care of your past, he will also take care of your future. Of course, this was not intentional on Lewis's part, but it shows when God gives someone a gift, that person can reach people in such a way as to be totally beyond the person, and directly pointing to God. This aspect truly points to Jesus Christ and the "great Emperor Beyond the Sea,".
Of course, there is a balance. They are stories, and should be enjoyed as such. Through these stories, Lewis gives children and adults alike truth. However, if you overanalyze them, you are losing the spirit of the series. One must first enjoy them as stories, and not go dissecting them without reading them simply for stories. That is why the chronological order also has its merits. Ironically, however, it is better balanced to read it in original order for reasons cited above, also because you can take each story on its own, appreciating both the story and the symbolism. Without the interconnecting theme of history behind it, you are forced to look more at what the story is and what it is saying as to what the Chronicles is saying as a whole. That is one side. That is not balanced. Then, go back and read the stories in chronological order. That makes you appreciate the series as a whole.
In conclusion, each has its merits, and without each it they are not balanced. But for first time readers, read it in the original order. You will get more out of it. That is the most balanced way to read and appreciate the stories. Afterward, go back and read in chronological order. Then you will have a balanced and complete view of Lewis's fabulous and God-given Chronicles of Narnia.
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2000
The Narnian Chronicles have been my favorite series since I first read (and devoured) them in third grade (I'm now 30). I have since reread them many times, enjoying them even more each time as I see new things previously undiscovered or not understood. They are entertaining, imaginative, and thought-provoking from many perspectives, and will appeal even to the mature 5 or 6-year-old child as a read-aloud adventure. These books are truly worthy of discussion with your elementary, middle school, or high school student. College students have even written theses about these books and their many intriguing themes. I recently gave the entire set to my eighty-year-old grandmother as a gift, and she read them all within a couple of weeks! She said they were so good, she couldn't put them down, and she has loved talking to me about them ever since! My husband's 90-year-old grandmother is also an avid reader, finishing a book every few days. I am planning on giving the Narnia books to her as well! You simply can't go wrong purchasing these books. This is a wonderfully appealing fantasy series for all ages- it will surely be an enduring classic for generations to come.
154 of 167 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2005
I have waited for years to replace my well worn set of Narnia books. Even though Lewis may have mentioned in passing that he'd prefer the books to be read chronologically, I still preferred to read them in the order they were written. Every boxed set I have found in the last 15 years has the books numbered, with Magician's nephew as the first (he wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first).
Apparently I'm not alone in wishing to be able to have these wonderful boks on my shelf in the order the author wrote them. This set has NO numbering on the spines of the books!
Ok, not a big deal to many, and this isn't a review of the books themselves (there are plenty of those around!), but I'm just excited about being able to purchase a new set finally!
84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is a FANTASTIC Audio production. The actors reading the books do a superb job: to the point that at times I don't believe it is the same person reading the different parts. They put such enthusiasm and character in to the voices and the readings that it makes the book come alive.
If I have to mention a criticism it would be this: I tried listening to this on a stereo system but the volume variations in the readers intonation is too much. At times I had to turn the volume on the stereo way up to hear the softer parts of the recital and then it would be too loud. Listening to this on headphones is the way to go!
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2000
I first received a boxed edition like this for my seventh Christmas. By New Year's I had devoured all seven books, longing for more. By the next year I practically had them memorized, so I put them away, expecting them to fade into a distant memory. But they simply wouldn't let go of my mind. By the age of 10 I was reading them all again, and since then I've read them all at least 15 or 20 times...and they only get better with age.
These books did far more than entertain, I know that I'm simply a much better person because of them. Lewis was not afraid to use some larger words than other children's authors, expanding my vocabulary. Much more importantly, his characters always triumph by being good, honest, helpful, kind, intelligent, aware of their surroundings, trusting, courageous, and believing in the eternal power of good over evil. What more can one want to impart to their children?
Now, as an adult, I have had the pleasure of passing on these books to adults and children alike, and the result is always the same. The adults wonder why they were so unfortunate as to have missed out on them as children, and the children are simply in a state of wonder - wishing Aslan would call them up out of this world.
My old edition of the complete collection started off with "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" and I think that, particularly for children, that was the wise place to start. Chronological order seems to lack some of the thematic order of the old edition, they seemed to whisk you back and forth through time without being at all confusing and allowing time for sufficient explanations. And there's simply something lovely about finding out what happened BEFORE the stories you've already read. It's like putting together a puzzle, intellectually stimulating without confusion.
But order hardly matters in the end, for every book is a masterpiece unto itself. And there is no way to only read one or several. I've even been known to take a whole day out of my life to read the entire series cover to cover, the best vacation from this world I've ever known!
If you've never read them, don't consider them children's books, just take them at face value. This is true literature at it's best.
In fact, I'm getting ready to buy the whole collection in hardcover, as my old paperbacks are starting to come to pieces. I went to a store and checked out the Pauline Baynes illustrations in their new color, and they are truly splendid. If shopping for a gift for a child, one can certainly do no better.