400 of 422 people found the following review helpful
Still amazing, after decades... but read LWW first!,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew/The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe/The Horse and His Boy/Prince Caspian/Voyage of the Dawn Treader/The Silver Chair/The Last Battle (Paperback)
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!
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2010 1:31:53 PM PDT
Deborah Johnson says:
Too much talk for my liking. I have my suspicions that C.S Lewis himself would find this whole discussion tiresome, there is no right or wrong for readers of these chronicles which began only with the picture of a fawn in a snowy wood, with an umbrella in his hands. These are books about a magical world, for children who don't ask such bothersome questions and feel a need for definition and 'authority'. For adults who seek the same attitude, read the books, and decide for yourself. I have read, and listened to each more times than I can count, and each time they are new. Remember too Lewis was deeply influenced by Greek mythology as well as his own Christian faith, and despite a somewhat ugly ('the problem of pain') beginnings to all things theological, mellowed considerably as his own life encountered pain and loss. He was not, I believe to my core, a man to meticulously plan in theological messages, rather a man who knew grace, and who delighted in hope and surprise, and in stories.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2010 10:30:30 AM PST
I do think that Lewis took the theology in his fiction very seriously, but at the same time, he wasn't writing a new book of the Bible (and I suspect he would be aghast at the almost sacred reverence the most extreme lovers of Narnia give to the material). I was supposed to be fun and entertaining while also planting in the readers' minds something to think about without the trappings of conventional wisdom getting in the way (the purpose of all allegory, if you think about it).
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2010 2:52:10 PM PST
Traci Dee Taylor says:
how much you miss deborah...
Posted on Jan 16, 2012 2:31:47 PM PST
I had not thought the book order issue through like this, and now I find that I agree with you. Thank you for that. :]
Posted on Dec 10, 2012 4:30:55 PM PST
I've read three books, all around 14 or 15. The first was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Loved it. The second was The Magicians Nephew. Super loved it/ecstatic. (I knew it was a prequel though.) The third was the Horse and his Boy (cuz I thought that was the next one). Was disappointed at the lack of familiar characters and found it REALLY boring. Haven't read another one since.
Do you think it's because it was read out of order? Do the Horse and his Boy characters come out in other books?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012 5:47:29 PM PST
Not all of the books are amazing, but all are worth reading. Some of them have characters that don't recur in any other books while a few do.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012 10:31:51 AM PST
Amazon Customer says:
Sonari, I do not think the order you read the books had much to do with your disappointment in A Horse and His Boy. It is a story detached form the mythology that takes place in the rest of the books, though it happens to be my favorite. That said, I do strongly favor the published order, since there's really no way to "chronologically" read the books when one of them (Horse) takes place entirely within the timeline of another (Wardrobe).
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012 12:50:48 PM PST
In that case, I would read Wardrobe first, and then AHaHB.
Posted on Mar 18, 2013 11:07:10 PM PDT
Posted on Sep 30, 2015 10:39:44 AM PDT
Mr. A says:
The order of the books MATTERS A LOT, and the revised order is bad storytelling. It's a crime against some wonderful books.
Every well-told story begins in the middle, where the action is. We then learn what happened before - and we can appreciate it, since we know how important it is. Only then do we proceed to the end.
In "A Horse And His Boy", there's even a scene which points this out: Shasta wants to know the contents of Aravis' letter, but Bree points out that it spoils the story if each detail is not revealed only at the proper time.
The revised order kills the suspense and launches the series into a much less appealing and inviting world. "The Magician's Nephew" is worth reading, but it's a terrible place to start the story.
"The Horse And His Boy" is fantastic, btw - maybe my favorite of the series - but it too works better when read in proper order, when the reader wants to reach beyond the familiar characters and situations.
Not all the books are equally good, but the revised order makes them all look bad. However you do it, read them in the proper order!