I first read ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ when I was but a kid. It was after my Hardy Boys kick and before I read Tolkien, around about the time I was reading The Circle of Light books. Fantasy for kids, sorta kinda, mostly…
I read them, back then, in the ‘wrong’ order (many argue it’s the right order). The boxed set I had was put together by publication date. The omnibus edition I just finished has them in the chronological order that the author, in a letter to a fan, suggested they be read in. He also said it didn’t really matter what order you read them in so those people who feel the need to get all annoyed by this, get the hell over it, seriously, find something worth getting annoyed over.
Collectively they’re quite worth reading. The prose is a bit old fashioned and definitely aimed at the younger reading set, the slang and dialog are decidedly British. The children featured even when being beastly churls are prim and proper most often ‘knowing their place’ as children of the 1930’s and ’40s were taught.
The Magician’s Nephew – I can understand why people dislike the idea of this being the first book. It gives a lot of back story away, but only IF you’ve read the series in the past. Lewis writes idiots, prats and generally annoying people rather well and there’s several in this novel. For me it was one of the harder books in the series to get through.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – The one that started it all. The one that was made into a movie. I hear Caspian’s a movie as well but haven’t seen it. When I was a kid I went banging around the back of every closet and wardrobe I could find hoping to find the entry way to a secret land.
The Horse and His Boy – A mortality lesson in not being too full of yourself stretched to novella lengths. A little unbelievable, especially the desert crossing bit, but still worth reading.
Prince Caspian – A huge leap into the future, of Narnia at least, a nearly forgettable book. Nothing wrong with that, I’ve forgotten hundreds of books…
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – I don’t know why but I found this book to be delightful. Lewis once again proves he can make you really, really dislike a character. My only complaint is the mouse, he’s the mouthy little brat that hangs out with the bigger kids knowing he can start the fight and his friends will pull all the bullies off of him. He’s also dumb enough to leap off a boat to avenge a perceived slight to his honor. Dumbass.
The Silver Chair – The quality of Lewis’ writing begins to fall off with this novel. This reads more like a parody of itself than anything else. People do the dumbest things forget, nearly immediately things they’ve been told. And don’t get me started on Puddleglum, the 1950’s version of Jar Jar Binks, ugh.
The Last Battle – The worst of the series. The Lobotomy Fairy has visited Narnia and rendered everyone idiots. Hurrah! Everyone dies, except Susan (who’s not in the book at all). Hurrah! I had a terrible time getting through this novel but it was the last so I forced myself to finish it.
Hawk (out of reading material again, damnit!)