Welcome to Tumnus’s Book Shelf where we review any and all books related to Narnia and CS Lewis! For our first review we will be looking at CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe!
Book Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Author: CS Lewis
Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
Summary of the book:
Some Possible Spoilers.( Please Highlight to read)
“It all began with a picture in my head of a fawn with an umbrella carrying packages in the snow,” said CS Lewis. He first had this picture in his head as a child and it stuck with him all his life and helped him create the seven Narnia books.
The first book written ( though not the first in terms of chronology) was called, “ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.” Set during the air raids of World War II, four British School children Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are sent away to live with Professor Kirke in the country for safety.
One day while exploring the professor’s house the four children come into a spare room with nothing but a large wardrobe inside. The other three leave the room as they find it uninteresting. Lucy however, stays behind as she thinks it would be worth it to try and open the wardrobe door.
She opens it and steps inside only to later find herself in the Land of Narnia. Upon her arrival she meets Tumnus the fawn and has tea with him. It is during this tea party that she discovers that Narnia has been enslaved by the evil White Witch Jadis, who makes it , “Always winter and Never Christmas.” He also tells her that the witch wishes to capture any human children.
Tumnus agrees to help Lucy escape as he cannot bare to harm her. She returns to our world and tells her brothers and sister of Narnia. They don’t believe her. Then one day while playing Hide and Seek she returns to Narnia.
This time she doesn’t go alone. Edmund follows after her, only to loose her in the forest. He comes in contact with the White Witch Jadis. She tricks him into believing that she is right and offers him the kingdom in exchanged for his siblings the next time he comes to Narnia.
The Witch leaves him alone and he soon meets his sister. The two of them return to our world and she is very happy to tell Peter and Susan that Edmund has been to Narnia too. When she tells them Edmund does something very despicable. He lies and says they were just playing.
This leads to further problems with the siblings until the day all four of them arrive in Narnia to hide from Mrs. McCready, Professor Kirke’s unpleasant housekeeper who is giving a tour of the house. The older siblings apologize to Lucy and are very angry at Edmund for lying about Lucy.
Following Lucy’s lead they head to Tumnus’s cave only to find the witch has had him arrested. The children are then found by Mr. Beaver and taken to his house for dinner with Mrs. Beaver, where they hear that there coming has been part of the fulfillment of a prophesy. They being Two sons of Adam and Two daughters of Eve are to help free Narnia. They also hear of the great Lion, Aslan.
During these discussion Edmund leaves to see the Witch. She is furious at Edmund for not bringing his brother and sisters with him and reveals where they are. She sends her wolves to capture them.
The other children and the Beavers escape to meet Aslan. Along the way they discover that the Witch’s spell is breaking. First because they meet Father Christmas who gives them gifts to aid in Narnia’s liberation. Second is the coming of spring.
They arrive at the meeting place and see Aslan. He inquires of Edmund and they tell him what happened. Edmund meanwhile continues to see how truly evil the Witch is and regrets his mistake. Much to his favor Aslan sends some of his soldiers to rescue him.
The Witch comes to demand Edmund back as the Spoilers“Deep Magic” every traitor belongs to her.End of Spoilers. Aslan speaks to her in private, making a deal,Spoilers His life for Edmund’s.End of Spoilers. Later that night he meets her at the Stone Table.Spoilers Susan and Lucy sneak along and watch in horror as Jadis and her allies kill Aslan upon the table.End of Spoilers
SpoilersThey mourn the loss of Aslan and help untie his body and stay near Aslan all morning. Early the next morning they find that the table is broken and his body is missing .Then they hear a sound. Aslan’s voice! They turn and see he is alive!End of Spoilers.
They hurry to the Witch’s castle and free the captives which includes Mr. Tumnus .With the help of those Aslan freed, they rush off to aid Peter, Edmund and the rest of Aslan’s army in the final battle against the witch. With Aslan’s help she is defeated!
The four children Spoilers are then crowned Kings and Queens or Narnia. They reign for many years. Then one day while on a hunt for the illusive White Stag, they End of Spoilers journey back through the Wardrobe door and Spoilers find that they had left our world only seconds ago. End of Spoilers Their first adventure in Narnia has ended but there are many more to come.
In his dedication to his goddaughter CS Lewis wrote that he wrote the book forgetting that books grow faster then children and that by the time it was published she may be too old for fairy stories. That is one fear I don’t think Lewis concern to have. This book remains one of the few fairy stories that can only get better with age.
The characters are quiet enjoyable. Lucy and Edmund are probably the ones who readers can like the most. These two are polar opposites of each other in the beginning as Lucy is sweet, carring and honest and Edmund is greedy, selfish and treacherous. It is their encounter with Aslan and in Narnia that causes Lucy to grow in confidence, and for Edmund to become a better person.
There has also been much negative criticism in regards to how Lewis treats women. However at the time the book was written his character of Lucy was quiet revolutionary as she is the one to discover Narnia, she Spoilers also, gets to witness Aslan’s resurrection End of Spoilers She is also described as trustworthy person, something that is also rare given the fact she is described as being the youngest. She is also an inherent leader. After seeing Narnia is true, even Peter, the eldest apologizes to her and follows her lead.
Susan is the logical practical character who always like to think things through carefully and at times seems like she’s the oldest. She is also the one to express doubts about Narnia and to suggest turning back when things get to dangerous.
Peter of the children is the one who is simply trying to keep the peace between his siblings. He is also quick to apologize when he’s wrong and willing to follow others.
The White Witch Jadis is simply evil. But she is one of those rare evil characters that is done well. She doesn’t wear the traditional black, but rather wears white and is described as being very beautiful. She also at times appears kind and gentle. These are her strongest points as a villain and a character.
Then there is Alsan. The most powerful character in the story as he is the ruler and creator of Narnia, he doesn’t even need to be visibly in the story to be in it. His presence is clearly through out the Land of Narnia. He is a Lion, and while being fierce, he is also very good. After all ” He’s not a tame lion.”
There are also several side characters as Professor Digory Kirke, the Beavers, Mr. Tumnus the fawn, Father Christmas, Maugrim the wolf, and even a rather excitable lion that help fill the world of Narnia with life and vibrancy.
The story is also very entertaining. Despite the talk of “magic” in Narnia, their really is very little of it in the stories. That is something unique for a fantasy story. So how does Lewis grab the reader with out resorting to someone waving a wand? By engaging you in the world itself and in the struggle to save it.
He also populates existing mythical characters and keeps them grounded in their traditional roots, example if a character like a wear wolf is seen as evil it is on the side of evil, if a character is noble and heroic like a centaur it will be allied with the side of good.
More importantly then the characters, story, fantastical elements, and the magic in Narnia is another aspect of the stories that makes them get better with age. The story has a “Deeper Magic” too it. Lewis’ allegorical imagery in the story is well known by now ,and even more imagery shows itself in constant rereading. There is so much of this packed into the book that it would take another article to go into. Lewis even paraphrases some of his arguments about the deity of Christ from “Mere Christianity” within the text of the story to defend Lucy’s claim about Narnia!
Along with the allegorical imagery is the underlying themes of the story, love, forgiveness, second chances, grace, redemption and sacrifice. I doubt any one can think of better messages to share with children then that.
As a narrator, Lewis is very personal and friendly almost like a tour guide of sorts into this realm he discovers. We get to discover this land right with him and the children. At times you almost expect him to be speaking in hushed tones as if he were sharing a wonderful secret with you. This is shown with such statements he makes as pointing out certain characters really aren’t important to the story or that to describe more of the monsters would probably mean parents would not let children read the book.
Spoilers The only downside to this book is the few contradictions to the later books, making it apparent that Lewis did not initially plan to write sequels. Such things include the lack of mention of The Emperor Beyond the Sea in subsequent novels, the change in the witch’s origins from this volume to “The Magician’s Nephew”, and Professor Kirke’s experience with Narnia.End of Spoilers
Those factors aside it is still an enjoyable book for both young and old alike and only gets better with age. Do yourself and your children a favor and read the book today!
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 shields.