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The Chronicles of Narnia were written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954 but were written in neither the order they were originally published nor in the chronological order in which they are currently presented. The original illustrator was Pauline Baynes and her pen and ink drawings are still used in publication today. There are seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, completed in the winter of 1949 and published in 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke's house that leads to the magical land of Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan, a talking lion, save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who has reigned over the kingdom of Narnia for a century of perpetual winter. The children become kings and queens of this new-found land and leave a legacy to be rediscovered in later books.

Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

Completed in the autumn of 1949 and published in 1951, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia tells the story of the Pevensie children's second trip to Narnia. They are drawn back by the power of Susan's horn, blown by Prince Caspian to summon help in his hour of need. Narnia as they knew it is no more. Their castle is in ruins and all the dryads have retreated so far within themselves that only Aslan's magic can wake them. Caspian has fled into the woods to escape his uncle, Miraz, who had usurped the throne. The children set out once again to save Narnia.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

Completed in the winter of 1950 and published in 1952, The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’ returns Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, to Narnia. Once there, they join Caspian's voyage to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail toward Aslan's country at the end of the world.

The Silver Chair (1953)

Completed in the spring of 1951 and published in 1953, The Silver Chair is the first Narnia book without the Pevensie children. Instead, Aslan calls Eustace back to Narnia together with his classmate Jill Pole. There they are given four signs to aid in the search for Prince Rilian, Caspian's son, who disappeared after setting out ten years earlier to avenge his mother's death. Eustace and Jill, with the help of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, face danger and betrayal before finding Rilian.

The Horse and His Boy (1954)

Completed in the spring of 1950 and published in 1954, The Horse and His Boy takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia, an era which begins and ends in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The story is about Bree, a talking horse, and a young boy named Shasta, both of whom have been held in bondage in Calormen. By chance, they meet each other and plan their return to Narnia and freedom. Along the way they meet Aravis and her talking horse Hwin who are also escaping to Narnia.

The Magician's Nephew (1955)

Completed in the winter of 1954 and published in 1955, the prequel The Magician's Nephew brings the reader back to the very beginning of Narnia where we learn how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it. Digory Kirke and his friend Polly Plummer stumble into different worlds by experimenting with magic rings made by Digory's uncle, encounter Jadis (The White Witch) in the dying world of Charn, and witness the creation of Narnia. Many long-standing questions about Narnia are answered in the adventure that follows.

The Last Battle (1956)

Completed in the spring of 1953 and published in 1956, The Last Battle chronicles the end of the world of Narnia. Jill and Eustace return to save Narnia from Shift, an ape, who tricks Puzzle, a donkey, into impersonating the lion Aslan, precipitating a showdown between the Calormenes and King Tirian.

C.S. Lewis was an adult convert to Christianity and had previously authored some works on Christian apologetics and fiction with Christian themes. However, he did not originally intend to incorporate Christian theological concepts into his Narnia stories.

Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory and the author of The Allegory of Love, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them "suppositional". This indicates Lewis' view of Narnia as a fictional parallel universe. As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs Hook in December 1958:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality, however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all.

The fauna of the series borrows from both Greek mythology and Germanic mythology. For example, centaurs originated in Greek myth, and dwarfs have origins in Germanic myth. Drew Trotter, president of the Center for Christian Study, noted that the producers of the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia felt that the books closely follow the archetypal pattern of the monomyth as detailed in Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Lewis had also read widely in medieval Celtic literature, an influence reflected throughout the books, most strongly in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The entire book imitates one of the immrama (English pronunciation: /ˈɪmrəmə/; singular immram; Irish: iomramh, IPA: [ˈʊmˠɾˠəw], voyage), a type of traditional medieval Irish tale in which the protagonists sail to a series of remarkable islands. Medieval Ireland also had a tradition of High Kings ruling over lesser kings and queens or princes, as in Narnia. Lewis' term "Cair," as in Cair Paravel, also mirrors the Welsh "Caer", "fortress" (appearing as Car- in the English versions of place names such as Cardiff (Welsh Caerdydd)). Reepicheep's small boat, the coracle, is also the traditional boat of the Celtic countries.

Some of the elements of the books are more generally medieval, such as the shape of the one-footed monopods or Dufflepuds in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which reflects a type of people medieval sources claimed lived somewhere in the wondrous East.

In 2008 Michael Ward published Planet Narnia, which proposed that each of the seven books related to one of the seven moving heavenly bodies or "planets" known in the Middle Ages, according to the Ptolemaic or Geocentric model of cosmology. Each of these heavenly bodies was believed in the Middle Ages to have certain attributes, and these attributes were deliberately (but secretly) used by Lewis to furnish elements of the stories of each book. "In The Lion [the Pevensie children] become monarchs under sovereign Jove; in The Dawn Treader they drink light under searching Sol; in Prince Caspian they harden under strong Mars; in The Silver Chair they learn obedience under subordinate Luna; in The Horse and His Boy they come to love poetry under eloquent Mercury; in The Magician's Nephew they gain life-giving fruit under fertile Venus; and in The Last Battle they suffer and die under chilling Saturn." Lewis was known to have an interest in the literary symbolism of medieval and Renaissance astrology which is reflected far more overtly in other works of his such as his study of the Elizabethan world-view The Discarded Image, his early poetry, and more overt references to it in his science-fiction trilogy. Other Narnia scholars find Ward's assertion that Lewis intended the Chronicles as an embodiment of medieval astrology implausible.

The origin of the name Narnia is uncertain. According to Paul Ford's Companion to Narnia, there is no indication that Lewis was alluding to the ancient Italian Umbrian city Nequinium, which the conquering Romans renamed Narnia in 299 BC after the River Nar. However, since Lewis studied classics at Oxford, it is possible that he came across at least some of the seven or so references to Narnia in Latin literature.[3] There is also the possibility (but no solid evidence) that Lewis, who studied medieval and Renaissance literature, was aware of a reference to Lucia von Narnia ("Lucy of Narnia") in a 1501 German text, Wunderliche Geschichten von geistlichen Weybbildern ("Wondrous stories of monastic women") by Ercole d'Este. There is no evidence of a link with Tolkien's Elvish (Sindarin) word narn, meaning a lay or poetic narrative, as in his posthumously published Narn i Chîn Húrin, though Lewis may have read or heard parts of this at meetings of the Inklings.

Most of The Chronicles of Narnia take place in Lewis' constructed world of Narnia. The Narnian world itself is posited as one world in a multiverse of countless worlds including our own. Passage between these worlds is possible, though rare, and may be accomplished in various fashions. Narnia itself is described as populated by a wide variety of creatures, most of whom would be recognizable to those familiar with European mythologies and British fairy tales.

Lewis largely populates his stories with two distinct classes of inhabitants: people originating from the reader's own world and creatures created by the character Aslan and the descendants of these creatures. This is typical of works that involve parallel universes. The majority of characters from the reader's world serve as the protagonists of the various books, although some are only mentioned in passing. Those inhabitants that Lewis creates through the character Aslan are viewed, either positively or negatively, as diverse. Lewis does not limit himself to a single source; instead he borrows from many sources and adds a few more of his own to the mix.

The Chronicles of Narnia describes the world in which Narnia exists as one major landmass faced by "the Great Eastern Ocean". This ocean contains the islands explored in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. On the main landmass Lewis places the countries of Narnia, Archenland, Calormen, and Telmar, as well as a variety of other areas that are not described as countries. Lewis also provides glimpses of more fantastic locations that exist in and around the main world of Narnia, including an edge and an underworld.

There are several maps of the Narnian universe available, including what many consider the "official" one, a full-colour version published in 1972 by the books' illustrator, Pauline Baynes. This is currently out of print, although smaller copies can be found in the most recent HarperCollins 2006 hardcover edition of The Chronicles of Narnia. Two other maps have recently been produced following the popularity of the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. One, called the "Rose Map of Narnia", is based loosely on Baynes' map and has Narnian trivia printed on the reverse. The other, made in a monochromatic, archaic style reminiscent of maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth, is available in print and in an interactive version on the movie DVD. The latter map depicts only the country Narnia and not the rest of Lewis' world.

A recurring plot device in The Chronicles is the interaction between the various worlds that make up the Narnian multiverse. A variety of devices are used to initiate these cross-overs which generally serve to introduce characters to the land of Narnia. The Cosmology of Narnia is not as internally consistent as that of Lewis' contemporary Tolkien's Middle-earth, but suffices given the more fairy tale atmosphere of the work. During the course of the series we learn, generally in passing, that the world of Narnia is flat, geocentric, has stars with a different makeup than our own, and that the passage of time does not correspond directly to the passage of time in our world.

Lewis takes us through the entire life of the world of Narnia, showing us the process by which it was created, snapshots of life in Narnia as the history of the world unfolds, and how Narnia is ultimately destroyed. Not surprisingly in a children's series, children, usually from our world, play a prominent role in all of these events. The history of Narnia is generally broken up into the following periods: creation and the period shortly afterwards, the rule of the White Witch, the Golden Age, the invasion and rule of the Telmarines, their subsequent defeat by Caspian X, the rule of King Caspian and his descendants, and the destruction of Narnia. Like many stories, the narrative is not necessarily always presented in chronological order.

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Details

Author:  Clive Staples Lewis
Genre:  Christian Fantasy, Epic Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Date Published:  1950-1956
Format:  Novels
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review by . October 06, 2008
To maintain the integrity of this rating system, Amazon would need to create a category above the best. I'm glad that Hollywood (Disney no less!) made the Narnia movies, because it gave me the incentive to read what I had dismissed as a series of books written for children.    No more. The picture Lewis weaves of God, of Creation, of Jesus Christ, of sinful man and nature, of redeemed man and nature, of deep things of the soul, heart, and mind, may be the most brilliant jewel …
review by . July 27, 2010
   I read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I also watched the pbs english version of the books. * Not recommended*. But as the story progressed I fell in love with imagination.      The world that is created in these books is a romantic, dangerous and victorious world. I never and still don't want to visit but I find that the magical world of Narnia is an amazing escape.   As I re-read these with my children I remembered:   1. Anything is …
review by . July 14, 2010
This series as a whole is very engaging and a fun, easy read. For me some of the books are a little slow while others were real easy to read quickly but all in all there is at least one or two books that will suit anyone's fancy. As a Christian I found the religious ties to the story to make the books even more intriguing.         I definitely recommend the series to anyone child or adult that wants to get away for awhile or for people that want to read books with …
Quick Tip by . November 05, 2010
I didn't even notice there was a subtext when I first read these. Maybe that's the best kind of subtext.
Quick Tip by . September 02, 2010
an excellent series, entertaining, and innovative! the last book just got a little bit to religious for my personal taste (not that its a bad thing) but it brought closure to the story.
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
the books where awsome all except for the last one (i can't remember the name of it) but the movies however where not so great i hope they dont continue to make them.
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
Enchanting. Don't come into it looking for the Christian angle, but do expect some well-thought out visual adaptations of your favorite characters.
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
I can't say enough good about this series. Lewis is simply incredible!
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
C.S. Lewis made an allusion with Christ and his unconditional love. I like how he used the characters, showing the power of lion, the astuteness of the witch and the inconstancy of the children.
Quick Tip by . July 14, 2010
A fabulous series, even if it does try promoting religious beliefs
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