Lydia’s Literary Loves – C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia

Can Britain’s beloved children’s author be relevant to readers of all ages?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is quite possibly the greatest childrens story of all time.

Tim Alex

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis is quite possibly the greatest children’s story of all time.

Note: This is the first installment of Lydia’s Literary Loves. Please stay tuned for my future reviews of various books, movies, and authors! 

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Those simple names invoke excitement and nostalgia in the hearts of many.

The four Pevensie siblings are the main characters in C.S. Lewis’ well-known children’s book, “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.”

What is not so well-known, however, is that there are six other books in Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series.

Each book can be read on its own, but when read as a whole, readers can see the overarching story that spans all seven books of the series.

In fact, it’s my favorite book series of all time.

Yes, I’m a senior in high school, and my favorite book series was written for 9-12-year-olds. Before you criticize me, please read this quote from C.S. Lewis himself:

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

What Lewis means is that even though the books are fairly easy reads, they touch on topics older readers can relate to.

For younger readers, the stories are just that – stories. But for older readers, who can connect events in their own lives and the lives of others to Lewis’s books, they take on a whole new meaning.

I grew up reading Narnia, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I started becoming invested in the stories and the meanings behind them. 

I love that all the stories, specifically, “The Magician’s Nephew,” “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe,” and “The Last Battle,” are retellings of a much more incredible story – the story of Jesus Christ and Christianity. 

Aslan, Narnia’s greatest hero. (Wikimedia Commons)

To explain further, “The Magician’s Nephew,” the first book in the chronological series, describes how Aslan, a God-like character in the form of a great lion, flawlessly created Narnia.

Soon afterward, evil entered the world and changed it forever. 

In the second book of the series, “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe,” about a thousand years into Narnia’s history, we find a country where it was “always winter and never Christmas.”

This eternal winter was brought on by Jadis, now called the White Witch, in an effort to completely control everything.

It was during this time that the four previously-mentioned Pevensie siblings found their way into Narnia from our world through a magical wardrobe. 

Through the help of several Talking Beasts and, of course, Aslan, the children were able to defeat the White Witch and restore peace to Narnia. 

Without giving away too much of the plot, Aslan portrays Jesus Christ in more ways than one, and in the end, everything works out.

“The Last Battle,” the seventh and final book in the series, explains Narnia’s last days. This description of the end of this world is much like the Biblical description of the end of ours. 

The other four books are not as allegorical, but as a whole, the series explores important themes such as good vs. evil, temptation, faith, and courage vs. cowardice. 

The Space Trilogy contains stories about extraterrestrial life on Malacandra (Mars), and Perelandra (Venus). (Lydia Flemmens)

To review, “The Chronicles of Narnia” are not just for children. Due to complex themes and real-life connections, older readers and adults have the potential to thoroughly enjoy the series.

For readers who would rather not page through the Chronicles, Lewis wrote many other books to explore, including a series called “The Space Trilogy.”

This trilogy is comprised of “Out of the Silent Planet,” “Perelandra,” and “That Hideous Strength.”

“‘The Space Trilogy’ asks its readers complex questions about human nature and the nature of the universe. It draws an archaic and medieval vision of what space travel and the existence of extraterrestrial life could mean within the context of a Christian worldview,” says Tyler Hummel of Geeks Under Grace, an online outreach that exists to bridge the gap between the church and pop culture.

Personally, I know I would not have been able to follow “The Space Trilogy” as a child; it’s too deep and complex. Now, however, I can see the more in-depth meanings behind the stories.

For someone who thinks Narnia is too juvenile but is still interested in the fantasy realm, they might find enjoyment in this series. 

For those who are more interested in nonfiction-type stories, Lewis wrote them too! Some of these include “The Abolition of Man,” “Miracles,” “Mere Christianity,” and “The Four Loves.”

For movie lovers, three of “The Chronicles of Narnia” stories have been given film adaptations: “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe” (2005), “Prince Caspian” (2008), and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010).

A movie poster promoting the release of “Prince Caspian,” the second Narnia film, featuring actor Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian himself.

It should be noted that, as with most books-turned-movies, the film adaptations of Narnia are not exact replications of the books.

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” movie was made with the most attention to detail to the books, but each successive movie diverted from its original book a little more than the last. 

However, that should not be a reason to dislike the movies.

Some have differing opinions, but I believe that having the opportunity to see our favorite stories brought to life on the big screen is a blessing, even if all the details aren’t exactly the same as in the books.

Even if you don’t think you would be interested in the book forms of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” there are many other ways you can appreciate Lewis’s literary genius, whether it be through Narnia’s movie adaptations, “The Space Trilogy,” or one of his many nonfiction books.