Blast from the Past: The Chronicles of Narnia

Yesterday I wondered if my preference for UK mystery writers stemmed from an early taste for the mysteries of Enid Blyton. The same year I discovered Blyton and the Famous Five etc. I also read a book in the Narnia Chronicles. I was hooked. Completely hooked. I didn’t get the whole set at once — I was given one book at a time, in no particular order that I can remember. The first book I read in the Narnia series was The Horse and His Boy. I loved it. It is still my favourite of the Narnia books. (Here my friends the Playwright and the Norwegian would insert their horror at this being my favourite and all the ways this is a politically incorrect selection.) I read the copy I got when I was seven until it was in tatters. I searched for a new copy with the same blue cover, but sadly had to settle for a newer cover with a different picture on the front.

My second favourite in the Narnia series is The Silver Chair. (Insert more distaste from the Norwegian who prefers The Dawn Treader.) That one also fell apart and the newer copy is from the same set as my newer copy of The Horse and His Boy. One reason I dislike the trendier covers is the numbers are incorrect. I read the books in publication order, not in Narnia-chronology order. I feel that reading The Magician’s Nephew first violates the writing process somehow. That book is clearly a prequel, written after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — and the references to the Narnian world in The Magician’s Nephew are made with the earlier-written book in mind. I realize that C.S. Lewis approved the Narnia-chronology order in his letters to his readers, but I still prefer publication order.

One reason I loved the Narnia books was – and is – the imaginary world that Lewis created. I loved the details including the maps and the fantastic illustrations by Pauline Baynes. This was escapist reading of a new kind — I got to go to a completely different world! Yup, I’m still hooked on fantasy. But more of that tomorrow.

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