You Should Read This: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Cover for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 1st edition.

The moment in Prince Caspian where Lucy and Susan are riding on Aslan's shoulders remains one of my favorites in fantasy literature.

The Narnia books changed the way generations of young readers would look at wardrobes. Their importance in the field of children’s fantasy literature cannot be overstated. I came to them early and had a boxed set which was, by my teen years, grubby and well-worn.

What: The Chronicles of Narnia is the creation of C.S. Lewis. The seven books can be read in chronological order (starting with The Magician’s Nephew) or as Lewis wrote them (starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Children from our world find entrance into another, filled with talking animals and mythological creatures. The parallels with Christianity are strong, and intentional, but do not damage the book.

Who: Kids will love these, particularly avid readers, but scholars of both children’s fantasy and Christian literature will also want to read at least the first book, if not the series overall.

Why: Read these because they’re a chance to explore a classic fantasy landscape and books which influenced so many others to come, such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, Guy Gavrie l Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry series or Joy Chant’s Red Moon and Black Mountain.

When: Read these when you want a ripping good fantasy with no intrusion of complicated sexuality (other than the usual Freudian overtones). But read it also for a look at how female characters have been treated, and when you’re done, read this excellent reflection on Susan.

Where and how: Anytime, really. These are comfort books for me, particularly The Silver Chair, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Last Battle.


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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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