This spring I’m making my, golly, eighth or ninth journey through Narnia, but this time I’m taking along my son. We’re going to end the homeschool year by reading the entire series. He’s watched the movie before, but he’d never experienced the written version. It was a hit. We finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in five big gulps because neither of us wanted to stick to the allotted time frame. I have to say, there is a depth and a beauty in the prose that the movie just can’t capture.
This classic is so well known I hardly feel a plot summary is necessary, but I’ll write one anyway. The four Pevensie siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, have been sent to the countryside to avoid the bombing of London during WWII and land in a huge old home owned by a peculiar old professor. There they find within a wardrobe a magical world that is being held captive by an evil witch. The whole land awaits the coming of two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve, as spoken in prophecy, and the great lion, Aslan, who will free them from the witch’s rule. But Edward betrays the others, and the Deep Magic written into Narnia at the beginning of time requires a traitor’s blood. Aslan must make the ultimate sacrifice to save him and save Narnia.
As a child, I loved the fairy tale elements of this story: the talking animals, the children who rule as kings and queens, the medieval quality, the mythical creatures, the great lovable lion. But as I grew, I discovered layer upon layer of richness within its pages. Humans are set up as good rulers over animals and nature; evil choices demand a high cost; forgiveness is granted even at great personal expense; good and evil are constantly at war; and my favorite, we are given a beautiful picture of a fierce, just, loving, involved, good, and untame deity—Aslan, son of the Emperor over the Sea. It doesn’t take a genius to see all that these elements have Christian parallels. Lewis’ story really isn’t all that original after all; he tells the same one set forth in the Bible. He was, after all, one of the greatest theologians of modern times. I’m not typically a fan of allegory, but this story is so strong, so beautiful, so engaging that I love it anyway. In this case, perhaps I even love it more because of it.
It seems I find something new every time I read it. This time I noticed that when the Professor argues logic to determine if Lucy is telling the truth, he uses almost word for word the arguments Lewis uses about Christ: “There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”
But whether you’re a Christian or not, this tale is magical and timeless, as are all the stories of Narnia. It is one of my favorite places to visit. I’m so excited to be making the trip yet again—and taking one of my favorite people with me. Watch for my reviews.
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Horse and his Boy
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Last Battle