Long before the Harry Potter series became the books children read, there was The Chronicles of Narnia. You know, the one with the magic world that inspired Fillory in Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (no reading order needed for this one!). Seriously, these stories are still really influential and there were not even published in chronological order. If fact, finding an order that pleases everybody is near impossible. That said, let’s try at least two propositions:
What is the Chronicles of Narnia series about?
British classic of children’s literature, The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels written by C.S. Lewis.
Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world full of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals.
The series begins with the introduction of four siblings: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. During World War II, they are sent to live with a professor in the countryside. While playing hide-and-seek in the house, Lucy stumbles upon a wardrobe that leads her to the magical land of Narnia. They soon discover that Narnia is in the grip of an evil witch, who has plunged the land into an eternal winter. With the help of the great lion Aslan, the children embark on a quest to overthrow the witch and save Narnia.
Throughout the series, the children return to Narnia on various adventures, each time facing new challenges and encountering different creatures. Along the way, they learn about courage, loyalty, and sacrifice, and discover the true nature of Aslan, who is a powerful symbol of good and justice.
Various books from The Chronicles of Narnia have been adapted for television over the years (in 1967, 1976, between 1988 and 1990), but also for radio, on stage, and as movies (in 2005, 2008, and 2010).
The Chronicles of Narnia Reading Order:
There is some issue around the placement of The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse and His Boy in the series. Both are set earlier in the story of Narnia, but published after, making them some sort of prequel.
When first published, the books were not numbered. Those advocating for a chronological order use C.S. Lewis’s reply to a letter from an American reader who was having an argument with his mother on the subject:
I think I agree with your [chronological] order for reading the books more than with your mother’s. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn’t think there would be any more, and when I had done The Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last, but I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them. I’m not even sure that all the others were written in the same order in which they were published.
Some specialists think that C.S. Lewis was just being nice, but he could have changed his mind on the subject later. In the end, as Lewis wrote: “perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone read them.”
Some people tend to advise new readers to go for a publication order. The most compelling argument is the building of the world. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is really an entry book to the world of Narnia. So, it is the order that follows. After that, there will be a reading order for those of you who prefer a chronological approach.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Four adventurous siblings-Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie-step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.
- Prince Caspian – The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king.
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world’s end is only the beginning.
- The Silver Chair – It takes place during the Golden Age of Narnia. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends is sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected.
- The Horse and His Boy – On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh and narrow lives, they soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.
- The Magician’s Nephew – This prequel brings the reader back to the origins of Narnia where we learn how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it
- The Last Battle – 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.
The Chronicles of Narnia Books in Chronological Order
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle
Did I make a mistake? Did I forget something? To help me to complete this reading guide, leave a comment!
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