My First Time in Narnia

Over winter break, I read through the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. If you want to add seven books to your “2022 Books I’ve Read” list, this is a quick way to do it. Each book is super short, and honestly written for kids to understand, so it doesn’t take much time at all to get through. Despite the simplicity, I sincerely loved the stories and the meaning packed within them. Here are some thoughts I had while reading. (Also, pro tip: The books are all on Hoopla.)

  • C.S. Lewis does a great job of introducing characters seamlessly, showing who someone is and what they are like in no time at all. These books are short, but you feel as if you really know the characters. 
  • I think Lewis’ choice of representing humans primarily as children is not only intentional but telling. We, compared to all God can do and create, are just little kids. That doesn’t mean we are insignificant, as you certainly don’t get that feeling as you read the books, but it does mean there’s a needed level of humility and perspective. 
  • Aslan is great. I mean, obviously… but he is just so well done. (If you don’t know, he is the representation of Jesus in the book.) I like how he is really easy to understand, so much so that it’s obvious why little kids would be able to get it. But he’s also not that easy to understand, as all the adults and other living things in the books continually try to figure him out. Here are some quotes about him throughout the books I particularly enjoyed. I would give the page numbers but Kindle makes that confusing.
    • “Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly. “I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.” – The Magician’s Nephew (Book 1)
    • “Aslan,” said Bree in a shaken voice, “I’m afraid I must be rather a fool.” “Happy the Horse who knows that while he is still young. Or the Human either. – The Horse and His Boy (Book 3)
    • “Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” 
      • “To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.” “Oh dear,” said Lucy. “But anyone can find out what will happen,”
      • “Welcome, Prince,” said Aslan. “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?” “I—I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.” “Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not. 
      • Prince Caspian (Book 4)
    • “Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?” “I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder. And now come; I will open the door in the sky and send you to your own land.”- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book 5)
    • “Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.” 
      • “But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” 
      • The Silver Chair (Book 6)
      • These ones take some digging and thinking through to appreciate, I think, but they’re good. One takeaway is that a world without Aslan- or Jesus- really isn’t anything to be excited about. Another is that even when the spiritual side of things seems far away, it’s worth holding onto and holding out hope until reassurance comes back. 
    • “Tirian had never dreamed that one of the results of an Ape’s setting up a false Aslan would be to stop people from believing in the real one.” 
      • “So,” said Peter, “night falls on Narnia. What, Lucy! You’re not crying? With Aslan ahead, and all of us here?” “Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia. Think of all that lies dead and frozen behind that door.”
      • The Last Battle (Book 7)

Here are some other takeaways and quotes I appreciated: 

  • “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Book 2)
    • All the books do a great job of showing how admirable acts of bravery and being there for your friends have little to do with how you feel in the moment.
  • “But as long as you know you’re nobody very special, you’ll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another.”
    • “Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.” 
      • This one just made me laugh (love you, Elli). 
    • “He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” 
    • The Horse and His Boy (Book 3)
  • “No more I do, your Majesty. But what’s that got to do with it? I might as well die on a wild goose chase as die here. You are my King. I know the difference between giving advice and taking orders. You’ve had my advice, and now it’s the time for orders.” This is a great example of knowing when to listen to someone else. 
    • “It’s worse than what Father says about living at the mercy of the telephone.” This was written in 1951! Imagine what he’d think about smartphones.
    • “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”
    • Prince Capsian (Book 4)
  • “It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.” The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Book 5)
    • This is about how Eustace had started to change in Narnia and though that was true, it wasn’t all at once. Even the biggest of changes takes some time. 
  • “Puddleglum!” said Jill. “You’re a regular old humbug. You sound as doleful as a funeral and I believe you’re perfectly happy. And you talk as if you were afraid of everything, when you’re really as brave as—as a lion.” – The Silver Chair (Book 6)
    • Puddleglum is one of my favorite characters. He’s so negative (or “realistic”) so often but also so brave. 
  • “And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog.” 
    • This is about a man from another country who worshiped a false god named Tash, but then realized Aslan was real and wanted to find him. His humility and happiness after he finds him is wonderful. 
    • The last book’s depiction of the new Narnia is absolutely beautiful, too. 
    • “The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.” 
    • The Last Battle (Book 7)

Those are my initial thoughts on the books, though I realize it’s mostly just a bunch of quotes. Writing quotes down and thinking them through is really helpful for me to process, but I also think it paints a good picture of why these books are worth reading. I never read them growing up, as I said, but I can’t wait to read them again with James when he’s a little older. 

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