I still read the books in the order they were published, not the chronological order they are in now, mostly because that is how I first read them. The other reason is that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will always be the first book, in fact even with the new numbering system most people read this one first. I hope you are all ready for a little bit of a nostalgia overload because I can talk about these for hours, but we will start with the first book (known from here on out as LWW).
Four children Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent to the countryside to get away from the bombings of WWII. While at this huge house and left to their own devices the youngest Lucy discovers another world by going through the wardrobe. In this land called Narnia she meets a faun called Mr. Tumnus who gives her a quick history of the land, telling her that the Queen (who is really the White Witch) has frozen the land in a perpetual winter for many many years. The faun befriends Lucy at great risk to himself as he has been tasked with bringing any humans he may meet to the queen. Back at home Lucy is perplexed to discover no one missed her even though she had been gone hours. Later Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe where he meets the Queen who plies him with Turkish Delight and a Hot Cocoa like drink. She is intrigued to hear he has a brother and two sisters and tells him if he can convince them to come to her palace she will make Edmund a Prince. Back in our world Edmund pretends he was just playing along with Lucy, making her miserable. The older children are worried about her, but are at a loss of what to do. Eventually all four children end up going through the wardrobe to Narnia where they discover that Mr. Tumnus has been captured by the Queen. The children are taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver who tell the children of a prophecy about the thrones at the castle Cair Paravel and the demise of the Queen,
"When Adams flesh and Adam's bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done.
The children also learn about the existence of Aslan, the great lion who's coming is foretold to break winters hold on Narnia. The group then realizes Edmund is missing and we learn that he has gone to the Queen on his own to tell her about Aslan and his siblings being close by. Instead of the warm welcome he was expecting, the Queen has him chained and put in her sled so that they can go capture the rest of the children. Meanwhile the children along with the Beavers have made their escape and are trying to reach the Stone Table where they are to meet Aslan and his supporters. Along the way they meet Father Christmas, a sign that the Queens power is weakening. They are given gifts that are tools, not toys. A sword and shield for Peter, A bow, quiver of arrows, and a very special horn that can summon help from anywhere for Susan, and a dagger and a bottle of healing cordial that can heal any wound for Lucy. The children meet up with Aslan as winter finally melts into spring. Peters battle skills are tested when a wolf chases Susan up a tree
and she uses her horn to summon help. Being knighted by Aslan, Peter assumes a leadership role. A rescue of Edmund made and the Queen and Aslan bargain for the right to keep him. Eventually it comes to light that Aslan has traded his life for Edmunds. The girls go with Aslan as he willing gives himself up, while the boys stay behind and do battle with the Queen and her army. Aslan returns to life, citing an even older prophecy and takes the girls to free all of the beings that the White Witch had turned to stone during her reign. The tide turns in favor of the Narnians and the Witch is destroyed. The four children are crowned King Peter the Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just and Queen Lucy the Valiant. They grew to become great rulers of Narnia. One day while out hunting the four are transported back into their world, the same age as when they left it, but remembering everything that happened.
Ok so now you know the basic story, I will now go on into great detail about why I love this book so much! Obviously there is the nostalgia factor, it was one of the very first books I read after learning how to read, which may account for my love of fantasy. I have read LWW so many times my husband is convinced I don't actually read it anymore, that I have it all memorized and could probably quote the whole thing beginning to end. The fact that the book was about four children, and I myself come from a family of four children made it very relateable. The story itself is very simple, not overly complex, no 15000 characters to keep track of, no epic details of sex and slaughter, just a very well put together story of relateable characters. A lot of people see this story as an allusion to the Bible, a partial retelling of the Resurrection of Christ, which is very possible as C.S. Lewis considered himself a Christian writer. I think this story goes beyond just Judeo-Christianity though, I think the theme of sacrifice is one that can be found in almost any culture, religion, or mythology. Susan for the longest time was my favorite character in the book, I think being the oldest of four children I really identified with her mothering behavior. Now that I am older I am kinda in love with the White Witch (call me a sucker for a good villain). This book has inspired me my whole life, and I am not ashamed to admit that every time I move to a new place one of the first things I do is go push on the back wall of the coat closet...just in case.
When was the first time you read this book? Who was your favorite character the first time you read it? Who is your favorite character now? Admit it, you look in the back of your closets too!