Does it Matter Which Narnia Book is Read First? | Talking Beasts

Posted November 7, 2018 4:44 am by Glumpuddle

In 1994, HarperCollins re-numbered The Chronicles of Narnia books to chronological order. They initially said the decision was “in compliance with the original wishes of the author, C .S. Lewis”… but is that actually true?

Most fans and scholars agree that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe should be read first. But, how important is this issue? Would it be worthwhile to change the order back?

Listen to the discussion and then post a comment!

Thanks to Dr. Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) for appearing in this episode.

Podcasters: Rilian, Gymfan, Glumpuddle

 

 

 

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40 Comments For This Story

  • Jonathan Paper says:

    During the first part of this episode, I was thinking about the upcoming Netflix series and wondering what order they will release the stories in. So I am glad you mentioned this topic briefly towards the end. I suspect they will go with Chronological order due to the sequential nature of a series, and the likely long term nature of the release of the adaptations. On the other hand, this theory does not take into account a mixture of episodic and feature-length releases. Maybe they will release a Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe movie first because that is the most well-known story, and then start with another story which could be the Magician’s Nephew. In this case, the other option besides doing Nephew after Wardobe would be to follow the Pevensie’s journey through the Publication order, like the Walden films did.

    In my previous paragraph, I was collecting my thoughts while writing. We can see that there are multiple different approaches the Netflix producers could take in regards to the order they are presented in.

    A side note, if they release The Horse and His Boy early on, I wonder if they could cast Henley, Keynes, Popplewell and Moseley in the roles of the Pevensies in that story! (Those are the actors in the Walden films, for those not aware of those names.)

    Also on another side note, I think Netflix would want some more diversity in the case. Maybe they would cast Jill or Polly as a from a nationality not Anglo-Saxon. Any thoughts?

    • JFGII says:

      Well… your last idea (about Narnia characters being non-Anglo-Saxon) I’ve thought about it a great deal for months, and there’s no true way North to it. It’s pretty clear Lewis wasn’t a progressive in that sense.

      The Calormens are the only characters in the whole series branded as dark-skinned, so Lewis never intended diversity as a theme – and that has become a blockage to more people enjoying the books. The Calormens are mostly bad guys.
      Personally, I think that adaptations should be faithful to the Christian themes in the stories and do away with anything that damages that.

      But Netflix making the Pevensies even slightly non-white would be strange and confusing. Imagine Frodo & the hobbits not being white brits. Polly and Digiry are typical 1900 British kids. Jill is… Jill. I’m not sure what she looks like, but I know her facial expressions!

      But Netflix could bring believable diversity to Narnia through the Narnians. Or through the Telmarines. Making Caspian a 13-year-old black British boy would surprise fans, but could help as being a major counter-defense on making Narnia a Christian story, not just a white, British story.

      My pick: Keep Digory, Polly all-white. Think about Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy and EUSTACE being a bit different. Consider making Jill, Shasta and CASPIAN as non-white. Consider changing the Calormens, but Keep Aravis dark!

      • daughter of the King says:

        Fun fact: In the first description of hobbits in "The Hobbit" they are described as having brown fingers and thick, brown hair. In the "lord of the rings" prologue, Tolkien expanded on that and had three main clans the Hobbits were descended from, and of those three some had darker skin and some had lighter skin. So, the hobbits were only solely white in the movies.

        As for Narnia, I’m not keen on the idea of having only white actors. History is more varied than that. Actually, I always thought Frank and Helen should be POC. It fits most people’s idea of the time period, and then the first king and queen of Narnia would be non-white. And that would avoid the dreadful cliche of non-white characters only being bad guys.

      • JFGII says:

        I mentioned Frodo and the hobbits because it makes little sense to viewers (even non-white viewers) to cast non-Anglo actors in The Lord of the Rings, which is a fictional European past, and the hobbits are generally linked to the first English.
        Lewis was Born in Ireland in the 1890’s – and probably didn’t see a person of color until he grew up. I understand it’s not always fair the other way around: White actors playing Siamese in King and I (ugh) and Alec Guiness playing Prince of Arabia (well…). That’s cinena’s past for you.
        But Narnia is different. Lucy & her sibs would work best as typical 40’s kids, but there is always room to mess around with that. It’s best to stick with what’s presented in the books, but if there is room, make changes if it carries the spirit of the book at its essence.

    • Hermitess of Narnia says:

      I think having the characters portrayed by people of different racial backgrounds would be a step that could make the series be enjoyed by more people. Lewis wrote the characters from Earth as having an English ancestry because that was his primary audience at the time, now that is not necessarily true.

      Yes, there would be people who would say it is not historically accurate to do this, but you only have to look at a semi-historical fantasy show like BBC Merlin (Where Queen Guinevere is played by a lady with some African ancestry) to realize that that having Jill or another character played by someone without English ancestry would work with Narnia too.

      If they wanted, they could easily have Aunt Alberta be from a Hispanic country as her name is one that is often Spanish.

      I also think that it should be mentioned that Lewis had Cor and Aravis get married in the HHB. This inter-racial marriage could’ve gotten the book bad reviews at the time in certain areas. So in one respect, Lewis was ahead of his time.

      • Jonathan Paper says:

        Good point about the marriage of Cor and Aravis. I never realised that before! 🙂

      • Col Klink says:

        I’m not sure about that, Hermitess. Lewis doesn’t specifically describe Aravis as dark skinned but he does describe the negatively portrayed characters of Anradin and Rabash that way. The flip side to that argument, of course, is that it’s obvious from the context that Aravis, as a Calormen, would be dark skinned. If C.S. Lewis had been really opposed to the idea of interracial marriages, he could have created some contrived reason for Aravis to be the same ethnicity as Shasta or magically transform at the end or something.

        If Lewis displayed a prejudice against dark skinned people in the Narnia books, I’d say that he thought they were bad looking. He describes their "white eyes" as "flashing terribly in their brown faces" which, of course, sounds really offensive. But while that may have be while he may have made them that way because he wanted them to be unattractive, (face it; we all like villains being ugly) he clearly didn’t think being bad looking automatically made people bad. And he describes Emeth as "beautiful in the dark, haughty, Calormene way." Condescending as that may sound to us, it’s an acknowledgement that while he may not have found Calormenes attractive, other people did. (Along similar lines, Tashbaan is mentioned as being in the real Narnia.)

      • JFGII says:

        Oh, bother! I’ve just realized something about the racial confusion:
        C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, in Chronological order, ARE NOT good for first-time readers – regardless of your politics – but for Netflix’s Narnia adaptations – it COULD be a huge opportunity! 😀

        Like, if they start with "The Magician’s Nephew", we will see a normal Cockney cabby & his wife become the first King and Queen of Narnia, and later we find out that they are the ancestors of the very first Archenlanders, and of Shasta and Corin in "The Horse and His Boy" (And also of those evil renegade Archenlanders who unjustly take over the North of Calormen at some point). 🙁

        When Shasta marries Aravis, who is a direct descendent of the original Calormens, their marriage signifies that interracial marriage should have no quarrel in this universe (as long as they of of the same faith), leaving open for more racially diverse characters in Narnia.

        Examples: If the Telmarines are descendent from pirates, they could have been from anywhere! They could have been English, African, Aisian (or maybe all of them), making a very biracial group that Caspian is descended from. That would mean that Caspian, Rilian and Tirian could all be biracial and yet still have the spirit Lewis gave them in the books. (Rilian’s mother could be white-ish, which explains why he is so deathly pale at the end of "The Silver Chair"). 🙁

        I wish Netflix the best of luck, and I apologize for posting too much. But I’m just starting to get so excited about how "The Chronicles of Narnia" might be adapted to the screen, while still remaining faithful to Lewis’s writing and virtues.
        The Chronicles CAN be well adapted in chronological order, but PLEASE READ THE CHRONICLES IN PUBLICATION ORDER! 🙂

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I think they should keep the "old" Narnians/Archenlanders pale because that was kinda a big part of HHB (pale Barbarians of the North)
      BUT the "new" Narnians (Caspian/the Telemarines, Rilian, Tirian) could all work well as more ethnically diverse characters, after all, piracy happened all over the world, not just Europe (and the Telemarine’s ancestors were pirates)
      The creatures (like dwarves, centaurs, etc) could be whatever they wanted.

      Incidentally, I somewhat like the idea of a biracial Eustace.

      As a side note, I’ve been thinking that, if Netflix does not want to go the Middle Eastern route, maybe giving the Calormenes a South-Eastern Asian aesthetic would work? There’s plenty of beautiful architecture in those areas, and Tashbaan is supposed to be a beautiful city:)

      • Frodo Lives says:

        Well said!

      • Eustace says:

        In my opinion, this topic all has to do with where the Calormens came from. If we want them to be from the Archenlanders they have to get that color from somewhere. Dyriads and Niads who they married into could have different skin colors,I guess. Or, if they arrived from our world like the Telmarines, then they could already have dark skin.

  • Fireberry says:

    I discovered Narnia as a very young child, beginning with TMN, then LWW, VDT. TSC, PC, HHB and then TLB … I am a passionate Narnian to this day. So much for the theory that non-publication order inhibits enjoyment.

    My one concession to publication order is that chronological order diminishes the status of LWW & PC. Not because of spoilers (the Beavers spoil the Aslan reveal anyway!), just because that IMHO, TMN is a better, less "childish" book than LWW & PC. Jack’s writing grows in depth, magic and maturity in publication order, so the reader can "grow up" into increasingly better books as he/she goes along.

    All that said, I agree with Jack’s Letter: as long as you start with either LWW or TMN, you’re on a good path.

    (PS. Netflix IMHO? Chrono Order, expanding LWW into a more "mature" version than the Walden. MAYBE revise, with a cameo for the Professor’s "friend" Miss Plummer? :))

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      Fireberry I totally agree with you:) And I suspect they (Netflix) will agree, producers usually like to keep things simple. Digory and Polly are kinda a pair, so having both of them involved in LWW would make a bigger connection

  • Col Klink says:

    I’ll admit I was expecting this episode to be a little boring because, like Glumpuddle said, pretty much all the fans are pro-publication order. It’s only the publisher who apparently disagrees. LOL. But this actually breathed life into an old discussion. Kudos, guys!

    I hate to sound to like I’m defending chronological order even a little bit but I disagree with Michael Ward that The Magician’s Nephew isn’t a good introduction to Aslan’s character. If you read MN without reading the other books (not that I’m recommending such a thing!), you’d be really intrigued by this lion who can make all these things appear by singing and who is so indifferent to the main characters. If you’ve read other books, you kind of expect that sort of thing.

    Anyway, I agree that it’s much more fun to read The Magician’s Nephew after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Especially because of the reveal at the very end of MN. But I don’t think publication order is necessarily the best. I’m personally glad I read The Horse and his Boy before The Silver Chair. (That way Shasta’s real name wasn’t spoiled for me.)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if C.S. Lewis really did prefer chronological order. Except for Prince Caspian and maybe The Horse and his Boy, there isn’t much non linear storytelling in the Chronicles. And he doesn’t seem to have had a master plan for them when he started writing. (In addition to the changes to the American editions this podcast mentioned, I’ve heard he had plans to revise parts of them before he died.) Maybe if he’d planned the whole thing out from the beginning, he’d have written MN as the first book and LWW as the second. Personally, I’m glad he didn’t!

    It’s interesting how many fans on the forums want the Netflix series to be chronological although they prefer the publication order for first time readers. I wonder if people are worried that the same thing that happened to the Walden movies will happen with the new series and it’ll be canceled before they can get to the later books. With chronological order, we’d be pretty certain of getting adaptations of two later books. (Not Last Battle though. That poor thing is always at the end. LOL)

    Speaking of fans and forums, I’m sorry you were annoyed by the insistent publication order fans, Gymfan. Some fanbases can get so angry that it stops being fun to talk with other fans on the internet. 🙁 Fortunately, the Narnia fanbase is small enough that things aren’t too bad even after the controversial movie adaptations. (Well, I guess some people who have left the forums might disagree with that but I think we’re good.) I hope that no matter how popular Narnia gets or how passionate we are about it, we can keep from being getting totally nasty in our divisive discussions.

  • Fireberry says:

    My personal theory about Jack’s creation of the Narnia series is that he began tentatively with LWW, then the Lefay Fragment, then PC to some disappointment. But then he was so happy writing VDT that he decided to write all the rest: seven books, seven planets, as Dr Ward says. I think he might have gone to back to revise the whole series, but if you read his biography, you’ll know he was a very busy man with a lot of going concerns.

  • NArNiA NANA says:

    I kept thinking during the podcast, if most of you are passionate about the order (and with the Netflix productions on the horizon), why don’t you have a campaign with Harpers Collins to remove the numbers or to re-order them. This is a chance to make a difference for future generations instead of just talking about it… To reverse decades of the controversy / problem.

    And… I love you, too, Glumpuddle. (I must admit, kind of fun to stump you.)

  • TelmarProf says:

    My university’s English department did a five- or six-part seminar on Narnia back in 2013. One of the sessions presented an analysis of the Narnia books and why they should be read in publication order. Here’s a link to the video still available on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPWeoPi_R-0

  • Cleander says:

    Again, haven’t listened to the whole podcast yet, so I don’t know if any of my thoughts have already been voiced! Anyway, I think readers get a better sense of how Narnia grew in C.S. Lewis’ imagination if they read the publication order. As the books continue, we see Narnia portrayed more and more with a sense of reality, politics and history. The atmosphere that everyone loves is present in all the books, but for the first few books Lewis treats the stories a little… like fairy tales. (I mean cutesy fairy tales that no one is expected to believe). As the books continue, the beauty becomes even more raw and real, the fear becomes darker, and the world seems to be a very large, real, complex and thoroughly fascinating place.
    I know C.S. Lewis, when addressed about this topic, advocated the chronological approach, but this was after he’d already written the books. It seems like an afterthought. LWW does a better job of letting the reader discover Narnia, and it was an experience of discovery for Lewis as well in the writing. (LWW was the first book I read, sooo…)
    I say all this, but I read the books completely out of order each year, mainly based on the weather and what I feel like. My views expressed above just apply to first-time reading.

  • Hermitess of Narnia says:

    I read MN first and read them in Chronological order. I understand that people want to start with LWW because it’s the most famous book, and the way Lewis writes Narnia builds better with the published order, and that the published order follows the storylines of the characters better. But really, as long as LWW, PC, and DT are read sequentially and LB is read last it doesn’t really matter.

    • Col Klink says:

      I actually read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader before I read Prince Caspian and The Last Battle before I read The Silver Chair. I think it worked fine for me. Glad I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe before I read The Magician’s Nephew though.

  • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I HAD NO IDEA THAT THE (OLD) AMERICAN EDTION HAD CHANGES! Maybe I should’ve been clued in when one of my friends referred to Maugrim as Fenris Ulf… If anyone knows all the changes I’d be interested to hear

    Anyways, I was read LWW first, but when it came to reading the entire series I started with MN for the same reason of Gymfan’s (our copy had all 7 books in chronological order). Personally I’d suggest the publication order, partly because of what they said with the themes and writing style maturing, and well, partly because I love future Easter Eggs (like name dropping Corin Thunderfist in SC).

    Also, in the more analytical sense, I like publication order for the same reason that I believe (for example) you should watch Marvel movies in publication order. The excitement and mystery of Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man would be less fun if you had, say, watched CA: the First Avenger and Captain Marvel before hand just because they took place earlier in the timeline.

  • Queen Of Archenland says:

    Well I think either of the orders are better than the one I read them in. lol.
    My introduction to Narnia was with Disney’s LWW. I watched the movie over and over again never knowing that it was based upon a book or that there were other Narnia stories out there until PC came out. So when I watched PC in theaters my little mind was blown. My mom saw my love for Narnia and told me after the movie was over that there were books about Narnia she could read to me, and I think it’s safe to say that my brain had properly exploded by that point.
    So the first actual Narnia book I heard first was VDT. My mom read it to my siblings and I followed shortly after by SC. I think after that she read LB to us and then HHB,and finally the last book my mom read to me was MN. I didn’t actually read LWW and PC until quite a few months later on my own.
    I don’t think the order of the books matters too much so long as you either have a lot of knowledge about or read LWW first, and read LB last. (You can only imagine how confused I was the first time hearing LB having not read MN or HHB yet). PC, VDT, and SC should stay in that respected order as well, but you could read MN and HHB anywhere between LWW and LB and you would be fine. But when you are in doubt, Publication-Order it out.
    I am quite curious to see what order Netflix is going to want to go in though. The Walden movies are still fairly fresh on people’s minds so I’m thinking they’ll probably try to go in chronological order over publication, but I really don’t know.

  • Cap speaking says:

    This is how I read:
    1) Magician’s Nephew
    2) The Lion, the witch and the Wardrobe
    3) The Horse and His Boy
    4) Prince Caspian
    5) Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    6) The Silver Chair
    7) The Last Battle

  • DoNotTakeMeYet says:

    The Calormenes descended from the white(English) rulers of Narnia. There is no way they’ll be people from a different race

    And as far as I can remember the ‘new’ Telmarines descended from wandering pirates of the South Pacific (they aren’t native here). So they probably should be of Caucasian race.

    On the matter of how the books should be read, the chronological order doesn’t give a first reader an impact any less than the publishing order. I believe they can both give good impressions but in two different ways

  • bryan kitsune says:

    I am that anomaly you referred to. The poor soul who was introduced to Narnia with Prince Caspian. I’m writing this bit-by-bit at work, so forgive me if my thoughts and this composition is a little scattered.

    I had never heard of The Chronicles of Narnia as a student in 3rd or 4th grade. I was exploring the school library and found Prince Caspian and it looked interesting enough. I checked it out (back in the days when this meant writing your name on a card and giving it to the librarian and the Dewey Decimal System was still going strong). As an aside, I don’t believe my elementary library had the full set, but only LWW, PC, DT and SC – and I’m pretty sure LWW was checked out, or otherwise misplaced.

    My memories are foggy (as an old man in his mid-30’s), but I can at least quite clearly remember being captivated very early on as to the ruins, and discovered Narnia little by little as Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy slowly realize where they are and what has happened to this world in the meantime. Along with Caspian I learn a bit about the Golden Age of Narnia…and so on. I was still very drawn in. I was a kid that liked to wander the woods on my parents property, cook food on an open fire…etc.

    To make a long story less long – I don’t believe reading PC first completely ruined my Narnia experience. It probably didn’t even hinder it much (if at all). Here I am a good quarter of a century later on a website dedicated to Narnia, listening to Narnia podcasts, having read many of Lewis’ other works…and so on. I have no idea what order I actually first read them at this point. I don’t remember if I went to DT or backwards to LWW. I know it was awhile before I read MN, HAHB or LB. I think my first reading order was quite haphazard. Since then I generally re-read in publication order. But after my current read through, maybe I’ll change it up.

    I am however pretty staunchly in favor of publication numbering and first reading (if asked for my opinion). My hardback set is the colorful Macmillan set, as I find it very difficult to consider purchasing any set that has a "1" on MN (it helps that I don’t much care for the design of most of the newer sets). I also believe that they can probably be read in almost any order, even for the first time, and there will be enough sense of wonder, mystery and adventure to enchant the reader and pull them into the series as a whole, and I’d hate for anyone to feel they can’t properly enjoy the series if they read them in the "wrong" order (whether willfully or in ignorance).

    Of course, I also grew up watching (after reading at least a few books) the BBC series…and enjoyed it…so maybe my opinions should be taken with a few grains of salt?

    All that said, I’d be perfectly happy with an un-numbered set (preferably placed into a box in publication order), with an obvious piece of paper or booklet inside explaining a few reading options, and leave it to the reader to decide. I’d also like this set to have the original 1st edition facsimile designs that were available in the UK a few years back (and still are, although a few are quite overpriced).

    • Jonathan Parsons says:

      Bryan Kitsune,
      I really like your idea of having a card or booklet in a boxset explaining some different reading options, however I would limit it to Publication order and Chronological order to make it as simple as possible for the new reader or the young reader. I am interested to hear others’ thoughts on this idea.

    • Fireberry says:

      Bryan "Kitsune"? Hmm, very interesting. I’m thinking you & I might be fellow fans of "something else" besides Narnia, unless I guess wrong. 🙂

  • The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

    So I was also one of the ones who read The Magician’s Nephew first. I actually knew nothing about Narnia at the time, so the wardrobe scene would’ve been a total surprise to me if I had started with LWW. Boo. 😛 As it were, I distinctly remember getting to that part and thinking, "Oh. I know all about this." Instead of the wonder you’d hope would be inspired by that moment, it was almost… boring. I felt quite pulled out of the experience and immediately started thinking about what I had already learned in MN.

    It definitely didn’t ruin the book for me, but I do really wish I could go back and re-read that scene without having read MN first!

    I also think reading MN and then LWW may have prevented me from reading the rest of the series when I first encountered the books. I read those two at around ten or eleven, but never got around to reading Prince Caspian at that time… in hindsight, I think it was because I thought it was another story about a completely different set of characters and circumstances (that’s what you get for judging a book by its cover, and title), and I wanted something that was more familiar. So it wasn’t until I was quite a bit older that I got around to reading the whole series, and that’s when I really fell in love with Narnia.

    Oh, and if anyone says that you can’t be a real Narnia fan if you didn’t read them in Publication Order first… of course you know this means war! 😉

  • JFGII says:

    I agree with the majority: You ought to read the Narnia series in the publication order first, THEN re-read the series in chronological order.

    I also agree that the re-ordering did not help bring in more Narnia fans. If anything, reading the series chronologically is what made me resent the series when I first read it at age 12. It wasn’t until I re-read the series in publication order at age 16 that I rediscovered my love for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which then slowly spread to the other six books.

    I think the reason for the 1994 re-order had to do with political correctness: “The Chronicles of Narnia should be in chronological order, or children will get confused”. Children who get confused by Narnia – only THEY can save themselves from a Clarence Scrubb-ish existence.

    As for Narnia at Netflix, filming a TV series in chronological would be undeniably exciting – at first. But it would cement the belief that CS Lewis mapped out the series from the beginning, which he did not. For first-time viewers I think it would create more harm than good (‘Might give Glumpuddle heart failure).

    I hope Netflix takes Narnia down the publication route while also expanding on the books a little bit.

    “The Chronicles of Narnia”
    A Netflix Original Series

    Season One: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
    Season Two: “Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia”
    Season Three: “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

    Film Four: “The Silver Chair”
    Film Five: “The Horse and His Boy”
    Film Six: “The Magician’s Nephew”
    Film Seven: “The Last Battle”

  • Roger says:

    My introduction to Narnia was the movie LWW. From there I read the books in publication order. I am glad I did it that way. MN is my least favorite Narnia book. I understand why Lewis finished it last. To me it has problems (to each their own). I really believe that if I had read the books in chronological order I may have stopped reading the series. If I read the series I always start with LWW. If I jump around, which is often, I will read SC, HHB and the last third of LB, never MN.

    • Rebekah Walton says:

      I agree with you on MN, besides PC, MN is my least favorite Narnian book and it did not make me really want to read on in the series when I first read it. Thankfully, I had already read most of the books by then and had only the last Battle left. I think personally it feels very different from the rest of series.

      • Eustace says:

        This is not to say I do not like MN, I love all Narnian books, but, it just took a while to grow on me.

  • Stallion stands with Aslan says:

    . So much is lost when another person takes an "Artists/Directors Preferance" with how they make changes and how bad the Movies and TV series end up.

  • Stallion stands with Aslan says:

    The order is the order. All things in good time, that being said, if I hadn’t tried The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe first I might never have read the rest of them. If it were the Magician’s Nephew, I would understand the parallels and perhaps even the reasons why some of the particular features, both land and structures, were put into that book. But knowing the how isn’t, to me, the best way to convey to me as the reader his intended target audience the most important things that you can take away from each of the books, and in what order you can learn those key things. This Series has a huge following and the reason is how it’s written, and that’s important , changing any of that can change their meaning just like changing a comma in a sentence. You don’t think there’s a difference until you read it again. I have read all of the books and done so in different orders. But reading LWW, which was my first book, led me to choose the order that I read them. What makes this series so wonderful is that once you read one it can lead you to another particular book, but it is not the same for you and me, as our paths in life are not the same. I liken the series to one of the books in which you can read one page and have a choice of two or three other pages to choose from so that you have a always changing ending. I am not a fan of those type of books. But I can tell you that the book you choose first has a bearing on the next book you choose. But the order is the order because that’s the way C S Lewis determined they needed to be. He created them and the order. And that is typically how I read them. Don’t change the series to fit your needs, let the series hope you define what you really need and how to get to it and you’ll enjoy the serious so much better. So much is lost when another person takes an "Artists/Directors Preferance" with how they make changes and how bad the Movies and TV series end up.

  • The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

    I’m intrigued that I’m not the only one who thinks that starting with Chronological Order may put people off from reading the whole series. Tempted to get in touch with HarperCollins and share this theory with them, because they’re a business first and foremost, and they’re gonna care if they feel like the order is affecting book sales! 😛

  • Fireberry says:

    Publi/Chrono Order is a moot point by now because the Aslan character is today as pre-emptively famous as Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh … Can’t rebottle that lightning.

    A Netflix Chrono Order is a Fresh Breath! And yes, that means LWW will have to be fleshed out into a better, less "childish" novel.

    Also (putting this delicately) I say all this a person who thinks the BIBLE is best read GENESIS first.

    • Frodo Lives says:

      I prefer to start with The New Testament (LWW) then work my way back to front before Revelation. I get what you’re saying 😉

  • Frodo Lives says:

    There are many ways that Narnia could be read. Publication, chronological and mixed up. I favor publication, but I respect those who enjoy Narnia chronologically. Reading The Magician’s Nephew first, before reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is like watching Batman Begins before watching The Dark Knight: The Dark Knight is the reason people wanted to give Batman Begins another chance after initially ignoring it, yet both are good, stand-alone stories. Strange comparison, I know.

    In response to the people posting about how Netflix will adapt the books into TV and/or films, there are different ways to do that:

    First Idea: Publication Order (poster JFGII’s way)

    Season One: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2020)
    Season Two: Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (2021)
    Season Three: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2023)

    Film Four: The Silver Chair (2024)
    Film Five: The Horse and His Boy (2026)
    Film Six: The Magician’s Nephew (2027)
    Film Seven: The Last Battle (2029)

    Second Idea: Publication Order (Glumpuddle’s Way)

    Season One: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    Season Two: Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
    Season Three: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    Season Four: The Silver Chair
    Season Five: The Last Battle

    Netflix Film: The Horse and His Boy
    Netflix Film: The Magician’s Nephew

    Peter & Susan (Season 1 & 2)
    Edmund & Lucy (Seasons 1-3)
    Caspian (Seasons 2-4)
    Eustace (Seasons 3-5)
    Jill (Season 4 & 5)
    Tirian (Season 5)

    Third Idea: (Chronological Order) (My Idea)

    Pilot Film: The Magician’s Nephew

    Season One: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
    Season Two: The Horse and His Boy
    Season Three: Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia
    Season Four: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    Season Five: The Silver Chair
    Season Six: The Last Battle

    Hope anybody found this interesting or helpful! Thanks!

  • Eustace says:

    I was trying to find the third way to read the Narnian books, But, I cannot seem to find it. I wanted to reread the Narnian books in the way C.S. Lewis wrote them, because as a writer myself I often find myself wondering how other authors thought through certain characters and stories.
    But, I tend to read the Narnian books in the Published order. Although, I find myself less upset about what order others read in as long as they are reading Narnia.
    I started with a basic knowledge of Narnia(having watched the BBC LWW version), as a child and opened the HHB and read it first. It is still one of my top books of series.

  • Varnafinde says:

    In "C. S. Lewis: A Biography" (from 1974) by Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper, Green tells about the way Lewis wrote his books. Green encouraged Lewis when Tolkien didn’t, Green even suggested the title "The Chronicles of Narnia" for the series, and he read the manuscripts and suggested changes. (One suggestion that Lewis ignored, was to remove Father Christmas from LWW.)

    "The Magician’s Nephew" was the book Lewis struggled the most with. He started writing a story to explain LWW, as what has been preserved as "the Lefay Fragment", but abandoned it and wrote "Prince Caspian" instead. In between a couple of the other books he went back to his MN ideas and wrote about Charn, including a farmer that Digory and Polly meet in Charn. Green wasn’t too happy about it, and Lewis abandoned it again and wrote the last books.

    After he had sent the manuscripts of LB to his publisher, informing him that this would be the book to conclude the series, he went back to MN again. The farmer from Charn disappeared, and instead a cabby driver from London (who had lived his childhood on a farm) was introduced. Lewis later said to Green that part of that book’s success was because Green had pointed out the flaws in the first attempts, and thus saved the story.

    I read LWW first, because it was the only book in the series to have been translated into Norwegian when I was a child. The Norwegian publishers must have abandoned the project after the first book, and it was only taken up again by other publishers more than fifteen years later. By which time I had found and read the books in English (when I was 21).

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