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The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

C.S. Lewis
Art: Pauline Baynes

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 23rd February 2014
People who have not been to Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.

Like many during World War II, the four Pevensie children Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter are sent from London to the English country side. Staying with their Professor Kirke (Digory from The Magician’s Nephew) in an old, large and mysterious house, the youngest child, Lucy, discovers a secret passage within a wardrobe which leads to the enchanted land of Narnia.

All is not well in Narnia, the self proclaimed Queen known as The White Witch has cast an endless winter over the country and will use everything in her power to ensure her dominion continues uninterrupted. Hope is not lost however, for Aslan is said to have returned, bringing with him the spring and Lucy’s entrance ignites a renewed hope in the fulfillment of an old prophecy: 

“When two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve sit on the thrones at Cair Paravel, the White Witch’s reign will end.” 

Filled with Christian allusion blended with Greco-Roman and Norse myths, Lewis’ classic children's tale of sacrifice, temptation and morality brings us back to Narnia untold years after the events of The Magician’s Nephew. Reading this adventure again, I remembered how much I and my classmates loved it when we were in primary school but also how recognise now that it was crucial in my appreciation for fantasy and myths which has shaped my interests ever since. I hope these books are still being read to children. Their moral teachings, beautiful use of language and most importantly, non-condescending narrative style ensure they hold-up and help develop a love of reading and imagination. 

It is worth noting that Professor Kirke’s lack of knowledge in regards to Narnia would seem to undermine the later written prequel, The Magician’s Nephew. It could be that he doesn't want to tell the children what he knows so they can discover Narnia for themselves but I have a theory which comes from the idea (which Lewis sets up in The Magician’s Nephew) of memories not flowing through the different worlds. Essentially, a life led in one world is unique to that of a person’s life in another. It makes sense then, that after so many years (and many more in Narnia time) Digory doesn't remember his travels anymore and would need to return to Narnia in order to access his memories of that life. His experience around the creation of Narnia has thus been relegated to a long forgotten childhood fantasy. This distinction between childhood and adulthood as two separate lives is exactly what reading the Chronicles help us bridge, reminiscing our childhood with all the joy, innocence and hope therein.