Colin McKay Miller's Reviews > The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
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Dec 05, 2011

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bookshelves: novels, young-adult, revisited-reread, favorite-of-this-author
Read from December 04 to 15, 2011

C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may be too well known for its own good, but it's still a solid, quick-paced young adult read.

Though I'm sure you already know (especially since the title literally lists it out), the novel is the story of four children -- Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy -- who venture through a magical wardrobe to another land, Narnia, full of creatures. These creatures include an evil witch who keeps the land in a constant winter, and the lion, Aslan, who's rumored to return and take back his throne. Many of the descriptions of Aslan are the book's finest, creating depth despite the simplicity of the phrases. Some of the characters talk about Aslan not being safe, but still being good; others note how his fierceness makes him good and terrible. Meanwhile, the witch turns creatures into stone and ruins the marketing image of Turkish Delight.

Probably the best part of Lewis' famed work is the early pacing. It's really impressive how deep into the world he gets with so few pages. However, this quick pacing works against the novel later, as battle sequences flash on by. Worse than that, one of the key battles doesn't even get it's due in the moment. Instead, the kids have a conversation about who did what. Kind of hard to have any tension when the battle is already over and the threat nullified... Additionally, although that sweet Lucy and that dastardly Edmund are well fleshed out, the two older kids don't get much play. I think Susan's only major part is filled with crying, and even then Lucy is sharing the spotlight. (Meanwhile, the boys are off fightin' stuff in the face -- take that, gender roles!) Finally, the ending comes reeeeeeeeeeaal close to puking out a happily ever after summary, but thankfully, Lewis swerves off the path and entices the reader for more.

In reading the Narnia books in order, I have to comment and compare to what has already passed. While I expressed disappointment in The Magician's Nephew folding its own plot to support The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this book is stronger for it. Additionally, where the first book of the Narnia series is too overt in its attempt at Christian symbolism (I referred to this failure as non-symbolism), the second gets it just right. The atonement and redemption themes are obvious enough for kids to track, yet not so blunt that they read like parts of the Bible got copied in there. With the solid showing in this one, I'm looking forward to venturing into the less-famed Narnia books. Three stars.

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Colin McKay Miller Best quote of the read:

'If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than me or else just silly.'

'Then he isn't safe?' asked Lucy.

'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.'

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