by C.S. Lewis
Unconditional Recommendation: Four children travel through a wardrobe to Narnia and assist the lion Aslan to triumph over the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter.
Genre: Fantasy, Christian Allegory
There’s not much for me to say about this well-known beloved children’s classic, except my favorite parts and why you should read it. Beyond it being rich in biblical truths it’s also a well-told fantasy story that can stand on its own. I recommend reading this book first in the series and The Magician’s Nephew, numbered as the first book due to internal chronology, any time after this book.
Narnia…the land beyond the wardrobe door, a secret place frozen in eternal winter…a magical country waiting to be set free. Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the Professor’s mysterious old house. At first, her brothers and sister don’t believe her when she tells of her visit to the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund, then Peter and Susan step through the wardrobe themselves. In Narnia they find a country buried under the evil enchantment of the White Witch. When they meet the Great Lion, Aslan, they realize they’ve been called to a great adventure and bravely join the battle to free Narnia from the Witch’s sinister spell.
I love this book—and the series—because of Aslan, the Christ-figure of the allegory. C.S. Lewis did an amazing job writing Aslan’s character and dialogue to display what we biblically know of the character of Jesus Christ and God. Aslan trading his own life in place of Edmund, a nasty, selfish boy who betrayed his family, is such a beautiful act and a heart-wrenching scene in the book. The great and powerful dying for the undeserving and sinful so they might be saved—it’s beautiful because it reflects the reality of Jesus Christ, God become man, dying for the ungodly that we might be saved from hell and reconciled to God. This allegorical theme is the crown of the book and good triumphing over evil, redemption, salvation, and restoration only add to the goodness of this book.
When the children first hear of Aslan, they are surprised to learn he’s a lion. Susan and Lucy inquire if he’s safe and Mr. Beaver’s response is, hands down, my favorite scene of the whole book and one that my husband and I reference all the time.
“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.”
This captures the distinction between safety and goodness—someone can be good without being safe. The God of justice, righteousness, and power who abhors evil is not safe…but He is good. As Christians, we aren’t guaranteed safety in this life, but we can always be assured and take comfort in His goodness.
After Edmund is rescued from the White Witch and has a private conversation with Aslan, she comes to claim him as her rightful property as a traitor. I adore how Edmund acts in this scene.
“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.
Edmund’s redemption is an uplifting piece of the book and how he keeps his eyes on Aslan amidst the Witch’s accusations is telling of his transformation. He no longer listens to the Witch and her words no longer hold power over him in any way. All he cares for is Aslan. His focus on his savior makes everything else—the accusations of the enemy—fade away. Edmund’s only act in this scene is looking at Aslan. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t argue, doesn’t become upset like his siblings…he just keeps looking at Aslan. What a great example of how we are to be in the Christian life—keeping our eyes on our Savior.
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