Heidi (1881)

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review

Heidi is an 1881 Swiss children’s novel written by Johanna Spyri. It is a famous and still popular book for many valid reasons as it truly is a great work.

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Because I would rather be with my grandfather on the Alps

than anywhere else on Earth.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

It is about the events in the life of a young girl who comes to the Alps to live with her grandfather. It is a simple, yet wonderful story. I loved all of its parts. The first half is great as it is such a peaceful part where we follow Heidi adjusting to the life in the country and we see all of its aspects such as her relationship with her grandfather as well as her friend Peter and goat herding. The descriptions of the mountain are beautiful, but more on that later.

I loved its second half as well. It introduced us to Clara and her family while also presenting a good look at Frankfurt. The part where Clara arrived to the mountain and the chapters afterwards were probably my favorites, so sweet. But the ending is of course terrific. The novel does have a great, very well written first chapter, but it also gives us closure with the last, very satisfying and moving chapter.

Let’s talk about the characters. Of course Heidi is lovely and endearing and Clara was a fine companion and the two were wonderful together. But the only problem here is that Clara isn’t as well utilized as she should have been and both of the girls were just too good on my opinion. That is why Peter is the better and more interesting character. He pushed and broke Clara’s chair out of jealousy and that subplot is amazing as it was perfectly executed. We follow his guilt, his anxiety and eventually his confession. That event made his character a lot more relatable and realistic. He is certainly the most fascinating kid in the book.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

As for the adults, of course the grandfather is warm and caring and Clara’s father is just as sympathetic. Dete serves her purpose and Rottenmeier was typically over-the-top and excessively so. But the two old women were wonderful and I have to say that the doctor was my favorite. You just root for him as you witness his loneliness and unhappiness and I loved all of the chapters with him.

Johanna Spyri wrote this novel beautifully as Heidi is surely a wonderful read for both kids and adults. It is childlike and never childish, it is simple, yet never overly simplistic and it does have a couple of wonderful messages for the little ones in it. The religious overtones were aggressive sometimes, but other than that, Peter’s story as well as all of the country lessons were well depicted.

But the descriptions are the highlights. She is such a great writer and the way that she depicts the mountain, the goats, the weather, the trees and of course the cottage is just mesmerizing. The book is clearly pro-country as it clearly states the health benefits of living at the mountain and in the village which is why the city parts weren’t as richly depicted. But the cottage was just so heartwarmingly depicted that it transported me right into it. Heidi has such a powerful carrying quality to it that it made me want to visit the Alps immediately. That’s how strong its writing and the descriptions are! I also found the meals beautifully described and again quite inviting.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri Book Review………………………………………………………………

If there is one problem I’ve had with it is that sometimes the titular character was overly happy and ecstatic and most of the characters were just too good and unrealistic which is why Peter is better than most of them. And some of the Frankfurt chapters either felt like detours or were over-the-top. But other than that, the book is terrific with solid dialogue and excellent pacing (it is always engaging) and is easily one of the best that children’s fiction has to offer.

With striking imagery, absolutely mesmerizing and beautifully written descriptions, a very inviting setting and likable characters, Heidi is also moving and wonderfully childlike while also being pleasantly simple and rich in messages for the kids. It is so well written and so wonderful that it’s one of the best children’s books ever written and a genuine, timeless classic.

My Rating – 4.6

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The Subtle Knife (1997)

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review

The Subtle Knife is a 1997 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is a very good sequel, yet never as great as the original novel.

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It’s like having to make a choice: a blessing or a curse.

The one thing you can’t do is choose neither.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

As the second entry in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Subtle Knife ultimately disappointed me as it just wasn’t as compelling nor as fantastical as its predecessors. Whereas ‘Northern Lights’ was magical and filled with memorable imagery, this one is set in a different and unfortunately much less interesting world.

Lyra ends up in the new realm and meets Will who came there accidentally after killing a man who chased him. His father has connections to Dust and Lyra’s scientists and he is after him and the two join forces in attaining the compass Lyra lost and later gaining the possession and power of the titular knife. That is the plot here and, needless to say, it is never really fascinating, albeit still very well told. I liked the ending and although abrupt and too much like a second part of a trilogy ending, it was still memorable, dark and tragic. Actually the entire second half of the novel was quite tragic and serious when you think about it.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

The highlights were the first couple of chapters which were very well written and exciting. It was great meeting Will and this new world. Of course everything with the knife and alethiometer was also memorable and I really liked the character of Charles Latrom who was a compelling villain. And naturally Mrs. Coulter continues to be a strong, dangerous presence when villains are concerned.

I really disliked the fact that almost the third of the novel was told from the perspective of Lee, the witches, Gruman and others. Those chapters were very dull, uneventful and just never as interesting. I get the decision to have other points of view and other storylines on the side, but to me the villains should have gotten that spot along with this time entirely absent Lord Asriel and that would have been infinitely more interesting.

But I still really liked Gruman and his death was unexpected and very dark. Having Will lose his father just after he’s found him was a bold and ultimately admirable choice on the part of the author. And of course Lee’s death was just so immensely tragic. I really like him as he is such a sweet soul which is why his death felt heartbreaking and that emotion was very much earned.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

But the kids are naturally the standout characters. It was odd that Lyra made so many mistakes this time around whereas she was such a heroic lead in the previous entry, but she was still realistic, tough and very likable in her flawed personality. And as for Will, he was too much of a flawless kid in my opinion, but I still rooted for him and I found the friendship that formed between the two very satisfying.

The Subtle Knife is very well written by Philip Pullman and the descriptive passages are excellent. The dialogue is also solid. But this time around the imagery was just not up to par with its predecessor. I found the fact that all of the worlds were different, yet mostly quite similar interesting, but ultimately a cheap method of storytelling and world building.

Cittagazze was intriguing at first, but the spectres were very typical creations in my opinion, unoriginal and not particularly interesting, at least not to me. The knife itself was, on the other hand, very interesting and I liked its usage and that it cut the portals to different worlds. That led to a lot of very interesting action.

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Book Review…………………………………………………..

Even though the book is great in many of its parts and quite suspenseful at times, it isn’t particularly sophisticated and it is never coherent or as well crafted as a whole and a sum of its admittedly very good parts. That is because the structure is odd and unappealing. The book consists of important parts, dialogues and action, but almost every one of them felt unnatural and more of a succeeding coincidence than a natural plot progression. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked this book a lot, but it just was never as great as ‘Northern Lights’ was.

The Subtle Knife has more than a couple of memorable and suspenseful parts, it is very dark and tragic at times, the character development is strong and it is mostly well crafted, but it isn’t great as a whole because the structure isn’t the greatest, some chapters were tedious and uneventful plus the world building is never as majestic or as magical as it was before leading to a good, yet a bit disappointing sequel.

My Rating – 4

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The Jungle Book (1894)

The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling – Book Review

The Jungle Book is an 1894 book written by Rudyard Kipling. It is a classic novel from its period and to me it had its strengths, but also many weaknesses.

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Now, don’t be angry after you’ve been afraid.

That’s the worst kind of cowardice.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

Now, first I have to state that this is the collection of short stories or fables and because of such a nature to it, I will review each chapter or story separately. And because the stories are so varied and different, some are better than others leading to a very uneven work as a whole. I will also include The Second Jungle Book in my review as the book I’ve read contained both and because both are also of pretty much the same quality and can go in tandem.

So let’s begin. Mowgli’s Brothers is basically the most famous story here, the one which has been adapted for film numerous times. It was weird to witness that it just occupied one chapter and was thus rushed, but it was still a great story and very engaging. Kaa’s Hunting is a much weaker story that is sort of the midquel to the previous one and is much more forgettable.

Tiger! Tiger! is a solid first part of Mowgli’s life in the village and those descriptive passages of him adapting to it were really strong. However, after this one we get a bunch of different stories with different characters and Mowgli is nowhere to be seen and those stories were usually quite weak and dull.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The White Seal is very forgettable and although it features an interesting setting, the execution is weak. Now Rikki-Tikki-Tavi features very annoying dialogue and is somewhat childish, but is still somewhat realistic and the most animalistic of the bunch. Toomai of the Elephants features characters that are far from memorable and dull pacing. Her Majesty’s Servants has an amusing premise, but is too singular and like a detour as a whole.

Now let’s talk about the second book which is my favorite of the two actually as it featured a couple of absolutely terrific stories. How Fear Came is solid as a prequel, but somewhat inconsequential. The Miracle of Purun Bhagat is very boring and one of the worst stories of both books and I just did not like stories about humans here.

Letting in the Jungle is very good as it features Mowgli being accused of witchcraft in the man village and it was very dramatic and very well executed. It is probably the most important story in this book along with the last chapter. But The Undertakers is so forgettable that I even do not remember it that well.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

The King’s Ankus is surprisingly good. It is one of the best chapters where Mowgli learns about humans and their worst tendencies and it features a very good use of Kaa. As for Quiquern, it is of course very authentic and intriguing in story and setting, but unfortunately never as fascinating as the premise demanded it to be. In Red Dog, Mowgli fights the pack of dholes and it is such a boring, very unimportant story.

But The Spring Running is just marvelous! It is actually my favorite Jungle Book story and it is such a shame that it was never included in any of the movies. So well done. Mowgli is now almost seventeen and suddenly develops an urge to go to his own people. Needless to say, it features some of the most emotional and most sophisticated passages. It perfectly explored his character and this grand conflict and it was just such a moving and powerful ending to the book.

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The Jungle by Book Rudyard Kipling - Book Review……………………………………………………

I liked the characters, although their development should have been better. Kipling’s writing is sometimes too simplistic, but is mostly excellent. He isn’t great at dialogue, but he is great in describing things and surely those passages were so intriguing and well written. He has such a great eye for detail. The poems are also quite solid and memorable.

In the end, The Jungle Book is too uneven as an overall work as some stories are better than the others, the dialogue is sometimes not great and some stories were very dull and inconsequential, but others were very well written and strong, his writing is very good, he has a great eye for detail and the last story is my favorite as it is such a powerful and deep piece of writing.

My Rating – 3.7

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The Metamorphosis (1915)

The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

The Metamorphosis Book Review

The Metamorphosis is a 1915 German novella written by Franz Kafka. It is a famous story that truly is such a magnificent, very sophisticated work.

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I cannot make you understand.

I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me.

I cannot even explain it to myself.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

It is about Gregor Samsa who wakes up to find himself transformed into a large insect-like creature. It follows his attempts to adjust to his new condition as well as the reactions of his family. Now the story here is fascinating in its naively simplistic premise that, as it unfolds, reveals its deep themes and ideas. In fact, when you think about, it is actually such a clever book that is both realistic and absurd as well as entertaining and thematically rich.

I love the fact that we never really learn the cause of Gregor’s transformation as the reactions, both his and of his family, are more important. That part of the book, supernatural, is really well handled and more vague and mysterious than revealing which was a good choice in this case.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

Now the characters are pretty memorable and very well developed for its short length. And I just love how they interacted. To me, The Metamorphosis is very realistic as it showcases the man’s fear of the unknown and prejudices beautifully while, in a heartbreaking fashion, showing us how the family, especially in that time, only thought about their duties and image and that came first. The ending is so heartbreaking and yet thoughtful that it really had a deep impact on me. They basically killed him and showed no real remorse, but rather relief. And the fact that he cared for them and worked for the entire family and was apparently such a great man only further elongates the impact of this tragedy.

The Metamorphosis isn’t perfect as honestly some of those middle passages felt like a detour and possibly even filler as they moved away from the story and certainly did not add any new important layers. But apart from that, it is an almost perfect novella which is not only immaculately constructed and mostly phenomenally paced, but it is also beautifully written by Kafka who managed to write even those incredibly long sentences in an involving and concise manner. I really liked his style and he really knew how to accentuate the more important lines for dramatic effect.

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The Metamorphosis Book Review………………………………………………………………..

So it is about the duties of family, but it is also very absurdist and it should be regarded as a literary treasure as it is such a weird, pleasantly so, story that seemed out of place in the time that it was written. Groundbreaking in a way. I loved its attention to detail as it stayed pretty vague in the description of the creature that Gregor has become, but it still manages to wonderfully convey his feelings of alienation as well as him adapting to the new condition. His climbing on the wall as well as the food he ate was all fascinating to read. But the reactions of his sister and of course mother and father were all so grounded in reality, all different, yet essentially the same. It is such an emotional book that you can just feel the protagonist’s pain. It was almost palpable and it had a profound effect on me. It is a story that is fantastical, yet very applicable to a number of real-life situations and is especially true in the depiction of family and its interactions and duties.

The Metamorphosis is not only such a well written story with a great structure, but it is incredibly emotional and sometimes even genuinely heartbreaking with a thematically rich storyline, realistic characters and a fantastical, yet very relatable situation. It perfectly conveyed the protagonist’s feelings while consistently delivering from the other characters as well. A masterpiece.

My Rating – 4.7

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Top Ten Narnia Characters

Top Ten Narnia Characters……………………………………………….

Top Ten Narnia Characters

The Chronicles of Narnia is a fantasy series rich in story and themes and although its characters are never as strong as its story is, there are more than enough truly memorable and likable characters to fill this list. I was taking into account the overall likability of the character, his or her development as well as the overall impact on the story as a whole. So without further ado, here are my ten favorite Narnia characters and three more honorable mentions.

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Top Ten Narnia Characters10. Reepicheep

Probably the most cartoony character on this list, you still can’t deny that this character is so good. Lewis amusingly made a mouse character that is very brave and honorable and the result is fantastic – both funny at times and seriously heartfelt. He is probably the bravest character out of all the Narnia characters and his conclusion was both majestic and moving.

Top Ten Narnia Characters9. Digory Kirke

He wasn’t utilized as much as I wanted from the books, but he was such a force in ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ and is splendid as its protagonist. I loved his story in that novel and he is a very interesting man as the first to meet Narnia and witness its creation along with Polly who isn’t as memorable as he is which is why she’s not on this list. He was very memorable, if briefly present in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ too.

Top Ten Narnia Characters8. Jill Pole

Lewis was a bit sexist in the earlier Narnia novels, but once he met his future wife, he drastically changed his opinion of women and suddenly populated the later entries with strong, capable women. Jill is one of the most memorable women in the series and she was to me very sympathetic and relatable in her realistic reactions to Narnia. Plus she becomes quite a warrior in ‘The Last Battle’.

Top Ten Narnia Characters7. Shasta/Cor

Shasta only appeared in ‘The Horse and His Boy’, but there he made such a big impact that I had to include him on the list. Another really relatable and realistic character, Shasta (or Cor as his real name turned out to be) is such a terrific protagonist of this book thanks in large part to his much darker quest than anyone other before him had endured and watching him question his faith and be pessimistic is a welcome change in pace from the usually more flawless leading men.

Top Ten Narnia Characters6. Puddleglum

I adored Puddleglum! He absolutely stole the show in ‘The Silver Chair’ as this incredibly pessimistic marshwiggle who helped Eustace and Jill out on their quest to find Prince Rilian. I liked how, although always bringing the mood down drastically with his pessimistic observations, he still managed to help the two and he is the funniest character in the entire Narnia series. Such a great comic relief.

Top Ten Narnia Characters5. Edmund Pevensie

Full disclosure: I dislike Peter and Susan and they are not on this list. But Lucy and Edmund are because both are much better. Edmund is the highlight in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and one of the few very well developed characters in that otherwise lacking in characterization book. And although he became a bit too good in the end, following him progress from a traitor to a great king was satisfying.

Top Ten Narnia Characters4. The White Witch/Jadis

Easily the best Narnia villain, The White Witch was a tremendous presence both in the book and in the movie. I loved how strong she was and she posed genuine threat to the heroes and rarely made mistakes which I admired. But her role in ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ is great as well and quite underrated as learning about her backstory in Charn was such a rewarding experience. She was overused in the movies, but in the books she was used in just the right amount and left a lasting impression.

Top Ten Narnia Characters3. Lucy Pevensie

Easily the most likable and well developed Pevensie kid, Lucy is such a wonderful girl and it is fitting that Aslan cared about her the most as she is the most selfless person there is and the biggest Narnia lover. Her love for this world was beautiful to witness. But I loved that she is flawed, as portrayed in her great role where she learned her lesson in ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’. I found her to be well utilized in all of the entries she was in and she is the best female character in the series.

Top Ten Narnia Characters2. Eustace Scrubb

I don’t know if anyone else would agree with such a high placement for him, but Eustace deserves it in my opinion. As a very similar character to Edmund, Eustace beats him mainly because he is much more likable and memorable, but mostly flawed. Whereas Edmund become too good later on, Eustace, although entirely shifting from spoiled and whiny to heroic and good-natured, still wasn’t as flawless and sometimes behaved badly and said bad things to others. And that is why I loved him and found him to be the most realistic character in the entire series.

Top Ten Narnia Characters1. Aslan

Taking an obvious first place, Aslan is the soul and heart of The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved that he presented Jesus in a very well realized parallel and his spiritual presence was felt throughout every entry. I loved how smart he is and how he taught lessons to each and every main character of the books. He appeared at always the right times and he stole every scene. Majestic and powerful, yet caring, he is a perfect God for Narnia and he carried the entire franchise on his furry shoulders. An unforgettable fantasy creation.

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Honorable Mentions:

Aravis – As the most feminist and strongest female character in the series, Aravis is both badass and likable, interacting wonderfully with Shasta and getting a very good story in her own right.

Andrew Ketterley – Although a bit too goofy and cartoony, I still liked Andrew. He was a great catalyst for the creation of Narnia and one of those comedic villains who are actually good.

Mr. Tumnus – Both Cornelis and Puzzle were on my mind for this last spot, but Mr. Tumnus had a bigger role and that is why I put him. Such a warm character and a great friend of Lucy’s.

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Ranking The Chronicles of Narnia Novels

Ranking The Chronicles of Narnia Novels……………………………………………………………………

Ranking The Chronicles of Narnia Novels

The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my favorite fantasy book series. It is such a wonderful epic story spread throughout the seven novels. Now this is my personal list so I am not following the usual opinion and thus I present them in the order in which I liked them. I have to say that I love each and every one of these books so even those that are on the bottom of the list are great, but just not as fantastic as those above them. So without further ado, let’s rank all of the seven Narnia stories.

 ……………………………………………………………………The Last Battle Book Review……………………………………………………………………

7. The Last Battle

Yes, the ultimate installment had to get the last spot for one and only reason – the conclusion. As I said in my review of the book, I thought that the conclusion was epic, but certainly a bit rushed and too ambiguous of an ending for an entire series. I was frankly disappointed by the second half of this novel. But still, you can’t deny the greatness of the first half which contains some of the finest chapters of the series and excellent characters such as Puzzle and many superb villains including Tash and Shift. It also features some of the best action of the series, but I just wish that the execution of the second half was better.

 ……………………………………………………………………The Silver Chair Book Review……………………………………………………………………

6. The Silver Chair

 What I said above about The Last Battle is thoroughly applicable here as well as The Silver Chair has an amazing first half, but such a disappointing second half. The Underworld chapters felt somewhat boring and uneventful and the villain was too easily defeated and that entire chapter felt super anti-climactic. However, there are a lot of positives here. For one, you have such a grand, wonderful and perilous adventure with some memorable imagery. But more importantly, you have an excellent duo in Eustace and Jill and the funniest and most amusing Narnia character ever in Puddleglum.

…………………………………………………………………… C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review……………………………………………………………………

5. Prince Caspian

 Prince Caspian was never one of my favorites as it overall doesn’t have as exciting or magical storyline as others in the series do plus the action is very weakly written and those chapters were dull, but I really liked the first couple of chapters and in particular the chapters with Professor Cornelius were very well written. It was fascinating learning about Narnia history and how the Telmarines invaded it and how the talking animals went into hiding. This novel has such a mysterious and dark atmosphere in it plus it features a solid use of the Pevensie children.

 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………………………

4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This is where greatness starts, right with this slot and this entry. And sure enough, it is unfortunate that this entry only gets the fourth place as I love it so much, but the competition is tough in the Narnia series. It does have a couple of weaker parts in it, but mostly it succeeds tremendously as possibly the finest ever adventure in these chronicles and even better – it has probably the best character development from Lewis. This entry is so thematically rich and also so emotional in its ending, but it also features wonderful Lucy and very memorable Eustace. It is such a well crafted and deep story.

…………………………………………………………………… The Horse and His Boy Book Review……………………………………………………………………

3. The Horse and His Boy

It is weird that I put this book in third place as it is one of the most historical and political of the bunch and I usually don’t go for that, but you can’t deny its greatness. The battle is once again very poorly written as Lewis mostly couldn’t write action and even though it may feel overly singular, it is still very well connected to the overall series and I just loved it as a fine, majestic and even dark journey and adventure. It features the most difficult quest ever and that is why Shasta was so well utilized here. But all of the other characters are great and the book is so pleasantly mysterious and overall technically superb and beautifully written.

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Book Review……………………………………………………………………

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Yes, the most famous and critically acclaimed Narnia novel doesn’t get the top spot, but that is because it features quite weak characterization. But apart from that, there is a lot to love here from the magical story in it to the memorable imagery to such a great beginning and ending. It serves as a great first chapter of the entire franchise as it wonderfully introduces you to this wonderful world and it features an excellent villain in The White Witch and Aslan has rarely been better and more powerful than in here. It is also a very well constructed novel and, possibly with the exception of The Last Battle, it is the most religious and spiritual Narnia entry.

…………………………………………………………………… The Magician’s Nephew Book Review……………………………………………………………………

1. The Magician’s Nephew

 This is it, the very best that Narnia has to offer! I just adore The Magician’s Nephew and it is one of my favorites, not just in this series, but of all the books that I’ve read. It succeeds on almost every level and although a bit too childish at times, it is mostly childlike than childish plus some of the humor is quite charming. But the story, oh the story is so magnificent. It is the most magical and fantastical Narnia story that serves as a pitch-perfect prequel where you learn everything you wanted to know from the wardrobe and how it got magical properties to the origin of Jadis to Digory’s great role to the creation of Narnia which features some of the most beautiful descriptive passages in the series, if not the most beautiful. It is rich in terms of the themes and emotion, it is so well crafted and the story is epic and powerful, yet deep and heartwarming too. It is such an underrated book and the finest Narnia novel without a doubt.

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The Last Battle (1956)

The Last Battle Book Review…………………………………………………………..

The Last Battle Book Review

The Last Battle is a 1956 fantasy novel written by C. S. Lewis. It is the seventh and final installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series and unfortunately the weakest one.

Fake Aslan starts a war in Narnia that turns out to be its last. Now as I said above, this book is easily my least favorite in the series. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. It is actually very good as all of the entries here are, but it isn’t as great as the rest in the series are owing to its very problematic storyline and most especially its last couple of chapters were troublesome.

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They have chosen cunning instead of belief.

Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison;

and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.

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The Last Battle Book Review…………………………………………………………..

But first, let’s start with the beginning. I thought it started off magnificently with a tale that was pleasantly reminiscent of fables. It established the donkey and monkey characters really well and created the conflict marvelously. And I loved the set-up of the battle. I really admired its theme of not believing and how the sudden shift and lack of strong spiritual sense and belief can lead to destruction. It is extreme and surely it is the most religious of all the Narnia entries, but it is still thought-provoking and admirably mature because of that.

I loved how the kids arrived, it was interesting and different for the series. Those first action sequences were actually excellent and the first parts of the battle featured undoubtedly the finest war/action passages ever for the series. Lewis usually struggled to depict action, but here he did it really well. The sequences leading up to the battle were some of my favorites and I loved the exploration of fake religion and how people can use religion in the worse way possible and only for their own benefit. The book truly has a great message, an alarming one really.

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The Last Battle Book Review…………………………………………………………..

It is then such a shame that the conclusion to this story was so disappointing. The first half of the book was so stellar and so incredibly well crafted that if it stayed that way, it would have easily been in my top three of the series. But it ended up being my least favorite owing to the conclusion that was too vague.

Firstly, those scenes when the other Pevensies and Digory and Polly arrived were very odd and not explained well at all. The destruction of Narnia perfectly contrasted the creation scene present in ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ and that chapter was actually very strong and superbly written. But because he decided to still spare Narnia, that was all done for nothing and it was such a typical cop-out that frustrated me. Not only did he elude the more fitting dark ending, but he also made an ending that is admittedly too unclear and ambiguous. I didn’t understand it at all and nobody can actually as it leaves you to decide its meaning on your own.

Now, that kind of ending is usually very inspired and intriguing, but in this case, it was frustrating because it ended the series of seven books and thus felt too vague and way too disappointing and unsatisfying a conclusion to the entire, epic arc. Some of the imagery here is memorable and it was nice seeing all of those familiar faces from previous installments, but that still felt too convenient and somehow I got the feeling that this conclusion Lewis hastily wrote just to finish it as it felt rushed and underutilized.

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The Last Battle Book Review…………………………………………………………..

Let’s talk about the characters now. The Last Battle features many great character moments and although some do not get their proper due, I liked what he did with most of them. Okay, some may find Susan’s conclusion frustrating, but to me it was very interesting and realistic. Some people just become typical adults that forget their childhood and leave their imagination forever and if ever there was a more suitable character to forget entirely about Narnia, it was her and that was a good choice from Lewis. The other Pevensies aren’t really memorable, but Lucy is as likable as ever.

Digory and Polly were ridiculously underutilized, but Eustace and Jill are actually terrific. She in particular is the best she’s ever been and her more active and even feminist role here I appreciated quite a bit. Tirian was much better and stronger than Caspian ever was and that again I appreciated a lot. Finally we got a memorable Narnia ruler.

I also really liked Emeth and although Tash was such a strong presence, he wasn’t used the best way he could have been used and again those parallels about the different religions and their connections felt unclear to me. Aslan is great as usual and the villains are all terrific with Shift being truly amazing and unforgettable and Ginger being quite solid, if a typical cat personality. I really liked Jewel and of course Puzzle was so sympathetic and I rooted for the little simple-minded guy throughout the whole novel. And I have to say that how the dwarfs were portrayed was so intriguing as the lack of faith was put into fantastical context in such a fascinating manner.

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The Last Battle Book Review…………………………………………………………..

The Last Battle is definitely well written, if not as greatly paced, and it features good dialogue and descriptions. Some of the imagery is effective and the action is very well executed. The themes are strong and the book is extremely clever. I just wish that it was more emotional and that the conclusion was more grand and satisfying as a whole.

The Last Battle is not the greatest Narnia entry owing to its very disappointing and overly vague conclusion, but everything leading up to it is excellent with the battle itself being so well realized, the characters being superbly utilized and the plot is both well crafted and thematically very rich and sophisticated, even if it doesn’t provide the much needed closure in its ending.

My Rating – 4.3

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The Magician’s Nephew (1955)

The Magician’s Nephew Book Review……………………………………………………………..

The Magician’s Nephew Book Review

The Magician’s Nephew is a 1955 fantasy novel written by C. S. Lewis. It is the sixth installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series and undoubtedly the best.

This is by far my favorite of all the seven Narnia books and I will explain in-depth why I love it so much. But first let’s just say that I think this entry is very underrated as I am in the minority in my thinking here and most consider ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ to be the absolute best when it comes to Narnia books when in reality this one is much richer in terms of storytelling and infinitely more magical. All of Narnia books are great, but this is the only one that is almost flawless.

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What you see and what you hear depends

a great deal on where you are standing.

It also depends on what sort of person you are.

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The Magician’s Nephew Book Review……………………………………………………………..

The story is a wonder to behold. It is the quintessential example of a highly successful prequel as it does everything a prequel should do – it connects the dots wonderfully, it perfectly explains the beginning of Narnia while still being a great stand alone story in its own right.

Let’s talk about some of the highlights. The beginning is superb and it instantly hooked me in. It introduces you to its characters in such a short time marvelously and they are really well developed. But I will talk about the characters later. I have to say that the first half of the book is so perfect on every conceivable level that the second half came as a tad bit of a disappointment. Now don’t get me wrong, it is great, but it isn’t as perfect as the first half clearly was.

I loved the world building here, I just loved the explanation that there are different worlds and the forest with the pools representing the worlds was such a beautiful and original idea and that place was probably my favorite here and that says a lot. The scenes in Charn are also excellent, so mysterious and otherworldly. This is the kind of dystopia done right.

Now the next couple of chapters in London weren’t my favorites and this is the only part of the book that is a bit flawed in my opinion. That is because it was a bit too childish in its descriptions and a bit too silly and ordinary which is quite the contrary from what came before and afterwards. But most of its childishness I still found to be pleasant and childlike instead of childish and its more comedic and lighter tone is why many find it problematic, yet that is why I found it to be the most charming of all the entries.

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The Magician’s Nephew Book Review……………………………………………………………..

Now naturally the creation of Narnia was a sight to behold. It was so wonderfully depicted and written that I clearly imagined it in my head as if I watched a movie which is a testament to how strong Lewis’s writing is here and his strongest in the whole series. I loved its Biblical metaphors and they were not too obvious, nor too vague, but done just right. But the imagery of animals coming to life and starting to speak and Aslan giving a speech was just so powerful.

I loved everything about Digory’s trial which was a terrific and clever test from Aslan and a great storytelling device. The ending is just magnificent and even emotional as it was immensely satisfying learning about the wardrobe and how it became magical. But because Lucy’s adventure was obviously mentioned here a lot, I find the chronological reading order to be foolish as the order by publication was clearly how the author intended it to be read.

Now is the perfect time to talk about the characters. Very strong character development this time around as all of them felt real and well developed. Digory is fantastic and a great main character and although I wished that Polly had a bigger role in the second half, I still really liked her and they are a great duo.

Uncle Andrew is such a memorable, if typical character and I loved how he was portrayed as a comic relief rather than full-on villain. That role belonged to Jadis and it was spectacular watching her origins and her backstory was excellent and she remained a strong villain from beginning to end. Aslan is superb as usual, but I really liked a cabby who eventually became Narnia’s first king. He is such a wonderful man and his horse Fledge was quite memorable.

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The Magician’s Nephew Book Review……………………………………………………………..

The dialogue is great and some of the lines are quite majestic. The same goes for the humor which is surprisingly strong and although present probably a bit too much, I still enjoyed that lightheartedness here. The attention to detail is even greater here than it had been before, a lot of the imagery here is simply unforgettable and the pacing is mostly excellent too. The Magician’s Nephew is thematically very rich and there is an abundance of literary inspirations for this work and Lewis had been writing it for almost five years and it shows as the work is remarkable and so polished and perfectly constructed.

In the end, The Magician’s Nephew is without any doubt the best Narnia entry thanks to great characters, solid humor, amazing story that is thematically rich and just magical, memorable imagery, many unforgettable moments and it serves as an almost perfect prequel showing us how Narnia was created in a vivid and beautiful manner. This is one enchaning book.

My Rating – 4.8

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The Horse and His Boy (1954)

The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

The Horse and His Boy Book Review

The Horse and His Boy is a 1954 fantasy book by C. S. Lewis which is the fifth published chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is a surprisingly great entry in the series.

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Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.

No one is told any story but their own.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

Yes, I say it is surprising because this book in particular felt like it was set in the Middle Ages and I have never been a fan of that time period. But the story is so well crafted that I managed to enjoy it immensely after all and in fact I deem it to be one of the finest entries in the entire Narnia series.

It follows two children who along with their horses flee from Calormen to Narnia, but end up in Archenland where battle ensued. It is the only book in the franchise to entirely be set in Narnia and its neighboring countries which I naturally loved. It is one of the most politically oriented of all the Lewis’ stories here as it explores the politics and relations between the neighboring countries and we get to see the different rulers while also getting a glimpse at the Pevensie kings and queens. It was a great choice to feature them only in minor, supporting roles.

The only part of the book I didn’t like is of course the action. The war was very typical and the narrative here was to me very odd. By having the entire action being told from a far observer was problematic to me and not at all interesting. I also thought that it sometimes was too politically oriented.

Those are the only flaws I’ve had with this story. I guess that it is racially insensitive as well, but to me that criticism stems from people nowadays being ridiculously sensitive and in a very false manner even. Yes, it is obvious that people from Calormen are Middle Eastern, but to me it wasn’t all that racist and you have to read it in context as it was written all the way back in 1954.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

But let’s talk about the positives, of which there are many. Once again we get an awesome beginning and ending. The book opens in such a riveting manner that it instantly hooked me in. But it also ended amazingly well with a satisfying conclusion to all of the characters’ storylines. Another highlight for me was the obvious darkness of this material. Not only the atmosphere, but the entire quest was tremendously difficult, perilous and sometimes evidently life threatening and torturous. That was a bold new approach for the series and it paid off with sometimes very dramatic scenes with high stakes. Some chapters are more interesting than the others, but most are excellent and it is one of the most thoroughly compelling and polished entries with a terrific structure and pacing.

The Horse and His Boy features excellent characters with genuinely strong character development. Once again after ‘The Silver Chair’ we get a truly great female character as finally Lewis set out to include strong and even tough females. But I also liked that it has those typically girly women as well as that makes it very representative.

I am of course talking about Lasaraleen and Aravis. Those two were great together as they perfectly contrasted with each other. The former is a typical female ruler of the time and a good comic relief and Aravis is a genuinely respectable, but still likable female character whom I really liked.

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The Horse and His Boy Book Review…………………………………………………………..

But Shasta (or Cor eventually) is such a good protagonist as he is not only typically good-natured, but also sometimes whiny and pessimistic which makes him ground to earth. His story is so well told and very powerful. I really liked the horses Bree and Hwin as they were such great companions to these two, but something still felt missing there which is I guess the lack of a really grand, proper ending when the two are concerned.

The Pevensies are well put to use and of course Rabadash gets a really great story with such a funny, yet appropriate conclusion. Aslan himself is as great as always and I really liked that he guided Shasta to the destination. The revelation that he was leading him all along and that all those lions were in fact him was easy to predict, but I really didn’t know that the cat at the graveyard was him and that was unexpected. But that entire subplot felt majestic in its mysterious and once again highly religious tone.

The Horse and His Boy is one of the better written novels in The Chronicles of Narnia series and Lewis really was great here. Both the dialogue and the descriptions were top-notch, albeit the lack of more memorable imagery and sometimes big emotion was troublesome. It succeeds as a Narnia story that is more dramatic and adventurous than fantastical and that was a solid and interesting change in pace and even though it isn’t perfect, it is more than satisfying and actually surprised me how well crafted it is.

The Horse and His Boy features some highly likable and memorable characters, a really interesting and so well told story and a dark and sometimes even mysterious tone to it leading to one of the best and most well crafted entries in the series.

My Rating – 4.6

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a 1952 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis which is the third published chapter in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is one exceptional entry.

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But there I have another name.

You must learn to know me by that name.

This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little,you may know me better there.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

First of all, I do have to point out how much I loved this book. Because of some quite obvious flaws, it is slightly weaker than ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, but it is definitely better and more entertaining than ‘Prince Caspian’. It is probably the entry that I enjoyed the most thus far and that says a lot. Such a stupendous third installment.

But it does have its flaws that prevent it from reaching the heights that it easily could have reached had it been tighter in pacing and more interesting in the first half. Yes, the first half is nowhere near as good as the second half which is a shame as the beginning is really intriguing and it starts off on a very high note, but unfortunately some of the chapters in their first adventures were sloppy both in pacing and structurally. I do get why Lewis chose to tell us about the Lone Islands more in-depth, but it resulted in weaker and duller chapters than usual. And the novel is just so oddly paced as it shifts from slow to fast and then to incredibly eventful in an abrupt manner.

But enough about the flaws. Let’s talk about the strengths of which there are many. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader just has such a fascinating story to it. Edmund and Lucy along with their annoying cousin Eustace join Caspian and his crew on a sea adventure in search of the seven lost Lords of Narnia. Now, of course that is beautifully tied in with the plot of ‘Prince Caspian’, but that quest was just an excuse to let us go to these highly magical and beautiful places such as Burnt Island and of course Aslan’s Country.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The film works beautifully as an adventure novel, but it succeeds at being much more than that. Sure, it does seem like a regular sea adventure at first, but it becomes so much deeper and more meaningful later on with so many themes and messages. I was fascinated by this time pretty direct explanation of who Aslan really is and how he is basically God and that God has a different form in each and every world. I loved the Biblical allegory in that he presented himself to the kids as a lamb, that was excellent. But I loved the tearful goodbye as Lucy and Edmund are never coming back to Narnia again. It was a great consequential conclusion.

As for the other highlights, you just got to love everything about its last couple of chapters. When they reached the End of the World, it was so beautifully described as this bright and shiny, incredibly beautiful place, but I also was fascinated by the Dark Island and that chapter was surprisingly dark and creepy for the series. Duffers I found to be incredibly entertaining and they genuinely made me laugh more than a couple of times. Some of the most amusing Narnia creatures thus far they most certainly are. The dragon part was not as original, but was essential for Eustace’s character and was well established and I was just fascinated by Ramandu and that chapter in which Lucy was put to the test was easily the most magical and deep of the bunch.

Everyone is brought to the test here meaning that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader features the best characterization in the series so far. I loved how Lucy wasn’t as perfect as she was before and how she battled her bad instincts and of course her goodbye was sad. I appreciated that Edmund was the most sane person in the crew as that shows his growth. Eustace did change too quickly to good in my opinion, but that road was still tough and well realized and I liked his character quite a bit. Caspian continues to be boring in my opinion and the other Lords and crew members are forgettable, but Reepicheep is naturally phenomenal and his conclusion has to be the most satisfying arc here.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Book Review……………………………………………………….

The book is not only very entertaining and charming, but also exceptionally well written and it features the best descriptive passages so far from Lewis. He did such a great job here with amazing world building and some great themes. Some of the imagery here is breathtaking to imagine. Such an imaginative work. The dialogue could have been better, but the descriptions are the highlights. And even though it wasn’t as emotional as it should have been, the tone was still well handled for the most part.

In the end, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is oddly paced and the first half is inferior to the second one, but the book is so imaginative, adventurous and frequently even fascinating with the best character development and descriptions from Lewis thus far, a superb adventure with great messages and themes, memorable imagery and an outstanding conclusion leading to such a great and admirable Narnia entry.

My Rating – 4.5

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