The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Book Review
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 1950 fantasy novel by C. S. Lewis. It is the first entry in The Chronicles of Narnia book franchise and it is a classic.
Now first I have to say that I am a big fan of this series, but this is the first time I’m reading it as an adult and it is a testament to how great it is that I enjoy it the same as I did before. The HarperCollins order lists this as the second in the series and I first read it in that order. However, now I decided to read it not in the chronological but in the order of the publication and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first in the series by that order.
“Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia“
The plot is just amazing and it is the strongest aspect of this work. Everything is so vividly imagined and the world building is absolutely extraordinary. The Pevensie children stumble upon an old wardrobe which transports them to the magical land of Narnia where it’s cursed with an eternal winter by the White Witch. The first couple of chapters are so intriguing and I was just fascinated by Lucy’s first time in Narnia, that was all so well written.
Another highlight for me was the last chapter which was so sweet and satisfying. It really started the franchise on a strong note. The scenes at the witch’s castle were riveting and everything revolving Aslan as simply great. Speaking of Aslan, he is an extraordinary figure. He is so obviously a parallel to Jesus and I liked that religious aspect of the story. His mix of strong and even scary with caring and good is so well established and he is the most memorable character in all of Narnia’s books.
The White Witch is an excellent villain. I didn’t like how she got killed so easily, but she is a very strong villain not only in strength, but also in planning as she got the best of each situation for the majority of the book. I really liked professor Digory’s role here and he is so likable. As for the children, the problem with this team is that as a whole they just aren’t that memorable or likable and that always bothered me. Susan and Peter are as forgettable and as typical as you can get and they are the weakest characters here in my opinion.
But thankfully the other two are much better. Edmund is naturally the best developed of the foursome because he is the most unlikable and thus the most realistic of them and his shift from almost bad to good was well established. As for Lucy, she is just so damn endearing and lovable. I loved her childlike nature and her fascination with this magical land and her relationship with Mr. Tumnus is wonderful and the two are charming together. Giant Rumblebuffin is sweet, but got little to do, the wolf henchmen are very intimidating and the beavers are quite funny at times, but a bit too silly in my book.
There are a couple of reasons why The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is not my favorite entry in the series. One is the fact that I just don’t care as much for Susan and Peter as I stated before. But the biggest reason lies in its pacing. The pacing is the biggest problem of this novel as it is just way too frenetic at times and definitely rushed. It just moved too quickly, especially in those last couple of chapters where the battle should have been much more emphasized. The action isn’t one of its strongest suits. The story is too epic for just 140 pages.
As for Lewis’s writing, I overall really like it with a couple of reservations. One is that rushed nature to it and another is his willingness at times to go into condescending, childish territory by addressing the audience directly. I never liked that in books and I didn’t like it here. But as I said, the book is otherwise really well written. He has in particular an evident knack for imagination and truly his descriptive passages were the finest here. I also really admired his work at characterization and how in very little time he manages to present us to a new character successfully. He also really knows how to describer emotion and the fantastical in his stories which is why he is such a great fantasy writer.
Some of the imagery here is so memorable from that wardrobe to the lantern to Mr. Tumnus’s house to the castle to of course that last battle. Aslan’s death and resurrection are incredibly strong plot points and I just loved the strong, poignant emotion in it, even if I thought that it wasn’t particularly deserved given how the girls knew Aslan for a very short time. The dialogue is good, but short. The book is extremely authentic and memorable and it is just incredibly entertaining and flies by given its very slight volume. In the end, I still love it to this day and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is rushed, but otherwise a very strong, if not my favorite entry in the series with good characterization, many memorable and unforgettable parts, strong emotion, superb attention to detail and world building and a highly imaginative, heartwarming and just beautiful storyline. It truly is a fantasy family classic.
My Rating – 4.6