Until this week, I had no idea there was controversy surrounding the order of the Chronicles of Narnia books. I discovered this by accident.
While learning about Lions, we picked up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe book on CD from the Library. We enjoyed it enough, that we decided to get the next book. I thought the next book was Prince Caspian, but the CD box at the library told me it was volume four in the series. I trusted the box over my own memory, and so we went home with the CD that told me it was the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew.
At this point I was feeling very befuddled because I didn’t remember The Magician’s Nephew at all, and I would have put money on the fact that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was the first book. Everyone knows that, right? And yet the box told me otherwise. Maybe, I thought, it wasn’t the first, just the most famous or something like that.
Finally, I had to find a written order to get myself oriented again. This whole experience had left me feeling lost, and my understanding of my little world. I needed grounding again, so I turned to my trusty friend, Google.
And so it is that I learned that there are two schools of thought on the chronology of the Chronicles of Narnia. One puts them is order of publication – this is the order that my set of books (and my own memory) used. The other method puts them in chronological order of the story’s time line. This reminds me a little of FOX changing the order of the Firefly episodes – why change the way the creator chose to unfold the story?
While I personally really enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew , and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it, I have to say I don’t think I would have liked reading it before The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Part of the appeal of it, is knowing what is to come in the future, and it is written in a way that assumes that the reader has that knowledge. I suppose it would be fine if they didn’t, but not quite as fun methinks. In the same vein, I think knowing the extensive backstory before The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe would have been just too much information, and taken away most of the mystery.
This isn’t the only change in order, but it’s just the one that has affected me personally thus far. Actually the only book the two numbering methods agree on is The Last Battle as the last book. I think I’ll go by the author’s ordering system and ignore the CD boxes from now on.
Out of curiosity, if you’ve read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, what order did you rad them in, and do you have an opinion on it?