Though the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series has been around for quite some time, readers new and old find themselves looking to explore C.S. Lewis’s enchanting world every year. But what’s the best way to read The Chronicles of Narnia books in order?
Should you read the series in its original publication order or chronologically? What about the movies? Should you read the books or watch the movies first or should you alternate them?
Needless to say, I’ll provide every which way to read The Chronicles of Narnia, and maybe even try to sway you, but how you choose to read this classic fantasy series is entirely up to you.
The Chronicles of Narnia Books in Order of Publication
Firstly, here is a list of The Chronicles of Narnia books in order of publication. This is the recommended reading order for first-time readers of the series, and we’ll get to why shortly.
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
- Prince Caspian (1951)
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
- The Silver Chair (1953)
- The Horse and His Boy (1954)
- The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
- The Last Battle (1956)
Why Should I Read It in Order of Publication?
While I am not one for arguing within the fandom, I did grow up with The Chronicles of Narnia and have my opinions. So, here are my reasons for reading The Chronicles of Narnia in this order:
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is captivating. It’s the best book to introduce you to the world beyond the wardrobe. It’s a powerful book with powerful characters and has a plot that grabs your attention. It is an entry book that welcomes you to this magical world, delivering the right amount of world-building to situate new readers.
- We also follow familiar characters in this order. The first three books follow the four Pevensie children as they follow their destiny and complete their quests. Reading it in chronological order introduces many new characters and divides the Pevensie’s quests, which can become confusing.
- There is something special about the familiarity and easter eggs. Reading The Magician’s Nephew sixth brings a sense of nostalgia from the first book. With familiar characters returning, we learn the history that began our favourite adventures. The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel that will be loved on a deeper level as we revisit the magical world we’ve already fallen in love with.
The Chronicles of Narnia Books in Chronological Order
But how about The Chronicles of Narnia books in order according to chronology?
Despite the reasons I’ve listed above, some may still wish to read (or reread) The Chronicles of Narnia books in chronological order. To quote C.S. Lewis himself: “perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone [reads] them.” To each their own!
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Horse and His Boy
- Prince Caspian
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Last Battle
Why Is the Chronological Order So Popular?
Lewis was once quoted in a letter to an American reader, saying he felt that chronologically was the easiest way to read his series.
Regarding this letter, the UK and European editions numbered the books chronologically. For a while, the US and Canadian editions numbered the books in order of publication, but that has since changed.
Today, no matter where you buy the Chronicles, the books are most often numbered chronologically. This includes the boxed set.
Can You Skip The Horse and His Boy?
Of all the books in the series, The Horse and His Boy is by far the most different. This installment features new main characters and isn’t directly intertwined like the previous books. In fact, the events in The Horse and His Boy happen parallel to the other books.
The setting also feels startlingly different upon first read, which works to set it apart from the other books. That’s because it takes place in Narnia’s neighbouring country of Calormen.
It should be noted that Lewis modeled Calormen after Persian and Ottoman Turkish empires, which brings with it some out-dated and cringe-worthy racial stereotypes. However, through setting this book through the eyes of neighbouring countrymen, and women, Lewis offers a new perspective to Narnia. Regardless of whether you choose to read the books in chronological or publication order, Narnia will be familiar and comforting by the time you reach The Horse and His Boy, and this new perspective is refreshing.
Even though, and perhaps because, the book does not take place in Narnia, it provides world-building that we do not see in the other books. Reading this novel will provide more context for the Calormenes before the events that take place in The Last Battle.
As mentioned, The Horse and His Boy takes place parallel and not in lieu of the timelines in the other books. It actually takes place during the reign of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. This allows the book to reveal some delightful Easter eggs for other books during the series as well.
All of that said, if you’re really not enjoying this installment, you can skip it without significantly impacting your reading of the rest of the series. However, if you’re looking to enjoy the series completely, you shouldn’t skip it.
About The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
First published in 1950, The Chronicles of Narnia didn’t rise in popularity until the early 2000s.
With the first movie releasing in 2005, talk of Turkish delights and fauns spread like wildfire. Children everywhere pressed against the backs of their closets and dreamed of finding adventure on the other side.
This classic British series is well-known for its lamppost, magical wardrobe, and wise lion. Even though it’s marketed for ages eight through twelve, The Chronicles of Narnia is loved by those young, old, and in between.
This high fantasy series follows an array of children as they embark on fate-fuelled adventures to break curses, rescue royalty, and unfold the history of the magical land of Narnia.
Now let’s dive in to the 2 ways to read The Chronicles of Narnia books in order.
The Chronicles of Narnia Movies in Order
Here is a list of all The Chronicles of Narnia film adaptations in order of release (and, technically, chronologically too).
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
In total, these three films grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide; although, the monetary success dipped slightly with each successive film.
The films star William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, and Georgie Henley as the Pevensie siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy respectively. The franchise also stars Will Poulter, Ben Barnes, Tilda Swinton, and Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan.
Will There Be More Narnia Films?
It’s been over a decade since the release of the last Chronicles of Narnia film. There was hope that the fourth movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, would be next. Unfortunately, this dream seems to have crumbled before our eyes, as in 2018, Netflix bought the rights to the series.
There have been rumours of a Netflix TV series and whisperings of more movies, but Netflix has yet to announce anything official. As well, a recast will likely be necessary with the original cast having aged out of their roles since the first film was released in 2005. As such, most fans consider a new Chronicles film unlikely for now.
The Chronicles of Narnia Books
1. The Magician’s Nephew
The Magician’s Nephew is the very first tale of Narnia. It tells the story of Diggory, who finds himself in a strange world of pools that lead to other worlds. There, he accidentally frees Jadice, the White Witch and discovers Narnia.
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the book of Narnia that most people think of when they think of the “first” book. While it was published first, it is the second in the series chronologically.
This tells the story of the Pevensie siblings Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy and their first journey into Narnia. They are the only ones who can defeat the White Witch and save Narnia from eternal winter.
3. The Horse and His Boy
The Horse and His Boy is my least favorite of the Narnia books. It’s about a boy named Shasta who meets a talking horse named Bree and attempts to flee to Narnia and the free North.
Along the way they meet Edmund and Lucy, but this story is not about the Pevensies. It’s about Shasta. And while he’s an interesting enough character, the book has little to do with Narnia, but it is about the greater world and I guess that’s good enough.
4. Prince Caspian
Prince Caspian is the direct sequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I love it.
Several hundred years have passed in Narnia, even though not much time has passed for the Pevensies in the real world. When Prince Caspian blows Susan’s horn, the Pevensies find themselves in Narnia for the second time.
And once again, only they can save Narnia from the enemy that threatens it and it’s talking creatures.
5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace Scrubb is a humorous enough character, but thankfully Edmund and Lucy are still an important part of the story.
I do miss Peter and Susan being “too old” for Narnia, but the story is interesting. We get to see Caspian again, now the King. Caspian needs help finding seven lords who were banished by his uncle. Their voyage takes them toward Aslan’s country.
6. The Silver Chair
I don’t remember much about The Silver Chair. It’s another Pevensie-less story and therefore another one of my lesser favorites. I’ve actually read The Horse and His Boy more times than I’ve read The Silver Chair.
Eustace escapes from some bullies and enters through a door to Narnia along with Jill. Aslan tasks Eustace and Jill to save Narnia. They must defeat the evil Witch if they are to save Prince Rillian.
7. The Last Battle
The Last Battle sees the return of many familiar faces for the final book in The Chronicles of Narnia.
Looking for more books in order?
Check out my list of The Dresden Files Books in Order.