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Companion to Narnia: A Complete Guide to the Magical World of C.S. Lewis's the "Chronicles of Narnia" Paperback – 1 Jul 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 580 pages
  • Publisher: ZonderKidz; New edition edition (1 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060791276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060791278
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This peerless guide has served as an adventurer's passport to the land of Narnia for twenty-five years. From "Aslan, the Great Lion", to "Zardeenah, the mysterious lady of the night", this comprehensive and accessible companion contains hundreds of alphabetically arranged entries covering all the characters, events, places, and themes that Lewis magically wove into his timeless and magical world. We are giving this comprehensive handbook a facelift just in time to be the perfect companion to the Narnia movie coming out in Christmas 2005. We are updating all the references, adding a new foreword in addition to Madeleine L'Engle's original invitation to the book, simplifying the reference system, lowering the price, and creating a new package that will help tie it to the movie. These improvements should help this standby sell for the next twenty-five years.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Loobie Loo on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is basically an encyclopaedia of Narnia with maps and alphbetically listed sections explaining all about everything you can imagine from characters in Narnia to places and species living there. It is very in depth and would not be suitable for a younger child but would suit from teenage age up as it is mostly small print with very little photos. A good guide but only for real Narnia-holics.
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By Louise Davies on 25 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought it was very good and informative.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
The Best Guide, A Must Have 31 Aug. 2005
By OtherWorlds&Wisdom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If there is any book that you should have on hand while reading the Chronicles of Narnia, this is it. Similar to Robert Foster's "Complete Guide to Middle-Earth" in that it's mostly an A-Z encyclopedia of places, people and all things in Narnia. The entries in "The Companion" are detailed and extensively cross-referenced. The essential time-lines and two sets of maps make this book perfect. Designed for all ages of readers of Narnia, but older readers will also appreciate the insights about Lewis in the introduction of the book. This book, along with Duriez's "Field Guide to Narnia" are the two best, and two must haves for Narnia fans.
70 of 82 people found the following review helpful
Ian Myles Slater on: Guide to Another World 12 Dec. 2005
By Ian M. Slater - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul F. Ford's "Companion to Narnia: Revised and Expanded" (as it proclaims on the cover) is the latest, longest, incarnation of a handbook to the C.S. Lewis stories, first published in 1980, and revised over the years to various degrees; some editions being rather dramatically larger than their predecessors. Good to begin with, it has become even better, if a little unwieldy (growing from 315 pages to 558). In all of them, there is a great deal of information assembled from the seven "Chronicles," Lewis' correspondence, and thematically and factually relevant passages from his other writings, both Christian and academic, with inconsistencies, thematic developments, and a host of other issues considered; the later the edition, the fuller the references, and the more considered the evaluation -- with the exception of one offshoot, under a new title, mentioned below.

If you have somehow missed the recent publicity (for the new motion picture version of one of them), the "Chronicles of Narnia" are a set of seven short fantasy novels, written for children in the late 1940s and early 1950s by C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), then an Oxford Don better known to the public for his writings (and BBC talks) on Christianity, later Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge. (Even some otherwise theologically unsympathetic observers, like A.L. Rowse, felt that Lewis was passed over for an Oxford Chair for being TOO Christian -- as others, like Lewis Namier some years earlier, had been neglected for not being Christian at all -- to the Other University's benefit.)

The stories are often described as allegories, a characterization with which Lewis was unhappy. Since his first extended work on Christian topics was "The Pilgrim's Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism" (1933), and his first great academic work was "The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition" (1936), and Lewis started writing the "Chronicles" while working on allegorical texts for the massive "English Literature in the Sixteenth Century" (1954; including a long chapter on Spenser's "The Faerie Queene"), he has to be granted more than ordinary authority on the subject, without even raising the vexed critical issue of authorial intent.

Lewis seems to have poured into the books everything that he enjoyed, especially as a rather lonely child after his mother's death (an event which echoes in several of the volumes): Classical and Norse mythology, talking animals, magic, medieval romance and renaissance epic, and Victorian and Edwardian fiction (Sherlock Holmes and E. Nesbit's Bastable children get mentions; but the influences of H. Rider Haggard and William Morris are clear, too). And, by his own account, originally without his intention, basic Christian doctrines, the evidence of his conversion as an adult to the religion he had rejected in childhood, came rushing in to take over the plot.

And that is where allegorical elements do come in; not consistently, as in Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" or its Tudor and medieval predecessors, but clearly. Mr. Tumnus is a Faun, not a cipher for, say, "Man's Animal Nature" -- but Aslan is not just a lion; although it is important on more than one level that Aslan is a Real Lion.

Lewis's long-time friend Tolkien immediately complained of the first story, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," that it was (to summarize) a chaotic hodge-podge; and, as a devout Catholic, Tolkien wasn't at all happy that (a rather vague and generic) Christianity had been injected into the mess, instead of kept implicit. But there it was, right alongside little adult jokes, like that book on "Nymphs and Their Ways" in the library of a Faun! And, of course, Tolkien often said he didn't like (extended) allegories.

Few other readers have been so picky (or, I think, so precise and acute); although some despise the books for being Christian, period, and, naturally, not every reader has enjoyed them. As a youngster, I recognized, and by-passed, the Christianity (not MY religion), but found it unobjectionable. Indeed, it seems it is so general and so unobjectionable as to draw the ire of some self-described Christians, eager to assign the author and all his works to Hell for deviating too far from their exclusive, highly specific, versions of The Truth.

I think it is obvious that the "Chronicles" can be read, and enjoyed, as fantasy adventure novels; with an explicit moral tone, and theological underpinnings about which the author was honest, and not particularly obtrusive. And which I think add a logical rigor to the unsystematic flow of invention. Lewis' method of writing (or complete non-method, in Tolkien's eyes) produced loose ends, and the more one looks at the books, the more puzzles emerge, some intended, some accidental, all inviting solutions. In Ford's "Companion" we now have 500+ pages of identifications, explications, and unresolved problems. Great fun for those who love the books already, and a valuable resource for anyone who needs to get up to speed, and answer questions NOW. And, unlike some critics, pro and con, Ford is well-informed on the doctrinal side.

The significant changes in the "Companion," and the occasions for them, are described in the "Preface to the Fifth Edition," which is worth reading with care. The bulk of each of the editions is a sort of "Dictionary of Narnia," short (and a few long) articles on the characters, species, places, topics, etc., in alphabetical order, with extensive cross-references. Some of these have acquired a set of notes on critical disputes, giving alternate points of view, bibliography for books and articles, and quotations from letters to Ford. The point of view is pervasively, but unobtrusively, Christian; Ford recognizes what Lewis was talking about, and tries to make the issues clear to the reader. But he (mostly) avoids using explanations as an occasion to preach.

The various editions of the "Companion" have also served as an indicator of the multiplication of editions of "The Chronicles of Narnia" (the Third was in fact issued as a companion to new American edition; and the Fourth was the reluctant herald of another -- see below). The current version replaces page references to specific British and American hardcover editions with chapter and paragraph numbers, which are a little harder to use, but consistent (or enough to be useful) between the diversity of versions generated over the decade since the Fourth Edition.

The Fifth Edition was published alongside a "lite" version, a "Pocket Companion to Narnia," aimed directly at children likely to be reading the books for the first time. The version was "field tested" with real children, and a brief examination suggests that it is attractive, and probably very helpful. But any adult (whether as reader, parent, or teacher), and I suspect many bright children, at least by Middle School age, will want the encyclopedic complete version. (Even if many, of all ages, will skip the critical essays collected at the end).

Ford pays what some may consider excessive attention to textual problems; but the differences he points out are mostly those which (as I know from experience) are likely to produce disputes between readers of different generations, or just with different printings in hand. Lewis, as noted above, wrote the books very quickly, with no real revision (with the possible exception of "The Magician's Nephew," in which he discarded the first version and started over from scratch). However, Lewis did make a number of changes for the first American editions, which Ford argues were well-considered improvements; adding literary allusions here, treating nightmare fears more seriously there.

These texts (with some additions to the fairly small number of actual typographical errors) were used in the American Collier-Macmillan paperbacks of the 1970s; otherwise much less attractive than the contemporary Puffin (Penguin Books) British paperbacks (which unhappily introduced some new typographical errors to the British texts). In 1986, the American editions were revised for new hardcover and trade paperback editions, much better-looking, but with some American copy-editing changes introduced to make Lewis consistent, but also more American. (What are known to textual scholarship as the "accidents" of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.) In 1994, American editions went over to the British texts; eliminating both sets of changes, the good with the bad (or, to be fair, the apparently authorial with the unauthorized). Ford continues to protest the reversion; and offers catalogues and discussions of the former set of changes. (He also discusses the problem of reading order; that of publication, which he favors, and the currently "official" numbered order, by internal chronology. Lewis can be quoted on both sides.)

Ford notes, in passing, that Lewis may have been planning a new set of revisions to be used in the Puffin paperback editions, most of which appeared after his death (in at least one place mentioned with the amusing misprint of "Duffin," which suggests the Duffers of "Voyage of the Dawn Treader"...). Lewis so rarely went back over anything he had completed (the exact opposite of the meticulous Tolkien) that this suggests that the books, and their readers, had a special place in his heart.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The Ultimate Guide to Narnia 26 Feb. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a must have for anyone who wants a scholarly look at Narnia. Ford goes in depth to all the elements, allusions, and allegories Lewis beautifully put into Narnia. This book is a must have for any budding theologian, Narnia lover, or Lewis admirer. A brilliant piece of scholarly work.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Companion to Narnia, revised and expanded 28 Jan. 2007
By Helen E. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
While reading the Chronicles of Narnia, I needed help with many of the descriptions used by Mr. lewis. I was able to use Mr. Fords book for all the explantions I needed. He makes it easy to then understand all the books. I really liked the illustrations shown in his book and really liked the maps showing Narnia, Aslan's country and all the other countries there. Mr. Ford also gives us a personal look into how he has shared the Chronicles with his children and grandchildren. I liked reading his thoughts and ideas about the books. I found his book, Companion to Narnia very helpful and lovely to read. I hope this helps others when deciding to buy a companion book to the Chronicles. I totally recommend this one.

Thank you,

Helen Clark
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Book Information: Good; Physical Quality: Bad 21 May 2010
By J.Douglas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Paul F. Ford's "Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition" is a wonderful resource for those who wish to have a comprehensive understanding of C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia". Everything that you come across throughout Narnia is given careful consideration, with reference to the specific page numbers in the books. I would highly recommend, to anyone who has interest in Narnia, to purchase this book.

On the down-side, the actual book that I received, new from Amazon, was of decidedly poor quality. It appears to have about a half-dozen pages, in the second half of the book, that were misprinted. The lower half of these pages were originally blank. In order to rectify this problem, someone decided to physically paste the missing information onto each affected page. I suppose I would rather have the information, than not, but I wasn't exactly pleased with the condition of the book.

Overall, purchasing the book would be a good investment for fans of Narnia. However, be forewarned about the quality of the book, when purchased from Amazon. It may or may not be their fault, but I normally expect a higher-quality of material than what I received from this purchase.
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