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The Magical Worlds of Narnia: The Symbols, Myths, and Fascinating Facts Behind the Chronicles Paperback – Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425205630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425205631
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.4 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,033,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

David Colbert was head writer of television's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (US) and editorial director of HarperCollins. A former student of anthropology and mythology, he is the author of six collections of history and literature. He is the author of The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter Spellbinding Map and Book of Secrets, and The Magical Worlds of Lord of the Rings. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A gripping book written by David Colbert, "The Magical Worlds of Narnia" is a nice companion to the enchanting series. It is full of facts and information on the world of Narnia, how it was conceived and what sources, either literary or otherwise inspired it. This book also answers a good many questions on the content of each of the books in the series, which are covered here in the order in which they were published, and they are preceded by Lewis's own thoughts on the stories. There is also a section at the very back that looks at the controversy covering "The Chronicles of Narnia", of which there is a great deal. A fascinating read, this is the ultimate fact filled book for any Narniaholic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is what I really expected! I know the author, who wrote that of Harry Potter's too! Recommended!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The other one was better... 29 Mar. 2006
By Fantasy Fan - Published on
Format: Paperback
Having read Colbert's The Magical Worlds of Tolkien's Middle-Earth, I bought this book thinking it would be another insightful analysis of a classic work. Needless to say I was sorely disappointed. Colbert's analysis of the Chronicles is shallower than what he did for Lord of the Rings, and he seems to use it soley to gripe about apparent "flaws" he sees in the books. Unfortunately for him, the "flaws" he points out can be easily countered and answered by the average Elementary-age reader.

During his diatribes, Colbert comes off as disgruntled and clueless. He seems to think that because the Chronicles reflect the social attitudes of the time period that they were written in, that they are automatically repressive of blacks, Arabs, women, and various other groups. Hardly! The Horse and His Boy, which he cited as the primary proof of so-called "racism" is in fact the best refutal of this idea. All the Arabian characters in the book-with the notable exception of Rabadash and Bree's master-come off as interesting and sympathetic characters. The charge of sexism can also be dispelled by this one book; Queen Susan is given a prominant subplot, and Aravis is a beautifully proactive heroine.

While some chapters where exactly what I paid for-thoughtful insights into the influences behind the text-most were faulty complaints against C.S. Lewis and his work. Seeing as how Colbert wasn't near as harsh with Lord of the Rings, I can only conclude that he wrote the book to capitalize on Narnia's current popularity and not out of any deep appreciation for the book.

I say if you're gonna complain about something, don't disguise it as something else! I could have saved twelve bucks if he'd just titled it, "Fifty Dumb Reasons I hate Narnia!"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Too bad there's not a 2.5 stars - for "OK, but dissapointing" 8 Feb. 2010
By R. Miller - Published on
Format: Paperback
We have just finished The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I borrowed this book from the library as we entered, "The Last Battle". I was looking for something similar to the examination provided in "The Gospel According to Harry Potter". Perhaps some of my dissapointment stems from the fact that this book is lacking quite a bit in the examination of all the Narnia books. While 174 pages in length, the wide printing margins and numerous full page drawings provide little room for real substance. Mr. Colbert does an interesting job of sharing the various Biblical/Scriptural, mythological, and literary history that shaped Lewis' worldview. I was also intrigued by little anecdotes regarding his relationship with J.R.R. Tolkein and other well-known authors of the time.

Ultimately, the book ended on a sour note as Mr. Colbert used a series of Lewis' statements, most outside of "The Chronicles" and some in unknown context, to make a case that Lewis is a blatant racist and sexist. The entire book just fell flat and fails to live up to the claim that it is an "essential guide" to Narnia. The publisher seems to admit to this by providing rave reviews on other Colbert books and doesn't provide even a single positive comment on this work.

Perhaps borrow it to expand your study, but it caries no future use beyond an initial read.
Excellent memoir avoids devolving into syncophancy 21 Dec. 2011
By Sagar Jethani - Published on
Format: Paperback
A very insightful, eminently readable memoir about the Narnia tales. David Colbert applies a judicious mixture of admiration and criticism in this volume, providing excellent references from mythology and Lewis' own life along the way. Of particular value is the afterword, "Why Would Anyone Hate Narnia?", in which Colbert delivers an unblinking assessment of the many prejudices and bigotries of C.S. Lewis.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
insight into the magical world of C.S. Lewis 2 Nov. 2005
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Paperback
This entertaining yet educational guidebook provides deep insight into the magical world of C.S. Lewis by enlightening readers with the derivations that inspired the author to create Narnia. Obviously aimed at the older fans though youthful enthusiast will appreciate some of the references to Camelot and the Bible. The sidebars are as enlightening as the main text because the audience learns who the real Lucy was, why the name Narnia, and biblical connections like Aslan's Stone Table's connection to the Ten Commandments. In other words, David Colbert provides the "hidden" story within the story. Have a good time and learn why there is a wardrobe, find out if Aslan "Jesus in fur", and observe the intent behind THE LAST BATTLE amongst other deep explanations; just enter the door to understand the meaning of Narnia as Mr. Colbert serves much more than just the symbolism behind Turkish Delight.

Harriet Klausner
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Get some interesting facts here... 1 Feb. 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Chronicles of Narnia are a well-loved collection of children's book. I first found them when I read them as part of my son's bedtime routine years ago. There are seven books in the series: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Magician's Nephew, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle. In The Magical Worlds of Narnia, David Colbert has sections devoted to each book and details some of the interesting background that went into the development, plotting, and writing of each of these books.

While reading the books, I did notice some of the religious allusions but they weren't as 'blinking neon lights' in your face as when I read his science fiction series (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) or when reading his religious writings (The Screwtape Letters). In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis meant to lay down the percepts that are natural to all and a basis for all moral behavior. He sought to do this by showing how people should behave rather than dictating actions that should be taken. So these books are Lewis' idea of giving young people a moral compass by example. In spite of his difficulties in dealing with women and his bigotry against other religions and races, the books are rip roaring good stories that children have enjoyed since their publication in the 1950s. Children enjoy them for the characters, actions, setting, and story. Adults can enjoy the many-layered meanings that enrich the background--and this book can help with those behind the scenes layers.

C.S. Lewis drew on a rich tapestry of history, literature, myths, folklore, the work of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, and his own dreams and imagination to create Narnia, its stories and its characters. In reading this book, you learn the basis of some of the names and stories. There are also some interesting factoids about Lewis and his work. There are also the usual topics that you'd find in any work about the writings of Lewis: his problems dealing with women, his bigotry (except for the people in the category that he'd actually met), and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.

With the information contained in The Magical Worlds of Narnia readers can now reread the series with a greater understanding of the background that went into the works. Whether that understanding will acquit him of his blatant sexist and racism is up to each reader. This book is a cornucopia of interesting tidbits such as: the word Narnia was the name of a small village on a map of Italy Lewis found as a boy and he liked the name enough to remember it and use it; Aslan is the Turkish word for lion; the voice of Treebeard was meant by J.R.R. Tolkien to mimic Lewis'. I could list more but get the book and read it for yourself. I had to say to my husband, did you know...constantly (poor him) while I read it.

Great book for those who love odd little factoids about books and their writers.
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