Anyone familiar with the "Narnia" series will enjoy this book and I recommend it. Unlike some others written on "Narnia", e.g. Michael Ward's "Planet Narnia - The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis" which is very scholarly in its approach, David Downing's is an easier read but I am not suggesting it is not scholarly either. (I do recommend Ward's too; it is very convincing, well researched but it is more difficult and challenging reading but all the richer for it.) Downing has a wealth of information about CS Lewis and each "Narnia" book is dealt with individually with great insight, perspicacity and joy. I enjoyed having new light shed on many aspects of the series and on the man himself. Having sat in the "Eagle and Child" (locally "The Bird and the Baby") often imagining the smoke and conversation, this book engenders more imaginings. One delightful story quoted elsewhere (but which I feel sure must be apocryphal!) is of Lewis saying to Tolkien, "Oh no, not another bloody elf story to read?" (With this view I have a great deal of sympathy having visited Middle-Earth on occasions; short week-end breaks are about all I can take but living there ...!) The chapter headings - "Genesis of Narnia", "Classical and Medieval Elements" and "What's in a Narnian Name?" - lead one to expect a great deal. He does not disappoint and I am sure any reader will come away enriched, perhaps reaching for one of the series.
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