I first got into fantasy literature when I was a child, when my dad read my brother and I ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. They are definitely the first books I remember, anyway.
If you’re not aware of the books – and if you’re reading this, you really should be – they are a series of seven, written by C. S. Lewis and published in the early- to mid-fifties. Since then, they have spawned several TV, radio, stage and film adaptations and been translated into almost fifty languages.
They concern themselves with the realm of Narnia, which features talking animals and plenty of magic, and they predominantly feature children from the real world being transported there in order to right wrongs and fight for good, protecting the weak and facing ethical dilemmas along the way.
There are obvious influences from mythology, including mythological beasts, and the series not only dealt with what many in the Western world would immediately recognise as Christian themes (though these are present in many other religions, of course), like self-sacrifice and redemption, but also race, gender and religion, itself – sensitive subjects not normally found in children’s books.
The series had a profound influence on me as a child and perhaps led to the highly developed sense of justice and right / wrong that I still carry, today. I cannot recommend them highly enough for younger readers or, indeed, to be read to those too young to read, themselves.
Here is undoubtedly where my interest in all things non-corporeal and otherworldly – theology, mythology, magic and the spiritual, the nature of love, honour, souls and philosophy – began.
For me, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ was the start of it all.