Is "Prince Caspian" book 2 or book 4 in the Chronicles of Narnia?
I was browsing the juvenile fiction area of the public library earlier today and was pretty confused to see copies of The Chronicles of Narnia's book "Prince Caspian" (the basis of the upcoming movie of the same name) listed both as book #2 and book #4 of the series. What the heck? Which is correct?
I noticed the very same thing when I went to read the book on which the new movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is based: is it really the second book in the series after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, or not?
In fact, is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe the first book in the series?
To unravel this interesting question, it's important to go back to the original intent of author C.S.Lewis, who wrote the seven books of the Narnia series out of order in terms of the storyline or, as Narnia fans call it, in terms of Narnian history.
That is, if you look at the seven books in the order they were written, the lineup is like this:
• The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
That's how the movies are proceeding too: Prince Caspian is the second movie in the series.
If you look at the chronological sequence of the storyline, however, everything becomes quite different:
• The Magician's Nephew
If you're thinking that this is confusing, you're right! It's an unusual situation where the author fills in the storyline as the series becomes more popular, and it's why some of the editions of the Chronicles of Narnia list "Prince Caspian" as the second book, while others list it as the fourth.
In the late 1950's a boy wrote to author C. S Lewis to ask about what order the books should be read. The boy explained that his mother felt the books should be read in the order of their publication, but the boy preferred to read them in the order of where the stories took place in Narnian history, beginning with The Magician's Nephew.
C. S. Lewis wrote back, saying, "I think I agree with your order for reading the books more than with your mother's." It wasn't long after that publishers began to number the Narnia books in this way. But Lewis, who admitted to writing bits and pieces of the books at different times, also noted that the order probably didn't really much matter: "I'm not even sure that all the [books] were written in the same order in which they were published."
Personally, I'm reading them in the order that they were written, and am three books into the series. Those three books are The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, then Prince Caspian then The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader". Though I understand Disney wants to produce all of the books a la Lord of the Rings (and, coincidentally, Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were good friends), which is expanding into a five film series, the book about the Dawn Treader is far more interesting and exciting than Prince Caspian.
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