Discussion: Reading Order for The Chronicles of Narnia

Posted May 28, 2013 by Jana in Discussion / 23 Comments


Ok. I am SOOOO confused. I’m about to begin this series for the first time ever, and I have seen the controversy over what order to read the books in.

There’s the order in which they were written:

1.    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2.    Prince Caspian
3.    The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
4.    The Horse and His Boy
5.    The Silver Chair
6.    The Last Battle
7.    The Magician’s Nephew

There’s the supposed chronological order:

1.    The Magician’s Nephew
2.    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
3.    The Horse and His Boy
4.    Prince Caspian
5.    The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
6.    The Silver Chair
7.    The Last Battle

And there’s the publication order:

1.    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
2.    Prince Caspian (1951)
3.    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
4.    The Silver Chair (1953)
5.    The Horse and His Boy (1954)
6.    The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
7.    The Last Battle (1956)

What on Earth am I supposed to do? This is worse than the Star Wars movies. I’ve read compelling arguments for all three orders… but I still have no idea! I mean, I’m kind of leaning most towards the publication order, but I don’t know if it’s the best!! Plus, the Barnes and Noble leatherbound classic (from Kimberly!!) has them in chronological order. Ahhh!

I figured I’d go to the experts: you. How did you read the Narnia books? Have you read them in multiple orders? I need to know the best order for a Narnia newbie.

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23 responses to “Discussion: Reading Order for The Chronicles of Narnia

  1. Hi Jana, thanks for visiting my blog, I’m now a new follower of yours :)

    I read Narnia in the chronological order and the plot definitely made sense that way. I haven’t tried it the other ways, but that way definitely worked!

  2. I’m of the same mind as Sam – I read the books in chronological order and it worked for me, because everything made sense time-wise. But then again, I’ve never read them in any other way either, so I can’t tell you whether either of the other two are better choices. I’d recommend reading them chronologically, though!

    Steph @ The Novlist

  3. I read them in the chronological order and it made perfect sense that way! For me it really built up the experience as it starts with the creation of Narnia and then the story unravels from there. But I haven’t tried it any other way, so who knows, it might be better… But I just can’t imagine reading something out of chronological order, so like the other two ladies, I recommend just reading them chronologicallly.

  4. I read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe first because that’s the first one I heard of. Then I went back to The Magician’s Nephew, then The Horse and His Boy, and went on chronologically. It made perfect sense for me. And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. I’m pretty sure I read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe first, but I have no idea which book I read second and third and so on… Sorry to be of so little help!

    I hope you’ll enjoy the stories no matter what order you end up reading the books in!


  6. I have absolutely no idea haha. I actually really want to give this series a try because I’ve only even seen the movies. I MAY have read the books as a kid but I don’t remember them at all.

  7. Publication order! I’ve read it both publication and chronological, and I think pub works better. The plot makes sense either way, but it’s nifty when you go back and forth in time.

  8. This post–I love it, because I am a HUGE Narnia fan. The series is my favorite EVER and I routinely snatch up books ABOUT Narnia because I like it exploring it so much. I’m pretty sure I first read the series(in 3rd/4th grade) in NO particular order because it was just whatever the library had available at the time. BUT I personally prefer the chronological order. Not so much because I think The Magician’s Nephew NEEDS to come first(I think it also works quite well as the 6th book that one reads in the series), but mainly because of the placing of The Horse and His Boy. I really think that one works best when read after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and before Prince Caspian. Really though, either order allows you to make sense of the story as a whole.

  9. I had this same dilemma when I started this series! I’m betting that C.S. Lewis intentionally made it confusing, haha.

    While I have only read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so far, I think I decided that I was going to read it in publication order. I was originally going to read it chronologically, but I just settled on publication. I can’t tell you why…but I did! Haha.

  10. So funny–I just got the Narnia box set! It is packaged in chronological order so I’m going to go with that. However I have a feeling I’ll be re-reading these books often so maybe I’ll try a different order next time!

  11. I read somewhere a long time ago that C.S. Lewis stated he wanted them in the order they were originally written, though of course I can’t find that quote now…

    I’ve only read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but if I were to read the rest, I think I would do it in the order he wrote them. Just to stay true to his original intent.

    The Wiki page has some interesting arguments or the different orders. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chronicles_of_Narnia#Reading_order

  12. Oh gosh, I don’t even know what happened with my Narnia books. Completely skipped the whole idea of reading “chronologically” which didn’t really work well for me. However, I’m pretty sure that the chronological order is the way the books are intended to be read. But I wouldn’t know since (1) I read them in a random order and (2) I didn’t finish them. I should probably get to them soon…

    Happy reading! :) And perhaps once you’re done, you can check out the movies! They were great!

  13. Ok, here’s the deal. I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first THeN read The Magicians Nephew. I was happy with that order. Having read the entire chronicles more than once (I love to read them annually) I would suggest you read Magicians Nephew first then The Lion, witch, wardrobe. It is the prequel, or whatever, it’s supposed to be read first BUT it deals with different characters so you don’t have to read it first! I think you shouldn’t read it later than second though. Then it’s too confusing. So to by publication date either, that’s not really necessary for these books.

    Hope I helped! Here’s a link to my classics post (I included Narnia in my recommendations!) I have the complete chronicles on Narnia and out of curiousity, I checked the order in my book… They put The Magicians Nephew first. :)

    Dee @ Dee’s Reads

  14. I think I’ve only read them in chronological order as well. So I think that’s the way to go.

    I follow you on Twitter but first time blog visitor.

  15. Publication order! Or at any rate, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe first, and then Prince Caspian, and then Dawn Treader, and then Silver Chair. And then you could backtrack to the Magicians Newphew if you felt like it, and then The Horse and His Boy is optional (I like it lots, but it’s more an extra) and finally the Last Battle, which is the most disappointing book in the series…

  16. Hi Jana! thanks for dropping by my site ^_^
    I haven’t read my Narnia book yet haha but I watched some of the films and I would most likely read them in chronological order I hope that helps also read whatever makes you happy. ^_^

  17. I read publication order-I think TLTWATW is the best and most accessible so it’s fun to start with that one. I would definitely not read order in which they were written as it would be very weird to end on The Magician’s Nephew.

  18. I think that CS Lewis once said to a young reader of his that he thinks you should read them in publication order. If you wanted to read them again then you can do it in chronological order. When I was younger the series used to be numbered in the publication order and that’s how I read them. Made perfect sense to me that way. A lot of the books don’t even have the same characters and they jump around in time a lot. My vote is for publication order. :) (at least the first time through).