My Journey Through The Wardrobe

When Lee asked if I could review the entire Narnia series for Fantasy Book Review, at first I was completely taken aback. These are some of the most beloved books (IMO) in the world, possibly ever written, and it was my task to review them? How do you go about reviewing books that are so amazing, detailed and imaginative?

I started at the beginning and read the books in chronological order, not publishing order, which to some people is hard-core Narnia fans is crazy. Nevertheless I pushed forward and started with my personal favourite The Magicians Nephew. Normally I could rely on my memory as I usually try and make a point of reading the Narnia books once every year, but due to my increasing book collection, responsibilities, and general busy-ness, I have neglected this task in the last few years.

The Magicians Nephew is the perfect creation story, the ultimate prequel. There is literally nothing and we get to read about just how Narnia came to be, the land from scratch. Such things would be frowned upon today by the George Lucas’ and Ridley Scott’s of the world, who couldn’t go back and revive the franchise with a prequel, because well this is where it all began for Narnia, and only Lewis allowed himself to tell that story. This is what makes him such a great writer, and it is why I have such love for him as a writer, his devotion to this world and stories contained within it.

Moving on, next was the one most loved by the fans, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe –  we all read it in school, we all saw the animated after school special, the BBC live production and my personal favourite the Walden Media/Disney feature film. I wanted to touch on the movie here as I truly feel that director Andrew Adamson (Shrek) nailed this movie. It was exactly how Narnia looked and felt to me as a kid reading it. A huge country full of characters who are loveable and frightening. The battle scene at the end was exactly how I envisioned it – a large scale full out war for the future of Narnia, unlike the few paragraphs mentioned in the book.

As I re-read this book I found myself comparing it to scenes in the movie over and over again, allowing the memories from my childhood to overtake the ones of the recent movie and I found this extremely beneficial when re-reading the book. Whilst the movie got the tone perfect, nothing can ever replace the images created in your own mind, especially as a child.

Prince Caspian, definitely my least favourite (sshh don’t tell Lee!) still not my favourite but the movie is a completely different kettle of fish. The movie took it to the dark place that Narnia turned into, and as Lewis intended the readers to get older, so did the themes in the book. This translated well into the movie, although the ending was a little too “Disney” for my liking, it still stood out as one of the best in the series.

The Horse And His Boy, my second favourite book of the series, is so dramatically different from any of the other books it is almost unrecognizable (well except for Lewis’ unique writing style). Shasta and Bree are such a loveable duo – there is something so relateable about these two misfits on the run, and the idea of a talking smart-mouthed horse really stands out.

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is every fan’s favourite, the ultimate adventure story but for me, I never really found it too appealing. I think I am the only fan of the books who thought that the movie adaption was good and actually made the books events more interesting and appealing. The mistake the movie made was the change in studio from Disney to Fox, the cameras where clunky and looked un-professional and while the tone and acting where spot on, there was just something not right about it, and it was WAY too short to tell the story the way it should have been.

The Silver Chair was my favourite BBC movie, in particular Puddleglum is so melancholy and such a downer that he made the happy go-lucky creatures of Narnia look laughable and brought such a different tone out of Narnia. The “Green Witch” always seemed like a cheap knock off from the White Witch and not really that much of a threat.

The Last Battle would make a great movie, no not great, AMAZING movie. With a large budget and using state of the art special effects, telling the story of Narnia’s destruction would be amazing to see brought to life on screen. Everytime I read this book I just fall more and more in love with it and get something more out of it. This time I realized that Lewis is a genius, the ultimate way to make sure no-one screws with your work when you’re dead is to create the world yourself (The Magicians Nephew), tell enough stories to keep it going (book 2 – 6) then destroy the world completely so there is no way on Earth (or Narnia!) that it could ever be revived. No prequels, no sequels, no flash forwards, just nothing.

It was one of the best things I have ever done this year and definitely extremely rewarding to re-read the books and watch the films and BBC productions again. Thanks again to Lee for entrusting me with this massive responsibility and I hope you enjoyed the reviews. If you haven’t read Narnia for awhile, do yourself a favour and read the whole series again.

Fantasy news round-up: October 3, 2011

Here is a round-up of events in the fantasy-related literary world over the past week or so.

JK Rowling honoured by Edinburgh University
The Harry Potter author received the University Benefactor’s Award for her financial contribution to multiple sclerosis research at the Scottish institution. Rowling donated 10 million pounds ($16 million) to establish the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named after her mother, who suffered from MS, The Independent reported.

And Rowling’s good work does not stopped there and she is also helping in the battle against deforestation. When approached about protecting Canada’s ancient trees from the escalating hungry demand for wood to turn into throw away paper products, Rowling was keen to promote the use of environmentally friendly paper.

“The forest at Hogwarts is home to magical creatures like unicorns and centaurs. Because the Canadian editions are printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper, the Harry Potter books are helping to save magnificent forests in the Muggle world, home of magical animals such as orangutans, wolves and bears. It is a good idea to respect ancient trees, especially if they have a temper like the Whomping Willow.”

Details of Game of Thrones RPG revealed
Cyanide Studio, having just finished their RTS; A Game of Thrones: Genesis, is now hard at work on an RPG set in George RR Martin’s fantasy universe. Drawing inspiration from several BioWare titles. The combat uses what he called an “active pause system,” which he compared to the battle system from BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic.

The Game of Thrones RPG is slated for release in early 2012 on consoles and PC.

Shortlist for children’s fiction prize announced
The shortlist for The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize: has been announced:

  • My Name Is Mina, by David Almond;
  • Return to Ribblestrop, by Andy Mulligan;
  • Moon Pie, by Simon Mason;
  • Twilight Robbery, by Frances Hardinge.

A few days ago we covered this shortlist in greater detail, including extra information on the books and those judging the competition. The post was entitled Shortlist for the Guardian Children’s Fiction prize announced.

Spielberg’s War Horse scheduled for 13 January 2012 UK release
Michael Morpurgo‘s popular 1982 novel tells the story of Joey, a horse who begins life on the Narracott family’s farm in Devon and ends up being sold to the Cavalry for use in the First World War. But farm hand Albert Narracott cannot forget his former partner, and he ends up joining the army to try to find Joey and bring him home.

In the film, Jeremy Irvine stars as Albert while Tom Hiddlestone plays Captain Nicholls, the cavalry officer who rides Joey into combat. The movie was shot on location in Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire, Surrey, Wales and parts of France.

Google to support new festival Word Up!
Google is to support a new family arts and literature festival, which is taking place during autumn half term in London. The internet giant will make 300 tickets to main theatre events at Word Up! available to low-income families referred to organisers through partner organisations such as Kids Company and the National Literary Trust’s London Literacy Champions scheme. The festival will run from 22nd-24th October.

Events will also include family workshops with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and interactive storytelling of Peepo!, The Moomins and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There will also be workshops, stalls and a community stage.

Walden Media’s exclusive ‘Narnia’ film option expires
It has been reported that Walden Media no longer has exclusive rights to the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia books. According to the website NarniaWeb, during the negotiations between Fox, Walden, and the CS Lewis Estate, the film option that Walden Media owned was allowed to expire and Walden Media no longer has exclusive purchasing rights to any further Narnia films. This has been confirmed to us by representatives of the CS Lewis Estate.

Random House Children’s Books buys Fallen tie-in
Random House Children’s Books has bought an original novel by Lauren Kate that is connected to her paranormal romance series Fallen. Fiction publisher Annie Eaton and editorial director Becky Stradwick bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Agency. Fallen in Love will be published on 2nd February 2012 ahead of Rapture, the fourth and final book in the Fallen series, which is lined up for June. Fallen in Love features four intertwined stories featuring characters from the series.

Donaldson joins fight for Surrey’s libraries
A group campaigning to save Surrey libraries has received support from an award-winning author. Julia Donaldson, children’s book playwright and the National Children’s Laureate, has added her support to Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Friends of Bagshot Library are against the closure of a host of libraries including Bagshot, Lightwater, Frimley Green and Ash that Surrey County Council propose to force local communities to run, or be closed. Under Surrey’s plans, volunteers would be able to take over the day to day running of the libraries, saving £300,000 a year.

"I am in full support of Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Libraries need trained librarians just as schools need trained teachers and hospitals need trained doctors. Volunteers may have a role to play, but to staff a library exclusively with volunteers is not the way forward,” said the author of The Gruffalo.

Pullman continues to fight for Oxford’s libraries
His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has made an impassioned plea to save libraries in Oxfordshire and has warned that volunteers cannot replace professionals.

Pullman, whose attack on council plans to stop funding 20 of 43 libraries last year launched a mass campaign, admitted County Hall’s new proposals were an improvement.

“The trouble is, people the council are relying on to jump in and volunteer are already doing dozens of other things, volunteering at hospital friends groups or training primary school football teams. You cannot go on relying on volunteers to do professional work. There seems to be a rather disparaging view of librarians that all they do is tidy the shelves and stamp the books. It is far more than that, it requires pretty stringent professional training. It is not something you can just pick up after an hour or two,” said the award-winning author.

The council was forced into a U-turn in May, after thousands of people opposed plans that would have caused many branches to close. County Hall now proposes to keep all 43 libraries open but ask volunteers to make up a third of staff at five branches and two-thirds at 16 others.

JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis appear as characters in new novel

A new book from Ignatius Press, "Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel", brings to life the writers CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Charles Williams in the context of a mysterious adventure story.

The novel opens in 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.

Aided by the Inklings – that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien – Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.

Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.

Weaving his narrative with actual quotes from the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a portrait of Oxford and draws a glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams.

David C. Downing, PhD, is the R. W. Schlosser Professor of English at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of four award-winning books on CS Lewis: "Planets in Peril", "The Most Reluctant Convert", "Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in CS Lewis" and "Into the Wardrobe: CS Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles".

Fantasy news round-up, August 2, 2010

Dawn Treader: new movie poster and trailer 
Dawn Treader, the film based on the CS Lewis book from the Narnia Chronicles, is being directed by British filmmaker Michael Apted and has been written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni. It will be appearing in cinemas around the world from December 10, 2010 onwards.

Image: Movie poster for the Dawn Treader

There has also been a trailer available for the past month:

Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their pesky cousin Eustace Scrubb – find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to a fantastic Narnian ship headed for the very edges of the world. Joining forces once again with their royal friend Prince Caspian and the warrior mouse Reepicheep, they are whisked away on a mysterious mission to the Lone Islands, and beyond. On this bewitching voyage that will test their hearts and spirits the trio will face magical Dufflepuds, sinister slave traders, roaring dragons and enchanted merfolk. Only an entirely uncharted journey to Aslan’s Country – a voyage of destiny and transformation for each of those aboard the Dawn Treader – can save Narnia, and all the astonishing creatures in it, from an unfathomable fate.

German fantasy authors boast worldwide reach
Children’s books by German authors such as Cornelia Funke and Michael Ende are proving extremely popular worldwide. Books lover in the US, Korea and China love reading, amongst many others, Inkheart and The Neverending Story and since the 1960s German children’s books has slowly but surely conquered the international book market.

"I think that many countries experienced this social shift where people began to take kids more seriously and included them more in the conversation. In that sense, German children’s books were on the cutting edge, and that’s what made them a success abroad," says Regina Pantos, chair of the Association for Children’s and Youth Literature.

Daniel Radcliffe turns 21
Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter in the film franchise, turned 21 on July 23. Born in Fulham, England in 1989, he had only just turned 11 when he was chosen to play the role of the boy wizard from the books by JK Rowling.

Forbes Magazine names JK Rowling as one of the world’s 30 most inspiring women
After seeking input from ForbesWoman followers on Facebook and Twitter, a list was compiled of the 30 Utterly Inspiring Role Models, and JK Rowling was chosen as one of the 30 women who “make the world a better place”. She’s in good company, with Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, Danica Patrick, Betty White, Elizabeth Glazer, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton also included in the list.

Ursula Le Guin allows British students to make one of her short stories into a film
Budding producer Rob Watson (Beaconsfield’s National Film and Television School) wrote a letter to Ursula Le Guin in April asking her for film rights to one of her books, and was shocked by its response. The author immediately wrote back and agreed that they could go ahead with the film without paying a penny for the rights. Now Watson is making one of the biggest student films ever. The 20 minute graduation film The Fleet of Vision is to cost £12,000 and will use sets first used in sci-fi epics like Sunshine and Thunderbirds.

“She doesn’t usually give away the rights to her material but she let us have it for free – it was amazing when we got the reply. Most student films are shot on location but we’re doing pretty much all of this on specially-built sets. There’s even professionally-made spacesuits being used,” said Watson.

Penguin Group see spike in First Half Sales and Profit
Sales at Penguin for the first half of the year rose 9 percent, breaking 493 million pounds. Sales at Pearson, Penguin’s parent, also rose 9 percent in the first half of 2010, with adjusted operating profit increasing by 79% to 178m. Overall, the operating profit at the book publisher more than doubled, hitting 44 million pounds (up from 21 million pounds a year ago). Penguin is one of the most famous brands in book publishing, known around the world for the quality of its publishing and its consistent record of innovation. Over the past five years, Penguin’s sales have increased at an annual average rate of 2% and profits at 5%. In the early part of 2010 Penguin grew well ahead of industry in its major markets and produced a substantial profit improvement. Additionally, Penguin continues to extend their reach to new audiences, most recently with the launch of Apple’s iBookstore and iPad where, in the US, Penguin’s Winnie-the-Pooh was the only book pre-loaded onto the device.

The 20 greatest children’s books ever, according to The Telegraph

Some are time-worn classics, some more recently embraced. Lucinda Everett selects the stories that resonate with the young decade after decade. We think that it is a great list and have added some of our favourites immediately afterwards.

  1. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
    Far from fading with time, Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale of fantasy has attracted a growing audience in each generation. Rat, Mole, Badger and the preposterous Mr Toad, have brought delight to many through the years with their odd adventures on and by the river, and at the imposing residence of Toad Hall.
  2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
    The Lord of the Rings is a magnificent achievement, an epic tale of friendship, love and heroism. This book set down the benchmark for all fantasy novels to come, without it the world would be a poorer place. Perfection is a very difficult goal to achieve, the Lord of the Rings comes as close to it as is maybe possible. Readers will be left with dreams of living in their very own hobbit hole and the journey that the Fellowship undertakes will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Tolkien’s narrative is breath-taking and his beautiful descriptions of Middle-earth are a joy to behold.
  3. The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
    Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who’s parents have been killed in a ‘car crash’. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher’s Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?
  4. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
    Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy astounded the literary world, reaping high praise from adults as well as children. The final book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass, was published to great literary acclaim, earning Pullman a place on the longlist for the prestigious Booker Prize and pushing the trilogy toward cult fiction status for both children and adults.
  5. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
    Lucy steps into the Professor’s wardrobe – but steps out again into a snowy forest. She’s stumbled upon the magical world of Narnia, a land of unicorns, centaurs, fauns … and the wicked White Witch, who terrorises all. Lucy soon realises that Narnia, and in particular Aslan, the great Lion, need her help if the country’s creatures are ever going to be free again.
  6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
    A much-loved classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won over millions of readers with its vivid and colourful collage illustrations and its deceptively simply, hopeful story. With its die-cut pages and finger-sized holes to explore, this is a richly satisfying book for children.
  7. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
    When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? There’ll be adventures waiting for them, whatever happens; funny, magical adventures that will delight children again and again.
  8. Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
    "If you love elephants, you will love Babar and Celeste," writes A. A. Milne in his preface to "The Story of Babar". "And if you have never loved elephants, you will love them now."
  9. Treasure Island by RL Stevenson
    ‘Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest-Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!’ Treasure Island is a tale of pirates and villains, maps, treasure and shipwreck. When young Jim Hawkins finds a packet in Captain Flint’s sea chest, he could not know that the map inside it would lead him to unimaginable treasure. Shipping as cabin boy on the Hispaniola, he sails with Squire Trelawney, Captain Smollett, Dr Livesey, the sinister Long John Silver and a frightening crew to Treasure Island. There, mutiny, murder and mayhem lead to a thrilling climax.
  10. The Railway Children by E Nesbit
    When Father goes away with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered. They and their mother have to move from their comfortable London home to go and live in a simple country cottage, where Mother writes books to make ends meet. However, they soon come to love the railway that runs near their cottage, and they make a habit of waving to the Old Gentleman who rides on it. They befriend the porter, Perks, and through him learn railway lore and much else. They have many adventures, and when they save a train from disaster, they are helped by the Old Gentleman to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance.
  11. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
    Arthur Ransome was a prolific writer of children’s books. Born in Leeds in 1884, it was his father, a nature-loving history professor, who inspired his love of the outdoors and nurtured a passion for fishing. As a child he enjoyed active, outdoor holidays: sailing, camping and exploring the countryside. He used many of these holiday settings for his children’s stories, notably the much loved Swallows and Amazons, a book that sits comfortably in the category of "timeless classic" and remains one of his most popular titles for young people.
  12. Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
    AA Milne’s first stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, the most famous bear in the world, were published eighty years ago. Discover what happens when Pooh goes visiting and Piglet meets a Heffalump, not forgetting when Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh finds one!
  13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
    Charlie Bucket finds a Golden Ticket which wins him a whole day at Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory in this captivating favourite by Roald Dahl.
  14. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
    The Gruffalo certainly lives up to its reputation as a classic read for both children and parents. The fantasy story captures the imagination of pre-schoolers as it takes them on a journey with mouse as he strolls through the wood and meets the beast himself, the Gruffalo. As the mouse revisits inhabitants of the wood with the Gruffalo, the mouse successfully convinces the beast that he, the mouse, is the scariest creature in the wood.
  15. Peter and Wendy (Peter Pan) by JM Barrie
    Peter Pan, the “boy who would not grow up,” originally appeared as a baby living a magical life among birds and fairies in J.M. Barrie’s sequence of stories, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. His later role as flying boy hero was brought to the stage by Barrie in the beloved play Peter Pan, which opened in 1904 and became the novel Peter and Wendy in 1911. In a narrative filled with vivid characters, epic battles, pirates, fairies, and fantastic imagination, Peter Pan’s adventures capture the spirit of childhood—and of rebellion against the role of adulthood in conventional society.
  16. Watership Down by Richard Adams
    Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren – he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver’s sixth sense was never wrong. They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them. And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all…Published in 1972, "Watership Down" is an epic journey, a stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival against the odds.
  17. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
    ‘I’m Tracy Beaker. This is a book all about me. I’d read it if I were you. It’s the most incredible dynamic heart-rending story. Honest.’ Tracy is ten years old. She lives in a Children’s Home but would like a real home one day, with a real family. Meet Tracy, follow her story and share her hopes for the future in this beautifully observed, touching and often very funny tale, all told in Tracy’s own words.
  18. The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
    This book has enduring charm and young children will delight in the preposterous notion of a tiger creating mayhem in the house.
  19. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
    The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter’s most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden!
  20. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
    Maurice Sendak’s children’s picture book has become an acknowledged classic. A winner of the Caldecott Medal for the Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year in 1964, Where the Wild Things Are is a timeless masterpiece that can be enjoyed equally by children and grown-ups.

So there ends The Telegraph’s collection of the 20 greatest children’s books ever. Fantasy Book Review would like to suggest 5 more titles that we believe worthy of appearing in such a list:

  1. The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
    Mankind must put a stop to the dreadful destruction caused by the Iron Man. A trap is set for him, but he cannot be kept down. Then, when a terrible monster from outer space threatens to lay waste to the planet, it is the Iron Man who finds a way to save the world.
  2. The Spook’s series by Joseph Delaney
    A wonderful and terrifying series by a new writer about a young boy training to be an exorcist. Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins…
  3. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
    Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it – 12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it. Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human. Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life.
  4. The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean
    When Pepper Roux was born his aunt foretold that he would not live past 14 years of age. Throughout his childhood his parents haven’t bothered with him much, knowing that his life would be short-lived. So when Pepper wakes up on his 14th birthday he knows this will be the day that he’ll die. But as the day wears on, and Pepper finds himself still alive, he decides to set off to sea in an attempt to try and avoid death for as long as possible. As time goes on Pepper steps into many roles and personas and has numerous outrageous adventures. But can he stay one step ahead of death? Or will fate catch up with him? And, if he does live, which of his many lives will he choose to adopt? This riot of a story is a wonderful adventure, and Pepper is an unforgettable character who stays with you long after his story has been told.
  5. The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
    The Edge Chronicles is a young-adult fantasy novel series by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. It consists three trilogies and three additional books. Originally published in the United Kingdom, this bestseller series has since been published in the United States, Canada and Australia as well. To date, more than two million copies of the novels have been sold.

Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy to open this month

This month will see the launch of the new Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, a project which will explore the importance of fairy takes in literary and culture.

Professor Bill Gray, an English lecturer at the University of Chichester, is the brainchild behind the centre that will discuss and celebrate the folktales, fairy tales and fantastic imagination from across the world that has led to bestselling fantasy works by writers as diverse as JRR Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Angela Carter, Philip Pullman and CS Lewis.

“The heart of this project is a focus on the importance of fairy tales as a creative force both in literature and culture. Literary fairy tales can be seen, in terms of genre, to mediate between, on the one hand, folktales, from which they often derive both form and content; and on the other, the more elaborate narratives of full-blown fantasy novels. The Centre will provide a forum where writers and scholars from various disciplines can discuss folk narratives, fairy tales and fantasy works, both as independent ‘genres’ (the literary fantastic, for example, may not always have obvious folk- or fairy-tale motifs), and also in terms of the resonances and dissonances between them, and other cultural forms.”

For more information, visit

News of the first ever CS Lewis conference to be held in France

A call for papers on CS Lewis, His Friends and Associates: Questions of Identityhas been issued. An international conference, to be held June 2-3, 2011 at the Lille Catholic University, will be the first of its kind in France. The deadline for proposals is June 5, 2010. You can find more information about the conference here.

The request has been made on Further Up & Further In, a CS Lewis & Inkling Resource blog, who made the following statement:

“Questions of identity are essential to the understanding of any writer. We are therefore seeking for papers which examine gender and family roles, national, regional, racial or professional identities, membership of a particular church, movement or club, ideological or political attachments, descriptions of oneself, either with regard to Lewis and those who knew him or in a study of their writings.

Among Lewis’s friends and associates we would include his brother Warnie, his wife Joy, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy L. Sayers, T.S. Eliot, Ruth Pitter and Owen Barfield, but would also consider studies of anyone who worked with Lewis or who influenced him.”

Source: Further Up & Further In, Aslan’s Country

C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis, also known as Jack was born in the Northern Irish town of Belfast in 1898. In the period between 1950 and 1956, Lewis wrote the books that he will always be best remembered for, The Chronicles of Narnia, containing six books which began with the publication of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and was completed by The Last Battle. These books have sold over 100 million copies and are amongst the most loved in children’s fiction.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Concept Art

A new DVD for Prince Caspian, released in the UK last week, includes a brief glimpse of the work that has been done so far on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.


The fifth book in the Chronicles of Narnia sees Edmund and Lucy back in Narnia along with their beastly cousin Eustace. A sea-faring tale that reunites the children with Prince Caspian and Reepicheep the mouse on the voyage to the World’s End.


The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, remain some of the most enduringly popular ever published. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages!

C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis, also known as Jack was born in the Northern Irish town of Belfast in 1898. In the period between 1950 and 1956, Lewis wrote the books that he will always be best remembered for, The Chronicles of Narnia, which contained six books which began with the publication of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and was completed by The Last Battle. These books have sold over 100 million copies and are amongst the most loved in children’s fiction. He died in 1963, aged 64, on the same day as President J. F. Kennedy.

Lost CS Lewis manuscript found in the Bodleian Library

A professor at Texas State University–San Marcos believes he has discovered all that exists of a book that JRR Tolkien and close friend CS Lewis intended to write together.

According to a letter Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher in 1944, he had planned to write a book with Lewis called Language and Human Nature.

Steven Beebe, Regents’ Professor and Chair of the Texas State Department of Communication Studies, found the text in a notebook in the Oxford University Bodleian Library. Both Tolkien and Lewis were faculty members at Oxford.

“What is exciting is that the manuscript includes some of Lewis’s best and most precise statements about the nature of language and meaning. Both Lewis and Tolkien wrote separately about language, communication, and meaning, but they published nothing collaboratively.” said Beebe.

Beebe found the fragment in a small notebook Lewis used. In the notebook were early fragments of The Magician’s Nephew and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, along with several unpublished thoughts and ideas.

“I was so surprised to find Lewis writing about language and meaning, using examples and illustrations not found in any of his published work. I knew I had discovered something interesting. But at the time, I didn’t know I had found something important.”

Tolkien and Lewis met in 1926 and became long-time friends, helping found the famous Inklings literary discussion group. Tolkien’s efforts were instrumental in converting the atheist Lewis to Christianity in 1931.

The Inklings remembered by Colin Harvard

Colin Havard was a shy, awkward teenager among Oxford men who would later become literary giants.

He would occasionally join his father at an informal university literary group called the “Inklings” — a play on words about people who played with ink. There, English writers such as CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien read their work and often drank draft Guinness beer.

Topics such as imaginative fiction, narrative and fantasy were discussed. Mr. Havard’s father, Dr. Robert Havard, was an Inkling and personal physician for Mr. Lewis and Mr. Tolkien.

The Inklings met in Mr. Lewis’ college dorm for nearly 20 years starting in the early 1930s. The group was a men’s club and women were barred, Mr. Havard said Monday at Bendectine College at an evening of literary nostalgia.

“It didn’t matter how many women were around who read great books. They were never invited,” said Mr. Havard, who now lives in St. Louis. “They liked to disagree and see if they could out-argue each other.”

Topics ranged from suicide to religion. Both men were Catholic, and their later writings explore various Christian themes.

Mr. Havard said Mr. Lewis would broach topics that would raise the hackles of Mr. Tolkien, who had a more reserved nature.

“He would say ‘What’s so bad about suicide?” Mr. Havard said of Mr. Lewis. “It was sort of a tease.”


In 1933, CS Lewis had his first book published, it was entitled Pilgrim’s Regress and this was a tale of his spiritual faith. The Allegory of Love followed in 1936 and Out of the Silent Planet in 1938. The Second World War (1939 – 1945) then followed.

In the period between 1950 and 1956, Lewis wrote the books that he will always be best remembered for, The Chronicles of Narnia, which contained six books which began with the publication of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and was completed by The Last Battle. These books have sold over 100 million copies and are amongst the most loved in children’s fiction.

The Lord of the Rings was completed in 1949, but publication was further delayed while Tolkien tried to find a publisher who would agree to publish both The Lord of the Rings AND The Silmarillion. When this proved impossible, Tolkien allowed Allen and Unwin to publish The Lord of the Rings on its own. The book was divided into three separately titled volumes (somewhat to Tolkien’s annoyance, since the work was not intended as a trilogy). The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were published in 1954 and The Return of the King in 1955.

Who were the Inklings?