When I was a kid, like many others, I read with fascination the Chronicles of Narnia and was transported by CS Lewis to this magical parallel universe where good and evil collided, where Aslan ruled, and where normal children were princes and heroes. My 7 year old son is now reading the Chronicles of Narnia as well, and is on the Last Battle.
I asked him to read the recent Zondervan book, "The Aedyn Chronicles: The Chosen Ones" by Alister McGrath. I had personally read it not long ago myself and was reminded of Lewis and his imaginative writing. Here is what Isaac wrote about it (in his own words and spelling):
I liked how the pages look like they are ripped. I thought I ripped it for a second! I like how you really made it feel like you were there in real life! Your pages really look detailed. I like the first chapter. Well, I guss the aigtheenth. What I really liked how it's so long. I'm mostly always bored but I wasn't bored for a whole week because of that book. PS. this is a blog.
I told him I wanted to blog about what he thought of the book. Since he took a break after The Silver Chair to read this, I thought it would be good to ask him about his comparison to Narnia. He said, "I mostly like both of them." Then he also said, "I really liked how Lucy had that screaming power. But I wish she could have told her bother, so he could've helped her. If Lucy was my sister, I would have wanted to help." He also really loved the special bows and arrows, which he mentioned to me multiple times, which explains why he liked the eighteenth chapter - which was the archery training for battle. He liked how it was "a mystery inside a mystery", which he said he was trying to "figure if they were going to get the Lords" and "are they gonna get the weapons?"
Here's a quick run-down of my own assessment:
- The book seems to be a nod to Lewis in mimicking some of his style and what he was trying to accomplish with the Narnia series.
- The book has many biblical and Christian metaphors and McGrath's Christianity seeps through the pages in many ways.
- There is definitely a polemic going on in the subtext regarding the relationship between science and spirituality with respect to truth. This is true of McGrath in general as a scientist and former atheist turn Christian.
Is McGrath trying to create a new mythology with a Christian subtext for a new generation? Is he giving us what Lewis gave to his generation - a former Oxford, now King's College professor giving us a fictional entry into the biblical world? Is this the precursor to a new imaginative apologetic? Hard to say, and filling Lewis' shoes is harder still.
I appreciate McGrath a great deal, and was deeply inspired this past year by his Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology, his presentations at the Q Conference, and his debates with modern popular atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchins. McGrath has much work ahead of him, and my hope is that he will continue to bring us new work that is deeply inspired, deeply thoughtful, and deeply challenging to contemporary culture.
I plan on reading it again, so does my son, and my 10 year old daughter is next when she finishes her current book.