A Book of Narnians

Lewis, C.S. A Book of Narnians: The Lion, the Witch, and the Others. Compiled by James Riordan and illustrated by Pauline Baynes. Text Compiled by James Riordan. Illus. Pauline Baynes. London: Collins, 1994. 88 pp. ISBN 0-00-193414-9.

Reviewed by Nancy-Lou Patterson

[This review originally appeared as “Enriching the Canon” in Mythlore 21.1 (#79) (1995): 55.]

Sublimely illustrated entirely in color and at a large size (7.5 x l0″) by Pauline Baynes, Lewis’s best-of-all-possible illustrator, and (shudder) “combining a text woven by James Riordan largely from Lewis’ own words,” this book is a short dictionary of the main characters in the Chronicles of Narnia which will delight the heart of all fans of (1) Narnia, and (2) Pauline Baynes. It makes a very agreeable accomplishment to the actual books, though I wish that Lewis’s quotes had been set in quotation marks and had not been “woven” with anybody else’s words at all or in anyway. At least we are told up front that the weaving has occurred.

As for the illustrations, they are wonderful not only as reprises in color from the artist’s original contributions to the Chronicles, but as additions to the canon of Narnia made visible. I think the enchanting “Fauns Dancing” (16-17), the studious “Doctor Cornelius” (28), the exquisite “Sea People” (36-37), the delightful “Seven Brothers of the Shuddering Wood” (40-41), the endearing “Animal Characters” (56-57), the incomparable “Reepicheep” (61), the elegant “Dryads” (72-73), and, in her finest image of the central figure of the Chronicles, the majestic image of Aslan (78) the Creator, with whom this beautiful volume appropriately concludes. Joyously recommended.


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