In the preface of this volume, Michael G. Maudlin, editorial director for HarperOne, says in reference to books people reread many times, “…a part of us never really leaves the story. They become part of the geography of our souls, the landmarks by which we map and measure our lives.” A Year with Aslan: Daily Reflections from the Chronicles of Narnia, he says later, was made for those who are haunted by the depth of C.S. Lewis’ fantasy tales in adulthood.
This devotional book edited by Julia L. Roller consists of 365 excerpts from the seven Narnia books, each ending with application questions. The questions range the practical to the philosophical, from personal to universal. A wide range of themes are addressed, including temptation, wisdom, and repentance. Some questions, while not overtly religious, lead the reader to consider the deeper meanings of the stories, such as who Aslan is.
Each excerpt is short, ranging from one paragraph to two pages. Most application questions are only a few sentences, but they often touch on issues that require time and thought to process. Some are as simple as, “Would you have done the same” as this particular character in this situation, while others are as thought-provoking as, “Why does Aslan tell Peter to clean his sword first?” It usually depends on the passage.
The first entry deals with the creation of Narnia and the final one covers the unveiling of New Narnia. In between, the individual stories of each book are loosely followed. However, there are hardly any excerpts from The Last Battle until a third of the way through, and then most of the final entries come from it. This seems fitting considering that book deals with the end of many things, just as most readers will be coming to the end of a year.
As a bonus, a dozen Pauline Bayne illustrations are included as “covers” for each new month, much like the chapters in the original books.
A few themes, like seeing things from others’ viewpoints, are repeated throughout the book. However, these are spread out so as not to become repetitive, and the questions are always worded differently.
Fans of the series will be happy to know that key events from the books, like Aslan’s death and resurrection, the “un-dragoning” of Eustace, and the creation of New Narnia, are given several days worth of excerpts and questions. This allows the reader to digest them and consider the many truths that can be mined and explored from these events. This more than compensates for the book’s few lackluster questions.
Whether you’re Christian looking for a devotional book for the new year, or someone looking to dive deeper into the themes of Narnia, A Year with Aslan will be a year well spent.