It verges on snotty condescension to call C.S. Lewis' Narnia
books Lord of the Rings
lite, especially given Lewis' long-standing and fraught relationship with fellow Oxford don J.R.R. Tolkien. But they are. The seven Narnia
books are less obsessively imagined than the Ring
trilogy, and their roots in familiar Western folk and fairy tales are obvious, if brightened with Lewis' own oh-so-English inventions: the fretful faun with his sensible scarf and umbrella, the nattering beavers whose homey banter conceals deep reserves of bristly stiff-upper-lip pluck. The loyalty commanded by The Chronicles of Narnia
isn't the devotion of whip-s...