“The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis

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This year I will read all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia series– five of them, and will complete a goal on my 2014 Manifesto. So curl up with a cup of hot coffee, your fuzzy socks, and a blazing fire, and let’s get reading.

The Magician’s Nephew is a fantasy novel for children (and adults) written by C.S. Lewis and published in 1955. It was the sixth of seven novels in the The Chronicles of Narnia series (1950–1956); but it is volume one in recent editions, that are sequenced according to Narnia history- which is why I’ve read it first.

Thanks to Wikipedia we know that Lewis began The Magician’s Nephew soon after completing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, spurred by a friend’s question about the lamp-post in the middle of nowhere. This story includes several autobiographical elements and explores a number of themes with general moral and Christian implications including atonement, original sin, temptation, and the order of nature.

*spoiler alert*

If you haven’t read the book and would like to find everything out on your own, stop reading!

The Magician’s Nephew is set in England and features two children caught in experimental travel via “the wood between the worlds”. These children, Digory and Polly, are playmates who stumble into Digory’s Uncle Andrew’s ‘forbidden’ study. Uncle Andrew knows a bit of magic and tricks Polly into touching a ring that takes her out of our world. Digory is upset and indignant, knowing he will have to take another ring and go and fetch Polly. Digory meets Polly in “the wood between the worlds” where various pools that one could take a dip in takes you to another world. The children argue, and decide to visit another world before going back to regular boring life, and after some experimentation they arrive in ‘the deplorable world’. Here they awaken the Queen, and she follows them in their escape.

This is where the story gets really interesting. The Queen meets Uncle Andrew and demands he be her slave so she can conquer their world. She is loose in London, with Digory and Polly fretting over what to do. They finally get their opportunity, and take the whole gang (with some innocent bystanders) back to ‘the wood between the worlds’. They go into another pool, but this one leads to an empty world. Uncle Andrew tries to get the children to take him back, but something is happening. The group witnesses the creation of the Narnia world by Aslan the lion. Havoc ensues as Uncle Andrew continues his attempts to get the children to take him back. This causes the Queen to throw the part of a lamp-post she had pulled in her immense strength from a lamp-post in London. The metal piece grows into a lamp-post that springs from the ground as Aslan is singing things into being. The visitors then participate in the beginning of Narnia. These events explain the origin of foreign elements in Narnia, not only the lamp-post but the White Witch and a human king and queen, (one of the bystanders and his wife), as well as the magical cabinet we come to know in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The story also has a very heartwarming sub-plot with Digory’s mother, and the ending is absolutely amazing. We not only get a story of general moral and overarching Christian implications, but one that follows those lines of love and friendship and their meanings in our lives.

I very much enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it!

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