The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 1
Number of pages: 202
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair
The secret passage to the house next door leads to a fascinating adventure
NARNIA…where the woods are thick and cold, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins.
Digory and Polly meet and become friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else. They find their way to Narnia, newborn from the Lion’s song, and encounter the evil sorceress Jadis before they finally return home.
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How many times have I tried reading this book and stopped? Twice, thrice? I can’t remember. But I am kind of glad my reading ADD got me to push this book deeper down my TBR until I decided to do the right thing and read The Chronicles of Narnia in publication order.
But if you noticed, I didn’t really read them one after the other. They say Narnia books are best read at a specific time of the year, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe being best read during Christmas, while The Last Battle during Lent. Since I want to have a dip in the Narnia world before going through the final book in the series, I decided to let The Magician’s Nephew wait a bit more after I finished The Horse and His Boy, bundling it with the last book for a Holy Week read.
The Magician’s Nephew is said to be a prequel for the series, but how much of it as a prequel is something I know nothing about. I remember being confused with who Digory and Polly were, especially since I really only knew and care about the Pevensie siblings. Digory and Polly were two friends living in London who were, well, quite bored. One day, they decided to do some exploring and somehow landed in Digory’s uncle’s room, who he was quite scared of because of his strange experiments and crazy antics in their house. His uncle made them a subject of his experiment, landing him and Polly in a strange new world — another dimension, with only some rings to guide them. In this world, they meet a woman who is not who she seems, and a majestic lion whose song and breath can bring things to life.
I wasn’t expecting to love The Magician’s Nephew because of my previous reading ADD experiences, so I was pretty surprised at how I reacted to the end. I loved it in the same level as how I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair. It was written in the same children’s book way as the other books, but I guess the back story and the idea of “where it all began” fascinated me — we see exactly how Narnia was created, from lands forms to water features and all that. There was enough adventure and fun in the story to keep me invested in it (and mind you, I was reading this on a long Maundy Thursday, so there were other books that I could easily pick up over the weekend to replace this). Even if the Pevensie siblings weren’t there, I was interested in the characters, particularly Digory and Polly. I thought Digory’s story with his mom was sweet and a bit sad, but I was glad it turned out well in the end.
The Magician’s Nephew is a great example of creating a rich back story for a series, and even if it has been a while since I last read a Narnia book, the details came rushing back just as clear. This may be cheesy, but maybe it’s because a part of me has started living in Narnia when I first started reading it? I like how this ties everything neatly, and I honestly think that making this a penultimate read in the series is the best way to read it, because it makes me want to go visit the previous books to check the other details. My friend said that reading this as the first book might lessen the wonder of Narnia come second book, and I must agree with that. Of course, I’ll never know now given that I read it in a different order, but if you haven’t read any book yet and I may recommend? Read The Magician’s Nephew second to last. :) It would make the reading experience a little bit more magical.
As usual, I liked Aslan’s presence in this book, and I liked how the final events were tied neatly at the end, explaining just exactly why some things happened in the next books. Oh, and if you’re wondering — the explanation of the lamp post is there, too.
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to really like this, but I was glad those expectations weren’t met. This definitely made me more ready to read The Last Battle, and a little bit more ready to say goodbye to Narnia, a land that I’ve been visiting for the last two years. :)
Dark Chest of Wonders