6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Origins of Narnia,
This review is from: The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1) (Paperback)
As most people already know, though the Magician's Nephew may be the first book of the Narnia series when the stories are placed in chronological order, it was actually one of the last to be written. I believe this is of key importance when analysing the story for I feel that the focus of the novel is less to do with the plot but more of a way for C.S. Lewis to finally explain exactly how Narnia, the lampost, the wardrobe, and all the other significant aspects of the previous Narnia books came into existence - it's a revelation of Narnia's orgins, the answers to everybody's questions.
I remember that as a child I had always disliked the storyline of the Magician's Nephew, and though I am now 18 and it has been many years since I orginally read the series, I am still not the biggest fan of this introduction to Narnia. The tale follows Polly and Diggory, who, whilst exploring, come across Diggory's Uncle's attic, where Uncle Andrew tricks the children into touching some magic rings which transports them into an adventure the likes of which they would never have imagined. In Charn (one of the worlds the children wonder into) Diggory unknowingly frees an evil witch, and ultimatley introduces this evil to Narnia on the day of its creation. The highlight of this novel is of course the creation of Narnia, which is explained in vivid detail, an event which the children are of course witnesses to.
There are countless references to christianity throughout the creation of Narnia, some of them subtle, many of them crudely obvious, and although I am not a follower of chritsianity or religious in any way I still enjoyed the story for what it is and am rather surprised that these similarities have often irked other readers. As far as I can see however, if these refernces made Lewis happy, and if certain readers appreciate them then I can quite happily ignore them and take the story purely for what it is and not have to analayse the text more than requires.
One issue I had however with the novel was the style of writing, there is no doubt that Lewis is a skilled writer and he has an uncanny ability to present even quite complex sentences in the simplest way where there is no doubt of it's meaning. He can maintain the readers interest with every line, but the simplicity of the language did the story no favours in my opinion, and though I appreciate that the book is one primarily aimed at children, I found the story often too simple and childish, something which I felt had adverse effects on the story's credibility (which, in a fantasy novel, is a key thing to maintain). Infact, at times, certain converstaion felt awkward enough they seemed to have been forced, though this was more often that not when the animals were speaking for the first time, so Lewis has done very well to have managed to pull it off as well as he has.
All this said, I still believe the pros of this novel far outweigh the cons. I don't believe this is the best Narnia novel, but it is the start, and provides a fulfilling, satisfactory history and explanantion for the fans who ever did wonder at the origins of Narnia. A definate for the fans. For the newbies however, perhaps start with a different book and return to this one later on.