on 19 January 2004
When I was 7 or 8 I read my mother's childhood copies of 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' most of them so well loved that each book had half a cover and an assortment of pages tucked in the back that you had to put in the right place while you were reading. Discovering this beautiful edition of 'The Magician's Nephew,' including the original cover and illustrations and with archive-quality clay-coated pages has been a revelation.
'The Magician's Nephew' tells how Diggory Kirke (the young Professor Kirke from 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe') and his friend Polly get sent to The World Between Worlds, unwittingly awaken Jardis, Queen of Charn, from an enchantment and transport her to the new world of Narnia as it is being sung to life by the Great Lion Aslan. Despite the fact that it's the first of the Chronicles, it was the last to be written and thus sews the seeds for all the books that follow. We learn where the lamp post and the wardrobe came from, why some animals talk and some do not, and why humans are the rulers of Narnia.
If you're not interested in the Christian allegory aspect of the books then it's a great read in and of itself. For those who appreciate this second dimension of the books, 'The Magician's Nephew' is a doubly exciting and thought provoking book. Human stewardship, creation ex nihilo, original sin and many other aspects of Creation are presented in an unusual and challenging way.
Whatever age you are, whether you are familiar with Narnia or new to it, this sumptuous copy of 'The Magician's Nephew' will be a book that you will enjoy and treasure for years to come.
Digory and Polly are exploring a passageway between their houses one summer morning when they stumble into Digory's uncle's study. Uncle Andrew dapples in magic, and tricks Polly into taking one of his magic rings. Digory goes after her, and they find themselves in a magic wood, a passageway to different worlds. Exploring further, they find evil as well as a land about to be created.
This is a different story in the Narnia tales. First, we don't arrive at Narnia until after half way through the book. Second, this is the only book where actions in the fantasy worlds have direct impact on events in our world. For these reasons, it's a fun change in the series. The story in Narnia is simpler then the others, but it makes watching a new world take shape no less thrilling. And there are some important lessons on doing the right thing at the right time and getting out of life exactly what you expect.
There is quite a debate about the order this book should be read in. While it was published sixth, the events place it first. When I read these books back in third grade, I read them in publication order, and I enjoyed that because there are some surprises in here that explain a couple scenes in the first book. Admittedly biased, I think that reading them in publication order would make for the most enjoyment. However, the issues involved are very minor and any of the books can really be read in any order without spoiling anything important.
No matter what order you choose to read the books in, make sure you do. These are classic children's fantasy for a reason; they are fun stories that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
Every good story has a backstory. So in "The Magician's Nephew," C.S. Lewis backpedalled to tell us the story of how Narnia began, the origin of the White Witch, and various other little questions that popped up over the course of his Narnia series. The result is a tense, slightly comic prequel that neatly ties up the various loose threads.
Two London schoolchildren, Polly and Digory, meet and befriend one another, despite Digory's misery over his mother's fatal illness. But they fall prey to Digory's arrogant uncle Andrew -- Andrew has created some magical rings that transport the wearer to another world, and he wants the two as guinea pigs. Polly and Digory only narrowly manage to return from a dying world.
But they had an unwelcome passenger -- Jadis, an imperious sorceress who plans to take over the world. Polly and Digory are appalled at what has happened, and try to find some way of transporting Jadis elsewhere, using the magical rings. But when they do, they find themselves encountering a world that is just being created, by a strange lion -- the world of Narnia.
The Narnia stories are getting more attention in the months before the movie is released. And though it's unknown whether "The Magician's Nephew" is going to be on the silver screen, it's a valuable read for movie-watchers and readers alike. Basically, if "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" raised any questions, then this can answer them.
"The Magician's Nephew" serves as a neat way of explaining some very weird occurrances -- where did that lamppost come from? Or the Narnian humans? Just where did the White Witch come from, since she doesn't seem to fit in Narnia's springtime utopia? This book pretty much tells it all, as well as providing a character -- Digory -- who is a quiet but important presence fifty years later.
But "The Magician's Nephew" isn't just a way of dealing with loose threads. It's also an entertaining story, full of strange magic and eerie dead worlds. But Lewis also includes some comedy, when Jadis is running amuck all over London, or when Narnian animals try to plant and water Uncle Andrew. Lewis does get a bit hamhanded with the allegory of Jadis and an apple, but the fast, tense storyline makes up for that.
"The Magician's Nephew" is not just a prequel to the rest of the Narnia series, but an entertaining fantasy novel in its own right. Definitely a must-read for fantasy fans.
on 22 June 1999
Whoever wrote that plot summary can't have read the book recently! In fact, Polly & Digory are followed _out_ of Charn by the evil Empress Jadis and unwittingly bring her to a newly-created Narnia; Aslan gives them the task of mitigating the effects of their mistake. One of the best in the series, to my mind. The scene where the talking animals adopt Uncle Andrew as a pet is just hilarious; the description of Charn, especially the Hall of Statues, spine-chilling; and my mouth waters again to remember the toffee-fruit tree that Polly & Digory plant...
The Magician's Nephew is the first novel in the seven Narnia stories by CS Lewis, and one of the best. It tells how the world of Narnia was created by Aslan, but what precedes it is almost as exciting.
Diggory and Polly live in the Edwardian London of long ago, "in the time when the Bastables were hunting for treasure and Mr. Sherlock Holmes still lived in Baker St." They meet because neither goes away for the summer holidays, and Diggory's mother is dying. His uncle is thought to be mad,but in fact turns out to be a weak but evil magician, who tricks Polly into putting on a magic ring that will take her out of our world and universe. Diggory follows her, and they discover the Wood between the Worlds, where innumerable pools leads to other worlds.
Plunging into one of these, they find themselves in the accursed and dying land of Charn, where Diggory wakes the Empress Jadis - the future White Witch. It is when they try to return her to Charn, after a hilarious but terrifying day with her in London, that they stumble upon Narnia - and the hope that Aslan may give Diggory's mother a fruit to make her well again.
Kenneth Branagh gives the best reading of this unabridged version imaginable. Although his women (especially Jadis) leave something to be desired, the characters of Diggory, Uncle Andrew, Aslan and all the animals spring into life. It kept my children absolutely quiet for three hours, even though the 7 year old had just read it himself. Pure magic.
Whether you read these books chronologically (Narnian time):
The Magicians Nephew
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle
or in the order they were published:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
Prince Caspian (1951)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
The Silver Chair (1953)
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
The Magicians Nephew (1955)
The Last Battle (1956)
is entirely up to you.
Beginning at the beginning has always sounded like a good approach to me, hence this first review of the Narnia series.
Though written in simple style to be appreciated by young scholars, this book seems to echo with subtle and not so subtle references to the bible. A background check on the late great C. S. Lewis will reveal that he became a theist in 1929, a Christian in 1931, and later was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of St. Andrews in 1946.
His belief in the existence of one God, viewed as the creative source of man and the world, who transcends yet is immanent in the world, provides the foundation for the series, especially in this book and the magnificent classic "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe." (Note: definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster)
"The Magician's Nephew" tells of the creation of Narnia by the great and powerful Aslan, and the temptation of a son of Adam, by a deceiver, with an apple from a forbidden tree.
This is the story of Digory and Polly, two friends who, upon an accidental meeting with Magician wanna-be Uncle Andrew, find themselves in a head spinning adventure involving other worlds, magical rings, an evil sorceress, a cabby and his horse, talking animals, and a collection of fauns, satyrs, dwarves and naiads.
We learn about the first King and Queen of Narnia, a heroic quest, a miraculous cure, and the planting of a tree and a lamp post, both of which we will need to move on with the series.
Even though a slim volume, The Magician's Nephew is deceptively deep and compelling.
WARNING: Reading this book leads to the compulsive reading of at least six other books.
Amanda Richards August 1, 2004
on 10 September 2004
I first heard this production when I was young and it's a story and dramatisation that has has stayed with me because it is an incredibly colourful and faithful version of the original story. The passion and precision of the voices are really superb and manage to bring to life a myriad set of complex characters that could easily have sounded dull and dated, despite Lewis' amazing story-telling ability. This production allows the imagination to truely envisage Lewis' dreamland, which is probably because the actors are so well cast and embody the good and bad of the characters they play so well. A lot of effort has clearly gone into this dramatisation, so that it remains faithful to the spirit of the book and adds a realism the text could not.
With this particular edition, the C.D. quality is excellent- without the muffling sounds sometimes caused on audio cassettes and so there is no reason why this and the other 6 radio dramatisations should not be bought and treasured by all those people who loved the books and those who've never heard of Narnia- there is simply no other collection of stories better brought to life in audio.
on 2 July 2004
Have you got 2 rings that can take you into a different world?
Polly and Digory have. This story is about 2 children that put a yellow ring onto their finger and can go into another world. This world is called Narnia. Digory goes and finds Polly and takes a green ring with him which can take them back to their own world. Then they travel to a different world and meet a cruel queen. Will they escape with their lives?
My favourite character is Digory because he gets into mysterious situations and he's very brave.
My favourite part is when Polly wants the ring, Uncle Andrew gives it to her and she disappears into another world because it is full of suspense.
I would recommend this book to 7-12 year olds who like adventure stories because it is about children of their age going into different world's and it's very strange
on 28 June 1999
My wife and my two children (ages 7 and 5) listened to this story whilst on a trip to the south of France (a long drive!). Excellent dramatisation and pace kept us amused for several listenings. A great book/tape!
on 13 July 2008
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.