Monday, April 16, 2012

The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis is actually not the first book that was published of The Chronicles of Narnia - it was the second to last to be published.  It's usually presented as the first book in the series, however, because it is first chronologically.  Since "Book 1" is printed on the spine of the copy I have, and the omnibus I have has this one first, I can't bring myself to read them in order of publication.

Probably The Magician's Nephew is one of the least known of all seven books, since most people only really know of the books which feature the Pevensie children.  The children in this book are Digory and Polly, a young boy and girl who live next door to each other in London.  Digory's mother is very ill, and his father is in India for work, so he and his mother have come to London to live with her brother and sister in their home.  Digory thinks his Uncle Andrew is straight crazy, and is a little wary of him, and he finds he had good reason to feel this way when one day, he and Polly accidentally get into his upstairs study while exploring a tunnel which runs the length of all the houses.

Uncle Andrew, as it turns out, is a magician.  He is convinced he's unlocked the secret to moving between their world and other worlds, but rather than go himself (he's quite old, you see, this sort of thing is really only fit for someone still young), he tricks Polly into being sent from their world, leaving Digory no choice but to go after her (well, really he does have a choice, but he's not a douche, so he goes).

This is the story of how Narnia came to be, and we meet some characters who will be familiar to those who have already read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or seen the movie - Aslan, of course, is there, but we also find out where the evil Queen Jadis comes from.

While The Magician's Nephew is definitely one of the more understated of the series, I always enjoy reading it.  It isn't lacking for adventure, though there are no battle scenes, and when the Talking Beasts of Narnia come about, there are a lot of funny moments involving them and Uncle Andrew.  There are some nice morals for young readers, but not in a preachy kind of way.  Again, it's not quite as action-packed as some of the others in the series, this book is very captivating, and you really get a sense of it building up to the others; having re-read it, I am eager to finish re-reading the rest of them!




Series Info:  What came before this book?  What's next?
The Chronicles of Narnia
* The Magician's Nephew (Book 1: Chronological / Book 6: Publication Order)
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Book 2: Chronological / Book 1: Publication Order)

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  1. Nice review. It'll be a while before I get to this one though. It sounds rather good and it will be interesting to see how it all started.

    btw, I like your blog makeover.

    1. Thanks! Can't wait to see what you think of it, especially as you're reading them in publication order.

  2. I really loved this one, too. Getting the backstory of Narnia was really rewarding, and though this book isn't counted as most people's favorite, I thought it was pretty nuanced--Polly and Digory are flawed, while some characters like Lucy can seem purely good while Edmund is pure bad.

    1. Yes, I think part of what I enjoyed in this one is that Polly and Digory act the way I would expect kids around their age to act. They try to be more grown-up at some moments, but for the most part they're still children.

      I'm not sure that I would consider Edmund purely bad, necessarily, though he really is the most irritating of the Pevensie bunch, lol. It's been so long since I read this series, though, maybe I'll feel differently once I get to the books with him in them.

  3. When I read The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, I could never get into this one, probably because of the lack of action you mentioned, but when I reread it in high school I liked it a lot better.

    Great review!