Title: The Magician’s Nephew
Book One in the Chronicles of Narnia
Author: C.S. Lewis
Published by: Reprint by HarperCollins (1/2/2008)
208 Pages (Paperback)
Blurb: A beautiful paperback edition of The Magician’s Nephew, book three in the classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, featuring cover art by three time Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator, David Wiesner, and black-and-white illustrations by the series’ original illustrator, Pauline Baynes.
On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.
Witness the creation of a magical land in The Magician’s Nephew, the first title in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you want to journey back to Narnia, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second book in The Chronicles of Narnia.
My Take: There is just nothing quite like exploring into Narnia, whether following the Pevensie children, Eustace and Jill, or Polly and Digory. This book, being the first chronologically (and the sixth written by Lewis), deals with the creation of Narnia and the entrance of evil into that new world. It is both uniquely different than the other books in the series, yet also strangely familiar throughout with the appearances of characters and prophecies that play important roles later in the series. This is the book that is a perfect starting point for those revisiting Narnia again, but arguably not the best book for the person making their very first venture into the series.
The scene with Aslan singing Narnia into existence was remarkable, and in itself quite similar to the approach Tolkien took toward the creation story of his fictional world in “Ainulindalë”. While there are certainly stark differences, such as Tolkien having Melkor disrupting the harmonies of the Ainur and Iluvatar during the song process, the fact that both men used music as a critical part of the creation process is certainly interesting to make note of.
Perhaps the greatest moment in the book involves a pivotal decision for Digory and whether to do what Aslan asked him, or to do something for selfish reasons. It was a powerful moment, and Aslan later hinted that the decision truly had rested with Digory but that, had he chosen differently, things may not have happened exactly how he would have hoped. This echoes into the theological debate about free will and predestination. It was moving and inspiring, as is so much that is Narnian.
Overall I loved revisiting this book. It was one I had skipped a few years ago when going back through the Narnian series for the first time as a Christian. I can safely say that I will never skip over this one again, although I think I will start my children with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they first encounter Narnia.