Thoughts on the Magician’s Nephew

Although I have read the Chronicles of Narnia some years ago, I’m currently reading through them again with my daughter. I’m sure I’m enjoying the stories as much as, if not more than, my daughter.

Magician's Nephew

I decided to read them in chronological order instead of publication order and thus started with The Magician’s Nephew. The Magician’s Nephew was actually the sixth of the seven books published and it made its appearance in 1955. I suppose this book would be one of the first of what we now call a prequel.

The Magician’s Nephew is not talked about as often as some of the other books in the series and I’m not sure that they will be making a movie of it anytime soon. Still it is one of my favourites in the chronicles.

One of my favourite parts of the concern young Digory Kirke has for his sick mother’s health and the temptations he experiences to find a cure. I also liked how Uncle Andrew is so corrupted that he could not understand the speech of the animals in Narnia. What Uncle Andrew heard when Aslan spoke was much different from what the children heard. I love the transformation of Frank, from a seemingly low member of society, to the king of Narnia. Lewis really works his magic in the description of these characters.

Although I like reading the book in chronological order, I can understand why some people do not. When one reads The Lion, the Witch in the Wardrobe, there should be the same sense of discovery in learning about Aslan as the children experience.

One of the things that I notice in reading the first two books (chronologically) is that the white witch comes across a bit differently. Reading the second book, it seems as if Jadis had always been in Narnia, while the first book reveals she came from Charn, a world in which she had killed everyone. The second book also describes her as half-giant and half-djinn, something not mentioned in the first. I get the picture that Lewis was not overly concerned about continuity.

Still, it is a fantastic book and deserves to be included not just as one of the best children’s stories but one of the best fantasy novels in general.

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