Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Magician's Nephew

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The Magician's Nephew
C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Bodley Head, May 2nd 1955

The Magician's Nephew tells the story of Digory and Polly, two youngsters who accidentally interrupt Digory's Uncle Andrew in his study.  

Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into taking a magic ring he has been working on which causes Polly to vanish.  Digory takes a ring upon himself in order to find Polly and bring her back.

This is the first instance of Digory doing the right thing and going off to save Polly.  Throughout the story, Digory remains a character of high integrity and benevolence.

Digory and Polly find themselves in the Wood between Worlds where they can enter various pools to get to different universes.

They decide to explore and jump into one of the pools.  This was probably not a great decision on their part, but it works out in the end.

They first travel to a desolate and sad world called Charn which is full of ruined statues of former rulers and bears no life.  Also in Charn is a bell with a message asking any visitors to ring the bell.

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Digory rings the bell, again, not a very good decision.  The primary problem it appears that Digory and Polly (but Digory in particular) have is that they are a bit too curious and meddlesome.

This decision does not end well, and awakens from statue form the witch, Jadis.  They learn that Jadis had killed everyone in Charn by speaking the Deplorable Word to avoid losing a battle (very cowardly of her).  She put herself in an enchanted sleep which would only end once someone rang the bell.  

Digory and Polly realize that this Jadis person is not very good, and try to get back to England.  Jadis follows them and grasps them just as they put on their rings.  She turns up in England where she attempts to take over the world by ordering Uncle Andrew to fetch a cab.

She robs a jewelry store and when confronted by crowds of people and the police, tries to fight them off with an iron rod (her magic doesn't work in England) but Polly and Digory grab her and put on their rings.  Jadis, Polly, Digory, the Cabbie Frank, and Uncle Andrew end up in the World between Worlds where they jump into a pool hoping it's Charn.  

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It turns out to be a new world, Narnia.  I like the name Narnia, because I am pretty sure the Sindarn word for "story" or "tale" is Narn.  That makes this land the Story-land, which is a pretty cool.  I wonder if C.S. Lewis borrowed this title from Tolkien's language, perhaps?

The witness Aslan the lion create the new world through song, another parallel with Tolkien's universe in which the Ainur sing the world into existence.

Jadis tries to kill Aslan but he throws her aside easily and her iron rod becomes a lamp post in Narnia.  Jadis runs away.

Aslan tells Digory he must make reparation for bringing Jadis and evil into Narnia.  He is sent to a garden to fetch an apple to bring back to Narnia.  In the garden he meets Jadis who tempts him to take the apple of immortality for himself and bring it back to save his dying mother.

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Obviously this story bears strong parallels with the story of Adam and Eve, accentuated by the fact that Narnians call boys Sons of Adam and girls Daughters of Eve.

Digory withstands the temptation, brings the apple and plants it in Narnia.  Aslan tells him he can get another apple for his mother.  Digory, Polly, and Uncle Andrew leave Narnia but Frank and his wife Helen stay behind to be the first king and queen.

Digory's apple cures his mother and he and Polly remain friends for life.  He plants the apple core and the rings in his yard and they grow into a large tree, which then blows down in a wind storm.  Digory makes the wood into a wardrobe which comes into play during The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I thought this book was pretty good.  It is a little below my reading level, so I found myself a wee bit bored at times, but I think this is a great book for 10-11 years old.  I know there has been a lot of analysis done on the whole Chronicles of Narnia series, so I would encourage you to check that out.

Have you ever read The Magician's Nephew?  


  1. Is this your first time reading The Magician's Nephew?

    1. No I actually have read the entire series before, but I decided to reread because I've forgotten a lot of things.