The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Magician’s Nephew

Author: C. S. Lewis

Paperback: 767 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publish Date: 1998

ISBN: 0066238501

Miscellaneous: The Magician’s Nephew was first published by The Bodley Head in 1955. The copy I’ve read is in a complete collection.

They put on their green rings and came back to the pool. But before they tried another jump Digory gave a long “O-o-oh!”

“What’s the matter?” said Polly.

“I’ve just had a really wonderful idea,” said Digory. “What are all the other pools?”

“How do you mean?”

“Why, if we can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn’t we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others? Supposing there was a world at the bottom of every pool.”

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, page 28

While The Magician’s Nephew was chronologically the last Narnia book written by Lewis, it is a prequel to the series and is meant to be read first. It sets up and gives the reader the history behind actual first, and best known of the series, book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

In The Magician’s Nephew, we learn where Jadis, also known as The White Witch, came from and what happened to her world. Jadis herself had been responsible for the death of her home world, Charn, and when Digory’s curiosity (we all know what that did to the cat) gets the better of him, how she was awoke.

Now, of course there are parallels in all Narnia books to Christianity, Lewis had intended the books to be both entertaining and an inspiration to Christians (as well as an invitation to non-believers). I could pick several out and write in here what they meant to me as a Christian. However, that would make this a theological blog post instead of a book review, so I will abstain (as much as a person with a B.A. in Christian Ministry CAN abstain) from focusing on the allegories and, instead, focus on the merits of the book itself.

As a book, I really enjoyed The Magician’s Nephew, particularly since I have had previous experience with Narnia books. My mother assures me I have read them all, however I only remember reading the first three (not counting this book as the first) and part of The Horse and His Boy. There were several times when I went, “Oh! the professor!” or “Aslan….” and “ugh! The White Witch”, and the ending of The Magician’s Nephew tells where the wardrobe came from, and why it was magical and able to take the children to Narnia.

On its own, I don’t think The Magician’s Nephew could fully be appreciated as a book, it takes the next book to really understand what this book is pointing to and, in that, I don’t know if it really should be the first book to read. However, it is a very worthwhile book to read.

There is the concepts of good and evil, all children seek these poles in their own worlds, and how our own misdeeds, even when they’re not intended, can bring pain and misery on those we may never even know. Later, much later, generations of Narnians will come to suffer for Digory’s one moment of impulsive actions, even as Polly is begging him not to do it. Also, Lewis makes the point of who and where we are in life affects the way we may perceive the good things in our life: an evil, selfish person sees the people around him/her for their usefulness and not as companions and comrades, whereas a good and open person sees the possibilities and wonder around him/her.

As a story, it can be appreciated by all ages, and has action, suspense, love, and comedy… all things that go into a great story. But, I can’t really say it can be fully understood without the others, so I am giving The Magician’s Nephew 4 out of 5 stars. (okay, the creation story in it still pulls at my Christian heart… come on now, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to experience the creation of the world firsthand?)

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11 Responses

  1. I tried to read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe… but I just never really got into the book.
    Now I understand what people meant when they said that wasn’t the first book though! I was confused….I like the idea of having something like this though for the fans!


  2. When I read this series Forcthe first time, I read this one first. It made more sense than reading The Lion first.

    I can’t wait for them to make this into a movie.

  3. I always read >em>The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe first. I guess because then when you read about the creation it makes sense and you know to look for the lamppost and all that. But I’ve read this serious a dozen times, so I don’t know how it would be the first time.

    Is this really 787 pages? I’m hoping that’s a typo. Otherwise, it’s really really big print 😉

  4. I love this one soooo much. I’ve always put this in my top 3 of the series (the others being TLWW and The Silver Chair). I wanted to name one of our sons Digory but my husband wouldn’t go for it!

  5. I read The Lion first then read The Magician’s Nephew and then followed it by The Lion again. It made a lot more sense to me then. I have only read the first three in the series though and my husband keeps urging me to read the rest. I hope to do so in ’09.

    Great review!


  6. I read Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe first (waaaaay back when — 4th grade back in the dark ages). But I’ve read the whole series many times since.

    I stumbled this review.

  7. Some day I’d like to read the whole Narnia series but I don’t think I’ll have time for it anytime soon. Glad you enjoyed this book!

  8. I reread the Narnia books earlier in the year.

  9. I read all of these years ago; I probably need to go back and read them again, especially if they’re going to keep making movies of them. I once won a bet in high school because I knew that this was supposed to be the “first” book in the series, even though it was written last. A guy in my English class was convinced I was wrong; we actually had to go to the library and look at the books before he would believe me. Bibliophiles FTW! 🙂

  10. […] The Magician’s Nephew, the Witch destroyed her own world in a bid to control it and take the throne from her sister, […]

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