Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – APRIL READ – The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Published April 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.

What did I think?:

My childhood is filled with memories of the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis and what better way to re-visit them as to include them in the Kid-Lit Challenge that I participate in with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads? I had a beautiful box set of the Narnia books as a child although when I read them over and over again they began to look a little worn! What I remember most about the books was the beautiful illustrations within and when I downloaded The Magician’s Nephew to my Kindle I was thrilled to see that the pictures were still there. Although C.S. Lewis actually wrote this book after his most famed book in the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, this book is written so that it should be read first if you are starting the series. After all, this is when we first meet Aslan the majestic Lion, the terrifying, cruel and power-hungry White Witch, and discover how that famous Wardrobe ended up being a doorway into the magical land of Narnia.

The story starts by introducing us to two children, Polly and Digory. Digory is living with his very strange and mysterious Uncle Andrew as his beloved mother is bed-bound, very ill and not likely to recover any time soon. Digory is pleased to meet Polly to help take his mother’s plight off his mind and the two children soon become fast friends. When exploring the hidden passageways between their houses however the two children end up in Uncle Andrew’s forbidden study by mistake. They are mortified, but Uncle Andrew seems unusually pleased and invites Polly to try on a beautiful ring which when she does so, makes her disappear into thin air. You see, Uncle Andrew is quite a devious and selfish man and has been experimenting with magic (usually with guinea pigs, but unfortunately they don’t give very good feedback). He explains to Digory that he must now go after Polly if he wants to see his friend again and gives him a second ring for both of them of a different colour i.e. the “homeward” ring while telling him that he expects the full details of the magical place of which he is too cowardly himself to visit.

The two children end up visiting the ancient city of Charn, where all they find are ruins and a set of stone individuals dressed as if they were rulers with the most beautiful and extravagant clothing they have ever seen. One woman in particular stands out – she is incredibly tall and beautiful and has a regal sense of confidence that overwhelms them. Then they notice a small bell with a poem attached, warning of the consequences of ringing it, but it is too tempting for Digory and despite Polly’s pleas he rings it. Oh dear… they appear to have woken Queen Jadis aka The White Witch. And to make things worse, she manages to get back to London with them when they slip their homeward rings on and decides she is going to take over the country (killing anyone who gets in her way of course!). Their Uncle Andrew at first appears like a puppy dog, calling her a “dem fine woman,” and then is reduced to her slave as she causes mayhem around London. Digory and Polly know they must get her back to where she belongs and manage to get close enough to touch her while putting on their rings, but also manage to take back with them a snivelling Uncle Andrew, a cabby and his horse Strawberry.

When the group arrive back in the magical world, it is quite dark and nothing appears to exist until they hear the beautiful sound of singing which leads to grass sprouting, trees growing, and even animals being created from the ground upwards. Digory remarks that it is the stags that are most interesting to watch developing as their antlers come up first which tricks him into thinking they are trees. The children then realise that the song is coming from a large, golden lion whom, once the world has been created, gives a select number of animals the power of speech, names the world Narnia and mentions that although the world is not yet very old, a great evil has already entered it. (Yup, that’s you Jadis). Aslan requests the help of Polly and Digory to protect Narnia from The White Witch by going on an adventure to find a very special apple which when planted will grow into a tree that will shield Narnia from Jadis and her terrible powers.

I loved this book just as much as I did as a child although now as an adult it is easier for me to see the parallels with religion – creation of the world in Genesis, Aslan as God, The White Witch as the Devil/serpent who tries to tempt Digory with the knowledge that if he does not take the magical apple back to Aslan he could cure his sick mother. It reads nonetheless as a fantastic adventure tale and magical story before the days of  Harry Potter that I still think would captivate children today. The characters are fantastically realised and the reader has a whole different mixture of people to idolise, terrify and laugh at to makes it a memorable and classic piece of literature. It’s also nice to read a book where the characters have obvious flaws, or make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences – I’m thinking of Digory ringing the bell (WHY did he do it?) or Uncle Andrew messing around with a magic that he knows little about as cases for example. I’m just really glad that I still enjoyed this book as an adult, and would happily continue with reading the rest of the series.

Please see Chrissi’s post HERE for her fabulous review!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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11 comments on “Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – APRIL READ – The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

  • “I’m thinking of Digory ringing the bell (WHY did he do it?)”

    Because it was there? I don’t know, but I feel like I’ve seen so many characters ring bells or gongs in various books, movies, etc. simply because they see it that that seems like the most obvious and likely answer to me. *laughs*

    Anyway, I mainly wanted to comment and say I love that you and Chrissi are able to discuss what it was like reading this book as a child vs. an adult. As someone who read three and a half of them solely as an adult (The Magician’s Nephew included since I read them in published order as a child…), I loved being able to read about your experiences revisiting this book! 😀

  • A brilliant review for what was my favourite of all the Narnia books. How lovely that you finished with that wonderful illustration which I remember 🙂 I never got the parallel to religion as a child but when reading this to my children, as you say, it is very obvious.

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