The Magician’s Nephew: a Review

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I started my 2016 Reading Challenge with The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis, which is the second book on my list as I didn’t yet have the first one, and I just couldn’t wait a moment longer. So, on a Thursday, a work day no less, I chose to begin reading the one book I was supposed to read in a day. It took me all day, reading on breaks and between fixing dinner for my children and putting them to bed, but I did read it in a day.

The Magician’s Nephew is the story of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer. The two young children meet one cold, wet summer in London and begin a friendship that will carry them through some wild adventures. They travel to another world, encounter a wicked witch and embark on a journey that will test their new friendship.

C. S. Lewis wrote a charming, childhood tale that takes the reader on a wild, magical adventure to other worlds. The main characters, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer are typical curious and adventurous children. Lewis portrays well the innocent, yet self-centered nature of a child as the two new friends explore, play and fight with one another. Despite the trouble they manage to find, both of their own making, and that of others, love and friendship win out in the end.

Little Digory Kirke is the true hero of this tale. Pulled from his country home and thrust into an unfamiliar and unfriendly city, Digory manages to find friendship and hold on to a childlike innocence despite the wickedness of the adults around him. Faced with choices no child should have to make, he proves that good can overcome.

Originally published in 1955 as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew, is really a prequel, and probably not meant to be read as the first book. When the books were reprinted in 1980 by Harper Collins, they were reordered at that time to a chronological sequence. But many, perhaps most, Lewis scholars feel this was not the author’s intention. You can read the debate here and decide for yourself.

Lewis wrote from an omniscient narrator point of view. There is considerable authorial intrusion with the narrator often breaking into the story to speak directly to the reader. Some might find this too intrusive, but for the most part, I felt this gave a sort of storyteller feel to the book. For the most part. Meaning there were a couple of instances where the intrusion was a little disruptive.

Over all, I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Though, I think I will go back and start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe I can talk my boys into reading it with me.

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