The Magician's Nephew - C. S. Lewis

This is where the new numbering system for the Narnia books really gets it wrong: on all the new sets (including those with the wonderful Chris Van Allsburg cover illustrations), The Magician's Nephew is listed as the first of the series. Chronologically, this is accurate, because this is the Narnian creation story. But it's a weak mind that can only understand things in chronological order, particularly in today's non-linear storytelling world. Without the first few books under your belt, you simply wouldn't have any investment in the world of Narnia, and you wouldn't understand what the big deal is about this strange lion singing at the dawn of creation. That, and it gives away some plot points for the later books which it really doesn't serve any purpose to reveal so early on.

Okay, that's all the rant.

The book is a great back-story to all the other stories we've read so far. It explains not only how Narnia came into being, but also a little of how it's connected to our world, and the surprising origins of some of the things in Narnia. Uncle Andrew (the titular "Magician") is quite a character, loathsome and pathetic and comic in turns; he's the one who sends Digory and Polly off into worlds unknown, where they eventually end up in Narnia (but not before having some side adventures).

One fun tidbit which I hadn't noticed before was that at the beginning of the book, when Lewis is setting the book in a "long ago" time, he explains that at that time "Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road." Robyn, who had read the Narnia series long ago, hadn't known who the Bastables were, but apparently Lewis expected his readers to have heard of them, and it was a pleasant surprise to find a reference to them here. (If you haven't heard of them yourself, take a look: it's a series by Edith Nesbit.)

Fed to jonathan's brain | July 04, 2005 | Comments (0)


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