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The Magician's Nephew
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195 of 202 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Whether you read these books chronologically (Narnian time):

The Magicians Nephew

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

The Last Battle

or in the order they were published:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

Prince Caspian (1951)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

The Silver Chair (1953)

The Horse and His Boy (1954)

The Magicians Nephew (1955)

The Last Battle (1956)

is entirely up to you.

Beginning at the beginning has always sounded like a good approach to me, hence this first review of the Narnia series.

Though written in simple style to be appreciated by young scholars, this book seems to echo with subtle and not so subtle references to the bible. A background check on the late great C. S. Lewis will reveal that he became a theist in 1929, a Christian in 1931, and later was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of St. Andrews in 1946.

His belief in the existence of one God, viewed as the creative source of man and the world, who transcends yet is immanent in the world, provides the foundation for the series, especially in this book and the magnificent classic "The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe." (Note: definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

"The Magician's Nephew" tells of the creation of Narnia by the great and powerful Aslan, and the temptation of a son of Adam, by a deceiver, with an apple from a forbidden tree.

This is the story of Digory and Polly, two friends who, upon an accidental meeting with Magician wanna-be Uncle Andrew, find themselves in a head spinning adventure involving other worlds, magical rings, an evil sorceress, a cabby and his horse, talking animals, and a collection of fauns, satyrs, dwarves and naiads.

We learn about the first King and Queen of Narnia, a heroic quest, a miraculous cure, and the planting of a tree and a lamp post, both of which we will need to move on with the series.

Even though a slim volume, The Magician's Nephew is deceptively deep and compelling.

WARNING: Reading this book leads to the compulsive reading of at least six other books.

Amanda Richards August 1, 2004
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Digory and Polly are exploring a passageway between their houses one summer morning when they stumble into Digory's uncle's study. Uncle Andrew dapples in magic, and tricks Polly into taking one of his magic rings. Digory goes after her, and they find themselves in a magic wood, a passageway to different worlds. Exploring further, they find evil as well as a land about to be created.
This is a different story in the Narnia tales. First, we don't arrive at Narnia until after half way through the book. Second, this is the only book where actions in the fantasy worlds have direct impact on events in our world. For these reasons, it's a fun change in the series. The story in Narnia is simpler then the others, but it makes watching a new world take shape no less thrilling. And there are some important lessons on doing the right thing at the right time and getting out of life exactly what you expect.
There is quite a debate about the order this book should be read in. While it was published sixth, the events place it first. When I read these books back in third grade, I read them in publication order, and I enjoyed that because there are some surprises in here that explain a couple scenes in the first book. Admittedly biased, I think that reading them in publication order would make for the most enjoyment. However, the issues involved are very minor and any of the books can really be read in any order without spoiling anything important.
No matter what order you choose to read the books in, make sure you do. These are classic children's fantasy for a reason; they are fun stories that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis is a wonderful beginning to The Chronicles of Narnia. Two children, Digory and Polly, are given a great gift by Digory's uncle. He gives them rings which give them the power to travel to different worlds and travel home again. They travel to many different worlds and have many different adventures. I one of the worlds they find an evil queenwho follows them back home. Polly and Digory take the the queen to a different world where they meet a kion called Aslan and many different talking animals. Digory takes a silver apple back home to his dying mother. When Digory gives the apple to his mother and she is miraculously cured. Digory plants the apple core and magic rings in his backyard. You will have to read the rest of this magical adventure to find out where the magic appears next. This book is one of the most wonderful and magical books I have ever read. Lewis's imagination really keeps the books alive. It makes you feel you are sharing the adventures right along with the characters. I would recommend this book to anybody because it is so fascinating. This adventure-fantasy is for people of all ages. It makes you want to keep on reading to find out what happens to the characters. There is a lot of suspense and it is very absorbing. I love the way it leads into the next book of The Chronicles. It makes you want to read all the other books that follow.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Magician's Nephew is more than a children's book. It contains many parallels and content that every adult would do well taking note of. This book is even prophetic when Aslan the Lion talks about the world we live in (near the end of the book). I enjoyed every bit reading this, and the last third of the book just thrilled me that it made my heart beat as I read it.

It is well known that the Chronicles of Narnia parallels the Bible, and in this book, it talks about the creation of Narnia, the entry of evil to Narnia, the temptation of man, and it also helps us understand the origins of the wardrobe in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Though this book was not written first, but it brings context to the next book when read this first.

There are many interesting views that Lewis brings across in this book, like the Wood between the Worlds. It seem to give the perspective from God's point of view in relation to time and space, where the Wood becomes the view to different worlds, being able to travel from one to another. Lewis' analogy as a corridor that linked to different apartments in a block of houses was brilliant. This book also showed the creation of Narnia when they travelled into nothingness, and hearing the singing of the Lion, the world came into being. This parallels the creation as God spoke it into existence. This book also showed that Aslan is not just limited to Narnia, but transcend beyond that, and it was interesting when Aslan said to the Cabby, "Son, I have known you long, Do you know me?" This implied the existence of Aslan in the world that the Cabby came from.

This book is so full of ideas, thoughts and parallels that Lewis had weaved in it with masterful artistry. Read and be thrilled!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is probably the one of the best books of the Chronicles of Narnia. Those of you who have a familiarity with the other books, such as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and the book of Genesis in the Bible will find yourself saying "Oh, I get it" through most of the story. The book explains how Narina came about, who Jadis really is, the childhood of the Professor, and how the Wardrobe became a portal to Narnia. It also details the creation of Narnia, and goes into events with the characters that are incredibly similar to the bible stories in the book of Genesis. As C.S. Lewis was a Christian writer, it is easy to see the evidence of it in this book. Even for an adult, this is an excellent book that keeps you reading just to see what happens next. I would recommend this to both people who are familar with the stories of Narnia and people who have not had any experience with the books at all. Before you go see the new movie of the second book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe which will be released on December 9, 2005, pick up this book and you will be able to enjoy the movie and the other books even more.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Every good story has a backstory. So in "The Magician's Nephew," C.S. Lewis backpedalled to tell us the story of how Narnia began, the origin of the White Witch, and various other little questions that popped up over the course of his Narnia series. The result is a tense, slightly comic prequel that neatly ties up the various loose threads.

Two London schoolchildren, Polly and Digory, meet and befriend one another, despite Digory's misery over his mother's fatal illness. But they fall prey to Digory's arrogant uncle Andrew -- Andrew has created some magical rings that transport the wearer to another world, and he wants the two as guinea pigs. Polly and Digory only narrowly manage to return from a dying world.

But they had an unwelcome passenger -- Jadis, an imperious sorceress who plans to take over the world. Polly and Digory are appalled at what has happened, and try to find some way of transporting Jadis elsewhere, using the magical rings. But when they do, they find themselves encountering a world that is just being created, by a strange lion -- the world of Narnia.

The Narnia stories are getting more attention in the months before the movie is released. And though it's unknown whether "The Magician's Nephew" is going to be on the silver screen, it's a valuable read for movie-watchers and readers alike. Basically, if "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" raised any questions, then this can answer them.

"The Magician's Nephew" serves as a neat way of explaining some very weird occurrances -- where did that lamppost come from? Or the Narnian humans? Just where did the White Witch come from, since she doesn't seem to fit in Narnia's springtime utopia? This book pretty much tells it all, as well as providing a character -- Digory -- who is a quiet but important presence fifty years later.

But "The Magician's Nephew" isn't just a way of dealing with loose threads. It's also an entertaining story, full of strange magic and eerie dead worlds. But Lewis also includes some comedy, when Jadis is running amuck all over London, or when Narnian animals try to plant and water Uncle Andrew. Lewis does get a bit hamhanded with the allegory of Jadis and an apple, but the fast, tense storyline makes up for that.

"The Magician's Nephew" is not just a prequel to the rest of the Narnia series, but an entertaining fantasy novel in its own right. Definitely a must-read for fantasy fans.
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40 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not going to dispute that this is a great book because it is, but it is NOT Book One of the Chronicles of Narnia. Reading this First SPOILS the mystery of the Wardrobe in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". If you want to read the books in the correct order it is as follows:
1.The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2.Prince Caspian
3.The Voyage of the Dawn Dreader
4.The Silver Chair
5.The Horse and His Boy
6.The Magician's Nephew
7.The Last Battle
DO Read this book, just please read it at the right time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 1998
Format: Turtleback
This is the most enjoyable book that I have read in months. The author has an outstanding sense of humor as well as an imagination unrivalled by any writer this century has produced. E. B. White said that the way to write a great children's book is to write a great book for adults, and then cut out three fourths of it. This is exsactly what Lewis has done, and this is why people of all ages can enjoy this book. Some people criticize Lewis for moralizing, but all great literature has a message, from the Bible to Dostoyevsky. It does not have a slow or uninteresting part, and is very well written. It is about a boy named Digory and a girl named Polly. Digory brings a witch out of Charn and into Narnia, a world that Aslan has just created. It explains many of the things in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; how the lampost got there, who Professor Kirke was, why a wardrobe could get the children into Narnia and many other things I was wondering. Any one looking for a great read, or any writer that wants to know how to write the perfect children's book needs to read this one.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Magician's Nephew" was the second last of seven books that C.S. Lewis wrote in the Narnia Chronicles, but chronologically it relates events that occur first in the series: the creation of Narnia. Two children, Digory and Polly, enter a strange world through the help of magic obtained by Digory's Uncle Andrew. In this world they discover the evil witch Jadice. But then Digory makes his first mistake: he brings Jadice back to life, and worse, brings her evil presence from a world that is dying (Charn) to a world that is just beginning (Narnia). But Digory is not without redemptive qualities - he journeys with the winged horse Fledge to a magical garden reminiscent of Paradise, and resists further temptations from Jadice by faithfully taking an apple from a tree in the middle of the garden and planting it in Narnia. This fruits of this tree eventually prove to be a blessing to Digory and Polly as they return to the real world. In fact, it is this tree that later will be built into the magic wardrobe of book 2.
As with all the Narnia Chronicles, on the level of children the story functions as a perfectly comprehensible and exciting fantasy adventure, but on an adult level it imparts powerful spiritual truths about Christianity by means of numerous recognizable Biblical allusions. "The Magician's Nephew" very obviously reflects on the motifs of creation and fall, as evil enters a beautiful world where a man and his wife are king and queen (p.142). The notions of creation, the Paradise garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit, and the tempter Satan, are all present. Especially telling is Aslan's indictment of Digory for bringing evil into the newly created world: "You see, friends, that before the new, clean world I gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought hither by this son of Adam." But there is immediately a hint of redemption and the suggestion that it will be accomplished by Aslan himself. "But do not be cast down. Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself ... Adam's race has done the harm, Adam's race shall help to heal it." (p.161-2). Digory's successful resisting of the temptation of Jadice in obtaining the magical silver apple is a subtle reversal of the account of the fall, and possible only because of Aslan.
As always, in all the upheavals and conflicts of Narnia, Aslan is the one constant, and it is his vital involvement that enables the children to complete their Narnian quest, just as it is Christ who inspires, comforts, guides, and saves in the real world. Narnia may exist only in Lewis imagination and ours, but these underlying truths about Christ ensure that a journey to Narnia is never without profit for the real world.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 19, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Magician's Nephew" is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Narnia books. It never gets filmed, as familiar protagonists and fickle public attention tend to run out around the time the studio gets to "The Silver Chair", and no producer really wants to poke around the thorny attitudes toward the Muslim world that pop up by "The Horse and His Boy" (but which are absent from "Nephew"). Thanks to a massive misunderstanding of narrative structure by the current copyright owners, it's recently been saddled with the onus of being the introduction to the entire Narnia series, a position for which it was never written or suited. Due to the whole "backstory" nature of the book, it tends to be hurried through and forgotten by those on their first trip through the series. Before my adult reread, nothing stuck in my mind about this volume; I remembered the Dawn Treader, and I remembered Puddleglum - but Magician's what now?

The story opens on the unfamiliar Digory, a young boy who lives a lonely life in a dingy and cramped part of London with two distant elderly relatives and a mother who's gravely ill, probably terminal. Eventually, he meets a playmate named Polly, and they together begin to explore the passageways connecting the different rowhouses in their tenement. They thereby happen upon the laboratory of Digory's eccentric Uncle Andrew, who seems oddly delighted by the intrusion. He offers Polly the fruit of his latest experiment - a glowing yellow ring. She takes it and disappears - which, as Andrew's subsequent sinister behavior clarifies, was the intended effect. He offers Digory a second ring to follow in Polly's footsteps, wherever she has gone - but only as a scout for Andrew, who plans to continue his nefarious experiments beyond this world. Digory's path eventually leads to Narnia, of course, though not as directly as you might think.

That batty old Uncle Andrew is really no match for anything he will find in Narnia is a given and leads us to the first striking difference about "The Magician's Nephew" - it's as close to a comedy episode as the Narnia series gets, right up till the ending ("she was a dern fine woman"). There are indeed threats (and a sense of wonder), but they are, until the climax, either not immediate or are easily neutralized, leaving a free breeziness that allows the story to have fun with itself and tour the scenery. I stress: this is the book that features one of the series' greatest villains going Grand Theft Horsebuggy on London. Come ON, people.

In balance, "Nephew" boasts some of the series's most awe-inspiring, poetic, and chilling sights: A ruined world living in the hell-lit shadow of a red giant nearing supernova. The hall of statues, a portrait of successive cruelty and a more effective history of a nation than any expository text. The serpent in Narnia's Eden having bitten into its apple, lips stained red with bloody juice. The horrifically elegant conclusion of the war on Charn: "Victory."/"But not for you."

Rereading as an adult, it struck me that "Nephew"'s female characters provide an antidote of sorts to the Problem of Susan issue. Though femininity freaks Lewis out (Susan, Lasraleen, the faux-motherly White Witch and seductive Lady of the Green Kirtle), that does not preclude him from writing strong females outside those roles. Digory's aunt holds her own about as well as one would expect against a sorceress, possessing an iron calm and command in ridiculous situations. Digory's mother gets hardly a word, but the effects of her absence speak volumes; she is the missing leader and moral pillar of her family. Polly proves a wise, albeit often unheeded, foil to Digory - she's still a kid, and they both get into heated arguments, but when the chips are down, she's the one with a level head. The war on Charn, deadly serious, is fought between two female commanders. Those put off by "The Last Battle"'s complications might be pleasantly surprised here.

I've noted that "The Magician's Nephew" does not serve well as an introduction to the series. Besides Aslan, its characters do not show up, at least in these forms, in any of the other Narnia books, and you have to have some familiarity with the previously-published volumes to enjoy it fully ("oh, so THAT'S how the lantern got in the middle of the forest" etc.). The original publication order offers "The Magician's Nephew" its proper place to shine. It deserves a higher pedestal than popular memory has given it; it's one of Narnia's brightest jewels.
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