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The Magician's Nephew (Full-Color Collector's Edition) Paperback – August 22, 1999
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The Magicians Nephew
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
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
I love that Digory wants so badly to use the apples for his mother and that the witch says the excuses we think ourselves. Here's a paraphrased conversation between him and the witch.
Witch: "Use the apple to make your mother well."
"Oh!" Digory put his hand to his head. For he now knew that the most terrible choice lay before him.
"Cruel, pitiless boy! You would let your own Mother die!"
"But I promised!"
"But you didn't know what you were promising."
"Mother would tell me not to, if she were here."
"She need never know."
Writer thoughts: CS Lewis knows how to write about the hearts of people. I haven't found another author better at writing about what really goes on inside the depths of humans' souls. Orson Scott Card reveals candid glimpses, but it's nothing as consistent as Lewis. What makes me say Lewis does this so well?
Think about Terry Pratchett's explanation of second thoughts (and third thoughts and fourth thoughts). He shows a little of what humans are thinking behind the first layer of thinking. CS Lewis discusses these innermost thoughts quite casually, throwing them in his prose for all readers to consider.
If you saw your enemy drowning, your first layer of thoughts might be, "Somebody help him!" Everyone really is a decent human being on the surface. The next layer might be, "I should help him," but is your compunction here strong enough to overcome the third thoughts ("He deserves to drown") and your fourth thoughts ("I'd probably drown and cause more harm than good") or does your enemy drown? Perhaps there are fifth and sixth thoughts helping you decide what to do in that moment, too.
The thing is, many authors focus on the first layer of thoughts (if they breach inner dialogue at all). Other authors let readers glimpse second and third thoughts. Very good authors make the readers aware of fourth thoughts, even if they don't always state them. CS Lewis consistently lays bare all layers of thoughts/motivations/feelings/impulses/instincts that his characters have at complicated moments.
That's the key, though. He picks just the right moments, when his characters are in full moral dilemma, to show readers how conflicted the characters are.
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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