Title: The Magician’s Nephew
Author: C.S. Lewis
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia, book 1
Major Themes: Fantasy
Synopsis: When two children discover a secret workshop, and then accidentally send themselves to another world, they must find a way to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
One day, I told some friends that I hadn’t managed to read the Narnia books yet. They were a bit incredulous at the news, and loaned me their boxed set of all seven books—so soon after, I had fun reading The Magician’s Nephew for the first time! Even though they assured me it wasn’t as good as some of the later ones, I ended up really enjoying the story. It’s hard to know what to think of some of the things in here, but as a fantasy lover (and someone who tends to get lost in story worlds more often than not!), I thoroughly enjoyed the fun and danger that came into play in this book.
Digory and Polly don’t know what trouble they’re going to get into when they accidentally stumble across Digory’s uncle’s secret workshop. When Polly is sent to who-knows-where by a clever trick, Digory must decide whether he’ll play the man—even though his uncle is clearly an evil trickster—or risk losing Polly forever. Determined to rescue her if possible, he allows himself to be transported, too—and finds himself in another world. When he and Polly realize that they can actually access other worlds from this “intermediate” world, they get themselves into a lot more trouble—and a little bit of joy—than they ever dreamed of. But will these other worlds be the end of them?
The Magician’s Nephew isn’t the kind of book I’d like to read all the time, but in some ways, it delighted the child in me. It felt somewhat playful, as if the author had a daydream, and figured out how to share it with us and make us have the same one. Of course, many parts of it are very purposeful—and since I haven’t read the other books in the series yet, I don’t know what all is foreshadowing, and what is just in there for the story’s sake. But I did enjoy the feeling of playfulness in this story, and the way the children tried to combat the evil they came across. There were some things I didn’t appreciate so much—the magic, of course, but the story wouldn’t be a story without it—and also the way evil powers were described in here, but I’ll get into that more in the warnings. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and can’t wait to see what happens in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—which, I’m told, is much better than this one!
WARNING: This book’s main basis is in magic, where children touch something magical and are transported to another world. Also, there is an evil witch who casts spells on people. And near the end of the story, there are various gods mentioned as belonging in Narnia—to me, the connotations of other gods coexisting and working with Aslan (a type of Jesus) was somewhat disturbing, because that is not true.
“By gum” is used in ch. 2. “Swears” is used in ch. 3, as well as “blast”. “By gum” is used again in ch. 4. There is one sentence about a man who killed a lot of people in ch. 5, the witch curses someone, and tells how she allowed a lot of her armies to be killed. “Don’t be such an a—” is used in ch. 6, “swear” is used, “hang it all”, a man is drinking, and someone says “you’re a devilish well preserved…”. A woman is thrown across the room in ch. 7, “Great Scott” is used, and someone has stolen quite a bit from a jewelry shop. A woman hurts a man in ch. 8, “for heaven’s sake” is used as well as “thank goodness” and “my hat”, a man asks for a drink of spirits, and someone says “gawd”. “Guns be blowed” is said in ch. 9. “Strike me pink” is said in ch. 10. “For goodness’ sake” is used in ch. 12 as well as “by Aslan”. “Gosh” is used in ch. 14. “Great Scott” is used in ch. 15, a man goes to have a drink, and a mention is made of wood-gods and river-gods (those first appear in ch. 10).
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15