The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, Book 6)

by C. S. Lewis

Other authorsPauline Baynes (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1955



Call number




Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc. (1955), 167 pages


When Digory and Polly try to return the wicked witch Jadis to her own world, the magic gets mixed up and they all land in Narnia where they witness Aslan blessing the animals with human speech.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
The sixth of the seven Chronicles of Narnia that C. S. Lewis wrote, The Magician’s Nephew is actually set several years before The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and acts as a sort of prequel for the series. Whether it should be read first or sixth is a matter of debate—I’ve argued both
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sides over the course of my life, but currently favor the latter, as it makes the climax of this book that much more surprising, and the aura of mystery that surrounds LWW that much more appealing.

We open in London, which Lewis paints with colors both nostalgic and fantastical, as he merges the city as it might have been during his childhood with its literary history, invoking such names as Sherlock Holmes and the Bastables in the opening paragraphs. In this setting a young boy and a young girl from neighboring houses meet and start to become acquainted. She is Polly Plummer, a plucky thing who has lived all her life in London. He is Digory Kirke, who used to live in country, thinks London is absolutely miserable, misses his father (who’s away in India), worries about his ill mother, loves the aunt with whom they are staying, and is absolutely terrified of her brother Uncle Andrew, whom Digory thinks mad. While the children are exploring one day, they happen upon Uncle Andrew’s study, and he tricks them into putting on some magic rings that send them “right out of the world.” But Uncle Andrew underestimated both his rings and the extent of the realms they have access to: Polly and Digory find that, by alternating between their yellow and green rings, they can jump between various worlds. Over the course of the story, they awaken an evil witch, put their own world in danger, and get to see an empty world brought into being.

This was my favorite of the Chronicles as a child, mostly because of all the magic—rings of power, jumping between worlds, halls of images, words of power, dying worlds, others being created, even vague references to Atlantis and Morgana le Fay—it’s pretty cool stuff, you’ve got to admit. And there is something very nostalgic and delightful about the tone of this book, something that has nothing to do with my early love of it. At times it reads very much like a fairy tale.

Of course, what really get me now are the scenes between Aslan and Digory, particularly those that involve the subject of his mother. This was a very personal book for Lewis to write, as he was very close to his own mother and had to watch her slowly decline and die when he was a child. He imbues the scenes I mentioned with rare and memorable emotion. I definitely teared up while reading them, just as I did near the end The Silver Chair.

As I hinted in my first paragraph, the book is particularly satisfying when read after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, especially the first time around. I had the great pleasure of reading it aloud to my little sister on her first trip through Narnia, and it was a joy to see her start making the connections between this and the first book as we neared the grand finale.

Though it is no longer my favorite of the seven, The Magician’s Nephew is a book I love and cherish. I really cannot say enough good things about The Chronicles as a whole: if you have not read them yet, you simply must!
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LibraryThing member crashingwaves38
This is the first Narnia novel that I've read, and I must say that it's a breath of fresh air. There isn't a single fantasy novel that I've ever read where there aren't a million people to know and a million new terms that have to be explained, to the point where most need an appendix and
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dictionary to go along with them and you need to read the series several times before being able to keep everything even somewhat straight. Being able to read through it once and getting it all together was great.

Reading through it, the Christian background is obvious. It's so obvious that even I could see it. I don't know how I felt about it; I imagine at some point I will re-read it to try to really delve into the things that weren't immediately obvious to me. The beginnings of the world, humanity's involvement, the garden of Eden and the's all incorporated. I look forward to reading it again.

I was glad that Lewis explained how the wardrobe came into being. I thought Charn was a fascinating place--the concept of young worlds versus old worlds, that worlds die and are born, and how all that was tied into Christian mythology/history was a fasinating take on it all.

I look forward to reading this again at a future date.
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LibraryThing member lit_chick
2001, Harper Audio, Read by Kenneth Branagh

Having long loved and appreciated The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I wanted to experience Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia from the start – from where the magic began. Here, two young friends, Digory and Polly, are transported to the Wood Between the
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Worlds, by touching magical rings created by Digory’s uncle. The Wood, readers learn, is something of a multiverse, linking Earth, Charn, and Narnia. In Charn, the children meet the evil Queen Jadis (The White Witch), who cunningly follows the children back to London, where she creates utter chaos. Eventually, Digory and Polly manage to get Jadis back to the Wood, and are surprised to discover that, along with the evil Queen, they’ve also been accompanied by Uncle Andrew, the Cabby, and his horse, Strawberry. The adventurers land next, not in Charn, but in the land that we will come to know as Narnia – created and ruled by the beautiful, majestic lion, Aslan – a force of good.

Favourite Moment:
The transformation of Strawberry, carthorse, to magnificent winged horse, Fledge – and his tender protection of Digory and Polly.

What an incredible imagination had C.S. Lewis! I know much has been made of the religious references in the Narnia Chronicles, which some readers find troublesome – I am not one of these. Without needing to analyze the Christian parallels of the literature, I accept (and look forward to) the epic battles that will be waged between the forces of good and evil.

I cannot recommend this audio edition of The Magician’s Nephew more highly: Kenneth Branagh is absolutely inimitable! – elevating excellence to perfection. And I’m off to explore more of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Join me?
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LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
My biggest fault with The Magician's Nephew is the distance between the characters and Aslan. Instead, the reader is introduced to the evil in the world first, and Jadis seems to have a stronger grasp on the story than the deeper good.

As a reader familiar with all of the Narnian stories, this may
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not be a fatal fault. However, as the series is now published in chronological order, it would be a fault for new readers, in that Aslan is the key to Narnia. Yes, Lewis explains that through the creation of Narnia, but you don't get any true connection with the Lion. At least, I haven't after reading this novel time and time again.... and as a Christian and a lover of Narnia, I think I should easily connect with Aslan... but this doesn't cut it for me.
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LibraryThing member taramatchi
I really enjoyed this classic story. I am rather surprised it has taken me so long to read it and I can't wait to read it with my kids. It was nice to read the back story to the creation of Narnia and the characters that live there.
LibraryThing member GingerbreadMan
I only read a few of the Narnia books as a kid, and had no real sense of the overall arc of this series. When my six year old picked the thick omnibus out of his bookshelf and said he wanted us to start reading it, I thought I was in for a light, fairytale-tasting fantasy adventure with some
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Christian metaphors. I wasn’t expecting this, and cannot say the surprise was pleasant. For this, the first book of the series, about the creation of Narnia and the opening of portals between it and our world, is very light on story indeed, but heavy on solemn religious imagery and looong descriptions of mostly nature.

I have no problem with a book for children being religious, but I’m not sure I at all like how Lewis is using poor Digory as a symbol for all mankind, making him personally responsible for bringing evil into the newly created land. There’s just too much guilt and sin and disappointment here, for reasons that just seem too thin, and the redemption doesn’t seem to make up for it. I still see a child being shamed for something he couldn’t possibly have foreseen. The fun bits – perhaps above all the animals trying to get to terms with what manner of creature Digory’s uncle really is, cracked both me and my son up, but it wasn’t enough to take away the stern, rigid feeling of this book overall. We’ll surely plunge on for at least one more book (the next, of course, being the real classic), but if that one doesn’t deliver, I think we’ll abandon this series, at least for the time being.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
This is actually the first of the series of the Chronicles, although it was written later. It is a touching story of a boy's love for his mother who is dying, and his attempts to be faithful to what he knows is right, and to be faithful to his mother.

Lewis introduces us to magic rings, wicked
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queens and uncles, and transporting tools. We get to see the creation of Narnia, and the introduction evil to the garden.

I recommend you actually read this one first, if you have not read [The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe] yet.
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LibraryThing member keristars
As a child, I was enchanted by the worlds in The Magician's Nephew - the descriptions of Charn, the creation of Narnia, and the Woods Between the Worlds - but I found myself cringing at the decidedly unsubtle allegory when I reread the book recently.

There is no avoiding the fact that this book is
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about Good versus Evil, nor that it is attempting to retell one of the creation stories from Genesis with the creation of Narnia. Everyone seems rather wooden and pushed into the rolls Lewis wants them to take and there is no real suspense or wonder. The good end happily and the bad do not, except for Jadis who must play the roll of Eden's serpent.

Furthermore, I was rather appalled at the treatment of Polly, the female Ketterleys, and Nellie/Queen Helen. I wish that I could better explain what I find so unsettling about them, but I can only point vaguely at their uselessness. I really didn't get a positive, empathetic feeling towards any of the women in the story, except for Mrs Kirke - and I suspect she only slides by because she's Digory's mother and she's ill.

So, that's that. It's an interesting little book, but steeped in 1950s children's book conventions, and it could use a good deal of updating to match it with modern sensibilities and a more dynamic writer.

Oh, and: according to one of the front pages of my copy, Lewis intended it to be read first among the Chronicles of Narnia, but I must disagree with him. To have such a blatantly allegorical story first in the set is to lose much of the wonder of discovering Narnia through the wardrobe with the Pevensie children. Besides which, much of the suspense and wonder in the second book are dashed away with all the background information that The Magician's Nephew provides.
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LibraryThing member aethercowboy
If you're my age, or older, then The Magician's Nephew is the penultimate book in the Chronicles of Narnia. To those younger than me, even by a few years, Nephew is the first book.

Granted, when I was younger, and first read this book, I realized it as a prequel (though I think it was before that
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word was canonized). I did not, however, realize the NEW order of the books until I saw the Walden Media-produced theatrical film with my wife and her siblings, all younger. I was quite surprised to hear them wonder aloud why they started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I said, "Because, It's the first book."

To which they said, "But the first book is The Magician's Nephew!"

It was then that I realized that someone had reordered the books, and published them like so, and my in-laws were thus in possession of a set ordered chronologically. I, myself, order my books via internal chronology, when possible, but I found it odd that people actually believed that TMN was book, the first.

Perhaps it's just me.

Nevertheless, book, the (chronologically) first is where I will start. This book sets the foundation of the mythos of Narnia, in which we see the creation of Narnia, the origin of the Wardrobe, and the backstory of Jadis, the White Witch.

If you have read one Narnia book, you have most likely read this one. That, or you've read LWW. In the latter case, if you enjoyed that Narnia tale, you may find it worth your while to work through the remaining books until you find a copy of TMN sitting in your hands. I suggest, at that time, that you read it.
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LibraryThing member bexaplex
The Magician's Nephew has a split personality: Digory and Polly are great characters, and Lewis writes them lovingly. I always get a little bored at the start of Genesis, however, and that's one of the reasons I dislike the re-ordering of the series in time-order instead of the order in which they
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were written. In this book you don't have any time to develop feeling for Aslan; you're just told to respect him through Digory. This story, and the character of Aslan, is fairly meaningless without the sacrifice in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is why that book should come first in the series. Take that, dying wishes of C.S. Lewis.

At any rate, this book falls into the "not as good as L,W+W but still fun to read" camp.
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LibraryThing member maboeln
I had read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as a child, but never any of the other novels from the Chronicles set. Recently, having heard how one friend was reading the books to his children, I got an urge to reread from the beginning.

How I wish I'd read this book sooner! Suddenly so many of
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the confusing moments in LWW made complete sense! If you've ever wondered who the White Witch is, or why there's a solitary lamp post in Narnia, or even who Aslan is, its worth reading this book.
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LibraryThing member elainepx2014
interesting book with characters that have special personalities. answers my question to the second book of the narnia series. the best part was at the part where digory went to get the 'special' apple for aslan. it was very intense at that part.
LibraryThing member lassiter
This book of Narnia must be read first. This is the setting for the rest of the series. This book lays the groundwork and shows how some of the details that are seen in the series have come about.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
As much as I love books, there are plenty of classic writings which I have yet to read. If it hasn't been assigned as homework, a book has to compete with slick advertising and the capricious nature of my curiosity. Be that as it may, a few of the "classics" manage to get my attention from time to
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time. For example, I have finally gotten around to reading children's fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. The Magician's Nephew is the first volume in the series. It's actually a prequel to the book which was written first, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As such, Nephew suffers a bit, as the storyteller mentions things that don't contribute to the story at hand, but will rather embellish parts of subsequent volumes. But even with such a handicap, this book is delightfully written. Lewis manages to create descriptions that skillfully work on a child's level yet poetically hint at the deeper complexity. For example, his description of the evil queen alluded to the seductiveness of evil while quite plainly stating that she was no good. Lewis also does a great job of embellishing Biblical teachings to create stories that echo the truth of God and our everyday lives. I can understand why this series has been given such rave reviews. If you like fantasy, put this on your shelf. (If Lewis were still alive and in need of the profit, I would tell you to put it on your shelf even if you don't like fantasy, but he's not so I won't.)
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LibraryThing member wirkman
The oddest of the Narnia series, in many ways, this book tells of the origin of the world, and is thus, chronilogically, the first. And yet it was the penultimate as written.

What I remember most are three thrilling, chilling images:

1. The Wood Between the Worlds, silent, mysterious.

2. The bell
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that awakened the world that had been frozen by the speaking of the Deplorable Word.

3. The creation of Narnia by a singing lion.

Amazing fantasy.
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LibraryThing member AlexTheHunn
While this volume comes near the end of the Narnia stories, chronologically it is the first. Lewis allows the reader to learn the origins of the wardrobe that appears in the first volume -- the wardrobe that is the portal between Earth and Narnia.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
In my eyes and heart, this is the first of the Narnia books. I love the boy and girl in this story. The evil uncle, the amazing and awful Lady from another world. It is a poignant story about the desperate things we will do to save someone we love. The introduction and beginning of Narnia, the end
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of Charn. Wonderful stuff.
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LibraryThing member AudiLyu
it's great book, it talks about Digory and Polly were sent to another magic world by bad uncle Andrew, and their adventure in that world, finally when they tried to go back they accidentally went to another brand new world which just be born. One of the great thing of this book I think is that
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everyone has a very pure heart. Even bad people don't really have bad ideas. This book brought me a briefly peace while I was stressed out.
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LibraryThing member munchkin49
The story begins with a young boy living with his sick mother and an uncle who is very misterious. He meet a girl from a few houses down the block and they become friends. They begin their exploration in the attics of the row houses connected by the attics. When they decide to snoop in the boy's
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uncle's room they get more than they bargined for. The uncle has some colored rings and gives one to the girl. When she puts on the ring she disappears. The uncle tell the boy that inorder to bring her back he must put on the other ring and go find her.
When he puts the ring on he finds himself in another place. He finds the girl but before they return they decide to explore the area. Impulsively he chooses to ring a bell. When he does this the area begins to shake and suddenly they find themselves before an Ice Queen. She is very evil and when the boy and girl try to escape back to their wold she grabs on and is brought back with them. The uncle is intrigued but soon finds himself the victum of her evil ways. When she decides to explore "her" new world the two children make a plan send her back where she came from. When they finally succeed in sending her back, in the ruckus, a coachman, his horse, a gas street lamp, the queen and the two children get transported into a new world. This world is ruled by a lion named Aslan. Aslan helps defeat the evil Ice Queen, and all is well....maybe.
This is a fun and imaginative story. It would be something I think both boys and girls would enjoy. There is a moral in the story but it does not overshadow the story. This is a very good book and one to be enjoyed more than once. It is also the first of a series that builds on what you learn in this book.
I think that it would be fun to talk about the movie, maybe even show the movie and then ask several question about some things in the movie before reading the book. Then after reading the book talk about how many question can be answered from reading the book.
The other classroom extention would be to draw and color the two different "magical" worlds and compare and contrast them.
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LibraryThing member kateleversuch
Like Roald Dahl, these are books which are not just for children. The Chronicles of Narnia are beautifully written with the Christian message throughout.

The Magician’s Nephew is the first in the trilogy and is the creation of Narnia. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Polly’s hand went out to
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touch one of the rings. Immediately, without a flash or a noise, she vanished. When horrible Uncle Andrew starts experimenting with magic, Digory and Polly find themselves in another world, and at the beginning of an incredible adventure, as the doorway to the magical land of Narnia opens…This is the first adventure in the exciting Chronicles of Narnia.

It took about half the book to get to Narnia, but honestly, that was not a problem. This gives time for character development, the meeting of the witch and the exploration of other worlds, which I would not have none existed had I not read this one.

My favourite character, like most others, is Aslan the lion. He seems to intimidating but has such a soft heart, what an amazing creature. The description of him is stunning.

As mentioned, the Chronicles of Narnia are based around the Christian story - but do not be put off by this. The Magician’s Nephew replays the Creation Story with Aslan creating Narnia and breathing life into the characters and the Tree of Life and how Diggory was not to eat from it or steal from it.

There is a stark warning at the end to not let our world fall into evil and decline.

I enjoyed this book, and would recommend you read it even if you are an adult. Lewis writes in a fluent and entertaining way, it is easy to follow and very enjoyable.

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LibraryThing member the_awesome_opossum
I think this is my favorite Narnia book. Digory Kirke (later known as the professor in LWW) and his friend Polly Plummer are sent to another world by Digory's uncle, an amateur magician who doesn't really understand what he's meddling with. There they see the creation of Narnia, but also the evil
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which has tainted it. It's a wonderful and thoughtful retelling of Genesis, as well as being a good adventure story
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LibraryThing member cathyskye
Written in 1955 (a very good year), The Magician's Nephew is an early
example of a prequel. Written as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia
series, it actually takes place first and sets the stage for the other

In London in the year 1900, it's been a long wet summer. Polly lives in a
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house and meets Digory, a young boy who's recently moved next door to
live with his aunt and uncle. His father is in India and his mother is
seriously ill. Digory misses the country and hates living in this "Beastly
Hole" in London. The two become friends and one day decide to explore the
attic, which links all the row houses together. They accidentally stumble
into Digory's uncle's secret study. Uncle Andrew is a self-taught magician
and welcomes two victims...err...volunteers to test his latest bit of
magic--yellow rings and green rings that take the wearer to the Wood Between
the Worlds. Digory and Polly agree to the test and find the Wood Between the
Worlds to have many puddles of water. Digory believes each puddle to be the
entryway into another world, and he talks Polly into jumping in one before
returning to Uncle Andrew. They find themselves in the ruined world of Charn
and Digory awakens the evil Queen Jadis.

Jadis follows them back to Uncle Andrew's study and after an interesting
tour of London, Jadis follows a group containing Polly, Digory and Uncle
Andrew to yet another world. They hear the lion, Aslan, singing, and they
watch the world of Narnia being born.

It's easy to read this and track down all the Biblical allegories. It's easy
to read this and see the shadows of World War II. But it's easier still to
read it and escape into the story and characters which are wonderful in
themselves. I quite enjoyed my first visit to Narnia.
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LibraryThing member jenreidreads
This is the SIXTH book in the Chronicles of Narnia. VERY IMPORTANT.

I love reading about how Narnia is formed. It is SO IMPORTANT that you DO NOT read this volume first! Yes, chronologically, it comes first in the story of Narnia. But so much magic is lost if your first introduction to this world is
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not through the wardrobe with Lucy! Imagine if this were your first time meeting Jadis! And Aslan! The gravity of these characters isn't there if this book is read first! (I'm very passionate about this, if you couldn't tell.) Setting aside the reading order...I do really enjoy this volume. Again, with the religious under(over)tones - Aslan creating the world...pretty obvious. The children are believable and not annoying. And the boy grows up to be the Professor from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - imagine not knowing him already! Gah! Okay, I'm done now.
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LibraryThing member DanielSTJ
This seems like a prelude to the entire Narnia series, introducing the characters and the setting and letting it somewhat flow through the nuances and tribulations that they suffer. It was a decent book, but I didn't feel it was as strong as The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Overall, still a
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good one though.

3 stars.
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LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Digory (the professor of TLTWandTW) and his friend Polly find their way into Narnia by way of his evil uncle. They see the world created, but accidently drop off an unwanted guest who has nearly plagued the earth. They must go on a quest to help Narnia which will test their faith.


Original publication date


Physical description

167 p.


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