The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis wrote this story of the origins of Narnia sixth in his series, so it acts as a prequel of sorts to the Pevensie children’s adventures in Narnia. In this story, which takes place in the late nineteenth century in London, two children, Polly and Digory, are fooled by Digory's evil Uncle Andrew, an arrogant visionary who has made two types of rings from magic dust, one he thinks will send the children to another world and one which will bring them back from that world. He tricks Polly into touching the yellow ring whereupon she vanishes; then he tells Digory about the green rings which he believes will bring them back and shames Digory into going to rescue Polly.

Polly and Digory soon find out that Uncle Andrew is mistaken about the rings. The yellow rings send them into a wood between the worlds where there are many small ponds of water. Each pond leads to a different world when one wears the green rings. Digory and Polly decide to explore one of the other worlds. The world they land in is an old world called Charn. There they find no living creature until they inadvertently wake up Jadis, the evil Queen of Charn. It was she who had spoken the word of magic that killed every living thing on her world. Now she was anxious to find new worlds to conquer so she forces Digory and Polly to take her back to their world. There Jadis causes an increasing amount of turmoil, until Polly and Digory manage to take her, Uncle Andrew, the hansom cab driver, Frank, and his horse, Strawberry all with them to the wood between the world. As they try to escape Jadis, they jump into the wrong pond and end up in a world of darkness.

Soon they hear singing, which the children and the cabbie think is the most beautiful music they have ever heard. It is Aslan calling Narnia into being. Aslan creates the sky and the sea, the stars and the moon, the plants and the trees, and the animals, birds and fish. The ground is so new and growing that when Jadis throws an iron bar she had broken from a lamppost in our world, it grows into a lamppost. (It is this lamppost that the children will find in the first Narnia story.) Aslan then comes to the humans. Jadis runs away, Uncle Andrew faints, and the children and Frank (the cabbie) are drawn to Aslan. Aslan makes Frank the first King of Narnia and brings his wife from our world to Narnia. He makes Strawberry become a flying, talking horse and changes his name from Strawberry to Fledge. To protect this new world from the evil Jadis, Aslan sends Digory on a quest to get a special apple from a certain tree. Digory gets the apple and after he picks it he sees that Jadis has already eaten one. She tempts him to eat the apple, saying it will give eternal life. Digory resists the temptation and brings the apple to Aslan who plants it saying that since the witch has eaten the apple, she now will loath them. He then gives Digory an apple to take to his mother which will make her well.

After the children return to our world and give Digory's mother the apple from Aslan, they plant the seeds along with the rest of Uncle Andrew’s rings and magic dust in the yard. The apple grows into a tree which is later cut down and made into a wardrobe which Digory brings to his house in the country. The boy Digory from this book becomes Professor Digory Kirke, the host of the children in his country house in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, thus the genesis of all of the Narnia stories is told and the storylines are connected. As always it is easy to see the biblical allegory of the story in the creation of Narnia and in the story of the apple from the Tree of Life. Although CS Lewis wrote this story as the sixth in the series, in many modern collections it is often placed in the first position. Lewis uses this inserted prequel to tell of Narnia's creation before he tells of its destruction in his seventh and last Narnia tale, The Last Battle.

Quotes from The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

  • “A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. It was hardly a tune. But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.”
  • “We must now go back a bit and explain what the whole scene had looked like from Uncle Andrew's point of view. It had not made at all the same impression on him as on the Cabby and on the children. For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
  • “But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery. All get what they want;they do not always like it.”