Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.
Many of us have crazy relatives. But do those relatives ever experiment in upstairs attics with magic rings and Beethoven hair-do's? Well...maybe some of them do, but Uncle Andrew tops the cake in C. S. Lewis's opening novel of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician's Nephew. Though The Magician's Nephew was written near the end of the Narnia series, chronologically it falls as the first of the Narnia stories.
Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer find themselves tricked into world-traveling by Digory's maniacal uncle. They battle temptation, fear, forgetfulness, and an evil witch. When the witch follows them back to their world, Digory is faced with the challenge of defeating her before she dominates mankind (Polly is at home, grounded because of a dirty frock. Otherwise she'd help, of course). In the end, he encounters events and magic far beyond his understanding, ultimately witnessing the creation of Narnia.
Lewis depicts the creation of Earth beautifully through Aslan's detailed creation of Narnia . His ability to paint mind pictures leaves the reader with ultimate satisfaction. I have read The Magician's Nephew before, but forgot how much excitement takes place. I always remembered it as a tad boring, but after reading it recently I can't imagine why I had that negative impression. It is witty, very humorous (especially the relationship between Digory and Polly), and somewhat deep when you look further into it.
Lewis tackles the idea of temptation and the repercussions of giving in. This is done through a scene similar to the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Digory is faced with a choice to strike a small bell with a hammer. A poem warns him, but he gives in anyway (despite Polly's shrieks of disagreement) and must deal with the consequences.
One aspect of the Narnia novels that I especially love is the manners. Children are polite, they have good standards, they are respectful, and they are smart. They learn to think for themselves. When I see a younger child like that nowadays, whether I know him/her or not, I am inclined to swell with pride. :) I pray these morals and habits enter each child reader who picks up the book.
Lewis's writing is also very clear and easy to understand, but not simple . I like this because it encourages the reader to pursue a higher reading/thinking level (particularly the younger ones). Lastly, this book definitely tackles magic. "Magic" is stated and used plainly by the witch and is what transports Digory and Polly to the other worlds.
The book is quite clean other than a few mentions of alcohol (specifically, Uncle Andrew turning to "drink" to still his nerves) and tobacco. But I have never considered those "sins" or completely inappropriate. Today, however, they are considered a more "adult" topic. I think children can still handle them to an extent and Narnia remains within that appropriate extent.
Speaking of sins, I found a rather interesting article of the relation of the 7 deadly sins to Lewis's Narnia series. The link is found here and I encourage you to read it. Lastly, I also found an online library of sorts that provides the entire Narnia series for free. Though the books are beautiful (in their many different forms), the insides are even more so and if you can't afford to buy them, they're worth reading online here.
Overall, I highly recommend, not only The Magician's Nephew, but the entire Narnia series. I will provide reviews for the other books eventually, but for now, you'll just have to trust that they're amazing.
Violence Level: ** (just action, really. Not violence).
Romance Level: *
Christian Focus: ****
Readability Level: ***(keeps the reader focused, but not confusing).
Story Depth Level: ***
Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.