The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

nephewNovel Facts

  • Published: May 2nd, 1955
  • Publisher: The Bodley Head
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Followed by: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Even though it is the first novel in Narnia history, it was the sixth published out of seven novels
  • Pages in Paperback: 95
  • Quote: “When things go wrong, you’ll find they usually go getting worse for some time, but when things start going right they often go on getting better and better.”
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When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.

Review of the Characters:

Digory– I really enjoyed Digory. He was very funny with his threats to his uncle and very charming with his bravery of going after Polly. I also liked that he made an error. He gave into his curious nature and not only do we see the costs of that error but we see Digory actually learn from that error. Overall, Digory was a fine character and a great introduction to the world of Narnia.

Polly– Very much like Digory, Polly was a charming character. She was someone who was smart with an understanding nature yet full of pride. It was this pride that led to her error, through not as grave as Digory’s. She let her vanity take the upper hand for a minute and paid greatly. Though it is not as obvious that Polly learns her lesson as it was with Digory, it was still clear that she did. (Side note: C.S. Lewis referenced many religious themes throughout the novel, one of which was original sin. I was in favor of the fact that he chose  Digory to be tempted instead of Polly, implying that it is not just women who consider temptation).

Uncle Andrew– You are not supposed to like Uncle Andrew and the author succeeds in this aspect, though I did not enjoy him for different reasons than the author intended. It seemed that Uncle Andrew was rotten to the core, there was no redemption for him. The author uses the excuse of his being a magician or mad scientist as his excuse but I did not find it believable. He was human and to be human even one of the worst humans in history is to feel some sort of compassion no matter how small. If Uncle Andrew had displayed this humanity I would have found him much more realistic.

Queen Jadis– An extremely scary character, it is clear who she references to in religious culture. Like Uncle Andrew there is no redemption for this character, she is evil to the core. However, unlike Uncle Andrew she is not human so I am more inclined to forgive Queen Jadis for her lack of compassion. She is truly frightening in her concise ways and if I was a bit younger I might have a nightmare about her, so I guess C.S. Lewis accomplished what he wished too with this character.

Review of the Story:

The story was very fascinating although I am prone to the fantasy genre and as such I may be a bit biased. However, while I enjoyed this charming (for that really is the best word for it) story I did think that it’s purpose was more to introduce rather than entertain. I have to consider the fact also that it is children’s literature for I found myself wanting the author to go into more detail. I wanted him to expand on the wonders of Narnia (for I became enthralled with it) but I think the author’s purpose was just to introduce Narnia, give us a taste, rather than show everything it could be.

Review of the Writing:

For children’s literature the writing was really good which is probably why his books are used in classrooms today. I found that his tone was very tongue-in-cheek which I thought was refreshing, especially since it is written for children for it implies that children are smart enough to understand sarcasm the same as adults. Through Lewis’s writing it is easy to see his religious beliefs as he makes references to atonement, original sin and others. I don’t usually like it when the author references his religious nature in novels, especially in children’s novels as I sometimes find them to be preachy, but in this case the religious references did not eclipse the story.


The Magician’s Nephew is charming and timeless. It takes children on an adventure they never dreamed existed all the while teaching them to take responsibility for their actions. I was enchanted with Narnia and very much look forward to reading more in the Chronicles of Narnia.


Overall Rating:

P.S.– My next read is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (this is where it gets good)!

6 thoughts on “The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

  1. I was intrigued by your comment that the book made you want to know more about Narnia. Remember that when it was published, the children already knew everything about Narnia (expect the Last Battle), so they were looking at the origins, etc. and gaining a sort of reverse understanding – like where the lamp post came from and how the white witch came be to. This book is truly amazing, and I usually describe it as the Genesis of Narnia.
    One of the scenes I wish I could see done well is the room where the royal figures gradually go from good and saintly to evil and wicked, ending with Jadis of course.
    Truly, it is a remarkable book, and the allegory is amazing. There have been a lot of parallels to Digory resisting the apple that would heal his mother to Lewis’s own loss of his mother at around the same age. Very powerful book, and I look forward to the day I can read it with my own daughter, Lucy.

    • Yes, that scene of the royal figures would be very interesting on the big screen. I agree, it’s a remarkable book, C.S. Lewis knew exactly what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. Your daughter will very much enjoy this tale. Thanks for reading!

  2. I agree with Dewey above. Although The Magician’s Nephew is first chronologically, it was written later, and meant to be read later. Of course a book should be able to stand entirely on its own, but to get the more historical feeling of this series, I think it’s best to read it in the order C.S. Lewis wrote and published it. Otherwise, you’d be reading The Horse and His Boy first of all, which (for me, anyway) would take away a good bit of the enjoyment.

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