Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: C.S. Lewis. The Magician's Nephew.

I am not ashamed to admit how much I have lately enjoyed rereading the children's books from The Chronicles of Narnia series as an adult.

Having read a few books from this series aloud to my children several years ago, we are now going through them again as a family, reading a chapter or two together in the evenings. Let me share a few tidbits about the first book in the series. 

The Magician's Nephew was one of the later books written by C.S. Lewis in the T.C.o.N. series, but is first if read in chronological order. Some literary critics argue--on the basis of narrative suspense--that it should be read later, as it explains many of the foundational elements of the other books (such as the wardrobe and the light post).

T.M.N. describes the first encounter with the magical world of Narnia as experienced by Digory Kirke and his childhood friend, Polly. Digory and Polly first enter Narnia through the deception of Uncle Andrew, an amateurish magician (and the personification of the Proverbial 'fool').

But before entering Narnia, Digory and Polly unintentionally enter the world of Charn, a now-dead civilization destroyed by cosmic war. In a stirring scene that recapitulates the Fall in the Genesis 3, Digory awakens the evil Queen Jadis by striking a bell with a hammer:

Make your choice adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger, Or
Wonder, till it drives you mad, What would
have followed if you had.  

Digory, like Adam, cannot resist the allure, and The Queen is subsequently revived from her comatose state and transported with the children in their return to London, reeking havoc both on the human world and later Narnia itself.

Chapter nine, The Founding of Narnia, is particularly stirring as the reader witnesses the great lion Aslan beautifully singing Narnia into existence, thus retelling the Biblical creation story in a fantastical manner. Here we meet (and fall in love with) the Christ-figure of the Narnian adventures for the first time. Aslan is portrayed as invincible, wise, loving, and indomitably compassionate throughout T.C.o.N.

Parents will have much to discuss with their children as they read this work aloud; and greater adventures are surely to come in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. 

Pastor Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida. 

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