Title: The Magician’s Nephew
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia (Part-VI)
Author: C. S. Lewis
File Size: Single PDF File (664.59 KB)
The Magician’s Nephew is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Bodley Head in 1955. It is the sixth published of seven novels in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950–1956); it is volume one of the series in recent editions, which sequence the books according to Narnia history. Like the others, it was illustrated by Pauline Baynes whose work has been retained in many later editions. The Bodley Head was a new publisher for The Chronicles, a change from Geoffrey Bles.
The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel to the series. The middle third of the novel features creation of the Narnia world by Aslan the lion, centred on a section of a lamp-post brought by accidental observers from London in 1900. The visitors then participate in the beginning of Narnia history, 1000 years before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which inaugurated the series in 1950).
The frame story is set in England and features two children ensnared in experimental travel via “the wood between the worlds”. Thus, the novel shows Narnia and our middle-age world to be only two of many in a multiverse, which changes as some worlds begin and others end. It also explains the origin of foreign elements in Narnia, not only the lamp-post but also the White Witch and a human king and queen.
The story begins in London during the summer of 1900. Two children, Digory and Polly, meet while playing in the adjacent gardens of a row of terraced houses. They decide to explore the attic connecting the houses, but take the wrong door and surprise Digory’s Uncle Andrew in his study. Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching a yellow magic ring, causing her to vanish. Then he explains to Digory that he has been dabbling in magic, and that the rings allow travel between one world and another. He blackmails Digory into taking another yellow ring to follow wherever Polly has gone, and two green rings so that they both can return.
Digory finds himself transported to a sleepy woodland with an almost narcotic effect; he finds Polly nearby. The woodland is filled with pools. Digory and Polly surmise that the wood is not really a proper world at all but a “Wood between the Worlds”, similar to the attic that links their rowhouses back in England, and that each pool leads to a separate universe. They decide to explore a different world before returning to England, and jump into one of the nearby pools. They then find themselves in a desolate abandoned city of the ancient world of Charn. Inside the ruined palace, they discover statues of Charn’s former kings and queens, which degenerate from the fair and wise to the unhappy and cruel. They find a bell with a hammer, an inscription inviting the finder to strike the bell.
Despite protests from Polly, Digory rings the bell. This awakens the last of the statues, a witch queen named Jadis, who, to avoid defeat in battle, had deliberately killed every living thing in Charn by speaking the “Deplorable Word”. As the only survivor left in her world, she placed herself in an enchanted sleep that would only be broken by someone ringing the bell.
The children realise Jadis’s evil nature and attempt to flee, but she follows them back to England by clinging to them as they clutch their rings. In England, she discovers that her magical powers do not work, although she retains her superhuman strength. Dismissing Uncle Andrew as a poor magician, she enslaves him and orders him to fetch her a “chariot”—a hansom cab—so she can set about conquering Earth. They leave, and she attracts attention by robbing a jewellery store. The police chase after her cab, until she crashes at the foot of the Kirke house. Jadis breaks off and brandishes an iron rod from a nearby lamp-post to fight off police and onlookers.