''The Magician's Nephew'' (1955) is C S Lewis writing a genesis for the land of Narnia, and his Narnia stories. It explains how Narnia was called into existence, and how evil entered the realm in the shape of the White Witch. Two children find themselves cast into the strange land of Charn from London before the First World War. They manage to return home but accompanied by the last Queen of Charn who causes chaos in London. The rings of magic serve to transport them and the Queen to a world of stillness and darkness - a world just before it becomes a world . . .
''The Magician's Nephew'' is a fitting entry in the line of
fantasies like "Five Children and It", or the fantasies by
Macdonald which influenced Lewis. It has several memorable
images like the Wood Between the Worlds, or Charn, or Aslan
calling Narnia into being. It has a sense of wonder welcome
in our pedestrian world. The illustrations by Pauline Baynes
match the text, both in style and economy.
''The Magician's Nephew'' is written from a Christian point of
view, but an intelligent one. There is spiritual depth and
insight here, from Digory choosing to ring the bell in Charn to
Uncle Andrew persuading himself the animals are not really
speaking. Digory has to choose what is right when Aslan sends
him to pick an apple.
There is a personal element in this book for Lewis. His mother died
when he was young - in the book Digory's mother is sick and