Book reviews Book reviews
''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 dying too.