The Magician's Nephew was not the first book that C.S. Lewis wrote for his classic Chronicles of Narnia; but its story is first chronologically, and it often appears first in omnibus editions of the Chronicles. So, as I set out to re-read the series for the first time in 20 years, I elected to begin with this volume.
The story takes place prior to Lewis's iconic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A generation passes on Earth between the two novels; but a thousand years separate the two books in Narnia.
This book is the story of Digory and Polly, two children who find themselves transported to another world, tricked there by Diggory’s evil Uncle Andrew - a amateur magician of mediocre skill and dubious morals. When the children return to London, an evil witch queen from the other world follows them intent on ruling the Earth. The children work to drive the witch out of their world.
In this book, we learn answers to questions raised in later books: how Narnia came to be, why some of the animals can talk, how the White Queen came to Narnia and why she was kept from power for so long, why there is a lamp post in the middle of the woods, and why Professor Kirke was unsurprised when he learned that his wardrobe was a portal to another world.
Lewis was fond of including Christianity in his book and this story echoes many of the themes of the Book of Genesis, including representations of God, the Devil, the Creation of the universe, the first man and woman, and even a fruit tree.
You may choose to read the series in chronological order or in publication order (this was #6 of 7 written) or you may read them in any random order you wish. The Magician's Nephew is a delightful story on its own, but even more so for those familiar with the other Narnia books.