The Magician's Nephew
By C. S. Lewis
Harper Audio, 2005
An Unabridged Audio Recording on CD
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 18, 2010
C. S. Lewis' seven volume story, the Chronicles of Narnia, has been an enjoyable best seller since the 1950s. Although Lewis did not write The Magician's Nephew first, he wanted people to read it as the beginning of the series.
The story begins in England several generations ago "when your grandfather was a child." Two children, Digory and Polly, live near each other, meet and like each other. Digory has a sick mother and wishes that he could find a cure for her. Digory also has a cowardly selfish uncle who has been experimenting with magic. The uncle found what he thinks is a way of transporting a person to another world by touching a yellow ring. The person can return, he thinks, by touching a green ring.
The uncle is too afraid to try the trip himself, so he tricks Polly into making the trip and persuades Digory to follow her.
The two children find themselves in a totally ruined world, a world destroyed by the magic of a wicked witch. The witch grabs the children when they try to escape her and, after some adventures, the three end up in a strange land, together with the cowardly uncle, a cab driver and the driver's horse.
They arrive in Narnia, a magical land created by a lion. The lion populates the land and gives a pair of each animal the power of speech.
Besides being an engrossing tale, the story is filled with biblical associations that could prompt an attentive reader to compare what Lewis is saying with the Bible and deduce messages from the tale.
The lion can be seen as God. Two animals of each species are placed in Noah's ark, so also two of every species is given the power to talk. There is an episode with an apple tree where eating an apple gives wisdom. The lion makes the cabbie and his wife, who it brings to Narnia, ruler over the animals, just as Adam and Eve. The witch, as the evil impulse in superstitions associated with but not explicit in the Bible, is present. Significantly, it is not the lion (God) who brings evil (the witch) to paradise (Narnia), but humans (the two children). The lion predicts that the witch (evil) will harm the human race that will come from the cabbie and his wife.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.