The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

The Magician's Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia

The Magician's Nephew: The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes First, about the numbering: This book should NOT be read first in the Narnia series. It was actually the sixth of the seven Narnia books that Lewis wrote. The remarkably clueless publishers renumbered the series recently, placing The Magician's Nephew first, but that simply ruins what is otherwise a lovely surprise: the origin of the Wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. And from the internal text, it's clear that TL,TW,&TW should be read first. It's in that book that Lewis introduces Aslan, after all.However, rather than read the series in strict publication order, I chose to read The Magician's Nephew to my son, Sebastian, as the second book in the series. That enhances the surprise at the end, and answered some questions that he'd been asking as we read TL,TW,&TW while they were still fresh in his mind.The connection of this book to the Pevensies, the four children from TL,TW,&TW, is comparatively tenuous compared to all the other books in the series (except for The Horse and His Boy, which is the only book in the series to have no connection with them at all). However, the link to the Wardrobe that is revealed at the end was more than enough to interest and delight my son. We follow two English children, Digory and Polly, through some very memorable world-crossing adventures that end up bringing them into the origin of Narnia. Lewis had a gift for imagery, and his Wood Between the Worlds is particularly strong and memorable - as is dead, accursed Charn.This turned out to be one of Sebastian's favorite books in the series so far, in large part due to the comical but frightening character of Uncle Andrew, the Magician of the book. Sebastian connected with the characters and the story right away, more easily than he did with TL,TW,&TW.The one drawback is that the illustrations in this particular edition are rather dull and literal. I much preferred the simpler and more imaginative illustrations from the editions that I read when I was young. They had an almost art deco style that reminded me of Tolkien's illustrations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

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