Originally published as the sixth book in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, The Magician’s Nephew serves as a prequel to the beloved children’s series.
This installment would focus on the origin and creation of Narnia, how evil first came into its land, and how humans from our world first ventured into the land of Narnia.
The Magician’s Nephew heavily parallels the Book of Genesis as it tells the story of creation in a new way.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
The novel centers around two children, Polly and Digory, who have just met playing in a garden in between two houses in London in 1900.
The two children decide to go exploring in an attic that connect the two houses, and stumble upon Digory’s Uncle Andrew in his study. Uncle Andrew tricks Polly into touching a mysterious yellow ring that causes her to vanish.
Uncle Andrew then explains to Digory that he had been exploring magic and that the rings he has allow for travel between worlds. He then persuades Digory to take another yellow ring so he can follow Polly, and two green rings, so the pair can return.
Digory finds himself transported to a woodland filled with pools where he finds Polly.
The two children come to the conclusion that the woodland is not a true woods, but rather a “woods between the worlds” where each pool leads to another world.
Curious, the two children decide to explore one of these magical pools before making their way back to their home.
Having jumped through one of the magical pools, Digory and Polly now found themselves in a new world, Charn. The children wander through a ruined castle full of statues of the former Kings and Queens of this land. The two stumble upon a bell with an inscription inviting whoever finds it to strike it with the hammer that lay with it.
Polly begs Digory not to ring the bell, but he does not listen. By ringing the bell, the pair awaken a Queen named Jadis. They learn that she is a witch and to avoid defeat in battle, she killed every living thing on her world by speaking the “Deplorable Word.” She then put herself to sleep, only to be awakened by someone who would strike the bell.
Recognizing the true evil nature of Jadis, Digory and Polly attempt to flee back to England, but the Queen follows them by grabbing hold while the pair touches their rings.
Jadis, or the White Witch as she is called in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and later novels is our embodiment of Satan.
She is, throughout the series, the enemy who lies, deceives, and leads astray to the point to death. She hates everything that is good, especially Aslan. But she is also terrified of Aslan and it is very clear that she is no match for his power.
Once in England, Jadis dismissed Uncle Andrew as nothing more than a poor magician. She enslaves him and orders him to find her a chariot, in this case a hansom cab where the driver stands on back, so she can begin her conquest of this world.
Jadis begins by robbing a jewelry store, but quickly draws the attention of the police. A chase ensues, and she crashes the carriage at the front of Digory’s house.
Jadis snaps a lamp post off to use as a weapon against the police, having lost her magic in this world but not her strength.
The children are able to ambush Jadis and use the rings to take her back to the Woods Between the Worlds, but not without taking Frank, a cab driver who was in the carriage with Jadis, Uncle Andrew, and Frank’s horse Strawberry with them since the group was all touching each other.
Strawberry, wishing to drink from one of the pools, accidently whisks the party away to yet another world. Digory thinks it is Charn, but Jadis realizes it is a world that is being created.
The group witnesses the glory of creation by the lion Aslan as he sings the stars, plants, and beings into existence.
While everyone else is drawn to the majesty of the singing (with the exception of Uncle Andrew who refuses to hear it and here represents the non-believer), Jadis is repelled by it and tries to kill Aslan with an iron bar from the lamp post. This bar merely bounces off of Aslan and lands in the creation soil, growing into a new lamp post. Jadis runs in terror.
Aslan the Lion, as in all the Narnia books, represents Jesus Christ.
Here he is, present at the creation of Narnia, as we hear him speak, “Creatures, I give you yourselves,’ said the strong, happy voice of Aslan. ‘I give to you forever this land of Narnia. I give you the woods, the fruits, the rivers. I give you the stars and I give you myself.”
Aslan embodies the goodness, love, and mercy of Christ who along with the Father created this beautiful world for us, and who gave himself for us on the cross.
Aslan summons some of the animals and gives them the power of speech, to use for justice and joy. This represents the unique gift of speech God gave to us.
He then confronts Digory for his part in bringing Jadis to this new world and tells him to atone. Aslan explains that Digory must now help protect Narnia from Jadis’ evil.
In contrast to the loving picture of Christ we see in Aslan, in Jadis we see the cruel, deceiving trickery of the Enemy.
She lies, steals, and even kills to get her way. She thinks she is above the law and above Aslan. Immediately upon arriving on Earth, she enslaves humans and tries to set up a new empire for herself.
Aslan turns Strawberry into a winged horse and renames him Fledge. Digory and Polly go on a journey with Fledge to a garden far in Narnia’s mountains, to look for an apple from a tree to plant in Narnia. Here, he comes across a sign warning not to steal from the garden.
Digory picks one for the garden, but is tempted by their overpowering smell. Jadis appears to further tempt him, having eaten one herself. She tempts him to either take from the apple and join her in immortality, or take the apple and save his dying mother.
He sees through her lies when she suggests he leave Polly behind. Jadis leaves when Digory will not give in.
This apple and tree represent original sin in the Garden of Eden and the temptation that Adam faced from the serpent. But unlike Adam, Digory did not give into Jadis’ temptation and did not have to suffer the consequences of that sin.
Digory returns to Aslan who explains to him that the Apples, while granting a heart’s desire to those who steal them, always do it in a way that is undesirable. Digory then plants the tree and takes an apple with Aslan’s blessing, in order to heal his dying mother.
The cab driver Frank and his wife stay to be crowned Narnia’s first King and Queen while the rest of the party returns to England.
When Frank is told by Aslan he is and his wife are to stay and become the first King and Queens of Narnia, he denies it thinking he is not good enough. Aslan simply replies asking if he is able to plow the land, raise food, treat the animals with kindness, and bring up his children lovingly much like Adam in Genesis.
Digory gives the apple to his mother to restore her health then plants the core in the backyard.
Years later, when the tree is blown down during a storm, the wood is fashioned into a grand wardrobe, which he brings to his mansion in the country.