Review of The Magician’s Nephew (Narnia Chronicles #1)

I saw a comment on twitter about the ending of the Narnia series, saying that it was very bad. If there is something I don’t like, is that people tell me how to think about something, since I like to judge things myself. Hence also my hobby of watching bad movies. If someone says that a movie is bad, I need to watch it immediately, because I don’t trust their judgement, I need to see for myself if the film was so bad. Most of the times they are right, and the film is horrible, but at least I can say why that film is so horrible, instead of repeating other people’s ideas. That Tweet was the catalyst for why I started reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

The central theme is the creation of the world of Narnia, explaining a little the context that not only our world exists, but that there are others, that there is magic and therefore sorcerers, and the presentation of the most charismatic character in the entire series, Aslan, the lion, which you probably saw in all covers of all books and films of Narnia.

The book is relatively short, so it doesn’t take long to read, I’d say. I am not a fast reader, I did a read speed test once and the result showed that I have a normal reading speed. From what I understood, you sacrifice a lot when reading fast (ideas, context, details, etc.), and I read to enjoy what I am reading, so I don’t mind having a normal reading speed. But in the version of the Magician’s Nephew that I read it had (e-book version) 600 pages. About two or three days should be sufficient.

This book could be considered a prequel to the series that later took place, because it talks about the creation of the world, and the explanation of why some characters took certain roles in later books. And that is why there are discussions about the reading order of the books: whether they should be read in chronological order, or in order of publication. Since the series is finished, I preferred to read them in chronological order and start with the so-called “prequels”. The series of The Chronicles of Narnia were published between 1950 and 1956, and the Magician’s Nephew was the sixth to be published.

Below, the books of The Chronicles of Narnia in publication order:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Last Battle

And here, the books of The Chronicles of Narnia as they are supposed to be read (and how I read them):

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

This reminds me a bit of the book “Rayuela” from Cortázar, (you know, Cortázar, the Argentinian writer? If not, you are in for a treat!) in which there are several ways to read the book. In this case, we could say that it is exactly the same, there is no correct way to read CS Lewis’s work (Clive Staples Lewis, since it appears almost nowhere with his full name).

The books of Narnia in different languages

Something that really interested me was the name given to the book in different languages (you will see, if you read more posts from this blog, that I love this, to see the name of a book in different languages):

  • In English, its original version: The Magician’s Nephew.
  • In Spanish, they have translated it for once correctly: “El sobrino del mago”, translation: The magician’s nephew.
  • In French, too, correct: “Le Neveu du magician”, translation: The magician’s nephew.
  • In Portuguese, correct: “O Sobrinho do Mago”, translation: The magician’s nephew.
  • In German, the translator wanted to be more than the author: “Das Wunder von Narnia bzw. Die geheimnisvolle Tür oder: Die Gründung von Narnia”: which translated means, “The wonder of Narnia, or The secret door or the foundation of Narnia”.

Final comment: the book is a children’s book, the author himself says so. The story sounds a bit simplistic on several occasions, and leaves unexplained questions in which we have to accept events without saying a word, more often than not. I’m not going to write about it here, because there would be many spoilers. I think that the book leaves some unexplained topics on purpose for what will happen in the following books, that promise to be more interesting than this one. There are six more books, so there is certainly much more to Narnia for anyone who wants to read it.

Keep on reading,

GG Klimt

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