Alright people, we’re doing a C.S. Lewis streak to start off the new year. I needed something easy after Ayn Rand. Most of you have heard of Narnia. Narnia was a creation of C.S. Lewis and you get there, most notably, through a magical wardrobe, but that’s not the only way you get there. C.S. Lewis wrote the book series for children. There are seven books in the series. Several of them have been made into movies by the BBC, but Walden Media also took it upon themselves to remake those movies. We now have newer versions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I also read that Walden is going to go ahead and do The Silver Chair next and not The Magician’s Nephew, which is kind of sad because no one has ever adapted The Magician’s Nephew to film.
This book details how Narnia came to be. We get to see how Narnia was created, how some animals came to be talking animals, how humans came to be in Narnia and how evil came to be in Narnia. At the beginning of the book we meet a little boy, his name is Diggory Kirke, I almost typed Cedric Diggory and that’s completely the wrong British literature era. Diggory is very sad. He has come to live in London with his eccentric aunt and uncle, who are brother and sister, not husband and wife. His mother is very sick and his father is away in India on business. Diggory doesn’t take well to the city because he has had to leave his pony behind and he’s quite lonely.
By chance, he meets the little girl from next door, Polly Plummer. Polly spies Diggory over the fence and they soon become good friends. Polly divulges to Diggory that inside the attic there is a little door. Once a person goes inside that door, they will find a tunnel. This tunnel connects all the houses. They’re row houses. A child could walk from house to house, theoretically, and even go into other houses. There is an empty house on the other side of Diggory’s house and they decide to investigate, but unluckily, they miscalculate the distance and end up in Diggory’s uncle’s strange study.
Diggory’s uncle is not very nice. The two children are immediately drawn to a tray of rings. Some of the rings are green and some are yellow. They don’t know what to make of this, but Diggory’s uncle has seen the children and urges Polly to try one of the yellow rings. She does so and she disappears into thin air. Diggory is very upset, but the uncle tells him he can get her back. He must take two green rings with him, but also take a yellow ring himself. The yellow rings take you away and the green rings bring you back. Diggory takes his chances with the rings. He finds himself is a strange grassy forest full of little pools of water. He finds Polly pretty soon. They decide to investigate this strange place.
They first mark the pool they both came out of and jump into another. There they find an empty world. Nothing lives, at all. There are no plants. There are not insects. There are no animals. There are no people. The sun in the sky is large and red. It gives off a cold light. They wander about and soon find a table set with beautiful people. At the end of the table is a beautiful and cruel woman. They also find a bell that beseeches them to ring. Polly doesn’t want to ring the bell, but Diggory does. Diggory rings the bell while holding Polly somewhat captive and something happens. The beautiful woman wakes up.
She tells them that she has done this. She has made the world the way it is. She spoke the word that must never be spoken. The word kills everything except the speaker. She is a great queen and desires to rule over others. She decimates a great gate simply by speaking a few words. Polly and Diggory try to sneak away from the woman with their rings, but they’re too late. They travel back to London with her. Diggory’s uncle is immediately impressed and takes the large woman out on the town, for she is very tall. She calls herself Jadis. If you are familiar at all with Narnia, you will know who Jadis grows to become. This does not turn out well.
There ends up being an argument in the street involving the uncle, Jadis, a cab driver a horse and a lamp post. Diggory and Polly manage to slip on their rings to take Jadis out of London, but they accidentally take her to another world in the inbetween place. The world they find is dark and void. They hear singing and corresponding to the singing are things happening. The sun comes up. Trees grow before their eyes. Jadis had a bit of a lamp post in her hand. She threw it and it grew just like a tree. The singer is identified, it’s a great lion. The animals call him Aslan. The cab driver’s horse can now talk. The lion knows the witch is there, but it doesn’t trouble him so much. Some animals think to plant Diggory’s uncle, but it doesn’t work the way they plan it.
Aslan helps Diggory, Polly, and the uncle find their way back to London. He also helps Diggory cure his mother. The story about the magical wardrobe starts in this book. It’s actually quite interesting.
What I liked
This is a great story. If you’re not religious, or rather if you’re opposed to religion, you may not like this story. Although it is a fantasy story, it’s not your traditional fantasy story. It’s heavily imbued with Christian religion, in fact, the entire creation story is pretty much there. There is a creator. There is an Adam and an Eve. There is an apple tree. There is a brand new world created almost instantaneously. This is a story of creation paralleling the Christian idea of how the world was created. If that’s not your thing, don’t read this book. I will admit that’s probably the reason why this book has never been made into a movie. It’s quite religion heavy.
I love how things match up. I love how we get the story of how the lamppost came to be in Narnia. I love how we get the story of how the White Witch came to be in Narnia. This is really the origin story of origin stories. If you read the entire series of Narnia, you will be taken through the entire lifespan of the world.
Aslan is a god. We’re not going to mix words or beat around the bush. Aslan is supposed to symbolize our God. Aslan is the creator. Aslan is the ultimate judge. Aslan recognizes evil, but doesn’t destroy it. One of the things you will notice of Aslan’s divinity is that he is very patient. He is very forgiving. He does not sentence people to some terrible punishment because they have erred. Diggory doesn’t have any punishment bestowed upon him for bringing the witch into Narnia, he didn’t mean to do it anyway. Diggory’s uncle isn’t punished either, even if he should be for messing with the fine balance between worlds. I also want to point out that Aslan even laughs with his new creations. He is not harsh. Aslan is a parallel of what our God is supposed to be. I like this. I like how C.S. sees God as this benevolent being rather than a harsh punisher.
What I didn’t like
On the one hand, I really like how this book is heavy in religion, on the other hand, I don’t like it. It really bars some people from reading a great story, but of course, if you took the religion out, I don’t know how much of the story would be left.
Yeah, for magical apple trees!
a great lion, aslan, c.s. lewis, creation of narnia, diggory kirke, jadis, narnia, polly plummer, The Magician’s Nephew, the magician’s nephew by c.s. lewis, the witch
Books set in Europe, Children’s, Christian Fiction, Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Lewis-C.S., Young Adult