The Magician’s Nephew
The Magician’s Nephew
Published in 1950, the Magician’s Nephew was the sixth book published in the Chronicles of Narnia, but actually comes first in the internal chronology of the series. Author C.S. Lewis never planned the series, and each book apparently was written as it occurred to him.
WARNING: This plot synopsis contains spoilers.
The Magician’s Nephew centers around the adventures of Digory and Polly, two children who meet in London in the summer of 1900. Digory’s mother is dying—a plot element that later becomes important.
One day, while exploring the attic that is shared by the adjourning row houses on their block, they stumble upon Digory’s Uncle Andrew at work in his study. Andrew, a self-taught magician, tricks the children into putting on a magic ring which transports them to the Wood Between Worlds.
The Wood is full of strange pools of water, each of which will transport visitors to a different world. The first pool takes the children to the ruins of the capital of a world called Charn. There, in a ruined palace, they discover a bell—along with a sign that both warns against ringing, and dares visitors to do so. Digory accepts the challenge and rings the bell, which awakens the statue of the evil Queen Jadis.
Jadis tells them how—at the end of a long war between herself and her sister—she had used the incantation called “The Deplorable Word, “ which destroyed all life on Carn. All life, that is, except Jadis, who was placed in a state of suspended animation until the children awakened her with the bell.
Alarmed by Jadis’ evil, Digory and Polly try to escape back to their own world. Unfortunately, Jadis is able to grab Polly’s hair and follow them back to London. Andrew, Digory and Polly are able to return the Queen to the wood, but are sent back with her, along with a cab driver and his horse.
Thinking that he knows the way, Digory plunges teh group into a familiar looking pool, only to find that he has the wrong one. Instead of Charn, he has led them to a world which is dark, and completely empty. It is a world in the making.
Soon, the group hears singing which creates stars and the sun—and with the light, they can see the singer: The Great Lion, Aslan. Aslan continues to sing, and before their eyes sings a new world into creation.
Jadis attacks Aslan with a lamp post bar that she brought from London, fails in the attack, and then flees. Later, Aslan sends Digory on a mission to get a special apple as penance for bringing the evil witch into the land of Narnia. Polly, Digory and the Horse—given wings by Aslan—fly to a walled garden, where they are tempted by Jadis. The witch tells Digory that he can eat the apple and gain eternal youth, or use it to cure his dying Mother. Digory resists, and takes the apple back to Aslan.
Following Aslan’s instructions, Digory plants the apple in the ground. While it is growing, the cab driver and his wife are crowned as the Kng and Wueen of Narnia. The tree, Aslan says, will protect Narnia from the Witch. He then gives Digory one of the apples from the tree, telling him that it will cure his mother.
When they return to London, Digory gives the apple to his mother, who is cured. He then buries the core—along with the magic rings—in the back yard. Over the years, the core grows into large tree, only to be blown down in a storm. Digory has the wood from the tree made into a wardrobe—the same wardrobe which figures in the next book in the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.