Monday, January 02, 2006

The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis, A Review

In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whinny a horse would give it, after years of being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.


Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the voice was suddenly joined by the other voices; more voices than you could possibly count. They were in harmony with it, but far higher up the scale: cold, tingling, silvery voices. The second wonder was the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars. They didn't come out gently one by one, as they do on a summer evening. One moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leapt out -- single stars, constellations, and planets, bright and bigger than any in our world. There were no clouds. The new stars and the new voices began at exactly the same time. If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing, and that it was the First Voice, the deep one, which had made them appear and made them sing.


The Voice on the earth was now louder and more triumphant; but the voices in the sky, after singing loudly with it for a time, began to get fainter. And now something else was happening.

Far away, and down near the horizon, the sky began to turn grey. A light wind, very fresh, began to stir. The sky, in that one place grew slowly and steadily pale. You could see shapes of hills standing up dark against it. All the time the Voice went on singing.

There was soon light enough for them to see one another's faces. The Cabby and the two children had open mouths and shining eyes; they were drinking in the sound, and they looked as if it reminded them of something. Uncle Andrew's mouth was open too, but not open with joy. He looked more as if his chin had simply dropped away from the rest of his face. His shoulders were stooped and his knees shook. He was not like the Voice. If he could have got away from it by creeping into a rat's hole he would have done so. But the Witch looked as if, in a way, she understood the music better than any of them. Her mouth was shut, her lips were pressed together, and her fists were clenched. Ever since the song began she had felt that this whole world was filled with a Magic different from hers and stronger. She hated it. She would have smashed that whole world, or all words, to pieces, if would only stop the singing. The horse stood with its ears well forward, and twitching. Every and and then it snorted and stamped the ground. It no longer looked like a tired old cab-horse; you could now well believe its father had been in battles.

The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose, till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced the sun arose.

The Magician's Nephew was written several years after the Chronicles of Narnia was begun. It is the introductory book C.S. Lewis wanted for his series. I had never read it until this weekend in bouts of fever and flu and found myself totally enthralled with it on so many levels!

The adventures of the children I had not met before, the introduction of the Witch, Uncle Andrew all played their parts and I could see myself as the child as well as others in the story as it began to unfold. Have you ever wondered how the wardrobe came into being? You find out in this book. Have you ever wondered how a lamp post tree came to be in Narnia? You find out in this book, but does it in no way explain anything else that is going to happen. It truly is the beginning of the series and explains so much as well as set the table for one of the most wonderful adventures in reading anyone, old or young, could possibly go on.

The above section is not from the beginning of the novel, but somewhere in the middle. You think you are going to have one particular adventure and discover yourself on a totally different path, which all good adventures should do now and then. In reading The Magician's Nephew I remembered what it was about story telling and reading a good story that made me want to write them in the first place. I can't say it took me down memory lane because I had not read this book before. I can say it was one of the most superb reads I have had in a while.

Go, find it. Enjoy.

No comments: