So I thought I remembered this book; in fact, I thought I remembered it well. I always talk about The Chronicles of Narnia as my favorite books, and they are. . . but they are my favorites because of the memories I have of them, I guess, and not just because of the content. Because when I picked up The Magician’s Nephew, it was like I was reading a whole new book.
But a book I loved more than most. This book is the story of how Narnia begins. (Incidentally, while this book is ordered first in the new sequencing of the series, it was always intended by Lewis to be the second book, not the first. Somehow our publishing industry has placed chronology over storytelling in this new sequence.) The main characters are Digory and Polly, two children who – because of the conniving of a greedy man – come to find Narnia just as it’s being formed. They arrive there, with Jadis, the White Witch, just as Aslan is singing the world into being.
This is my favorite scene:
The lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he had called up the stars and the sun; a gentle rippling music. As he walked and sang the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool. It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave. In a few minutes it was creeping up the lower slopes of the distant mountains, making that young world every moment softer. The light wind could now be heard ruffling the grass. Soon there were other things besides grass. The higher slopes grew dark with heather. Patches of rougher and more bristling green appeared in the valley. Digory did not know what they were until one began coming up quite close to him. It was a little, spiky thing that threw out dozens of arms and covered these arms with green and grew larger at the rate of about an inch every two seconds. There were dozens of these things all round him now. When they were nearly as tall as himself he saw what they were. “Trees!” he exclaimed.
To see the beginning of the world as a song, as a word (as it says in the Gospel of John), I just love this image. So new and pure and real.
A friend recently told me that he’d started reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to his young daughter. Once she heard about Aslan, she couldn’t wait to meet him; she wanted her dad to skip ahead and read those parts. That’s exactly how I feel – I just love him. He makes this book for me. I just want to skip ahead in life to meet him. If Jesus appears to me as a Lion, I will be immensely happy.
But back in the here and now, this book, now that I know it again, is still amazing. The story of how child comes to save the world, the story of creatures coming to understand who they are meant to be, the story of hope and faith and ultimately, love. . . This is the kind of story for me.
– The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis