Now, is there anybody in the universe who hasn’t read Narnia book except me? No? Didn’t think so. I am one of those strange creatures who avoid anything remotely popular until it slaps me in the face. Since the last time I got violated in such way was when a complete Narnia book fell on my head from the top of my bookshelf, I figured it was time to give into it. True story. Immediately I was faced with a dilemma: should I read the series in the published order or the chronological one? My printed edition placed the emphasis on the latter, while my electronic copies were completely separate and did not provide a single clue. I was aware of the debate that prevailed among the fans of the series, with both side advocating for their preferred order, but neither one of them seemed to prevail. Finally, I decided to start with the creation of Narnia and read The Magician’s Nephew first.
When it comes to the things I enjoyed the most, it is hard not to mention is the method of travel from one world to another with a mysterious in-between forest that holds the gates to all the unknown places. It is pretty original, and as a reader I could not really figure out the magic behind it. Lewis doesn’t really explain how uncle Andrew managed to create the magical rings, and most importantly, why he decided to create nothing else but the rings. Why not make, let’s say, a magical wand? Or a magical Rubik’s cube? In any case, the secret of world-hopping is quickly debunked by the meddling kids, who decide to check out other worlds.
Charn turns out to be a very creepy place. In fact, the author manages to create a wonderfully complete picture of the world’s history and how it came to be in ruins within only a few pages. I only wish Lewis took some time to write a book on the event, stepping away from Narnia all together. I think Charn deserves to be explored a little more. When it comes to Jadis, she is your typical, run of the mill, crazy witch (almost wrote it with a “b” instead), trying to take over more worlds. To be honest, I don’t quite understand her motivations. Granted, she wants to rule a world slightly more alive than Charn, but she is the cause of the mass extinction in her land in the first place. Moreover, she seems to be content with killing everyone for the sake of attaining power, yet she craves for loyal subjects who would do her bidding. Why did she put a spell on herself that made her sleep until somebody comes and rings a magic bell, when there were obviously nobody left in Charn to ring it? Did she take her chances with the existence of other worlds and people capable of traveling between them? I do, however, love the scene in London, where Jadis demands jewels and horses, and subjects like a boss, and everyone thinks she’s just a psycho. Too funny.
Now, the creation of Narnia is downright Biblical. Aslan, the great lion, creates the world out of his song, radiating like the sun, and causing all life to emerge out of darkness. I do have a question, if Aslan created Narnia, then who created Aslan? The thing is, the lion appears out of nowhere; his roar being the first thing that our travelers hear in the nothingness surrounding them. Why did the lion appear only when the children and the witch jumped to this world? Is it a giant cosmic coincidence? Or, did the presence of ultimate evil catalyze the emergence of its counter-balance – the ultimate good? In any way, Narnia is created just in time for our heroes to realize that Digory messed up with his choice of a place to trap the witch in yet again, because in the next scene Aslan commands him to atone for the mistake by bringing an apple out of a magical garden to ward Jadis off the land. In this garden (of Eden, I’m guessing) Digory is subjected to temptation of steeling the apple and curing his dying mother, but proves to have better will power than Eve. Good for him. For now, the witch is gone and Narnia is safe, but we know that in the next book she will come back with the vengeance and kick some serious ass.
So, was I right in reading The Magician’s Nephew ahead of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? I do know the origins of the lamppost, and I do know that the wardrobe must be special since it is made out of the magical apple tree. I also know who the White Witch is, and where she comes from. Would that ruin the next book for me? Just because I am familiar with Narnia already, would my return to it lose its magic? Only reading the next installment would prove me right or wrong, and hopefully I am not going to wait another twenty years to finally find out what Narnia is all about.