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Listening to the Silence

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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis The story of Narnia continues, or rather begins with this book. Though written several years after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis actually intended this to be the first novel in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Digory is a young boy, sadly forced to live in the confines of London with Aunt and Uncle Ketterly, his mother desperately ill and his father abroad in India. Next door lives Polly who is to become his closest friend. Whilst exploring a tunnel discovered in the attic of Polly's home they discover a secret passage that leads not only to the Ketterly's home, but to every home on the street. In a grand sense of adventure they attempt to follow the tunnel to an empty house but poorly misjudge their distance and instead stumble into the study of Digory's Uncle Andrew.

Uncle Andrew is a bit strange and spends most of his time locked up in his study practicing magic techniques. When he catches Polly and Digory in his study he sees it as the perfect opportunity to use the children as guinea pigs in an experiment that he hopes will send them to another world. The plan succeeds, but not as he had expected, unleashing an evil queen on his world. Polly and Digory succeed in removing her from London and taking her to another empty world where they hope to trap her. Instead they witness the birth of a new world, Narnia, where they play a key role in it's history and founding.

Written in the same allegorical style, aimed at a young audience, I enjoyed reading this book, though it does not live up to the original Narnia novel. Like The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe I read this one aloud to my eight year old son, who found it every bit as exciting. While I didn't enjoy it as much, I loved reading the history of the founding of Narnia and the introduction to several characters we meet in later (or earlier depending on your point of view) tales. I think it creates a very solid foundation for the rest of the series, though I think that I would recommend that anyone who has not read the Chronicles of Narnia actually start with the more famous second book and then backtrack to this story. The Magician's Nephew reads more like a prequel than Book 1 of a series, while The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe really does far more in the way of world-building and really drawing the reader in so that they continue with the rest of the series.