I found the Narnia box set in the bookshop just before the lockdown started, so this is in my to do list for a while. I decided to run through it through the chronological narrative, so starting with the prequel of Narnia before re-reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which I am doing now. There are subtle differences in the writing and the tone, and although The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is more famous, I feel that the Magician’s Nephew is the more cohesive.
There is a lot to like in this prequel, on how Narnia was created by a singing lion. The origins of the Ice Queen which really made her character more profound and terrifying. We also get to see how the lamppost in Narnia came about. This is my favourite connecting piece to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And of course, we also find out why the wardrobe is enchanted.
Narnia is one of many worlds, accessible through a pond in a world where many other ponds exist — a hallway to other worlds. This for me is the strength of the book — which promises so much more even after the world of Narnia is more or less fully realised. Even though Lewis wrote on average a Narnia book every year, I felt that the writing here is more mature and more natural. There are things in Narnia that feels out of place. World building is a daunting task to begin with, but some things in Narnia can be jarring because in truth, it is too close to our world, too contrived.
And whether you should start reading Narnia from The Magician’s Nephew, or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I don’t think it really matters. For mine, I have read the latter and so The Magician’s Nephew is sandwiched in between. This also works.