Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Magician's Nephew

Go To

The sixth book written in The Chronicles of Narnia series, and the first one chronologically, its events taking place before The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

In this prequel, two Edwardian children, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer, accidentally visit the dead world of Charn, where Digory falls for Schmuck Bait, waking the Empress Jadis. She boasts about how she destroyed all life on her world, and forces the children to take her to London, where she causes a public disturbance. Eventually Jadis, the children, Digory's wicked Uncle Andrew, and a cabbie and his horse get a front row seat for the creation of Narnia by Aslan. Jadis is exiled to the far North, the cabbie and his wife (who gets transported there by Aslan) become king and queen, and the children and Uncle Andrew are returned home.

This book provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Both Jadis and Uncle Andrew think this way. "Ours is a high and lonely destiny." Of course, all the good characters realize that both Jadis and Uncle Andrew are full of crap. Digory nicely lampshades and deconstructs it:
    "All it means," he said to himself, "is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants."
  • Accidental Passenger: Played with. When Polly and Digory escape from Jadis the witch by touching their magic rings to take them back to the Wood Between the Worlds, Jadis travels with them, because she is hanging on to Polly's hair. This is unexpected to all of them. They later use this to try to return Jadis to her own world, and end up taking Uncle Andrew, a cabby and a horse as well.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: Frank and his wife Nellie become the Adam and Eve of Narnia. It's not played entirely straight; their children and descendants marry native magical races, and by the time Jadis returns nobody that qualifies as (or identifies as) human is left in Narnia itself. The humans in Archenland and Calormene are also their descendants — according to the Narnia wiki, Frank V's youngest son Col led human settlers into Archenland, and the Calormene were exiled criminals from Archenland. Thus, a cabbie and 2000+ years populated a whole magical world, with some new blood when pirates (and their captured wives) fell through the worlds and ended up becoming the Telmarines...
  • Affectionate Nickname: Frank calls his wife Helen "Nellie".
  • After the End: Charn, the White Witch's home world. The world itself is said to be growing old, with a cooling red sun, but it also suffered a devastating world war that destroyed its civilization.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • Inverted and subverted when on Charn, Digory and Polly see an inscription on a bell written in another language. While the language does not change, the kids can understand it due to a magic in the air. Something similar may have happened when Jadis woke up and was able to communicate with them.
    • When off Charn, Jadis inexplicably does speak English, though her spell casting is still done in her original language and doesn't work outside of Charn.
  • All Myths Are True: Lampshaded by Digory towards Uncle Andrew. Since the Atlantean box with the magical dust from another world both exist, Digory takes it to mean that all the old fairytales are "more or less true". He uses this fact to warn his uncle that he is exactly like the type of selfish, cruel and foolish old magician who comes to a bad end in those kinds of stories. Sure enough, Break the Haughty awaits for Uncle Andrew.
  • Alternate Universe: Discussed. Uncle Andrew first posits this about the magic rings and the destination they take the wearer to. He describes the destination as somewhere else not in space, and that you couldn't just travel to it in a rocket, but instead the destination is an entire other universe outside of ours.
  • Apocalypse How: The Deplorable Word. At least Planetary, and possibly Universal Total Extinction. After Jadis has departed, that world is vacant — Aslan points out the dry hollow where its pool once stood in the Wood Between The Worlds and says that it's entirely gone now.
  • Backstory: This book explains a lot about the world Lucy discovers in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, including Professor Kirke, the Wardrobe, the White Witch... even the reason that a perpetually lit 19th-century lamppost is standing in a remote corner of a world that is otherwise in Medieval Stasis.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • Uncle Andrew uses guinea pigs for his dangerous magical experiments, and is perplexed when Digory objects to it.
    • The witch is cruel and abusive to the horse when she visits London. Though to be sure, she is that to everyone else, as well.
  • Badass Decay: Uncle Andrew, in-universe, as soon as Jadis enters the story. Digory compares it to how you wouldn't exactly be scared of an earthworm after having encountered an angry rattlesnake.
  • Beautiful Void:
    • The Wood between the worlds. It is a dense forest, with a grass floor and many shallow, still pools of water. Each pool is connected to a different world, and the only way to get to this place is through the use of special magic rings, created by Andrew. The place has a very peaceful, blissful, soporific atmosphere. There are no creatures there, save for the ones that have used the rings to get there... and those that have have most likely entered a deep, indefinite, peaceful, dreamless sleep.
    • Inverted with Charn, where its emptiness is unsettling and creates a deathlike atmosphere.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness:
    • Jadis is an inversion. Digory is at first smitten with her, but he and Polly soon find out that she is certainly not good. It's even lampshaded: he notes that really she's just as bad as Uncle Andrew, but it's tough to remember because Uncle Andrew isn't seven feet tall and stunningly beautiful.
    • Played with in the hall of waxworks showing the rulers of Charn throughout history. The initial figures are beautiful and the children decide that they were good people. As they go further down, the figures get less appealing and look more malevolent. They're still good-looking as such, but their increasingly evil expressions mar the impression.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The warning on the garden wall that Jadis ignores: the apple she ate made her immortal, but because of her evil heart she'll live a life of misery.
    Aslan: All get what they want; they do not always like it.
  • Big Bad: Jadis. Her "reign" continues into the next (chronological) book.
  • Brought Down to Badass: After arriving in England, Jadis finds to her dismay that her magic does not work. However, she's still incredibly tall and strong enough to break the crossbar off a lamppost with her bare hand.
  • Butt-Monkey: After Jadis shows up, everything goes horribly and amusingly wrong for Uncle Andrew. He thoroughly deserved it, though.
  • Byronic Hero: Deconstructed with Uncle Andrew, who for all his cynicism and professed devotion to higher ideals, is little more than a pathetic bully.
  • Call-Forward:
    • The piece of lamppost that Jadis inadvertently brings to Narnia grows into a complete lamppost, first seen in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
    • The wardrobe itself is made from the wood of the tree that grew from the core of the apple Digory brought from Narnia, after it was blown down in a storm.
    • Aslan also correctly predicts Narnia hasn't heard the last of Jadis, who is already turning pale after eating an apple when Digory sees her in the garden.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: An odd example since it's an uncle rather than a father: Digory to Uncle Andrew, throughout the entire book.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Uncle Andrew eventually forgets most of his time in Narnia, only remembering Jadis. This is Played for Laughs. This gets Played for Drama in The Last Battle when it happens to Susan Pevensie.
  • Character Title: Digory is the nephew, and his Uncle Andrew is the Magician.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The magic rings. Uncle Andrew believes that the yellow rings are for the "outward" journey, and the green rings are "homeward"; but it turns out that yellow is for entering the Wood Between the Worlds, and the green for leaving the Wood.
  • Creation Story: The beginning of Narnia is witnessed by Polly, Digory, Andrew, the Cabbie and Jadis. The primary rules of Narnia seen in the later books are laid down by Aslan:
    • Aslan proclaims that only sons of Adam and daughters of Eve are the rightful rulers of Narnia. This is because a son of Adam (Digory) caused Jadis to waken and enter Narnia to threaten it, and so Aslan proclaims that it falls to humanity to forever protect Narnia from evil.
    • Aslan warns the talking animals never to behave as their dumb unspeaking counterparts, lest they return to that state of being. Later books in the series show this is precisely what happens to native Narnians who indulge their baser instincts.
  • Crossover: A subtle one, courtesy of Andrew's fairy godmother, an English woman, said to be the last living human with fairy blood in her veins, keeping a small box with dust originating in Atlantis. The Fridge Logic involved leads one to think of the Dúnedain, actually descended from the Atlantis of J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium — humans of mixed ancestry, partly with elvish (fairy) blood in them. Thus, Andrew made the rings from matter collected in Númenor! It's possibly the closest you will ever get to a direct crossover between the books of Lewis and Tolkien, outside of a few oblique references in The Space Trilogy. Note that The Lord of the Rings had been published when The Magician's Nephew was written.
  • Crying Critters: Aslan cries when Digory suggests curing his mother with the magic apples.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: The bell in Charn — its associated inscription summarises this trope fairly well.
    "Make your choice, adventurous Stranger, strike the bell and bide the danger! Or wonder, till it drives you mad, what would have followed if you had."
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Deplorable Word. The royalty of Charn knew of it and its power to kill everything, save for the one who speaks it. They hid the secret of the deplorable word for millennia, for none ever grew so depraved and monstrous to ever consider using it... until Jadis.
  • Darkest Hour: Arguably the darkest hour of any character, excluding Lucy and Susan at Aslan's sacrifice in the next chronological book:
    And Digory could say nothing, for tears choked him and he gave up all hopes of saving his Mother's life; but at the same time he knew that the Lion knew what would have happened, and that there might be things more terrible even than losing someone you love by death.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Aslan, of all people. Digory and Polly ask him what if Uncle Andrew tries to return to Narnia and cause problems. After the Humiliation Conga Andrew suffered at the hands of the talking animals, Aslan asks the children rather dryly, "Do you think he wants to?"
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • In the opening narration Lewis states that in the time the story is set, "schools were a good deal nastier than they are now."
    • Uncle Andrew appears to be mildly sexist; early in the book, he insists Digory can't understand his lofty ideals due to being "raised among women"... but this is set in the early 1900s, and Uncle Andrew starts off as the main antagonist.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Downplayed. When Polly is punished by her parents, she's given dinner "with all the nice bits left out".
  • Depopulation Bomb: The magical incantation by the white witch Jadis is this. After ruling her home planet of Charn as a cruel and capricious tyrant with a 0% Approval Rating and on the eve of defeat by her sister, Jadis out of pure spite uttered the Deplorable Word, resulting in the instant death of every living thing in that universe except herself.
  • Desolation Shot: Jadis and the children emerge from the crumbling palace onto a high terrace above the deserted ruins of Charn.
    And on the earth, in every direction, as far as the eye could reach, there spread a vast city in which there was no living thing to be seen.
  • Disappeared Dad: Digory's father was working in India. This resulted in Digory and his mother having to move into his Aunt and Uncle's house.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: We are never told what is killing Digory's mum, but cancer claimed both C. S. Lewis' mother and his wife in Real Life. Justified since The Magician's Nephew is set in the Edwardian Era, before cancer diagnosis and treatment were commonplace, so they might not know what it is, only that she's critically ill and nothing the doctors can do is making a difference.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Deplorable Word. This book was written during the Cold War. This is even lampshaded at the end, when Aslan warns Digory and Polly that in their own lifetimes, it's possible that their world will invent something as destructive as the Deplorable Word.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Digory and Polly to each other, first when Polly takes one of Uncle Andrew's yellow rings, and then when Digory rings the bell.
  • Doomed by Canon: The first Narnian royal line — founded here by King Frank and Queen Helen — will ultimately be wiped out when Jadis returns to conquer Narnia, although a junior branch will continue to rule Archenland.
  • Einstein Hair: Uncle Andrew. He's described as having a mop of grey hair, and is drawn this way in the illustrated version. The animals believe his hair may be some kind of roots, and he barely escapes being buried upside down.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • How Jadis makes her mistake when tempting Digory in the climax. She suggests that he could conceal his theft of one of the silver apples by abandoning Polly and stranding her in Narnia, so that nobody would know what he did. Digory knows what Jadis doesn't — that Polly has her own set of rings and can get home fine on her own — but the sheer meanness of the idea is enough to make him realize that Jadis doesn't have his interests at heart, and ends any thought he might have had of giving in to the temptation.
    • Played with in the case of Uncle Andrew. He understands goodness well enough to know that tricking Polly into using the rings to go to another world would also get Digory to go, since his nephew was too good a person to abandon his friend to whatever dangers she could have landed in. When they go to Narnia, though, all he thinks about is how the magical world can benefit him. When Digory wonders if there's something there that could cure his mother (Andrew's sister), Uncle Andrew can't for the life of him figure out why Digory is bothering with such silly questions.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly:
    • When Jadis eats the apple in the garden, her skin turns completely white, and Digory notes that she's not as beautiful as she had previously seemed.
    • A mild case happens earlier, when Digory is no longer smitten with Jadis when he realizes just how evil she is.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The civil war between Jadis and her sister. While Jadis was a clear tyrant, her sister is little better, breaking her oath to not use magic and gleefully slaughtering Jadis's soldiers down to the last man. At least, this was what happened according to Jadis.
  • Eviler than Thou:
    • Queen Jadis against Uncle Andrew. The latter is a crooked, greedy amateur wizard with Lack of Empathy, whereas Jadis is a more or less literal Evil Overlord. She dismisses him more or less contemptuously and then impresses him as a servant of sorts for her own ambitions.
    • Queen Jadis is also eviller than her sister, willing to cause an apocalypse simply to avoid losing her throne.
  • Extremely Protective Child: Digory undertakes to return Jadis to the Wood Between the Worlds, rather than leaving her to be dealt with by the authorities, because he is terrified that his deathly-ill mother will see her.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • Jadis's attempts to intimidate the mob in London don't work, because they think she's a lunatic. They sarcastically give three cheers for the Empress of Colney Hatch, a well known psychiatric asylum.
    • Jadis also tries her spells on Digory's aunt, who just thinks she's drunk.
  • Fairy Godmother: Uncle Andrew had a godmother who left him the box of dust and a mystery. He explains to Digory that he's one of few people who have an actual "fairy" godmother, as she's rumored to have fairy blood in her. Digory notes that Andrew's Godmother was probably one of the bad fairies.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The "Deplorable Word", a magic word that, if spoken, instantly kills all life forms in the world except the speaker. Lewis makes the nuclear allegory pretty transparent, especially in the description of the burned-out remains of Charn and the Aesop that Aslan delivers at the end:
    "It is not certain that some wicked member of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things. And soon, very soon, great nations in your world will be ruled by tyrants who care no more for joy and justice and mercy than the Empress Jadis."
  • The Final Temptation: Jadis confronts Digory in the garden, and attempts to convince him to take the silver apple for himself, but he sees through her deception.
  • Funetik Aksent: At one point, Uncle Andrew is described as pronouncing the word 'girl' as "gel". He also pronounces 'damn' as "dem".
  • Genocide from the Inside: Jadis spoke the Deplorable Word, a spell that destroyed all life on her world except her own, when she was on the verge of losing a civil war.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Digory warns Uncle Andrew that, as he's obviously a villain, he better expect retribution for what he does. Uncle Andrew privately thinks, "Oh, Crap!, he's right!" before trying to laugh it off as Digory reading too many fairy tales.
    • Polly is savvy enough to suspect that the warning next to the bell in Charn (which says that anyone who reads said warning must either strike the bell or go insane wondering what would have happened otherwise) is just Schmuck Bait and not actually putting them under an enchantment. Since Digory does impulsively strike the bell, we never find out if he and Polly would have really gone mad afterward or not.
  • Gentleman Wizard: Andrew believes himself to be this, at least.
  • Ghost Planet: The world of Charn, thanks to every living thing (except Jadis) being killed there years ago.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Two sisters started a civil war over the throne of Charn, and one of them was an Omnicidal Maniac. It didn't end well.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Empress Jadis, a woman so self-obsessed she destroyed her world merely to prevent her sister from gaining her throne.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Though it is a Beautiful Void, the Wood Between the Worlds is described with very positive imagery. When Digory, Polly, and Jadis return there after Digory and Polly meet Jadis in Charn, Jadis seems to be in extreme discomfort and begs the children to take her somewhere else:
    "Help! Help! Mercy!" cried the Witch in a faint voice, staggering after them. "Take me with you. You cannot... mean to leave me in this horrible place. It is killing me."
    "It's a reason of State," said Polly spitefully. "Like when you killed all those people in your own world."
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Soon after arriving in Charn, Polly and Digory see a wall that looks as though it might collapse at any moment. Digory comments that if it's lasted until now, it will probably last a bit longer, but they must be very quiet, as noise could bring it down, like an avalanche in the Alps. Soon after this, he makes noise in a massive way, which does indeed cause collapse.
    Jadis: (calmly) There is great peril here, the whole palace is breaking up. If we are not out of it in a few minutes, we shall be buried under the ruin.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The song that Aslan sings to create the animals causes Digory and Uncle Andrew to become "aroused"... though thankfully, not for Aslan or each other.
  • Heel–Face Turn: It is mentioned at the end that after his humiliating and unfortunate experiences, Uncle Andrew gradually abandons his magical pursuits and becomes a rather nicer person, although he remains eccentric and still has a fondness for cornering visitors to his house to gush about Jadis at them.
  • Holy Burns Evil: The magical tree planted by Digory a the behest of Aslan. It is grown from one of the silver apples which grants one's heart's desire. Since Jadis plucked and ate one such apple selfishly, the very presence of the other apples or any new tree growing from them becomes unbearable to her. She can't bear to be within hundreds of miles of the new tree, so that it acts as a temporary but long-lived ward against her, keeping Narnia safe for centuries.
  • Humiliation Conga: Unintentional on the animals' part, but it's what they put Uncle Andrew through as they try to take care of him since they can't communicate with him and have no idea what he is. He really, really deserved it though.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After returning from their adventures in Narnia, the first thing Uncle Andrew does is make a beeline for his brandy bottle.
  • Immortality Immorality: The result of selfishly taking and eating a silver apple in the Garden of Youth. While eating one will still grant you your heart's desire in Narnia, taking and eating one for oneself will also make you forever miserable and hateful of the sight and smell of the apples forever afterward.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes:
    • Narrowly averted; the cabbie's wife's fanciest outfit apparently includes a hat with fake fruit on, which she would have worn had she known she was about to be summoned to Narnia. Fortunately, she didn't have time to dress up beforehand, so she's wearing her sensible workday clothes and looks quite beautiful.
    • When Uncle Andrew puts on his "best clothes" when Jadis arrives in England, the narration notes that he just looks ridiculous instead of fancy.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The green and yellow rings, which allow one to enter the Wood between the Worlds and leave there for any number of worlds. Aslan is able do this directly with no rings involved, but then again, he's The Omnipotent.
  • It's All About Me: Jadis is described as completely ignoring anything for which she has no use. Once she's finished with Digory, it's like he isn't there, in favour of Uncle Andrew. The text describes witches as "terribly practical".
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Polly and Digory feel this way when they enter Charn, and find themselves in a vast ruined palace, which has clearly been deserted for centuries, and has nothing but a cold dead silence. They note that the Wood between the Worlds was also silent, but was rich and full of life, in that you could almost hear the trees growing. Later, they end up in the empty and dark Narnia just before all life is created by Aslan, and for a moment, they believe they are back in Charn at night.
    Jadis: This is not Charn. This is an empty world. This is Nothing.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: Jadis is indeed the last person left in her world, but she is aware that other worlds exist and it's possible to travel there via magic, so she made magical preparations to wait until there was a knock on her door.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Uncle Andrew, whose magical experiments caused his hair to turn grey.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair: Through warfare and sorcery, the city of Charn conquered its entire world. By the time that the book begins, nothing remains but wreckage and ruins.
  • Mage in Manhattan: Jadis spends a few hours in London. Her magic doesn't work, but she causes enough havoc with her Super Strength.
  • Magic Music: Aslan sings an entire world into existence.
  • The Magocracy: Apparently, Charn was a sort of monarchy ruled by a bloodline of magicians. Jadis assumes that magic and political power will also correlate on other worlds, asking Digory what sort of state his uncle rules.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: While Uncle Andrew starts out as a pretty frightening villain (at least from a child's perspective), he is completely helpless before Jadis. She basically enslaves him, and then becomes the main villain for the rest of the story.
  • Meaningful Rename: Strawberry the horse is renamed 'Fledge' when Aslan grants him wings.
  • Men Don't Cry: Digory is embarrassed when Polly discovers that he's been crying.
  • Metaphorically True: Jadis says the destruction of Charn is her sister's fault — because she said she would spare her life if she surrendered, and the sister didn't surrender.
  • Nasty Party: Mentioned by Jadis as to how one of her ancestors dealt with supposedly rebellious nobles.
    Jadis: This was the old banqueting hall where my great-grandfather bade seven hundred nobles to a feast and killed them all before they had drunk their fill. They had had rebellious thoughts.
  • Never My Fault: Jadis places all blame for wiping out all life on Charn squarely on her sister, despite it being Jadis herself who used the Deplorable Word.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Digory's curiosity gets the better of him and results in Jadis being awakened.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Jadis suggesting to Digory that he leave Polly behind, while she is trying to tempt him to steal an apple from the tree and join her as an immortal. The mean-spiritedness of this suggestion destroys any credibility that she had in his eyes.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Newly-crowned King Frank establishes himself as the first in a long line of kind Narnian rulers through this trope, as we see he's incredibly devoted to his horse, Strawberry. He ignores Jadis's rage in his efforts to calm the poor thing down and, when he sees that Strawberry became one of the talking horses, he's pleasantly surprised and says that he always knew his horse was very smart.
  • No-Sell: When the principal characters arrive in Narnia and Jadis sees Aslan approaching, she hurls the lamppost crossbar she had been holding at him and it strikes him squarely in the face. This would most certainly have killed a normal creature, but as it's Aslan, the crossbar just bounces off and falls to the ground, where (due to the ambient magic) it soon sprouts into a full-grown lamp post.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Jadis says she "paid a terrible price" to learn the Deplorable Word, and we never find out what it is.
    • Similar to the above, Uncle Andrew states that he had to got through "some very disagreeable experiences" to learn what was inside his godmother's Atlantean box. He claims that these experiences adversely affected his health and turned his hair gray.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The city of Charn; when Digory and Polly first arrive, both are creeped out by the sheer darkness and emptiness of the ruins around them. When they fear something may be stalking them, they stop and listen closely; all they hear are their own heartbeats. By the time they come across the bell and the hammer, Digory is so creeped out that he would rather "strike the bell and bide the danger" than continue to endure the darkness and emptiness of Charn.
  • Oh, Crap!: Done non-verbally in The Wood Between the Worlds, when Polly realizes, just before they move away from "their" pool, that all of the pools are identical, and they have no way of finding theirs again after they leave. After they look at each other, Digory shakily takes out his pocket knife and digs up the turf next to their pool. It's all but stated that they realize how close they came to being lost forever.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Jadis's backstory.
  • Panacea: The silver apples grant eternal life and although their magic is weakened in our world, they still cure any illness.
  • Planet England: Charn is the name of the world and one city on it.
  • Portal Crossroad World: The Wood Between the Worlds is the central hub for one of these. It's possible that every single separate world/universe in existence can be reached from there.
  • Portal Pool: These are how one travels from place to place using The Wood Between the Worlds.
  • The Power of Creation: chronologically the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia, this depicts the moment when Aslan 'sung' Narnia into existence, bringing life to everything and everyone that lived in it at the beginning of the world. As a side-effect, even objects 'planted' in the earth at this time will grow into larger things, such as an iron bar becoming a replica of the lamp-post it was torn from or a few coins becoming literal money trees. This is explicitly stated to be the source of one of Lion/Witch/Wardrobe's biggest mysteries: the lamp post. Jadis unwittingly brought a bar from an English lamp with her to Narnia and tried to attack Aslan with it; the bar was imbued with a life force where it fell, and it grew into a brand new lamp post. Similarly, coins from Andrew's pockets grow into two small trees of gold and silver. When asked about this by Polly, Aslan elaborates that this new life will cease after a few days and Narnia will be a more normal world from then on.
  • Prequel: To the Narnia series as a whole, but specifically to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Queen Jadis is described in just this way, and makes an enchanting impression on most male characters she interacts with.
  • Ret-Gone: After Jadis leaves Charn, it vanishes from existence. Its pool in the Wood between the Worlds is dried up and, save for the memories of Digory and Polly and the continued presence of Jadis herself, it's as if Charn and its entire universe never existed.
  • Royal Blood: Jadis believes this is a requirement for magic (as indeed it apparently was on Charn) in order to use Rule Magic. Device Magic is usable by anyone, but according to Jadis, non-royal magicians on Charn were wiped out. Ironically, based on what we see her do in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she seems to be stuck using Device Magic herself in Narnia.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • In verse, no less:
      Make your choice, adventurous stranger
      Strike the bell and bide the danger
      Or wonder 'till it drives you mad
      What would have followed if you had.
    • And again in verse, outside the Garden. Jadis falls for it:
      Come in through the gold gates or not at all.
      Take of my fruit for others, or forbear.
      For those who steal or those who climb the wall
      Shall find their heart's desire and find despair.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When the Witch's attempt to kill Aslan by hurling the lamppost crossbar at his head fails, she beats an undignified retreat, though she isn't quite gone from the story yet.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Jadis the White Witch put herself into suspended animation after destroying her world, and left a way for any visitors to wake her up, so that they'd take her to a new world.
  • Seven Minute Lull: A jackdaw in the newly-created Narnia does this, to the great amusement of the other Talking Animals. Rather than scold his creations for laughing, Aslan, equally amused, informs the jackdaw that he has become the first joke.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road."
    • When Polly and Digory first wonder what Uncle Andrew does in his secret study, Polly speculates that he might have a mad wife up there, while Digory speculates that he might be a former pirate hiding a treasure map like Billy Bones.
    • The trees of silver and of gold have analogs in the works of Lewis' longtime friend J. R. R. Tolkien.
    • The hall of waxworks in Charn is said to be a nod to the grotto of mummies in King Solomon's Mines.
    • Aslan's weeping with Digory for the latter's dying mother is clearly inspired by the famous Biblical passage "Jesus wept," when Jesus met with Lazarus's sisters after his death and, despite knowing that he could resurrect Lazarus and having come to do so, responded to their weeping with compassionate tears of his own.
  • Sibling Murder: Jadis kills her sister to prevent her from becoming Empress. She also kills everything else in the process.
  • Skewed Priorities: A hideous use of the trope, demonstrating Jadis' true nature. She was fighting a war with her sister to become the ruler of Charn's empire. She was utterly defeated, so she used her last and most terrible weapon: a single magical word which would kill everything except the speaker. Not "every person", not "everything within a certain distance"... everything. But the important part is, her sister didn't beat her.
  • Smug Snake: Going by Jadis' account, her sister seems to have been one. If she'd just killed her instead of taking the time to gloat, she would have won. Of course, since it's Jadis we're talking about, it's just as likely to be a Self-Serving Memory of what actually went down.
  • Squishy Wizard:
    • Played straight with Uncle Andrew.
      "That was what turned my head grey. One doesn't become a magician for nothing. My health broke down in the end."
    • Subverted spectacularly with Jadis, who is superhumanly strong even on Earth where her magic doesn't work.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Queen Jadis. Her beauty is noted more than once, she is seven feet tall and her attractiveness has a slightly dissonant uncanny touch due to her inhuman heritage.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Played for Laughs when Jadis is on the rampage in England. The cabbie whose carriage and horse she stole kindly tells her that a lady like herself shouldn't be involved in such a to-do, and she should go home and have a nice cup of tea and lie down. Given that Jadis is knocking out a police officer with an iron bar she ripped off a lamp post while she's being told this, it just establishes the cabbie as well-meaning but not terribly perceptive.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Strawberry the cab driver's horse gains a voice when Aslan creates Narnia.
  • Super Strength: Jadis is characterized as unexpectedly strong from the first, with delicate hands that are nonetheless unyielding like steel. Her strength is later shown to be obviously superhuman, as she carelessly rips loose part of an iron lamppost and beats policemen with it.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Throughout the books, Aslan tells several characters that they are not meant to know a) other people's stories, and b) what could have been if they made different choices. However, the implication is less "You would Go Mad from the Revelation" and more "Hey, look, I'm not a gossip", as well as a gentle reminder that it is more important to focus on the path ahead of you rather than get preoccupied with what-ifs. For The Magician's Nephew, Aslan inverts both rules hard:
    Aslan: Understand, then, that it would have healed her; but not to your joy or hers. The day would have come when both you and she would have looked back and said it would have been better to die in that illness.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself:
    • Digory had to retrieve the apple himself. Had a Narnian taken it, it would have been for themselves and eventually caused Narnia to turn bad. However, if an outsider like Digory took it, it would have been taken for the sake of others.
    • Him calling out Jadis on her lies ends up like this as well. He realizes for himself how hollow everything she says is, and asks just when she became so "precious fond" of his mother all of a sudden. Polly cheers him on for the revelation, and the narrator lampshades it:
      You'll notice she kept quiet for the whole conversation. It wasn't her mother dying of some illness.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Uncle Andrew is noted to be much less of a jerk after the events of the story.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: In the Wood between the Worlds, Polly and Digory mark the pool leading to their own world by cutting a strip out of the ground, since all the pools are alike.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: Digory feels this way about the bell that will awaken Jadis, lest their curiosity drive them mad. Polly disagrees, considering it pure Schmuck Bait. Unfortunately, she's "overruled". However, she's later proved right and vindicated, by Aslan no less.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Jadis somehow manages to not only follow Digory, Polly and Strawberry the flying horse to where they rested for the night, but she also manages to get to the garden before them. Admittedly, she could have used her magic, but then there's no indication that she's able to use it in Narnia any more than she could in our world.
  • Übermensch:
    • Jadis considers herself the sole arbiter of morality. Of course, being a book by C. S. Lewis, there is an even stronger force at work.
    • Uncle Andrew is a deconstruction: he is similarly amoral, and comes across as frightening at first, but then becomes increasingly pathetic as the bankruptness of his philosophy and character are gradually exposed over the course of the story.
  • Uncanny Valley: An in-universe case with Jadis, when she is first encountered. She's very beautiful, but when you actually look at her there's something just wrong about her face. This makes sense, since she is not (strictly speaking) human.
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Inverted. When Aslan magically summons soon-to-be-Queen Helen to Narnia, she is described as looking beautiful in her simple attire. The narrator informs us that if she had known this was going to happen and had put on her best outfit, she would have looked tacky.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Frank the cab driver, and his wife Helen. They care more about protecting the talking animals and appreciating the beauty of the new land than being shocked by this new fantasy world... and Aslan crowns them the first king and queen for it.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Queen Jadis is the only person still alive in her dying world, and so the children are left with only her version of how and why Charn died. As she tells the story, everything she did was (of course) justified, and her enemies were evil. This is neither expressly confirmed nor denied by the narrative—though her conduct otherwise necessarily casts doubt on her self-serving justifications.
  • Villain Decay: Doubles as a case of in-universe Badass Decay; Uncle Andrew ceases to be intimidating in the slightest once Jadis enters the story. Unlike most cases, events transform Uncle Andrew from The Chessmaster to the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, and finally, into the Cosmic Plaything.
  • Weaker in the Real World: On her own planet of Charn, Jadis was a walking Person of Mass Destruction, able to destroy the world with her magic. When she gets to London, she discovers her magic doesn't work there, and the only powers she has are being abnormally tall and superhumanly strong.
  • We Can Rule Together: Jadis tempts Digory to eat the Apple of Youth so the two of them can rule the world as king and queen forever. She is smart enough to argue that he can also use its power to help others... but part of her specific argument still gives the game away.
  • Wham Line: Polly is very angry, and for good and sufficient reason, after they arrive back in London from Charn, to the point that she's ready to go home for good and leave Digory to his own devices. Then Digory says this:
    Digory: What I'm bothered about is Mother. Suppose that creature went into her room. She might frighten her to death.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The mystery of the abandoned house, though it ultimately leads to everything else that happens, is completely forgotten after the first chapter.
    • The home that Frank and Helen lived in is also suddenly abandoned, and the cab company is down a driver and a horse.
    • Because this book was written after all but the last book in the series, the rings become this until The Last Battle when they suddenly start working again.
    • Uncle Andrew's guinea pig. Polly and Digory find it the first time they arrive in the Wood, but Polly decides to leave it there since it's perfectly happy and much safer there than it would be with Uncle Andrew! It's never mentioned again, so it looks like that guinea pig will spend eternity roaming around the Wood Between the Worlds.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The narrator describes Digory forcefully stopping Polly from leaving Charn so that he can ring the bell in these terms:
    Narrator: I can't excuse what he did next except by saying that he was very sorry for it afterward. And so were a good many other people.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Jadis tempts Digory to take the apple back to Earth for his mother instead of giving to Aslan. While she was already having trouble convincing him, she shoots herself in the foot by suggesting that he leave Polly behind in order to ensure nobody could tell on him. Polly has her own way home, but even if she didn't, it would never have even occurred to Digory to abandon her; the suggestion makes him realize that if Jadis cares nothing for Polly, there's no reason for her to care about his mother either and there must be a catch in her proposal.
  • Wish Fulfilment: When Aslan gives Digory the means to save his mother. Note that Lewis lost his own mother at a young age to a long illness, probably cancer.
  • Women Are Wiser: Or at least not as overwhelmed by Jadis. Unlike Uncle Andrew, and even Digory at first, Polly sees right through her right away.
  • World Tree: Several of them, each a significant plot point.
  • X Must Not Win: Jadis' attitude towards her sister.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Frank initially expresses doubt about his ability to be the first king of Narnia, Aslan asks him a series of questions about his knowledge of working the field, his ability to acknowledge that the Talking Animals aren't the dumb beasts of his original world, and his willingness to defend them in future wars, that leads to Frank accepting that he will do his best and Aslan assuring him that will be enough.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Jadis' attempts to enter the garden by climbing the wall; as Digory pointed out, it's pointless to try to climb the wall when you can just open the gate. Then again, we don't know whether or not Jadis could open the gate, since she never even tried.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: Lampshaded. Uncle Andrew calls the talking bulldog "good doggie then, poor old boy" before fainting. The narrator remarks that it's a good thing the bulldog couldn't understand him, because he would not have appreciated being called a 'good doggie then' "anymore than you would have liked to have been called 'my little man'."
  • Your Magic's No Good Here:
    • A British mob is narrowly saved from Jadis' wrath by the fact that her magic doesn't work in London. It's quite an annoyance to her to find that she's gone from being able to wipe out all life on her planet to being just a very tall (though superhumanly strong) person. In Narnia, she manages to find a workaround: using a wand.
    • Narnian magic, on the other hand, is merely diminished rather than negated. Digory brings a silver apple from Narnia to Earth. In Narnia, it can give immortality (or whatever else happens to be your "heart's desire"), on Earth it can "merely" heal fatal illness.