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  • Writer's pictureEmily

The joy of re-reading: Narnia and The Magicians

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

I listened to Prince Caspian because it was a free checkout on a library service called Hoopla. I wanted an audiobook to listen to while I knit. Then I got the last two because I couldn't really remember the stories. It's been years since I read them. I'd forgotten what a drag The Last Battle is. It had a fighting unicorn, should've been better. Listening to these Narnia books made me want to read or listen to The Magicians again. I listened to the first book about a year ago, so I picked up with the sequel.

I had noticed all the Narnia/Magician's similarities of course, when I read The Magicians the first time; the main character of The Magicians, Quentin, is obsessed with a series of children's books in which ordinary English children are occasionally whisked off to a magical land called Fillory, ruled by an animal-god. It's like Narnia for grown-ups, with lots of cursing and drugs and things like that. I liked The Magicians, especially the first two books, and I liked the first few seasons of the show. (I feel like they started to go off the rails when they found out that many cast members can sing. It was ok for an episode, but come on.)

The Narnia books- Prince Caspian, The Silver Chair, The Final Battle (e-audio)

All three of these had good narration. Caspian was Lynn Redgrave, The Silver Chair was Jeremy Northam, and the last book is Patrick Stewart, who does a very good baying dog.

None of the children are very interesting characters. I never noticed that when I read it the first time. There are talking animals. It's distracting.

I didn't get into these books when I was a kid. I didn't like fantasy then, which seems strange to me now, since I read it all the time. I do remember my fifth grade teacher reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe out loud to us, and I was so curious about Turkish delight. I still haven't had any.

The Magician King, The Magician's Land (audio CDs and e-audio)

My takeaway this time is that there is so much going on in these books that there could have been twice as many of them. The second book is my favorite because it had the most Julia in it. I liked Quentin less this go-round. And I noticed this time that there were lots of coincidences, and he figured things out because he'd have a feeling... but I think that you can get away with that when your main characters are magicians. The narrator, Mark Bramhall, is good.

I actually liked The Magician's Land so much better than I liked it when I first read it. The only thing that I remembered about the book was Alice whining when she was brought back to life. That doesn't even happen until about 3/4 of the way in.


I used to have the whole Narnia set in one big paperback book. I sold it to a used bookstore. I'd read The Magician's Nephew in a children's lit class in college, and had the second book (in chronological order) read to me in school. I enjoyed reading them but decided to let it go. I can always borrow them.

While I enjoy the books, they are not some that I'll want to re-read so often, even though I'll go over children's books and probably always will, no matter how old. (Secret Garden! Paddington!) These books are, by nature, didactic. They're allegory, which I'm usually not crazy about.

The Magicians series is more fun. It's straight-up fantasy. What if your favorite magical children's book was all true? What if you could do magic, and travel to a magical land with talking animals and have adventures instead of a job? Their adventures do get dark- their villain is actually called The Beast, and- spoiler alert- one of his first actions is to eat someone. Dang.

So, to sum up: The Magicians is fun, but not for kids! If you ever read the Narnia books and wished they were less wholesome, well, The Magicians trilogy is alot less wholesome. I may end up getting my own copy of the whole trilogy to keep.

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