First, let me say that C.S. Lewis is my absolute favo(u)rite author (note the optional u in the word to account for his British background), and I have read the Narnia series at the very least four times–several books I have read five or six. C.S. Lewis himself declared, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once” (The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, page 439).
Having said that, the reason I chose The Magician’s Nephew to review over the other Narnia books was its broader appeal. The Horse and His Boy is generally the least interesting to readers because of a lack of fantastical elements (excepting talking horses) and a surplus of “dry” traveling and plot. The Last Battle seems to be the least understood and the most obscure (when ignoring the brilliant allegorical techniques used). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader all have brand new movies, and I wanted to avoid simply ranting about what the production companies changed or ignored. The Silver Chair I have read less recently. All of these books are wonderful, and I highly recommend them for all readers.
The Magician’s Nephew is unique in that it explores the creation story through allegory. As Lewis is also a brilliant philosopher, it is really interesting to compare the behavior and thoughts of Jadis–the villain–to the beliefs of certain individuals and groups in our culture. The writing is, of course, phenomenal, because C.S. Lewis is a highly revered writer, and the seemly simplistic plot for children reveals more complex allegory every time I read it.