It took two chapters, but the adventure has finally begun. Digory takes two green rings, one for himself and one for Polly, puts on a yellow ring, and winds up in the “Other Place”. This is one of my favorite things in this book series: the Woods Between the Worlds. Even the name sounds magical.
Digory finds himself, not in Narnia, but in a lush forest. There are shallow pools of water every few feet, and the place is so quiet, it’s as though you can hear the trees growing. As enchanting as it sounds, though, the Woods Between the Worlds scared me as a child. Digory isn’t there long before he starts to forget who he is, or why he came here. He finds Polly in a similar state, half-asleep, and she doesn’t recognize him. When they see that they’re both wearing yellow rings, their memories are jogged, and they remember who they are and what they’re supposed to be doing.
While I was still hoping that I’d find a magical world in the back of my closet as a child, this scene helped me be aware of all the risks that might entail. I obviously knew that I’d be charging into battle to fight against evil, but I didn’t think of all the obstacles that would come before that. If I ever traveled a magical world, I would have to bring a friend with me, in case I wound up in the Woods Between the Worlds. I also really hoped that friend would be a unicorn.
I love the idea of the Woods Between the Worlds, though. Each pool of water is an entrance to a different world, provided you have your magic ring on. The Woods seem to stretch on endlessly, with pools every few feet. There are so many worlds that the children would just be able to walk into, which is a dizzying thought. As they’re about to try one out, Polly suggests that Digory marks their own pool of water, so they can find their way back home.
I rather like Polly. She seems like the brighter of two, and maybe even the braver.
The Magician’s Nephew was the second-to-last book written in the Narnia series, which means that Lewis most likely hadn’t thought of the Woods Between the Worlds before then. It’s a bit of a shame, I think, because it’s too good of an idea to waste. With endless worlds you could literally jump into, you could spend a lifetime exploring in the Woods and never visit the same place twice. Hence why it’s so important for Digory to mark the pool that will take him and Polly home, when they’re ready. That’s another scary thought: losing your world, and trying for the rest of your life to find the right pool and get back home. Even though that sounds like it would make a great story, that was another childhood fear of mine. When I discovered a new world (because I knew it would happen, someday) I would also have to take precautions to get home. Because as much fun as exploring other worlds is, sometimes you just need to sleep in your own bed.