This simple, lovely idea is from The Magician’s Nephew, the first novella in the Chronicles of Narnia. The idea is fairly simple. Digory Kirke (he’s the professor from the later Narnia novels) as a child is tricked into wearing a magic ring of his uncle’s, and when he (and a friend) put the rings on, they are transported to a wood with several trees and shallow pools where nothing ever happens—time doesn’t exist. Because of this, it has a sedative effect on the people who end up there—they can get stuck in that world and forget who they are and what they’re doing there. If you have the right ring on, however, and enter one of the seemingly-shallow pools, you can be transported to that location, a whole new world. Each pool, if the right ring is being worn, acts as a portal to a different world. If the world is destroyed, or all life therein is lost, then the pool dries up and disappears.
That’s really all there is to it—not a complicated idea. When I was a kid, it took me several attempts to force my way through The Magician’s Nephew, but the image of the Wood Between Worlds always stuck with me, because there were hundreds of pools in this wood—countless ones. C.S. Lewis shows us only three—including Earth and Narnia. I’ve always wondered what other worlds might the pools contain, had we been able to see more of them. Or maybe they’ve been found out by other ways, and other authors. Either way, the Wood Between Worlds is a place that’s always captured my imagination.