The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

121763Novel Facts:

  • Published: September 7th, 1953
  • Publisher: Geoffrey Bles
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Pages in Paperback: 114
  • Preceded by (chronologically): The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Followed by (chronologically): The Last Battle
  • Though it was the 4th published out of 7 novels it takes place 6th in Narnian history
  • Quote: “Suppose… suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pits of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it’s a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow.”
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Plot:

NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins.

Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face and face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

Review of the Characters:

Jill Pole– I must say that I wasn’t particularly crazy about Jill. She was realistic in the sense that she often gave into temptations like seeking warmth instead of following Aslan’s signs, but it felt as if Lewis forgot to write her as likeable. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to Lucy who was very noble for her age but I couldn’t really find Jill’s appeal. I get that she’s just a normal school girl but she literally just kept making mistake after mistake. I wanted to shout at her several times, “Don’t go that way, of course it’s a trap!” However, I do like that she always owned up to her mistakes at once which is an admirable trait. I think part of the reason I found her so ‘blah’ is because the story was told from her point of view, if we had seen her from someone else’s eyes she might have been more enjoyable.

Eustace Scrubb– He was such a good character in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader so of course I was expecting the same in The Silver Chair, but sadly he fell flat. I think if Lewis had told the story from his perspective it would have made Eustace and the story more enjoyable. It felt like he had very little purpose to the story, as if he was only included to get Jill into Narnia. In the previous novel in the series Eustace was hilarious and I realize that in this novel he is no longer the snarky, spoiled brat he was before, but does that mean he had to lose his wit? His comedic timing? He was simply a stand in and once in while I would have to remind myself he was Eustace and not Edmund.

Puddleglum– Thank goodness for this character, because he really saved the children’s bland personalities. He was an ‘in-the-closet’ optimist, pretending to think the worst but really placing faith above everything else. He was completely original and hilarious providing for great quotes for the majority of the novel. I especially loved Puddleglum when the whole crew was falling under the witch’s spell in the dark caves of Underland and Puddleglum was arguing with the witch whether the sun existed or not. The crew keeps insisting that they know the sun exists but the witch tells them they have made it all up as if they were playing a game. Puddleglum then tells the witch, “Suppose… suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pits of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it’s a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow.” I think Lewis used this scene to emphasize his feelings on the importance of faith especially when you are confronted with the total lack of it.

Lady of the Green Kirtle– Our green witch who was quite sneaky and would have succeeded in her evil scheme if it weren’t for our brave Puddleglum. There is much speculation whether the Lady of the Green Kirtle and the White Witch (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) are in fact the same person, but I don’t think that this is the case. For one, they had two different styles. The White Witch was harsh and proud, which was permanently etched onto her face. With the Lady of the Green Kirtle there is never one remark of arrogance or pride a very important factor to the White Witch. Also the Lady of the Green Kirtle prefered to trick and scheme verses the White Witch who preferred to use force in all areas. Also, Lewis would have made this perfectly clear is she was the same person because it would have made the book instantly popular. Although I don’t believe the Lady of the Green Kirtle  if she was the same person as the White Witch, I do feel we are missing some back story on her, for example where did she come from and why is she Narnia’s enemy.

Review of the Story:

Although the characters were a bit bland the story was one of the better ones throughout the Chronicles of Narnia. We explore new parts of Narnia; traveling to the land of the Giants, ancient ruins and we even get a peek at what lies under the entire land. The mystery provides a really great frame for the story and captures your interest right away. The mystery is this: 70 years have passed since The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian is old and dying. He leaves on a voyage to seek Aslan about an heir to his throne since ten years ago his son disappeared. His son went missing when he sought to avenge his mother by killing the serpent that poisoned her. One day he ventured into the forest looking for the serpent and never returned. There was also rumors of a green lady that walked in the area (why does it seem like witches in Narnia always have a favorite color)? The mystery is really intriguing and I couldn’t help but read with anticipation as Jill and Eustace set out to find Prince Rillian with the help of Aslan’s four signs. They encounter many fun adventures that make for an epic tale. The only complaint I have with the actual story is the ending. I was irritated with how things turned out between Prince Caspian and his son and was even more frustrated with how Aslan decided to solve Jill’s problem at school. It felt over dramatic and was just an excuse to insert the authors opinions.

Review of the Writing:

I had to constantly remind myself that this was written in the 50’s because I was getting angrier and angrier with the not so subtle stabs at feminism at liberalism. Lewis blames anything and everything that goes wrong on the Experiment House in which Jill and Eustace go to school. This school has the audacity to have a female headmistress and obviously doesn’t know what they are doing because they decide not to BEAT children who misbehave. Lewis makes it clear to the readers that things not taught at the Experiment House are the Bible (gasp) and teaching girls how to curtsy (whatever will they do)? Lewis also makes it clear what he thinks of females with this line: “Where I come from, they don’t think much of men who are bossed about by their wives.” It just builds up and up and at some point I had to step back and take a deep breath and remind myself this was written in a different time period. Then I think about how the book is marketed towards children and my frustration comes back. We shouldn’t be selling this kind of biased work to children to try to sway them to believe one way or another. If it added to the story then I honestly would not have a problem with it but all it does is interrupt it.

Rating:

Though it didn’t top The Voyage of the Dawn Treader it was a fun read. The Silver Chair provided many adventures and gave us a fascinating insight of Narnia. Though I did have issues with the bland characters and the author preaching a bit, I recommend it to all fans of fantasy.

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Overall Rating:

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P.S.– My next read is The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (it’s going to be a bittersweet read)!

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4 thoughts on “The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

  1. You know, I’d practically forgotten most of the story until your review, and it’s still not piecing together quite right for me! I have a very old edition of the books and they were in a boxed set. It’s weird because in MY boxed set, The Magician’s Nephew was like, the second to last book in the series or something. But I’m told – and it makes sense – that this is chronologically first so it’s published as the first book now, before the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?! So I don’t even know. What i do know is, The Magician’s Nephew is probably my favorite book in that series. You bring up some good points – especially about Puddleglum’s faith vs. darkness speech (great point!) – and why must the Narnia witches have a color coordination scheme?! And why must CS Lewis be so chauvinistic?! I recall reading a line in The Lion, TW, & TW – something Santa said of all people, too! It was a really mocking line about women, but I can’t remember what it is. Anyway, it’s a bit perplexing considering even though Lewis rags on women throughout the series, he introduces one of the most awesome female characters in literature – Lucy Pevensie, of course. I, too, miss Lucy when she’s not there. She and her relationship with Aslan will always be the heart of Narnia to me! Great post!

    • Yes, for me The Magician’s Nephew was first. One Christmas I recieved a huge book that contained all of the Chronicles of Narnia, and the books are ordered chronologically so I actually read The Magician’s Nephew first. (Which is also my favorite of the series followed closely by The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I just loved the idea of the Wood between Worlds and the pools that transported you to different worlds. P.S.– I hear this is the next Narnia movie which makes me so excited)!

      When I found out that this was actually not the order that Lewis published I was already done with The Magician’s Nephew and into The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe so I decided to keep on reading in that order. But everyone says that you should read it the the way Lewis intended you to so I think sometime in the future I’ll reread the series in the order of how they were published to see if it heightens the reading experience.

      The irony of Lewis makes me laugh because I too consider Lucy to be one of the greatest fictional female characters ever, yet he just has to add in his macho opinions to kill a mood. (And I know exactly what line you’re thinking of. It’s when Santa gives Lucy the dagger and says “For protection as I do not intend you to do battle as it is not a place for girls.” Thats the gist of it anyway). Thanks again for reading! 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Silver Chair | Tales of the Marvelous

  3. Pingback: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis | The Day Dreaming, Candy Eating, Red Headed Bookworm

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