I’m really excited to get to this book, The Silver Chair. It is one of Lewis’ best Narnia books, and it was a hoot to read. But before I talk more about it, here’s a gif cap.
We open up to meet out primary protagonist, Jill. She’s not in the best of places right now, and is crying. This is due to here going to experiment house. An experimental school gone wrong. She’s sadly going through bullying issues, and is hiding away.
She is then comforted by one of her few friends, Eustace Scrub, from the last book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He’s gone through some nifty character development. They talk to each other about how much school sucks, how Eustace is a better person, and how he’s better because he went to Narnia. Jill wants to know more, and Eustace starts talking all about his adventure. Jill thinks Narnia would be a much better place to visit than experiment house, and talks to Scrub who says maybe Aslan could help. They’re sadly interrupted when she hear one of the school bullies show up. She then run away, up a hill, and open a suspiciously unlocked door.
Suddenly they find themselves right next to a cliff. Jill is a bit freaked out, and accidentally makes Eustace fall over it down to his death.
He’s saved by a mysterious Lion, who blows him away like a cloud.
Jill is left alone, and is a bit bewildered at nearly killing her friend.
She gets thirsty and looks for a stream. There she finds the same lion again. If you’ve read the books, its obivious the lion is Aslan, but this Aslan isn’t the warm friendly lion from past books. He’s actually very terrifying.
Jill gives into thirst and drinks while Aslan watches her. She then gets up and starts to slowly walk away. Before she can however, Asland speaks to her. He first berates an already guilty Jill from pushing Eustace. He also gives her four signs she has to follow.
He then blows her away like a cloud too, making her swiftly travel over Narnia.
She then lands down in Narnia and meets up with Eustace, just in time to see Caspian off. Which means she’s missed the first sign.
Jill and Eustace meet Trumpkin, who takes them in and treats them very well. Jill is enjoying her time until she’s accosted by an owl and flown to an owl parliament.
After some political satire the duo are sent to Puddleglum, who’s best described as a combination between Gandalf and Eeyore.
They then march along for a while, come across a giant bridge, and meet a mysterious lady
And a completely armored knight. Mysterious lady tells them to hang out with the giants in Harfang, and then rides off.
The kids take the advice, much to Puddleglum’s chagrin.
They finally make it during a snowstorm and arrive at the giants castle.
The trio is warmly greeted and smothered in kindness. However, Jill remembers, after Aslan shows up, that she kinda sort of has to fulfill a quest and has mucked up two more signs.
So the trio plan an escape.
Just as they leave, they found out the giants are planning to eat them!
They then skedaddle out of there.
They find a deep hole, trapped underground.
And then captured by diverse earthpeople.
Everyone is then moved through the weird underground via boat.
Soon they meet the knight who wore all of the that armor, and he’s really silly.
He then warns them about how gets really weird and has to sit in this swanky shiny silver chair.
He says the trio can see in this weird crazy state as long as they promise not to untie him. Oddly enough, this ‘crazy, weird’ state is surprisingly sane, and even swears by Aslan.
Since this is one of the signs, the trio have no choice but to free the man, who is actually the prince Rilian, who then destroys the chair.
Unfortunately the witch shows up and is unsettling calm.
The Green Witch then tries to hypotize everyone.
She speaks about reality, how her dark underground is the only word there is, how there is no Narnia, how she likes cats. Everyone is fooled and soothed by her calming and tempting words. But Puddleglum, in a last ditch push against the witch, walks over the fire fire, and stomps it out with his bare feet.
The witch is not very happy at this, and her sweet melodious voice gets really vindictive. She thens turns into a snake, and attacks!
Rillian ain’t having any of that, and cuts her down.
The team then takes a short tea break.
They start to get out, and notice strange things. Like a giant red crater above them, a rising water level(damn (under)global warming), and the earthmen acting weirdly. Rilian goes back to get the shield and some of those cool horse he was riding earlier. The team then sets out to escape the underworld.
After a long and arduous journey they finally make it near the surface. All they have to do is push through a small hole at the top of the tunnel. Unfortunately Jill is the only one that can fit through. So she gets atop Puddleglum and pushes herself out of the ground.
She ends of interrupting a narnian dance party, and get hit with a snow ball.
With her mouth filled with snow, her friends thinks she’s disappeared, and now are really worried. Then Jill is finally able to speak again and calls out. The Narnians then help everyone out and Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum take a rest while Rilian goes to see his dad. Later Everyone wakes up after a great night’s sleep.
Jill and Eustace ride on Centaurs to Cari Parivail, after saying a heartfelt goodbye to Puddleglum.
They arrive just as Caspian arrives. And are there when he dies. The Lion, Aslan shows himself, and take Eustace and Jill back to the end of the world, where their journey first began. There in a touching moment, Aslan brings Caspian back to life after Eustace stabs Aslan in the paw with a sharp plant.
Caspian and the duo are then sent back to experiment house, where they scare the bullies and make the headmaster go crazy. Inquiries are made, and the headmaster is dismissed, and experiment house gets better. Eustace and Jill then have better lives.
Thoughts on It After the Reread
This is one of the darkest (literally and figuratively) Narnia novels. The tone of this novel has shifted drastically from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This increase in darkness, once you know how to look for it, is plainly obvious, and reflected by our new protagonists. Jill and Eustace are not the Pevensie children of the previous books. They bicker, sometimes annoyed by each other, and hence much more interesting.
The text’s darkness comes naturally from the way the novel is written. The first indication is the sadly accurate depiction of bullying at experiment house. From Jill’s crying, to her fear about the people there. In so few words, Lewis shows us experiment house sucks.
An obvious but still well done them is how looks can be deceiving. The green witch is an obvious example. Her sweet talk and stylish clothing amazes Jill, even she’s actually an evil snake person. This extends to giants of Harfang, who aren’t truly kind, to the earthmen, who are actually pretty okay and diverse people, prince Rilian himself, and even the death of Caspian, who goes on to actually live. In The Silver Chair, appearance alone aren’t respected. Fortunately the message of the book is subtle yet still effective. A sign of good writing, for both children and adult novels.
Faith is another theme. Maybe even more so than any previous book. The character most embodied by this type is Puddleglum. He lets go of his faith in Narnia, Aslan, and everything. He is the one who keeps Jill and Eustace focused on their mission. He’s even has a Dumbledore-esque speech about belief, and how something imaginary can be better then the real.
Jill is now my favorite protagonist; she’s top ten material. She is everything I want from a protagonist. She is proactive, headstrong, kind but sometimes rude. She questions here surroundings and the motives of others, yet still flawed, like trusting the witch because of her initial beauty. She can also be sympathetic and very brave. It’s really sad to me she’s only also in the last book. If I’m to be frank, I want more stories about her.
Another thing so distinct in this book is Aslan’s portrayal. In previous books he’s always been gentlemanly and kind. While he’s had his moments of anger, it’s never been too intense. So it’s a but unnerving how terrifying he is. The whole scene between him and Jill is one of the most disturbing things I’ve read.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” Said Jill
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it was sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
This sequence is one of the series best written and intense. The description of Jill hesitation, Aslan’s calm fury. It’s the first time the lion is as terrifying as he’s been described. For the first time, it truly feels like Aslan is sublime.
Something this series is good at is it’s continuity. And one the series most blatant instance of foreshadowing has to when Eustace and Jill meet father time.
In two weeks time, the last reread and The Last Battle