‘The Silver Chair’ by C. S. Lewis

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Sunday, January 9, 2011 - Save & Share - 5 Comments

The Narnia series has a great many things to recommend it to readers, but their chief appeal for me at this particular moment in time is how small and compact they are, thus making them the perfect books to read on the tube.  I’ll soon be looking for some new light reading (both literally and figuratively) to take the place of C. S. Lewis’ books though, as The Silver Chair brings me to the penultimate installment in the Narnia series and it has the distinct feel of a series winding down to its conclusion.

In this book, another new human is introduced to Narnia in the form of Jill Pole.  When trying to avoid the school bullies, Jill and Eustace implore Aslan to help them and soon find themselves in his country.  There he tasks them with finding King Caspian’s missing son and restoring him and so, assisted by Puddleglum the marshwiggle, they set out to find Prince Rilian .

Although, like The Voyage of the Dawntreader, this is essentially a quest book it felt much more continuous and natural, where I found the previous book too episodic and patchy.  It has a much more realistic scope and so events feel like a logical progression dependent on things that have happened before rather than a series of unconnected occurrences happening one after another.  As a result of this, I found The Silver Chair much more enjoyable to read than the previous book.  Many of the parts of the story were familiar rather than original, such as the children’s adventures in the city of giants and the silver chair itself, but Lewis tells them in such a charming way that I didn’t mind. Other parts, however, are wonderfully new: I thought that Underland and Bism were excellent creations.

What made this book so enjoyable to read was the presence of Puddleglum the marshwiggle.  His irrepressible gloom and pessimism provides an unexpected comic touch which had me smiling throughout.  The Silver Chair shows a marked movement towards the end of days state which will emerge fully in The Last Battle with the book taking a turn towards being darker and more serious (I think this book is the first time when a good character dies and is not brought back to life) this light relief is a welcome change of tone.  I’ll be sad when I finish my exploration of Narnia, but I look forward to seeing how exactly Lewis manages to do it.

The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.  Illustrated by Paula Baynes.  Published by Diamond, 1996, pp. 1991.  Originally published 1953.

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5 Responses to “‘The Silver Chair’ by C. S. Lewis”

Comment from Annie
Time January 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Puddleglum is probably my favourite character in Narnia. There was a radio production here in the UK with the lugubrious Tom Baker in the role. He was perfect.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Ooh, I’ll have to look those up as I should imagine he’d be great in that role and things to listen to on the train are always good. Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

Comment from hopeinbrazil
Time January 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I read the Narnia Chronicles for the first time last year (I’m almost 50!) but enjoyed them so much. Yes, Puddleglum was one of the series’ most endearing characters.

Comment from FleurFisher
Time January 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm

This might just be my favourite Narnia book (it’s this or The Magician’s Nephew), and my reasons for loving it are the same as yours.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time January 12, 2011 at 10:12 am

It seems it’s never too late to start reading Lewis! It’s such a shame that most of the Narnian characters only appear in one book because of the different timescales of the two worlds, as I’d have enjoyed reading about him again.

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