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Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

By / August 25, 2011 / no comments

The Silver Chair is the fourth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is the first book that does not involve the key characters of the Pevensie children; instead their cousin Eustace Scrubb takes a second trip to Narnia, along with a school fellow named Jill Pole. Chronologically The Silver Chair takes place many years after Eustace and Lucy’s visit to Narnia in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader and some read it as the sixth rather than fourth book of the series.

From the start The Silver Chair has a more adult feel to it, the book opens with an explanation of Jill’s distress at school as she is being bullied and this dark and somewhat disturbing tone continues – for the most part – throughout the book. This makes for a real change compared to the previous books in the series which have an almost irritating innocence about them, whilst The Silver Chair boasts awe inspiring descriptions of the views across great summits and twisted and creepy travels through underground caves.

It can not be denied that the book is still very religious, however for those readers who do not find this particularly appetizing it can almost be overlooked on several occasions when Aslan is portrayed as more of a helping hand than a religious entity.

The Silver Chair includes some truly monstrous moments, including a murderous witch and man eating giants, yet these tales are still very tame by today’s standards and although they allude to some rather dark material the book remains a children’s story above all else. It is the first book in the series that stands strong throughout its length, whilst The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe becomes tedious and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is more like a collection of short stories The Silver Chair combines the extended adventure narrative of the first two books with the strength of plot of the third.

A large part of the books’ strength is derived from the absence of some characters; the four children of the original story, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, were particularly dated and insincere, whilst Jill Pole has a certain level of guts and personality. Her distress is written in such a way as to make her easy to relate to and above all human; where the Pevensie children before her have a sickly sweet air about them.

The writing style of the book continues to stink of the date of its publication however, which can make for quite cumbersome reading in places and adds to the infantile nature of the overall piece. Yet where the previous books would have skimmed over some of the terrors of the magical world The Silver Chair becomes almost indulgent at times. Even – albeit unspeakably brief – moments of suspense pepper the pages when, just for an instance, you fear that Jill and Eustace might not make it home after all.

The Silver Chair is still undeniably a children’s story, with an air of religious allegory about it, but, for the first time, Lewis has on offer a slightly darker lion with a little bit of bite.

About the author

Ben

Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!

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