Book #40

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

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 to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved. 

The Silver Chair is the first novel to feature exactly zero of the original kids. At least in my reading order. Instead, we once again meet our gloriously flawed Eustace, who falls back into Narnia alongside his equally flawed schoolmate Jill. I really enjoyed these two as a stark contrast to the Pevensie children - we see real growth and characterisation, we see doubt and fear, and we see ‘nope I am going home’ energy. I felt a similar relief as I did reading Dawn Treader - the lack of wholesome righteousness in these kids was wholly welcome.

Lewis once again uses his trick of Narnia’s odd clock, and throws Eustace and Jill into a Narnia which has aged eighty years since Eustace’s last visit. Although good old Caspian is still on the throne, he’s a frail old man with a missing son. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Aslan has called Eustace and Jill to Narnia to find the stray.

There’s a lot of great things about this one, Jill being one of them. Aslan gives her four instructions in order to find Prince Rilian, three of which she messes up either by poor communication, or by simply forgetting them. I couldn’t really blame her, as I’d forgotten them too, and wasn’t sure why Aslan wasn’t able to supply a notepad and pen. Nor could I comprehend Aslan’s reasoning for summoning two kids to carry out his dirty work - I’m sure the great and powerful could have done this by himself, but who am I to judge the Jesus figure.

My favourite of all here was Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle - a character we’ve all met in human form. He sees the worst in everything but still gets on with it, stating worst case scenarios for every situation before shrugging his shoulders and explaining there’s nothing else for it. He was a constant balm, a trusted guide, and a hilarious if slightly dooming voice.

Of course, despite the various mistakes and bumblings, the team prevails, as they always prevail. Time to move on with The Horse and His Boy, and hope beyond hope that there are no recurring appearances from the Pevensies - Narnia seems a lot more real and exciting without them.