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The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #4) Mass Market Paperback – March 5, 2002
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-8-King Caspian has grown old and sad in the ten years since the disappearance of his only son. Jill and Eustace embark on a perilous quest to find the Prince.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The magic of C.S. Lewis's parallel universe never fades." The Times "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness." C S Lewis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
For some reason, this was the one Narnia book I could never get all the way through as a boy even though I was an otherwise voracious reader. I'm not really sure why. I just finished reading it to one of my own sons and he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I wish now that I'd read it all the way through a long time ago. This is nothing less than a children's introduction to Christian spiritual warfare, in some ways far more general and comprehensive than Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" which covers the same subject for adults.
In order of authorship and according to the original ordering of the series "The Silver Chair" is number 4, coming between "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "The Horse and his Boy". Under the current numbering by the internal chronology of the narrative, it's second to last. In many ways neither ordering is really the most useful. In broad terms, the books divide thematically between allegorical (or better, fanciful) representations of salvation history, and guides to Christian living. Into the first category fall "The Magician's Nephew", "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", and "The Last Battle". The second category has "The Horse and his Boy", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", and "The Silver Chair". I believe this last is the most significant.
Lewis himself always denied his works were intended to be strictly allegorical, and in the case of the salvation history volumes this may well be the case. Element by element assignment from reality to story usually breaks down once you get past Aslan as Christ, and even where characters or events are not made to do double duty at different points (such as Edmund in "Lion") it's not alway possible to carry out this operation reliably. ("Applicability", as Lewis' friend J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, is another matter.) But "The Silver Chair" is far more nearly allegorical than the others, with symbolism that's crystal clear. This makes the lessons it teaches, in the context of a high fantasy adventure, all the more accessible.
It would take a long essay to explore all the lessons in this book so I'm not going to do that here, but they're not difficult to identify for an adult with a moderately thorough Christian education. Lewis packs an incredible number of subjects into this short book, everything from repentance and forgiveness to the basics of the theology of the image of God in our human nature. (Although in other works Lewis has promulgated what is, to Eastern Christian eyes, a faulty Augustinian Pneumatology, his treatment of the image here makes me think he must have been familiar with at least some Eastern Church Fathers.)
Lewis also anticipates, and armors his readers against, modern trends already evident in his time such as the despair engendered by the prevailing nihilism, extreme materialism, secular humanism, and others. He was very much spot-on in indentifying those ideas that would come to present the greatest temptations to Christian believers in the decades to follow, and this work, among others, reflects that. This means it's useful and relevant even today, over 50 years since it was written.
I now regret deeply that I never gave this book the attention it deserved when I was younger. I don't know, of course, how much of a difference it would have made, but it might have made at least some. As difficult as it is these days to be a Christian, no help can be neglected. If you're a parent of a Narnia reader, do what you can to make sure they don't skip this one. If you *are* a Narnia reader, "The Silver Chair" is worth your full attention and then some. It's a fun adventure too.
I absolutely love this book in the series. I'd forgotten how much until I reread it. The quest gives a real sense of adventure. And they seem to meet up with plenty of danger along the way. I get a kick out of Puddleglum's pessimism, as well.
The allegory seems stronger in this book then the last couple. The themes of following God's word and Him using us in spite of our faults (and using our faults) is especially strong. Aslan has the entire thing under control from the beginning; it's just up to Eustace and Jill to actually follow his commands.
This is a wonderful fantasy story with some elements included that will make you think. Definitely a strong book in the series. If you enjoyed the others, be sure to pick this one up as well.
The Good Quote: I asked my Dad once if he ever wondered if the Bible was fake. His answer went something like this, “Yes. But whenever I have I look back at my life, I have absolutely no regrets for where I have followed the Bible, and seem to always regret where I have wandered away from it. So, I would live by that book even if I thought it was all made up. But, that of course keeps me from believing it is all made up.”
In The Silver Chair, the Green Witch had convinced the kids that what they remembered of Aslan and Narnia was all a dream, that her underworld was all that was real. So similar to living here, where any mention of Heaven seems to be an escape from reality, where our world seems to be all there is. Puddleglum’s answer to the Green Witch was similar to my dad’s response to me.
“One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. . . But there is one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all these things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of your is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.”
The Bad: This is CS Lewis. He doesn’t write bad. But could he dance like John Belushi? I hope not. A man shouldn’t be good at everything.
The Ugly: Puddleglum. The way Lewis describes him, he is super cool, but flat ugly.