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The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia) Paperback – 1 Sep 2000
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“The magic of C. S. Lewis’s parallel universe never fades.” The Times--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the sixth adventure in C.S. Lewis' magical 'Narnia' series. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.See all Product description
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The two children, who are not necessarily the best of friends at all times, are joined by a wonderfully morose character, Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle. The adventures they have on their search for King Caspian's lost son and heir seem more sinister and frightening than in previous books, so the comic relationships between the three add needed light relief.
A dank, chilly atmosphere pervades the book, with much of the action during winter and underground. The plot is probably tighter than the preceding book, with a clear quest and signs from Aslan to follow.
If anyone doubts the relevance of the Narnia books to today, just read what happened to the Head of the radical school, Experiment House: "...the Head's friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn't much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after." I think she must still be there!
The first book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is about four extremely nice children, one of whom is tempted and misled by the witch. In the second book, Prince Caspian, the four, now all thoroughly nice, team up with the likeable and noble Caspian. It's not until the third book, The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader", that Lewis introduces the first truly unpleasant main character, Eustace Scrubb. Scrubb reforms quite substantially on his voyage, but Lewis brings him back, better, but still imperfect, with the equally imperfect (but in a different way) Jill Pole, and then teams them up with Puddleglum, a lanky greenish individual of the species Marsh Wiggle, whose endlessly depressive conversation would put a damper on any social occasion. Character-wise, this is to me where the series really takes off, preparing us for the other notable pairings, Aravis and Shasta in The Horse and His Boy, Diggory and Polly in The Magician's Nephew, and, of course, Jill and Eustace again in The Last Battle. The conflict and tension that Lewis is able to create with the characters is absolutely vivid, and utterly believable, in a way which few groups of characters in children's novels ever are.
This story is much more thoroughly plotted than the ones that went before it, and, right from Eustace falling from a cliff at the beginning, it keeps us guessing and on tenterhooks all the way through. I remember being really scared at some point in most of the chapters as a child, and, as an adult, I'm still left with the constant sense that the heroes are in real physical and moral danger, and that things are going horribly wrong for most of the time. This is all the more impressive, because I've now read this book more than forty times, and it still maintains the capacity to thrill.
The Silver Chair doesn't have the grand philosophical or theological scope of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor the constant play of delight that we find in the Voyage of the "Dawn Treader", or the battle and fighting which is the mark of Prince Caspian. Rather, it is a fight against overwhelming odds, by people seemingly completely ill-equipped for their task. This is one of the great strengths of the Narnia series: no two of the books are alike in plot, theme, or aspiration.
This is the fourth of the Narnia books -- don't be fooled into thinking they should be read in 'chronological' order, because the style of writing and, indeed, the age they are aimed at, develops as the series goes on, in order of publication. If you're interested, you can see this very easily by looking at the length of the books. Each book is longer than the previous one, but, in order to get them into a set similar in size, the publishers have always opted for smaller typefaces as the books go on -- an obvious sign that they are, progressively, aimed at older audiences.
This is the first book in which Lewis introduces an entirely new species as a major character. All of the non-human characters in the first three books are taken from classical or Norse mythology, or from folk and fairy tale. The Marshwiggles are entirely Lewis's own invention, and the book is all the better for them.
If I was forced to pick my favourite of all the Narnia books, it would probably be this one. But, then again...
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