Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Naria #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a strong story
Cons: None worth mentioning
The Bottom Line:
Finding the crown prince
Captive outside Narnia
Danger, excitement

Quest to Free Prince Rilian

My introduction to fantasy started with this set of seven allegories. Written in the 1950's by C. S. Lewis, each story works as a fantasy adventure. Children from our world are magically summoned to Narnia. Once they arrive, they find that they must help the talking animals and mythological creatures in some quest to save the kingdom. These books can be enjoyed as pure adventure, but if you look more closely, you'll see underlying messages of a Christian nature.

Depending on who you ask, The Silver Chair is either the fourth (publication order) or sixth (chronological order) book in the series. Honestly, this is one series that doesn't really matter. Events from previous books are mentioned, but anything you need to know about those events are given to you.

This book opens to find Eustace (from the last book in the series) looking to comfort his friends Jill. But it isn't long before Eustace and Jill are called from their school to Narnia by Aslan, the great lion and ruler of Narnia, for a task. King Caspian is old and his only son, Prince Rilian, has been taken hostage. Teaming up with the marsh-wiggle Puddleglum, they journey north from Narnia to free him from his enchantment. But with winter fast approaching, their journey isn't easy. Not to mention the danger they face from giants and a stranger they meet. Will they remember to follow the signs Aslan gave them to help them on their way? Even if they do, can they save the prince?

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 purpose to the story. They meet up with plenty of danger along the way. And there are a couple twists in the story that I hadn't expected. This book sucks me into the story every time I read it.

To top it off, the characters are great. We spend the most time with Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum. The two kids are real kids, probably the most real in this book of any kid in the series. Puddleglum lives up to the second half of his name, and his pessimistic mutterings are absolutely hilarious. Caspian, a character from the previous novels, gets a couple great scenes that fans will enjoy.

While all the books in the series have allegorical elements, some are stronger then others. They are especially strong in this book. It reminds us to follow God's word no matter what. Additionally, God can use us in spite of our faults (and use our faults). Aslan (the representative for God in the stories) has the entire thing under control from the beginning; it's just up to Eustace and Jill to actually follow his commands.

Anyone looking for allegory won't be disappointed. But even if all you want is a great fantasy adventure, The Silver Chair will satisfy.

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