Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
217 pages

Eustace Clarence Scrubb returns to Narnia in the fourth book of the series and has matured after his trip on the Dawn Treader. On this adventure to Narnia he goes with a school mate named Jill Pole.

In the opening scene Jill Pole is crying after being victimized by "Them", a notorious gang of bullies at her school Experiment House. When Eustace finds her in the back of the school he tries to comfort her by telling her about his experiences in Narnia. Jill believes him and they agree to try to get to Narnia by summoning Aslan. Eustace and Jill are promptly chased by some of "Them" until they reach a door that is normally locked and it opens to Aslan's Country.

The ensuing adventure begins after Eustace falls of a cliff into Narnia and Aslan comes to blow him to land safely. Aslan then gives Jill an important task that is crucial to the future of the kingdom of Narnia. Jill must remember four signs that Aslan says will help her and Eustace find King Caspian's long lost son Prince Rilian. Immediately the first sign is botched when Eustace doesn't recognize King Caspian as the elderly king leaving on a ship. When Jill and Eustace find out about Caspian they are allowed to stay at Cair Paravel until the kings returns. However, an owl named Glimfeather tells them they must leave in secret at once if they want to succeed to find Prince Rilian because Regent Trumpkin has banned Narnians from the task after years of failed attempts.

Glimfeather takes Jill and Eustace to a marshland where they meet the lovably pessimistic Marsh-wiggle Puddleglum. He assumes the worst about everything, but is considered too cheerful by his fellow Marsh-wiggles. The three of them journey together to travel to the land of the ancient ruined city of the giants. After they pass by the giants who live in Ettinsmoor unnoticed, they meet the beautiful Lady of the Green Kirtle who is accompanied by a suspiciously silent knight in black armor. The lady tells them to go to the castle of giants at Harfang for the Autumn Feast.

Puddleglum is doubtful and doesn't want to visit the castle, but Jill and Eustace are so cold and tired they go against his concerns and insist on going. By the time they reach Harfang the children are somewhat frightened. The giants at the castle treat them with great respect and take care of their needs. As Puddleglum and the kids plan getting to the ruined city they find out that they are going to be the meals for the Autumn Feast.

At the earliest opportunity they escape from the castle and were chased by several noble giants. They had to hide in a cave to survive. They ended up falling down a slope and slid for miles underground. After finding each other in the darkness, a group of earthmen tell them to follow them by order of the queen. Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum are now in Underland.

After traveling an endless journey further underground and across the Sunless Sea they reach a castle. The three of them meet a man in the castle who tells them how much the queen has helped him deal with his curse where he turns into a lunatic every night for a certain period of time. The man tells them that no matter what he says that he must stay shackled to a silver chair so that he won't turn into a deadly snake. Puddleglum and the kids are scared, but comply with his request.

Though Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum say they don't want to watch the man turn into the lunatic, they feel compelled to witness his transformation. When the man is strapped to the silver chair he begs them to set him free and that he is sane, but being held prisoner. After he says "in the name of Aslan" they recognize the fourth sign and unleash him after a quick debate. The freed man reveals that he is Prince Rilian and was being used by a witch in a nefarious plan to overthrow Narnia.

Prince Rilian and his rescuers have a showdown with the queen of Underland, who is the Lady of the Green Kirtle. The Lady tries to use the same evil magic she used to brainwash Prince Rilian to make them all forget who they are and where they came from, but a brave act by Puddleglum enables them to get their senses back. When the Lady sees her magic has failed she turns into a snake and is about to kill Rilian when Eustace and Puddleglum come to his aid and the three of them kill her.

After the queen's death all of the earthmen are free from her spell and they all escape to Bism--the Bottom of the World. Rilian, Puddleglum, Eustace and Jill use the path to Overland constructed by the earthmen in the evil plot to return to Narnia. After they are pulled from underground to their freedom by dancing Fauns and other Narnian creatures, King Caspian sees his son Rilian one last time before passing away.

King Caspian is resurrected as a young man in Aslan's Country where Jill and Eustace get to speak with him and Aslan. They come up with a plan to get revenge on the bullies in Experiment House when they return to their own world. The bullies are still trying to open the door Jill and Eustace left through in England when they are terrified and beaten by Caspian, Jill and Eustace and see the back of Aslan when the door opens. Afterwards all the bullies are expelled and Experiment House replaces its headmistress and becomes an effective school.

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