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Review: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite books in The Chronicles of Narnia series. It follows the formula of many medieval quests: the heroes land in a predicament, set out to make things right, and encounter adventure along the way. Lewis fits many lessons about the Christian life into the story. Like the other Narnian tales, the visitors from our world (Jill and Eustace) become better prepared for facing life in our world because of their experience in Narnia.

This book introduces one of my favorite Narnians: Puddleglum, a chronically pessimistic Marsh-Wiggle. There are also several interesting locations, such as Underland, an underground realm inhabited by gnomes named Earthmen. I really liked the journey through Underland, especially the scene where they pass the sleeping Father Time and the Warden says, “They say he will wake at the end of the world.” Remember this passage when you read The Last Battle. I also liked the description of Bism, the land under Underland, where jewels grow like fruit.

When Jill is pulled from England into Aslan’s country, she tells Aslan that, “nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to...Somebody, and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.” Aslan answers, “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.” Lewis gives this lesson in predestination; although from our perspective we think we take the initiative in seeking Jesus, we can only do that because Jesus first called us.

Throughout the story, Jill and Eustace suffer the consequences of not remembering and following Aslan’s instructions. Their failure causes a lot of unnecessary trouble. The same occurs in our lives; we only bring trouble to ourselves when we neglect or disobey God’s laws.

When the Black Knight mocks Puddleglum for believing that the letters carved in the City Ruinous were one of the signs, Puddleglum responds, “There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them, including this.” God is omniscient and foreknowing; everything fits within His master plan.

The witch tries to convince Puddleglum, Eustace, and Jill that their memories of Narnia, such as the sun and Aslan, are simply objects they invented based on things they observe in her underground realm. She says,
“You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story...You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion...And look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the real world of mine, which is the only world.”
Of course, the sun and Aslan, the Lion, do exist in Narnia. Christians are accused of believing in a God and a supernatural world that are simply delusional imaginings based on observable realities. Yet the truth remains regardless.

A dwarf remarks that, “the lesson of it all is...that those Northern witches always mean the same thing, but in every age they have a different plan for getting it.” Lewis’ point is that Satan never stops scheming to destroy Christians, but he changes his tactics throughout history.

After his death, King Caspian’s body appears in Aslan’s country, and Aslan and the others weep. Then Aslan has Eustace drive a thorn into his paw, and a drop of blood resurrects Caspian and restores his youth. This scene serves not only to bring back a well-loved Narnian character, it’s also a stirring reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and a glimpse into His joyful welcoming of Christians into the afterlife.

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