Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole are classmates at a terrible school where bullies rule the roost. To escape their enemies, Eustace suggests they call on Aslan for help. Soon the children are magically transported to Narnia, where Aslan entrusts them with the task of locating the lost Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian. The Prince mysteriously disappeared over a decade before when he went in search of the creature that killed his mother. Now Caspian is old and not expected to live much longer, so Rilian must be found quickly to take his rightful place on the throne. Eustace and Jill, along with Puddleglum, their new Marsh-Wiggle companion, take a harrowing journey through the uncharted realms of Narnia, where they encounter giants, the Earthmen of the Deep Underground Realms, and the Queen of this Underland who is not all that she seems. Can they locate Rilian and return him to Cair Paravel before his father is gone?
The Silver Chair continues with The Chronicles of Narnia where The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" left off. When reading the books in their original publication order, like I'm doing, it's the fourth book of the series. As I predicted after reading the last book, the Pevensie children are no longer a part of the story. I don't know if they'll be back at any point in the future, but for now, they're definitely off the canvas. Instead the main child characters in this story are their cousin, Eustace Scrubb, who was introduced in The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" and his classmate, Jill Pole, who is brand new to the world of Narnia. While being pursued by bullies at school one day, the two children call upon Aslan to help them, and he transports them into Narnia. Once there, Aslan tasks them both, but primarily Jill, with finding the lost Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian, who is now an old man. Caspian's days are numbered, so the lost prince must be found quickly to take his rightful place on the throne. The two children, along with Puddleglum, their new Marsh-Wiggle companion, embark on an exciting adventure through the land of the giants and into an underground world that is ruled by an evil witch.
Other than Eustace, most of the Narnian characters who readers already know from the previous three books play relatively small roles. Unfortunately, this also includes Aslan himself, who only appears at the beginning of the book and again at the very end. Because of this, I didn't feel quite as connected to the story as I had with the previous books. The kids are cute, but I didn't feel like their personalities showed through quite as clearly as the Pevensie children's had. The same was true of Prince Rilian who didn't seem to have the opportunity to shine as much as his father had in the previous two books. We don't see a lot of the witch either, so I didn't feel her menace quite as strongly as I did with the White Witch. The stand-out character for me was Puddleglum. He has an amusing way of looking at life that isn't unlike Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh stories.
Despite there being some disconnect, The Silver Chair was still a good read filled with adventure and magic, as well as some gentle spiritual truths that I found inspiring. Jill messes up Aslan's instructions for finding Prince Rilian more than once, but Aslan still loves her, and she and the others are still victorious in the end. I think this shows that we don't have to be perfect and that we can sometimes take detours in life, but God will still love us and guide us. We also get to see what happens to King Caspian after he passes on, which for those of us who believe in life after death, is a comforting message. Overall, even though The Silver Chair wasn't quite as compelling of a story as the earlier books, I did still enjoy it and look forward to continuing the series.
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