The Silver Chair

by C. S. Lewis

Other authorsPauline Baynes (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1953

Call number




Macmillan Publishing Co Inc (1953), Edition: Book Club Eleventh Printing


Two English children undergo hair-raising adventures as they go on a search and rescue mission for the missing Prince Rilian, who is held captive in the underground kingdom of the Emerald Witch.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
If one reads The Chronicles of Narnia in publication order (as, really, one ought), then The Silver Chair occupies the middle position, and it is indeed a turning point of sorts. It is the first Chronicle in which the Pevensie children do not appear, although one or two other old friends do. It is
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also the only one that opens with an encounter with Aslan. And finally, it is the second of three books in a row that is set primarily outside the environs of the Narnian kingdom. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Caspian and his crew sailed for the utter east; in The Horse and His Boy, a rag-tag group of slaves and runaways will escape to Narnia from the southern country of Calormen; and in this volume, two children and a Marshwiggle are sent by Aslan to seek a lost prince in the remote north. These are the young Eustace, with whom we have a prior acquaintance, his schoolmate Jill, and the dour Puddleglum.

I hesitated in writing this review, because one of the things Lewis does so beautifully in this particular book is surprise the reader. It was a joy to read it aloud to my little sister and watch her face as the puzzle pieces began to come together; even the disclosure of Eustace’s name during the opening pages delighted her. I shall try to avoid major spoilers throughout, but newcomers are advised that they will probably enjoy the book most without any introduction whatsoever.

The Silver Chair is considered by many fans to be one of the darkest Chronicles, and from the cruelties of Experiment House (Eustace and Jill’s forward-thinking, undisciplined, and—Lewis mentions pointedly—co-educational school) to the bleakness of the lands north of Narnia, a sort of gloom seems to settle over the author’s usually cheerful world. However, it may also be the funniest of the seven books. Some of the satire dealing with Experiment House will go over youngsters’ heads—my favorite bit describes how the Head, when found unsuitable for any other position, is finally put in Parliament—but the conversation between Glimfeather the owl and the deaf dwarf Trumpkin is guaranteed to set anyone howling. Nevertheless, Puddleglum is the character who really makes the book. Always looking for the worst in situations, he is the cause of much unintentional comedy, but he has a good heart as well. Lewis was a master at creating three-dimensional people where other authors would resort to simple caricature.

Similarly, Jill’s struggles, her insecurities peevishness, and her constant forgetfulness regarding the Signs make her a flawed and sympathetic protagonist. One could definitely look for spiritual significance here, especially during the exciting and moving standoff at the climax of the book. These things are not always meant to parallel our world, though. There seems to be a popular assumption that C. S. Lewis wrote these books as allegories, and that is simply untrue, as his own writings on the subject attest.

One thing that did surprise me upon reading the book again was how long a denouement it has, about five chapters’ worth in all. But it doesn’t drag at all, and as a matter of fact, some of the book’s most memorable passages appear there. While reading, I actually found myself crying at the death of a fictional character, something I rarely do; this also provoked quite a bit of teasing from the aforementioned little sister.

Dark, funny, instructive, and moving, The Silver Chair is yet another Chronicle I treasure, and a literary experience I love to share.
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LibraryThing member keristars
What the hell this book makes me hate C.S. Lewis and all the Narnia fans who insist that Narnia is one of the most fantastic series ever and OMG I have to read it. No no no!

I read this as a kid, when I was eleven or twelve, but I remembered very little of it when I decided to reread the series this
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last year. I suppose it was awfully boring for me, or something, though as I was reading The Silver Chair the second time through, my memory was jarred and I could predict plot points ahead of them occurring. But the point is that apparently, I didn't care for this book at all thirteen years ago, and if anything, I've grown to like it less.

I don't want to say that I hate this book because of the Christian themes/allegory. That's not why I don't like it, though the fact that it is one makes the not-liking thing worse. What I don't like about it is that Aslan is an utter jerkface bastard to the kids and yet Jill and Eustace and all the Narnia fans behave as though he's this wonderful, kind, caring lion-god-thing.

Poor Jill gets the short end of the stick all the frigging time. She's expected to be able to predict what Aslan wants of her, or something like that, even though she never knew who he was before, and she never had any reason to believe that there's an actual place like Narnia with an actual lion-god-thing-Aslan there. She gets into trouble right at the very beginning for listening to her instincts and not jumping right into potential danger. And then, later in the story, when she's acting like the fallible human that she is, she gets guilt-tripped! I wouldn't be surprised for Aslan to have shown up and been all "Jill you're a whore get the eff out of my sight" because she was sleepy and exhausted and forgot to repeat the Signs one night. Of course, those stupid Signs weren't even possible for the kids to be able to follow, yet Aslan expects them to do the impossible? They did the best they could with what they had, and they get reamed for it!

No, I hate this book because it treats Aslan like this benevolent figure while he's actually a jerkface bastard. I hate it even more because as a Christian allegory, it suggests that the reader can never do anything good enough for Jesus/God and he hates us (or else he's condescending to forgive us for not being perfect, wtf?!).

On the positive side, the Narnia described in the book is pretty neat, with cool imagery and a fun adventure story. But that can't save the awful plot and characterizations, sorry.
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LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
This is perhaps my favorite of Narnian stories. Yes, the story is filled with lessons, as are all of the Narnian books. But the addition of Puddleglum, the Marsh-wiggle, allows the reader to become more immersed in the world and to let the blatant morals slide through a bit more unobtrusively.

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appreciated Jill as a female character, strong in her own right, but with some softness of all children. For those readers who want to debate the idea that Lewis may be a sexist, I would point to Jill’s existence in his Narnian realm. Not only is Jill an individual with no direct ties to the other cast of characters, she is in my regards the star of this story. She knows when to speak up, when to be silent, but she also has flaws as all humans do. Lewis, in my opinion, highlights these, but does not dwell on them, much as he does with the character of Eustace.

Why is The Silver Chair my favorite of the series? Because the story moves in ways that make me cherish a world that is not my own, yet at the same times, makes me hold my own a bit tighter. Yes, the idea of a world filled with magic and creatures of all kinds, deep love, strong magic is an enticing one, where you can ride on the breath of a lion and children can be heroes… but the cookbooks with Man and Marsh-wiggle notes, the eating of a talking beast, and imprisonment of the mind through a chair make me sure that while a vacation to Narnia might be nice, I think I’m happy with my Joy of Cooking, Starbucks and a burger.
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LibraryThing member trinityofone
For a while, this was my favorite of the Narnia books, but it has not aged well for me. Putting aside (or trying rather desperately to put aside) Lewis' religious views, the plot of "The Silver Chair" ends up being rather disappointing. I love the underground city and Rilian's enchantment, and I
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*adore* Puddleglum, but Eustace and Jill don't really do anything. One wonders why they're even there.

Still: Puddleglum rocks.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I started the series with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, making this the fifth book I've read in the series, and so far it's my least favorite. I wasn't going to proceed with the series after the first book I read, because I found the blatant Christian Allegory annoying, but friends told me
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that, except for The Last Battle, that aspect of the books becomes less evident--and I pretty much found that to be the case, including in this book, although it's hard not to see it when Aslan the Lion enters the story.

And actually, in a way I almost enjoyed that aspect this time. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, but I thought that entire scene with the Witch and the Marsh-wiggle Puddleglum debating was a cool version of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. It's not a philosophical view I ascribe to, but I had to give Lewis snaps for presenting rather sophisticated philosophical/theological concepts through the workings of a magical spell in a children's story.

What annoyed me here were the slaps at co-educational, secular (and democratic/republican ie non-monarchial) education through the school the children Jill and Eustace attend. "Experiment House" has a Head who *gasp* "was by the way, a woman" and where "girls are not taught to curtsy." Quel horror! It irritated me so much--even though it's a very small part of the story, that it was hard for the story's admitted charms to come though. I think much of the accusations I've read that Lewis' Narnia is racist or sexist is mostly Politically Correct hogwash. His girls are every bit as smart, brave and capable as his boys--and as important to the story. But all that does make me cringe.

As usual though, Lewis does exhibit a prodigious imagination and powerful imagery in this quest tale as well as winning touches of humor and whimsy. Puddleglum is a great comedic character and settings like Bism unforgettable. It's been obvious reading these that Narnia is as influential in fantasy as Tolkien's Middle Earth. With messenger owls, giants, feasts and the evils of the color green connected to snakes I'm reminded of Rowling's Harry Potter tales just as the warrior mice of Prince Caspian made me think of Jacques' Redwall and the talking horses of The Horse and His Boy made me think of Lackey's companions in her Valdemar books. And it's more obvious with every book Pullman's His Dark Materials is the anti-Narnia.

So, bottom line is as a fan of the fantasy genre I'm glad I'm finally catching up with this series. Were I a parent I might feel ambivalent giving this to my children--Lewis' values aren't mine. But I also tend to think it's best to just feed kid's imaginations and not worry books like these are going to indoctrinate them. I know people of all faiths and no faith who loved Narnia as a child--and I can understand why.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
An underground world, three heroes to rescue a chained prince, an evil Green witch, giants and my very favorite character, Puddleglum. Those are some of the adventures met with in this book. The children begin as very spoiled and soft. Do they have what it takes to live up to that which is expected
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of them? Puddleglum really doesn't think so, but he will stick with them to the end anyway.
This is a favorite of mine in the Narnia series.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
One of the things I like best about this Narnian adventure is that Jill and Eustace are successful in their quest, despite making mistakes and not always getting things right the first time around while trying to follow Aslan's instructions. I think that is a lot like life. God has given us
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commandments, but we aren't always very good at following them - we get distracted and hungry and bored. But we can still be successful at life if we keep trying. I loved Puddleglum, the Marshwiggle - he was good for lots of laughs from my kids along the way!
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LibraryThing member therebelprince
Of the seven Narnia books, my relationship with most is clear. I adore "Nephew", "Lion" and "Horse", am indifferent about "Caspian" and "Voyage", and despise "Battle. But "The Silver Chair" and I have admired and resented each other, equally, since I first read it as a kid.

On the one hand... this
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is perhaps the most justifiably dark book in the series, as Jill and Eustace (replacing, thankfully, those tiresome Pevensie children) find their own belief in Aslan and themselves fading fast, and their uncertainty as to what to do is quite palpable. Lewis passionately makes us believe that the world of Narnia is falling apart, and references to the past stories actually are quite terrifying, in the same way that most series have to wait for their non-canonical installments (e.g. "Return to Oz") to do. It's the most literate of the seven books, also.

Opposing this, of course, is the fact that all of this passion stems from Lewis making each Narnia book more and more of an aggressively Christian allegory. For "belief in Aslan" read "belief in Jesus". For "the world of Narnia is falling apart" read "the world of white, Christian living". This doesn't inherently render the book a failure - after all, Dante was of the same passion, and the Divine Comedy is a masterwork! But it does sadden me a little that my childhood nostalgia is now tainted by the knowledge that Lewis' books are pushing a strong agenda that goes beyond mere children's literature moral fables and into religious propaganda.

Is that unfair? Perhaps. I'm literate enough to be able to enjoy this as a story, and be intrigued by the moral dilemmas of the characters, without hating it just because of the author's beliefs. But at the same time, I don't think kids should be going into this without an adult to guide them through the maze. It's great that Lewis was writing intelligent fiction that would make children ask questions. It's just a pity that he's already decided which answer they should arrive at.
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LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
This book contains one of my favorite Narnia Characters: Puddleglum. The story of Jill and Eustace as they try to save Caspian from the clutches of the Witch. The scene where they confront the witch is priceless.
LibraryThing member tben7673
The story "The Silver Chair" takes place in a boarding school were Eustace and his friend Jane are hiding from the bullies of the school. Just like that they were whisked away to the land of Narnia, but when they appeared they were on the edge of an enormous cliff. By accident Eustace fell and
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Aslan the great lion sent Jane with him to find Caspian's son that was kidnapped by a woman that turned into a snake and killed his mother. After visiting the castle, a flock of owls helped them escape because the people there wouldn't let them leave until Caspian came back from his voyage. After journeying with the owls, they were taken to man named Puddleglump who offered to help them on their quest. During their journey the traveled through the wild lands of the north filled with rumbling giants . They were nearly eaten by the King and Queen of giants when taking advise from a green woman that they should stay at the castle for the Autumn Feast. As they were trying to find clues to were the prince was they spotted giant letters that said to search underground. But to their surprise a world filled with sad looking little people took them captive and leaded them to the chamber of the prince himself. The poor fellow talked nonsense about great the lady who cared for him was and he had to be strapped to a silver chair at night so he would try to kill anybody. But after hearing his cries of mercy to let him free Eustace cut his binding he came back to his senses. Unfortunately the same lady that was colored in green came in the room to and she tried to make them all think there was no such thing as the sun, trees, or any land above at all, but they fought back and she turned herself into a serpent. To take revenge the prince slaughtered the beast and the whole city of the underground people rejoiced. To their luck the people knew how to get them to Narnia and the group of heroes traveled through caves until they reach their home. Just before Caspian died, the prince got to see his father one more time before Aslan made him turn into a boy again and showed Caspian the land in which Eustace and Jane live in before he perished.

I thought this book was full of detail that every book needs. I wish I could have put more detail and explained this book more, but I can only have so many sentences in this summary. I love how it described treacherous and barren the landscape of the country of the giants look. The giants who live there are just as hideous and are pretty stupid. I'm glad that woman is dead because she killed the Queen and she hypnotized the prince. She is also the same Witch that called herself the queen of Narnia and made a hundred year winter that left the land in ruin. But she was killed by Aslan and she didn't show up in a while. I'm glad this book included the detail from the other series and it made quite a lot of sense.
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LibraryThing member herebedragons
#62, 2006

The penultimate Narnia book (at least in the order in which I am reading them). I enjoyed it, although not as much as the others. This next bit might be considered a SPOILER, so you might want to skip if you haven’t read it yet . . .

But frankly, I just missed the Pevensie kids. Jill and
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Eustace are all right (I rather like Eustace, in fact, after his Dawn Treader adventures), but Jill didn’t do much for me, and I found the first half of this book to be pretty dull. Puddleglum is cute, though (and sounds just like Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid in the audiobook to which I listened), and the second half, (from about the time they got to the giants at Harfang), did get more interesting. I did absolutely adore when Eustace invoked Reepicheep in regards to that bit about the chasm and the city of Bism. I'd have been disappointed not to continue the adventure, too. And I guess it's a good thing they didn't - all things considered, what with the timing at the end - but still. That would have been hard to resist.

One question though – is the green-kirtled witch meant to be Jadis? I’m guessing no – but I just wasn’t certain. In any case, I’ll rate it 7/10.

LJ Discussion
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LibraryThing member MickyFine
The sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series follows Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole as they travel through Narnia on a mission from Aslan to find King Caspian's missing son, Rilian.

For me, while the individual plot elements were great ideas, they fell a little short in execution. The quest for
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the missing prince should have been interesting and exciting, but mostly I felt annoyed by the characters, particularly Jill who is the most dominant character in the narrative. And once again, sexism reared its ugly head. While I recognize, these stories are a product of their time, I was particularly annoyed by the implication that the Head of Eustace and Jill's school was a poor leader because she was a woman. However, I did enjoy the climax of the novel which was vivid and exciting. Definitely not the best book in the series but not a bad story either.
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LibraryThing member snowcrash
Puddlegum's pessimism provides quite a bit of comedy that is missing in the other works in this series. The underground slaves take on which environment is proper is a great twist to the series. The destruction of the chair and the witch goes by way too fast however.
LibraryThing member Othemts
At first, Eustace being the central character of this book put me off, but I quickly grew fond of Jill as an intelligent female lead character and accepted Eustace as well. The quest element is strong in this book, and once again Lewis tops himself. It feels as if he was reading Tolkien. Like St.
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Peter, our heroes muff up everything they are told to do, but still succeed in their quest.

So here’s a sentence I read completely out of context which I found amusing: “What had stopped Jill when she got as far as the say of “I say” was of course simply a fine big snowball that came sailing through the dance from a Dwarf on the far side and got her fair and square in the mouth.” It makes more sense in context, but seems to tell a story all on its own.
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LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This book is another quest/travel tale. Two children, Eustace and Jill, are brought to Narnia and sent to find the missing Prince Rilian. They are accompianied by Puddleglum, a Marsh-wiggle. (Marsh-wiggles, if you don't know, are somewhat frog like humanoids who live in the marshes of Narnia.) The
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three venture to the lands inhabited by giants and face a number of dangers as they get to the bottom of things. Along the way, the characters struggle with the hardships of the quest and their own personal shortcomings. It was a delightful tale, albeit not as enjoyable as The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Still, it was good enough to keep on my shelf.
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LibraryThing member susan139
The fourth book, and again it follows on from the others. Possibly the weakest book in the series, possibly because none of the origional children are in this book. It still deserves 5 stars though.
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
The White Witch strikes again. She captures Prince Caspian’s by putting him under a spell. Eustice and his friend Jill rescue him from her spell and rid Narnia of the witch once and for all.
LibraryThing member wirkman
For some reason, this was the first of the Narnia series I actually read. There's no real excuse for reading this one first. But, as inappropriate as reading it first may have been, I was hooked. A good book, a famous, deservedly loved series.
LibraryThing member hpluver07
I liked this book again. This seems to be a recurring theme.
LibraryThing member Anduril85
Another great book in the Narnia series, while not one of my most favorite it is none the less a great book and if you have't had the chance to read it then do so and don't forget the about the rest of the series either.
LibraryThing member aethercowboy
The Silver Chair is the last book of the Caspian Triad. In this volume, Eustace Scrubb and his classmate Jill Pole get sucked back into Narnia. They befriend a Marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum, and partake on an adventure to find the lost prince Rilian.

The gang ends up discovering that Rilian is being
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detained by the Emerald Witch, who may or may not be Jadis, the White Witch.

All in all, this book is a must read for readers of the other Narnia books. While it is not the most literary of the seven, it does fit nicely within the series, segueing nicely to the next chronological book, The Last Battle.
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LibraryThing member AnFa0822
I wasn't very fond of this book, let alone the series. The characters spoke in such a formal tone, I almost abandoned it. Plus, a few parts were just a little lame, and the twists were a little boring. In my opinion, I'd stick with the movies.
LibraryThing member bexaplex
Prince Rilian is the next in a series of chivalrous and utterly uninteresting Narnian royalty. The book is not really about him, though, as Scrubb, Pole and Puddleglum are the real heroes. The books about the Pevensies have a distinctly different tone, since they're about siblings. In the Lion, the
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Witch and the Wardrobe, you love Lucy immediately because she is the little sister. In this book the protagonists have an opportunity to get to know each other, and so the reader has a chance to get to know them, as well. And unlike in The Horse and His Boy, the characters are vaguely realistic (a fatalistic guardian and his two school-aged charges) instead of exotic.
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LibraryThing member Cheezenator2000
The author of "The Silver Chair" is Clive Staples Lewis (C.S Lewis)

The book is about 2 children which go into another dimention and are set on a quest to set a price free from his curse.

The main characters are Eustace and Polly. Eustace is a boy who used to be grouchy mean and boosy but when he
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first entered Narnia before this time he became a lot nicer and less boosy and less grouchy. Polly is a girl that goes to the same school a Eustace and one day Eustace tells Polly about Narnia and they end up going there that day.

The story is set in a magical land that only cirtain people go there for a reason like the quest Eustace and Polly go on. There are many diiferent creatures that can be quite dangerous in this land and they ecounter pleanty of them duing their journey. (not quite finished yet)
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LibraryThing member AuntieClio
This one is even better than the last! The endings have gotten less abrupt and the characters seem to be more fully rounded, although I do miss the original children. The story behind the silver chair was creative.


Audie Award (Finalist — 2003)
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