The Silver Chair (1953) is a children’s fantasy novel, the fourth in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. The reformed Eustace, along with his classmate Jill, are summoned to Narnia to rescue the now-aged King Caspian’s only son.
The Silver Chair is a solid adventure, and, with its structure and content (giants, caverns, witches and such), is reminiscent of traditional fairy tales. On the downside, the story turns on a couple of rather predictable twists (they may be predictable even to children, at least to children who have, as Lewis might say, “read the right sort of books”), and there really isn’t much of a climax.
Lewis always has moral themes going on, but here, they’re particularly good. Eustace and Jill have to learn hard lessons in accountability and personal responsibility. The related theme of faithful obedience in the face of death is powerfully done: Eustace and Jill struggle the whole time, in sharp contrast to Prince Rilian, whose faith is summed up when he says, “Aslan will be our good lord, whether he means us to live or die. And all’s one, for that.” Lewis also continues to take shots at “modern” values by setting up his “Experiment House” school and then blasting it mercilessly; this assault is unapologetically obvious.
The characters are well done here: Eustace continues his struggle toward maturity. Jill, in contrast to the always positive but not particularly capable Lucy, is (and becomes) a competent and practical character. Puddleglum, the wettest of all blankets, is a nice supporting character (thankfully Lewis doesn’t overdo it with him). And Rilian’s simple but unshakeable faith is impressive.
The Silver Chair is a solid entry in the series, even if the moral themes pack more punch than the story itself.