The Chronicles of Narnia # 6: The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair by C.S. LewisThe Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 6
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 243
My copy: paperback, from Scholastic Book Fair

Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch.

NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins.

Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face and face with the evil Watch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

* * *

I remember talking to my friend who’s the biggest C.S. Lewis fan, asking him if there will be a next Narnia movie. I caught The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the plane on my way to Europe last August, and as usual, I shed some tears with Repicheep’s scene and whenever Aslan comes out. To my dismay, he told me it might take a while years before the next movie will be made because the license expired. And that just made me sad.

But that doesn’t really excuse me from continuing my Narnia adventures, so when I was already feeling too full of contemporary stuff while writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I decided to pick up some simple and familiar middle grade fantasy and what better book to read than a Narnia one, right?

The Silver Chair introduces different characters from what I have been used to, save for Aslan and Caspian and Eustace, who I first got to know in the previous book. In this book, I was introduced to Jill Pole, Eustace’s school mate and a bully target. One day, while she was hiding from the bullies in their school, Eustace finds her and tells her about the magical place he had been in with his cousins that changed him. The bullies arrived, and Eustace and Jill scramble away, going to a door on a wall that led them to Narnia. Or what looked like Narnia. Jill was surprised and scared, so much that she ends up pushing Eustace off a tall cliff. But Aslan comes to the rescue and saves him, and then gave Jill a mission with specific signs. Aslan warned Jill that she must remember these instructions and repeat them and put them in her heart, especially since it was different there in the mountain where they landed and in Narnia where they have to fulfill their mission. Aslan sends her away and she finds herself in the Narnia that Eustace also knows, and off they go to follow Aslan’s instructions, not knowing the adventures and troubles that would await them.

The Silver Chair had that same vibe that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had, in the sense that it was also an adventure book where our heroes and heroines have a mission to fulfill. While it didn’t feel as magical as the first book in the series, there was still that sense of the unknown and the various charming and fearsome creatures that mean them good and bad. I liked how it feels like it’s a different Narnia from what I know from the first three books I’ve read.

Eustace is loads better in this book, even if I can’t stop imagining him the same way as how the actor who played him spoke and acted. He still had that annoying know-it-all tendencies, but it was not as annoying as it was before. On the other side, there is Jill. Oh Jill. How much you reminded me of myself! I always thought I would be an Edmund (and in a lot of ways, I still am), but Jill. I saw so much of myself in Jill Pole that it felt uncomfortable. At the start of the story, I kind of wanted to strangle Jill for being so stubborn — as a reader I could see where she would go wrong from a mile away, and I knew that it’s all going to bite her back. But then as I think about it…don’t I do the same thing, too? Aren’t I just as stupid and as shortsighted as Jill was, trading quick, temporary comforts for the things that really matter?

But I kind of have a feeling Aslan knew that Jill would mess up, hence the warning (also one of my favorite quotes in the book):

But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. (p.27)

There was more of Aslan in this book, but one of my favorite scenes in the book was actually one without Aslan. I liked how the kids and Puddleglum got through the encounter with an enemy without Aslan’s direct interference, but just plain belief in him. I wasn’t expecting to like The Silver Chair that much, really, but I’m glad to say it’s one of the books that surprised me. I think The Silver Chair is that book for people who’s already found the faith and is in need to strengthen that faith they found. I think it’s a book that teaches how it is to follow, how it is to live and keep the faith even in the face of adversity, and how Aslan is victorious even with the slightest, smallest concerns that we have.

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
TwentyEleven Challenge (Show it Who is Boss!)

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie

Reviews of Other Narnia Books:
#2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
#4: Prince Caspian
#5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


The Chronicles of Narnia # 5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 5
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 320
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his first voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan’s country at the End of the World.

* * *

There are a lot of firsts in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the 5th book in the chronology of The Chronicles of Narnia (hm sounds redundant) and the 3rd book I have read in the series. This is the first time Peter and Susan are not a part of the story, the first time Caspian and his crew have set out to sea to look for the seven lords that his uncle Miraz sent away when he stole the throne,  the first time they ventured out to the far east and the first time we meet the bully Eustace Scrubb. Finally, this is also the first time I read a Narnia book without watching the movie first. I had planned to watch the movie version of this last year but I didn’t catch it in time before the cinemas were filled with our local film festival, and then the movie never came back. Nevertheless, I figured it’s time to read a Narnia book first before I go see the movie and see what difference it would make this time around.

I mentioned in a comment in a previous review that I feel like I appreciate The Chronicles of Narnia more now that I’m reading them as an adult compared to reading them as a child. I think if I read these books as a child, I would probably have skimmed some parts that I couldn’t understand. Now that I am reading them as an adult (or a young adult, if you may), I guess I understand the books better because I have better comprehension, and I have more experiences that could connect to the spiritual themes of the books.

This observation still rang true as I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If I were younger, I would have disliked Eustace so much more but at my age, I just felt kind of sorry for him because he didn’t know the magic of Narnia until he really got to experience it himself. As always, I liked how many times Aslan showed up (which felt more than the times he did in Prince Caspian), and for this book Lewis showed the Aslan who always takes care of his people. Not that he doesn’t show that in the previous books, but here we see Aslan save them in different instances.

I also really liked what Aslan told Edmund and Lucy in the end. Slight spoiler warning starts here. To know him by his other name in their world reminds me of how one grows spiritually. I got most of my spiritual nourishment from my Catholic community, but at some point, I felt the need to leave because I needed to know God in the world outside of it. It was easy to believe if you’re always immersed in that world, but I believe it takes a lot of maturity to believe in the midst of the humdrum of life, and I think that’s what Aslan wanted Lucy and Edmund to learn. End spoiler warning.

However, I think that compared to the first two books I’ve read in this series, I would have enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader more if I read it as a kid. It’s not one continuous story. There is a goal, yes, but the book is written in chunks — one adventure after the next, all leading to their final goal in the end, but not necessarily required to get to that goal. This is the type of book that I can put down after reading one adventure and go back to it without feeling too lost upon resuming. A friend and hardcore Lewis fan told me that this seemed to be the book were Lewis had most fun with Narnia, almost like he wrote it in parts just to explain the unexplored regions in the Eastern Islands, and then decided to put it all in one book since all of they were all in the Dawn Treader. I guess it’s just the writer in me that wishes for this book to have a more structured plot. I liked the explorations and little adventures in the book, but I think this one didn’t really have a real climax. Case in point: I found myself a scratching my head a bit at the part of the Dragon Island and then wishing that part happened somewhere in the end, to build things up a bit.

But that’s just me. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is just a bit more exciting than Prince Caspian, but not really as magical or charming as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable book, and a good installment to The Chronicles of Narnia. Up next, The Silver Chair! :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
3 of 20 in TwentyEleven Challenge (Show it Who is Boss!)

Cover: Goodreads
Blurb: Back of book

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie

Reviews of Other Narnia Books:
#2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
#4: Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia # 4: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 4
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 240
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The four Pevensies help Caspian battle Miraz and ascend his rightful throne.

Narnia…the land between the lamp-post and the caste of Cair Paravel, where animals talk, where magical things happen…and where adventure begins.

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia — the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

* * *

When the movie Prince Caspian came out, I watched it without having read the book, so I had zero expectations. All I thought after I watched the movie was it was a little bit long, and I squeed when Aslan showed up. I didn’t really like it as much as the first movie on the first watch but it got better when I watched it for the second and third time. Eventually, Prince Caspian became one of those movies that I like watching over and over again, despite my friends’ complaints of it not being faithful to the book, etc, etc.

But how many times have we learned that movies are never equal to the books, and that Hollywood will always, always change something in the book for reasons we do not know and still get angry about?

Anyway, so I finally read Prince Caspian just before the year ended. From the initial impressions of my friends who read the book before watching the movie, I was prepared to see glaring differences compared to the movie. I wasn’t sure what I’d like more, of course, but I’ve learned to read with an open mind.

I was surprised to find out that there really wasn’t much difference. Well, okay, it is different in terms of how the story flowed, and how the sequences were made and how dark it feels and the romance (yes, it never existed in the book). But I can see why the movie people diverged from the book. Prince Caspian is not really an exciting book. While there was a battle, many struggles for both Caspian and the Pevensies, and even some black magic, the way it was written just doesn’t shine as much as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A Lewis fan and friend told me that Caspian is the book he tends to skim over, and while I didn’t really skim through it, it did prove to be very fast reading as I got through 3/4 of it while I was getting my hair done in the salon. Then I stopped so it took me a while to actually finish it.

But I’m not saying that Prince Caspian is a bad book. It just wasn’t exciting as its predecessor.* There were no extravagant rescues, there were no betrayals or resurrections. My favorite part, as always, was when Aslan showed up. It wasn’t quite like how it was done in the movies, but I liked how Lewis wrote it so that the other Pevensies didn’t see Aslan immediately because of the fear that was in their hearts. That’s the same in our faith walk, don’t you think? We can only see God when we let our fears go. And once we see Him, things will never be the same.

There’s this one passage in the book that I really loved, because it sounded so poetic and beautiful:

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes. (p. 213)

Prince Caspian is a good book. Perhaps I’d learn to appreciate it more when I re-read it, but it certainly made me appreciate the movie more. I think it’s time for another re-watch. :)

* NOTE: I must say that I am reading the Narnia books in order of publication, so when I say predecessor, I meant The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and not The Horse and His Boy.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie

Reviews of Other Narnia Books:
#2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe