This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the sixth book in “The Chronicles of Narnia” Series.
Jill Pole is a favorite target for the bullies at her boarding school. Eustace Scrubb, who used to be friends with the bullies, has become a kinder person. So his old friends want to torment him, too.
Jill and Eustace are running away from the bullies when Aslan, a lion who rules a land called Narnia, opens a portal into the world of Narnia for them. When the children arrive, they are standing at the edge of an enormous cliff on the Mountain of Aslan. Jill moves closer to the cliff’s edge to show how brave she is, and Eustace falls off the cliff while trying to pull her to safety. Aslan arrives and sends Eustace flying on the wind to Narnia.
Aslan tells Jill that she and Eustace must help Narnia by finding the lost Prince Rilian. He gives her four Signs which she must memorize, in order, and by these, Aslan will guide their quest. He then sends Jill flying to Narnia, where she rejoins Eustace. They fail to meet with King Caspian, Eustace’s old friend, before he sails away, thus missing the first sign. The children meet with some local talking owls and hear the story of how Prince Rilian disappeared. They decide to search for the prince with a Marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum as their guide.
The second Sign is to travel north and reach the ruined city of the ancient giants. On their way, they meet the Lady of the Green Kirtle and the Black Knight who doesn’t speak. The lady advises the children and Puddleglum to visit a castle called Harfang where the Gentle Giants live. Puddleglum thinks going to Harfang is a bad idea; but Jill and Eustace, obsessed by the idea of food and a warm place to stay, forget about the four Signs and override his objections. While in Harfang, the three travelers discover that the giants are not as civil as the Green Lady had said. The giants plan to kill and eat their guests. From a high castle window, Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum see the ruined city with the words UNDER ME, and they realize they had been there the previous day and missed the third sign. To avoid being served up as a delicacy at the Gentle Giants’ Autumn Feast, Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum plan their escape from Harfang and slip through a narrow opening, leading them under the ruined city.
While threading their way in complete darkness under the ruined city, the three travelers suddenly fall down a steep slope into the Underworld. Earthmen capture and take them to the castle of an Underworld queen. The queen is not at home, but a nobleman greets them and says he was the Black Knight they met earlier. The Knight explains that his queen, the Green Lady, has saved him from an evil enchantment that makes him violent and insane for one hour every night. He is bound to a silver chair for the duration of his hour of madness.
The trio witnesses the Black Knight’s frenzy while bound to the silver chair. He begs them to free him, but they are afraid to do so until he asks them to release him — in the name of Aslan. Recognizing this as the fourth Sign, they untie him, and the Knight reveals that he is Prince Rilian. Rilian, Puddleglum and the children defeat the Green Lady, free the Underworlders held captive by the Green Lady and return to the surface. They emerge in Narnia, where Prince Rilian is welcomed. When his father King Caspian X dies, Rilian is crowned king. Aslan then blows the children back to the Mountain of Aslan where they began their Narnian quest. When they look into a stream, they see King Caspian’s dead body in the water. Through his shed blood, Aslan restores King Caspian to life.
Aslan sends Jill and Eustace back to their world, where they scare the bullies at their school. The school is investigated and reformed, and the cruelty among the students ends.
Eustace tries to convince Jill that he is telling the truth about Narnia and he is about to say that he promises by the Bible, but he remembers that his school does not approve of talking about the Bible. The book says that Jill and Eustace call each other by their last names, Pole and Scrubb, because their Christian names are not used at school.
In Narnia, Eustace is called a Son of Adam and Jill is called a Daughter of Eve. Aslan is a mighty lion and his character represents Jesus Christ.
The Green Lady is a witch. While under her spell, Rilian adores her and believes that she is some kind of deity. She uses the enchanted silver chair to keep Rilian under her power and uses a combination of music and magical incense to hypnotize her visitors into forgetting their identities. She transforms into a giant snake before she is killed. In the Underworld, an enormous giant lies sleeping. He is called Father Time, and the Warden says he will wake up at the end of the world.
The administrators at Jill and Eustace’s school allow their students to do whatever they like. Most of the older children enjoy tormenting and mocking the younger children, so the school’s social philosophy is negative.
King Caspian is a beloved and respected king. He grieves the loss of his only son, Rilian.
Puddleglum is a good friend and guide to Jill and Eustace; however, they use his pessimism as an excuse to ignore his advice. He is, however, the voice of reason and caution. Puddleglum keeps reminding them of the Signs. He encourages Jill when she panics while crawling through the underground tunnels. He purposely injures himself to break the Green Lady’s enchantment, and his bold action saves Rilian and the children from her spell.
Sucking up, by Jove, d–n and a— are used. Queer is used to describe something unusual, and gay is a few times used to mean bright or happy.
The Green Lady transforms into a large serpent and tries to squeeze Rilian to death. Rilian and Puddleglum kill the snake by hacking off its head with their swords.
Rilian is lured away from Narnia partly because of his attraction to the Green Lady. Jill kisses Puddleglum’s cheek in a non-romantic context.
Literary references: Prince Rillian is said to look like Hamlet.
Fighting: Eustace and Jill argue frequently and call each other names. They also start verbal fights with Puddleglum, usually over Puddleglum’s relentless negativity.
Alcohol: Characters drink wine with meals. Puddleglum drinks alcohol in Harfang and pretends to be drunk to fool the giants into thinking he is harmless.
Tobacco: Puddleglum smokes a pipe.
Cannibalism: The giants of Harfang eat humans and intend to serve Jill and Eustace as a course at their Autumn Feast. This may be especially disturbing for younger readers.
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