I have to confess I’m finding things a bit tough at the moment, as seasonal depression robs me of motivation. None-the-less, I have been reading The Silver Chair to Rose Red, but it doesn’t help that it’s possibly my least-favourite Narnia book.
This is not, however, because I think it’s a bad story. It’s more that it feels overall darker or more pessimistic in tone (and not just because of Puddleglum). The dangers and challenges faced by the children are not greater or more terrible than in previous books, but we think there are two things that make for the difference in “vibe”:
- They are travelling in relatively uninhabited wastelands. Previous stories have involved wastelands (Magician’s Nephew), or exploring of vast areas (Dawn Treader), but none have had the same sense of isolation in an unfriendly environment for so long.
- Previous dangers have usually either been quite obvious to the protagonists (e.g. fighting in a great battle), or any dramatic irony* has been in that they are in less danger than they think (the lion chasing them is Aslan). This time, there are dangers that the children are not aware of, whereas the reader is (or at least is given distinct hints to that effect).
In combination with that, although they are progressing along their task, it seems like they keep getting it wrong, and they’ve only ended up in the right place by accident. This is probably designed to show that Aslan can ensure things work out for the best even when others make mistakes, but it’s less enjoyable when I’m all too aware of my own limitations and blunders. I’m reading to be transported to another world! I want escapism, darn it!
But then again, maybe I’m just in a bad mood. 🙂
* As in what the audience knows is different from what the characters know.