The Silver Chair, Macmillan HC 1988

One of the things I love about these Summers of Narnia is that I’m always discovering something new.

Take this illustration on the cover of the 1988 Macmillan hardback edition of The Silver Chair, depicting the climactic moment when the Green Witch snakeifies herself and wraps around Prince Rilian. There’s a distinct aesthetic about it that’s of its time, static and folklorish, slightly Slavic perhaps; Mary Engelbrite was doing a variation of the same thing, and Leo and Diane Dillon before her.  It’s dated compared to modern depictions, but still interesting for the artist having his or her own vision.

Rilian, for example, seems closer to Eustace’s age than the nearly 30-year-old man he is in the book while the serpent is comparatively tiny and doesn’t feel like much of a threat despite Eustace’s and Puddleglum’s consternation. (Where’s Jill?) The reptile does have some interesting fins and flanges though, that hints at it being more than the usual python or adder. Note Puddleglum’s webbed hands. (!)

I do wonder what Rilian is supposed to be wearing, though. It looks like an oversized sweatshirt with a white hood and borders covered with Russian folk designs. At the back of his left elbow is an outpuff of fabric that looks almost detached, like some kind of bustle, or one of those sleeves with a slit in it so the forearm can emerge at the elbow while the rest of empty sleeve hangs free.

I think the font is all wrong for the text though. It should be something more pagan and grander. What we have is too much like a wedding invitation.

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