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"For a second they thought the room was full of people - hundreds of people, all seated, and all perfectly still."
The Magician's Nephew (Chapter 4)

The Hall of Images was a section of the royal palace of Charn, which contained life-sized and life-like statues of the past monarchs of Charn. Before she spoke the Deplorable Word that destroyed all living things in that world; Jadis, the last of Charn's royal line, had placed spells on the Hall so that it would be protected from damage. These spells also enabled her to hibernate there as a living statue until someone came and awoke her.

Royalcharn

Ancestors of the Imperial Family of Charn.

Description

The Hall contained hundreds of statues, and all were seated in stone thrones along either side of the room. The floor in the middle of the room was left free, so that one could walk down and look at each figure in turn. Since the ruling house of Charn was descended from Jinns and Giants, its members were much taller than ordinary humans, and represented as life-size. All the statues were garbed in magnificent clothes; their robes were lavishly colored and decorated with intricate embroidery. They were also crowned and heavily bedecked with jewelry.[1]

This room also had more windows than many other parts of the palace, which let in much more light from outside,[1] presumably so that people would be able to view the figures more clearly.

In the middle of the room, there was a short pillar topped with a hanging bell.[1] Since it was the ringing of this bell that awoke Jadis from her hibernation,[2] it is likely that she added the feature to the room herself, and it was not part of the original construction.

History

The Hall was originally built to act as a sort of portrait gallery, to show all of the images of Charn's past monarchs. When one first entered the Hall, the first image they would see would likely be the first known monarch, followed then by all of his/her descendants. The first several generations of the royal family all bore expressions that appeared wise and kind, giving the impression that they were good people. But as one moved down the rows of thrones, the expressions of each generation became more intimidating and more frightening until one's eyes fell upon Jadis, the most beautiful yet cruelest-looking of all. This implies that the rulers of Charn were originally a good and benign people, but over the ages they degenerated into pride, cruelty, wickedness and later despair for all the dreadful things that they had both done and suffered from.[1]

There were plenty of empty thrones beyond Jadis, indicating there were meant to be generations more after her, but she rendered the world lifeless before they came into existence.[1]

One other thing that is noticed about these images is that none of the monarchs wore the same crown. Each one, including Jadis, has a different one. No doubt this means that unlike the monarchs of other worlds, including the royal family of England who pass the same crown to every generation, Charn would commission a new crown that was unique for every new ruler.

By the time Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer discovered the Hall, Jadis had long since spoken the Deplorable Word that killed all living organisms in the entire world of Charn. After speaking it, she had then placed an enchantment over the Hall, so that all the images would remain eternally, magically preserved. Jadis seated herself at the very end of her family's line and went into a state of suspended animation for an unknown number of years before Digory and Polly came and awoke her.

Jadis had also placed a short column in the centre of the Hall with writing inscribed on it: Resting on top of the column's capital was a golden bell and small hammer, with which to strike it with. The writing read as follows: -

Jadisawakens

Jadis awakened.

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.

She had obviously placed the bell there, together with the writing, as a means of enticing any travellers into ringing the bell.  

Ringing the bell, as Digory did, sent out a single note that did not fade but grew deafeningly louder until the roof of the building collapsed from the sonic vibrations. Ultimately, the ringing became so loud that it broke the spell, awakening Jadis from her preserved state.[1]

After Jadis was awake, the spell she had placed to preserve the Hall was then broken, causing it to fall apart, along with the rest of the palace.[1] 

Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 MN IV
  2. MN V