Title: Prince Caspian
Author: C S Lewis
Rating: 3 Stars
Dates read: 21 Mar 19
Publication date: 15 Oct 1951
Publisher: Geoffrey Bles
Genre(s): Children’s, Classic, Fantasy
The Pevensie siblings are back to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.
I gave The Chronicles of Narnia another go. I persevered and after a bit of time off, finally picked up Prince Caspian. I enjoyed the (actually quite terrible but in a good way) 2008 film adaptation and knew that it was a story that I would probably get on board with more so that The Horse and His Boy. Turns out I was right, and this was a big improvement on the previous instalment.
First things first, the Pevensies were back. We started in a railway station on Earth, a year after our last check in with the four children. As always, they ended up in Narnia through some slightly convoluted whisking away and found themselves in the ruins of Cair Paravel, the castle where they ruled from when they were Kings and Queens of Narnia. The catch: 1300 years had passed. Yep, that’s right, a literal millennium had been and gone, so it’s unsurprising no-one recognised them and they didn’t instantly recognise the place.
Secondly, there were dwarves. I am partial to dwarves in a story. They are often gruff, and are regularly sly and odious, and I find it really amusing to read about their actions and mood swings. The dwarves in this were largely helpful and contributed to the success of the Pevensie/Caspian cause.
Thirdly, Reepicheep and Trufflehunter were pleasant editions. I don’t know if it’s because the thought of seeing/hearing a talking mouse or speaking badger amuses me greatly, whether it was the fact that Reepicheep is a fearless swordsman who wants nothing more than to take the battle to the next fighter, or whether it was because they were good guys who supported Caspian (and Aslan), but I enjoyed their presence in the story more than I would have expected and found them to be less intrusively religious than in other novels in this series.
Fourthly, Prince Caspian himself. There was a tangible plot throughout the novel that featured heavily on Prince Caspian’s claim on the throne his uncle had illegitimately claimed while he was young. When we’re first introduced to him, he is being smuggled away from the family by Doctor Cornelius (another unusal Narnian mix of half-human and half-dwarf). It felt like the story in this book was a lot more logical and relatable than the previous book, and a lot of that was due to Caspian’s cause and friendship with the Narnian characters and Pevensie children. He seemed to have a particular bond with Lucy which I really liked.
In this story, there was a more classical villain which helped the story progress and created an antagonist I could actively dislike. Although the story is one that has had multiple iterations in literature, a battle for the throne between good and evil is a tale that transcends age and I thought suited Narnian logic and human interaction in their land in a really good way. After the convoluted storyline in The Horse and His Boy, it was great to be able to follow a more classical narrative that had obvious players and character arcs to track and support.
Once again, however. I didn’t enjoy the religious overtones again and found them, at times, to be intolerably heavy during this book; a fact that definitely hampered my overall enjoyment of the book and the overall rating I gave the story. I understand that Aslan is a god-like feature in the book, it’s nigh on impossible to not draw that comparison, but this story featured Aslan in a different way. Aslan only appears to Lucy, the one who believes in him the most, and then appears to the others when her paths and decisions pay off. I get it, I really do, but the comparisons are tiresome and unenjoyable and something I wish was no present in the story.
I am half way through the series and pleased to say that Prince Caspian might have been my favourite instalment so far. I liked the new characters who were introduced, and even though I know that the number of Pevensies in future stories has now been halved, I can’t say I am that disappointed as Lucy and Edmond have always been my favourites anyway.