Review #12: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
One of my favorite children’s books of all times is The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It’s the perfect kid-lite danger, mixed with sadness, scariness, and hope. In fact, I’ve been trying to hunt down the cartoon movie version that I envision in my head (and apparently doesn’t exist?) for years now.
I bought the entire Chronicles of Narnia collection a couple years ago, but made the mistake of buying it in one hard cover book, rather than a box set of individual books. The thing weighs 10lbs, so needless to say I’ve never read it! When the individual books came up on Amazon as $1 or free (either or, don’t remember), I jumped on the chance to get the next in the series, Prince Caspian.
In some ways, Prince Caspian is a re-hash of the original book. Much of the book is spent telling two stories. The first is of Peter, Susan, Edward, and Lucy (the siblings from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) who, on their way back to school, find themselves magically transported to an island. There, they meet a captured dwarf, who tells them of Prince Caspian, the young nephew of the current king (which is the second story). Caspian is a curious mind, and wants to learn all about Narnia, a long-dead kingdom. His uncle is displeased with this, and plots to kill the young prince. Caspian’s tutor helps him to escape, and Caspian quickly comes across the hidden lair of two dwarves and a badger (!!!), finding the old Narnians and discovering that all the legends were true.
The story then follows both the siblings and Caspian as they travel to Aslan’s Stone Table. Along the way, we meet more and more of Narnia’s delightful characters, including the lovely Bruins (bears) and Reepicheep, the warrior mouse. Some of the more shady characters are also introduced (since that’s truly the heart of Narnia, good and evil together), such as crones and werewolves. The siblings have their tifts, as usual (with no one believing poor Lucy, also as usual), but we also see them begin to grow up more and have to face the reality of leaving Narnia never to return. Aslan is also back and there is a battle, so in this way, some things stay the same.
Caspian’s journey was less fleshed out, I felt, and he felt very much a secondary character throughout, definitely not the lead as the title suggests. I totally enjoy that this little boy (in the book) is presented as this hunky man in the movie (which I, admittedly, haven’t seen)
Anyways, the book is a pretty quick read. It doesn’t have the sense of urgency or evil (The White Queen was really the worst), as the first book, nor does it have the deep heart-breaking sadness. I enjoyed it very much though, and thought it had more of a sense of humour and action than the first. My favorite exchange is one with the leader of the brown bears:
“Yes,” said the Bear. “But it was always a right of the bears to supply one marshal of the lists.”
“Don’t let him,” whispered Trumpkin to Peter. “He’s a good creature, but he’ll shame us all. He’ll go to sleep and he will suck his paws. In front of the enemy too.”
“I can’t help that,” said Peter. “Because he’s quite right. The Bears had that privilege. I can’t imagine how it has been remembered all these years, when so many other things have been forgotten.”
“Please, your Majesty,” said the Bear.
“It is your right,” said Peter. “And you shall be one of the marshals. But you must remember not to suck your paws.”
“Of course not,” said the Bear in a very shocked voice.
“Why, you’re doing it this minute!” bellowed Trumpkin.
The Bear whipped his paw out of his mouth and pretended he hadn’t heard.
The mental (and illustrated) image of this huge bear sucking on his paws had me giggling to myself for ages.
Apparently, these books have all sorts of religious overtones, but I must be quite dense, as I haven’t been able to notice these, and don’t really want to either. Sometimes, I like my children’s literature, to be just that! I’ll look forward to remaining the rest of the books and seeing what else will come out of Narnia.