In this second Narnian installment, the four Pevensie children return to the magical land they once ruled, called back by Queen Susan’s horn. They land at the ruins of Cair Paravel just in time to free the Old Narnians from the evil, usurping King Miraz and put the rightful heir on the throne. For though Prince Caspian is the descendent of the conquering Telmarines, he wishes to make the land safe once more for Narnia’s magical talking natives. It is the beasts remember that “Narnia was never right except when a Son of Adam was king.”
Prince Caspian has a whole new plotline and a whole new set of wonderful characters (like the vastly endearing Reepicheep), but my favorite thing about it is the nostalgia and wonder Prince Caspian exemplifies when he hears the stories of Old Narnia. It’s the same feeling I get when I return with the Pevensies centuries after their rule. For I, as a reader, remember how good Narnia once was, so I can understand even more than Caspian how tragic the Telmarine takeover was. The heroes and heroines have a reader’s complete support as they, with the help of the good and awe-inspiring Aslan, strive to return Narnia to its rightful state.
Like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this one also has many Christian parallels. For example, there are those who believe in the old stories and those who have lost their faith. There are those hostile to the old stories who would persecute those who believe and rewrite history to match their own way of thinking. And conversations with Aslan always have a particular depth of meaning. Consider when Lucy first meets Aslan again:
“Aslan,” Lucy said, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
I enjoy rooting out those elements and understanding the author’s hidden meanings. Oddly enough, Lewis also includes “non-Christian” elements in his stories—like Bacchus, other creatures from pagan mythology, and a favorable view of astrology as studied by the centaurs—which I believe give it a greater depth. I, for one, am glad he didn’t feel bound to the limits others may have imposed. This is, after all, magical fiction, not a Bible story.
Unfortunately, the plotline has been thoroughly massacred by the recent movie. In an effort to make it more complex, a good many events are added to the story, Caspian and Peter bicker like little kids, and the kids have to go searching for Aslan, who is taken out until the very end, giving it a bleak, hopeless feel as the children strive to win a war without him. It raises the stakes, I guess, but I much prefer the book. The movie does, however, have some brilliant special effects. I particularly like when the river god rips out the bridge at the Ford of Beruna. The producers also do a very good job giving the Telmarines a distinctively foreign look, sound, and culture. The costuming is also very well done. But I’d recommend the book over the movie any day. It’s a particularly strong second episode in a whole series of good children’s fiction. Highly, highly recommended for ages 9+.
My other reviews:
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
- The Silver Chair
- The Horse and his Boy
- The Magician’s Nephew
- The Last Battle