I hope you have been able to read the introduction, defense and first installment in the Chronicles of Narnia blog posts on Word Slingers. It is my pleasure now to review the second book in the classic series by C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian.
In 2008, Disney teamed up with the original Narnia makers to present a likeable, though somewhat inaccurate film portrayal of the classic. For those who have not read the book or even seen the movie, I want to provide a brief summary of the book then provide comment.
The four Penvensie children from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are back in England. It has been some time, perhaps a year, since their adventures in Narnia and they wish to go back. They are magically transported back when they are standing at a railway station.
They soon realize that things are different in Narnia. They discover that many centuries have gone by since their last trip, and as Houston Baptist University and C.S. Lewis expert Louis Markos says, Narnia has fallen on hard times.
The whole land has been taken over by the Telmarines through a usurper named Miraz, Prince Caspian’s uncle. Young Caspian learns about Narnia’s past and is fascinated. He escapes the castle when he learns his uncle has had a son and may want to kill Caspian. Amid his escape, he comes across talking animals, dwarves and mythic creatures. He, along with the Pevensie children, rally together and take on the Telmarines and try to win back Narnia.
True to form, Lewis weaves an interesting story together with important thoughts about the important things. By making Narnia age centuries while the Pevensie’s were gone only a year, Lewis gives Narnia a history—a rather medieval one—where chivalry and honor are real concepts.
In Prince Caspian, we meet some wonderful characters. My favorites include Reepicheep, a swashbuckling talking mouse whose knightly qualities uplift your soul. There is also Trumpkin, a dwarf who doubts Aslan’s (recall he is the Great Lion, the Christ figure) existence but later believes. There is also Doctor Cornelius, Caspian’s tutor, who embodies wisdom and belief.
In this all-important installment in the Narnia series, the stage is set for future books. Moreover, we get a good understand of the driving desire for power that mankind has, and the unspeakable evil that can be done.
There is one really important scene from a theological perspective in which Lucy, who is the most faithful of the Pevensies, meets Aslan again for the first time since being back. She says, in effect, “Aslan, you look bigger.” He explains that he has not grown larger but that, “Child, as you grow older, I will appear larger.” What a powerful thought to make us ponder Christ’s awesomeness!
Also worth noting, this is last time High King Peter and Queen Susan go back to Narnia (though it is not the last time we hear of them). There are several scenes in which Lucy and the three siblings exemplify the dilemmas and doubts we all go through.
Lewis’ Prince Caspian is one of the faster moving, thrilling books in the Narnia series. Children, especially those 10 to 14 years old, will revel in the story and find admirable qualities in the characters—such as duty, honor, faith, love and forgiveness—that could propel them on a good path. For these reasons and more, I recommend reading Prince Caspian.