Review: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

  A wonderfully happy Easter to all of you out there in Blogland. I know I’m a few days late, but between early morning church, a late afternoon nap, and an evening spent playing Julia Child in the kitchen with my mother whipping up Easter dinner, there just wasn’t a lot of time left over for a blog update! Besides, I wouldn’t have had much to say because I JUST finished Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, the 4th book in the Narnia series, going chronologically. The book, another one of my reads for Carl’s amazing Once Upon a Time V Challenge!

I love C.S. Lewis. Love him. I’ve never read any of his theology (I did skim Mere Christianity for a Western Civ class once) but his Chronicles of Narnia were some of my favorite books as a child. Before Harry Potter. Before Little Women. Before Anne of Green Gables, there was Lewis and his Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy). Before I get to the actual review, I want to address a little bit of a kerfluffel that goes on amongst the Narnia readers that I know: Do you read the books in order of the publication dates, or chronologically? When I was a kid, I read them in the order they came in in the box set I have – I read them in order of the publication dates. I didn’t mind the story being separated, taking tangents in to other aspects of Narnian life before returning to the Pevensie children. Now, however, I have a bit more of an appreciation for the overarching arc behind the story of Narnia and tend to read the books as they’re supposed to take place chronologically. Meaning, long story short, Prince Caspian is set to take place right after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Prince Caspian tells the story of how the Pevensie children find their way back to Narnia again. While they’ve been back in England after returning from their first set of adventures in the wardrobe, hundreds of years have passes in Narnia and a new king is on the throne. King Miraz is a Temarine who, after overthrowing Old Narnia, has tried his best to wipe out the memory and legends of talking animals, spirits in the trees and water, and even Aslan himself. His nephew Prince Caspian, however, is raised on tales from his Nurse and his tutor Doctor Cornelius and believes in the Old Narnia of the High King Peter and his brother and sisters. Miraz tolerates Caspian until his own son is born, when Caspian must flee and search out those remaining talking animals and members of Old Narnia in order to fight Miraz and keep them all safe. He blows an ancient magical horn, seeking the help it’s supposed to bring, and that’s when the Pevensie children find themselves brought back to Narnia. The young kings and queens (Edmund and Peter and Susan and Lucy) meet up with Caspian and Aslan himself returns from The Land Beyond the Sea to help awaken the long-dead spirits of Narnia and defeat King Miraz. I won’t spoil the end of the battle for you, but needless to say things end as you would expect them to end in a children’s fairy tale. At the end of the book, however, Peter and Susan inform Edmund and Lucy that they are too old to return to Narnia anymore, and all four Pevensie children find themselves returned to the English train station they were in before being transported to Narnia.

What is there to say about a book I loved so much growing up? To me, there is still some hidden magic in the belief that animals can talk and, perhaps what appeals more to me, that the trees, water, flowers, etc. all have their own spirits and personalities. There is a wonderful part of Caspian when Lucy, walking through the woods, imagines what all the trees would have looked like before Miraz came along and sent their spirits in to a deep sleep (sorry I don’t have the exact quote – I’m at work and, of course, forgot to bring the book with me!). She imagines whispy willows with gentle smiles and long hair, sturdy oaks with beards and warts and kind smiles, busty birches with knowing smiles and matronly airs. Is that not just such a beautiful concept! I often think that, if people began to personalize nature more – seeing that even trees and flowers and animals have personalities all their own – that they’d be far less inclined to be so damaging towards it. Narnia has also held such appeal for me because, as a child, who doesn’t dream of a world behind their own, waiting behind closed wardrobe doors or just a horn-call away from a train station. It’s the idea that, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’re perhaps not all that far away from magic and fantasy. That’s why it always saddened me so much to hear Peter and Susan say they’re too old to return. I personally don’t ever think you’re too old to return to Narnia. Narnia is a place within your heart, brought about by holding on to your sense of wonder and child-like awe. So I say hold on to your Narnia! Be amazed by the delicacy of a flower. Laugh at something silly. Sing along to your Disney movies and tell people that maybe, just maybe, you still believe in faeries (I do!). There is always magic to be had. And a huge thanks to Carl and the Once Upon a Time Challenge for reminding me of that!

Well, folks, thats all for that review! I’m currently reading my way (really quickly) through Tina Fey’s Bossypants and it’s ABSOLUTELY FRACKING HILARIOUS!!!! Seriously, I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed this hard at a book. Ever. And I’ve read some pretty funny books. I’m also trying to balance my fiction with my nonfiction reading, especially because it seems that at the moment I’m reading more nonfiction than I am fiction – although, in all fairness, my nonfiction tends to be of the memoir variety, meaning its nonfiction that tends to read like fiction, hehe. 😀 I’m hoping to be back tomorrow or the next day with a library loot and, until then, I’m off to spend more time with my celebrity lesbian crush, the beautiful Tina Fey. Or Tay-Fey, as I call her.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Simon T
    Apr 26, 2011 @ 18:31:16

    I loved the Narnia books growing up, and the BBC adaptations – and read them chronologically, cos that’s how my boxset is, er, boxed. I re-read the first four last Christmas, and hadn’t realised before how short they were! Loved them again, but with my nostalgic hat on.


  2. Grace
    May 24, 2011 @ 16:52:28

    I read them in order by publication date when I could, but I did some skipping around because I didn’t own all of the books. My favorite was always “The Horse and His Boy.” When I read them as a kid, I didn’t realize quite how much of a theological point Lewis was trying to make in the books.


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