by C.S. Lewis, 1951
I’ll come right out and say that I was less charmed by Prince Caspian than I was by the first book in the Narnia series. This continuation story finds the Pevensie siblings pulled back to their mystical world, only to find they no longer recognize it. There are forests and ruins where there were once clearings and castles and, before long, they realize the span of time that has passed – what was one year in England must have been hundreds in Narnia.
This story focuses less on the Pevensies than it does on the titular character. Caspian, you see, is the rightful King of Narnia, though he has been usurped by his uncle, King Miraz. Caspian learns of this Shakespearean plot from his tutor, the dwarf Doctor Cornelius, who helps him escape the castle and gives him Susan’s horn. With the aid of two more dwarves and a badger, Caspian sets out to find Aslan’s How, engaging in battle against his uncle’s army along the way. Eventually he uses Susan’s horn to call the quartet back to Narnia and aid in righting power in the land once again.
I didn’t care nearly as much for Caspian as a character as I did for the Pevensies in that first book. The story, with its obvious ode to Hamlet, wasn’t as inventive and reading about Caspian – through the retelling of his escape by the dwarf Trumpkin – wasn’t as engaging as learning about Narnia through the siblings and the unnamed narrator. The intrusion of that narrative voice is what I missed most here, as it is something that I quite love about Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, too. I’ll continue on with Narnia, but I do hope they recapture some of the magic of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The narrator might very well be my favorite character.