By C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian lives with his uncle, Miraz, the King of Narnia, though he is not rightfully King. Miraz usurped the throne and intimidated the people of the land into supporting his reign. He fears Old Narnia, and strives to stamp out the Talking Beasts, Dwarves, and other species that ran free under Aslan both from the land and from the memory of his people. Caspian loves tales of Old Narina, but isn’t sure whether to believe them, until he is forced to flee for his life and is rescued by a Badger and two Dwarves. Word quickly spreads that Caspian wants a return to Old Narnia, and Beasts, Dwarves, Centaurs, and countless others come join him in a fierce battle against Miraz. Meanwhile, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are magically pulled to Narnia, though not the Narnia they recognize. Their beloved Cair Paravel lies in ruins, and the forests seem large and unfamiliar, then they realize that perhaps hundreds of years have passed in Narnia during their one year in London. Realizing they have been called back to Narnia for a reason, they make the long trek across the forests of Narnia to join Caspian in a desperate battle to preserve the country they love.
“Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia” by C.S. Lewis is the 4th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, though it was originally published second. This is the second book in the series in which the Pevensie children have a more central role in the story, and the reader has the opportunity to explore the familiar land of Narnia through a new and different perspective due to the passing of time. If possible, Lewis increases the fantasy of this novel by creating such a drastic time difference between London and Narnia. This simultaneously serves to regenerate interest in Narnia by building an entirely new country with a long history, while also fostering strong nostalgia for the Narnia of the past by drawing on the fondness already developed for the magical land. Lewis briefly dips into the tension between good and bad when talking about the people who support Miraz and those who long for a return to the Old Narnia, but does not linger long enough to explore the complexity that people can contain both good and bad within. Perhaps that can be a point for discussion or reflection when reading the novel.
I enjoyed the way this book broadened the history of Narnia, though I sometimes felt that the pace at which these revelations unfolded was a bit slow. The main question I am left with after reading this book is, how do these children’s bodies show the wear and tear of time if they spend decades reigning as Kings and Queens, then return to the land as youth after spending a year in “real time” in London? They’ve lived almost an entire lifespan at this point! Doesn’t that have some impact? Whatever. Enjoyable, fun story and worth the quick read.