Prince Caspian is the second book of the Chronicles of Narnia series (in publication order; in story it is the fourth.) The book begins with the four Pevensie children at a train station waiting to go back to boarding school when they’re suddenly pulled back into Narnia. Before too long they discover that time in Narnia moves much differently than in their world, and multitudes of years have passed since their last visit.
It takes them a long time, actually to encounter anyone, and finally they meet a dwarf who tells them that men called Telmarines are in power, chiefly a King Miraz, uncle to the rightful heir, Prince Caspian. No one knows anything about talking animals and most everyone thinks the time of Kings Peter and Edmund and Queens Susan and Lucy and even Aslan himself are just myth, or at least so far back in history as not to be significant anymore. Miraz has just had his own son and desires to seal his succession to the throne by killing the rightful heir, Caspian.
Caspian, meanwhile, in the course of his escape discovers there really are “Old Narnians” who, once they realize who he really is (it takes more convincing for some than others), side with him. He realizes there is more at stake than his own life: for the sake of Narnia he has to overthrow his uncle’s rule.
My only complaint with this book is that it takes a while for anything to happen: it’s about three-fourths of the way into the book before the Pevensies even meet up with Caspian. But everything leading up to it is necessary to lay the foundation and background.
Aslan returns as well, seeming larger (though not because he is older, he tells Lucy, but because she is), but I think he and the Pevensies are the only returning characters from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: new beloved characters emerge, such as Trumpkin the Dwarf, Trufflehunter the Badger, and noble mouse Reepicheep.
Two of my favorite quotes from this book:
Aslan asks Caspian, “Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?”
“I — I don’t think I do, Sir,” said Caspian. “I’m only a kid.”
“Good,” said Aslan. “If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been a proof that you were not.”
And when Caspian, upon learning something of the history of his people, wishes he came of a more honorable lineage, Aslan replies:
“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve, and that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth.”
Though perhaps not quite as exciting as LWW (to me), the book still has many beloved elements of the first: Lewis’s inimitable style, good versus evil, memorable characters, quests that take characters beyond themselves, and moral lessons such as Lucy’s need to follow Aslan even though others don’t see him or understand or agree.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)