Prince Caspian by CS Lewis (Narnia)

Summary: A return to Narnia by the original four children, for them a year later.

After I read My Side of the Mountain and thought it wasn’t quite right as a read-aloud for my kids, I picked up Prince Caspian. I have previously read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and we started, but they got bored with, The Horse and His Boy.

Prince Caspian has never been my favorite of the series, and it has been a long time since I have read it. The four Pevensie children were on their way back to their boarding schools roughly a year after their original trip to Narnia, and they were “called” back to Narnia. They discover eventually that it has been hundreds, if not thousands of years since their glorious reign. The country is not governed by a caretaker King who is part of a line that invaded Narnia and killed off many talking animals and magical creatures and who have largely lost the memory of the golden age.

Caspian is the rightful king in the line of the invaders. But his uncle is trying to take over. We discover that Caspian’s father was killed by his uncle, and now that his uncle has had his own child, he plans to kill Caspian as well. But Caspian’s tutor helps him escape. Their private tutoring sessions about the real history of Narnia have prepared Caspian to seek out the magical creatures. And together, they attempt to rebel against Caspian’s uncle and recreate the type of kingdom that it was before. Much of the understanding of magic has gone. And Aslan has been largely forgotten, even by the Dwarfs and magical creatures.

In some ways, this feels like a story of the adoption of Prince Caspian into the story of Narnia. Caspian’s family were invaders. They were not of the line of humans that have been part of Narnia. But Caspian is grafted into the line of the human kings. The imagery of adoption into the story feels like the adoption of Gentiles into the Jewish story. But there are problems with this reading. Narnia requires a human as ruler. So it feels to me like there is a level of supersessionism if this is the intended imagery of the story. I also tend to think that reading this with a post-colonial lens means that the talking animals and other magical creatures are often treated like colonized people who are incapable of self-rule and probably never will be because of a lack of capacity.

“It’s not Men’s country (who should know that better than me?) but it’s a country for a man to be King of. We badgers have long enough memories to know that. Why, bless us all, wasn’t the High King Peter a Man?”

Caspian is a better story than I remember. I enjoyed it as a quick read to get me out of a reading slump I have been in. It is a good reminder that reading old books has benefits and problems. But there is value in being reminded of both.

Prince Caspian by CS Lewis (Narnia) Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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