Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prince Caspian: Forever My First Love

Continuing with my annual reread of The Chronicles of Narnia, I have just finished up Prince Caspian (PC).  When I first read these as a little girl, I had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW) many times before I moved on to the rest of the series and it had already become my favorite book. I remember being very excited to read the next book in the series, thinking it would be very similar.  A quick synopsis (Spoilers Ahead)
Our four hero's from the last book LWW have been back in our world for a year now and are getting set to head back to school.  They are all waiting at the train station when they are pulled onto a wooded beach.  
After some exploring the children (Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund) end up at the ruins of an ancient castle.  After further examanation the children realize it is their old castle Cair Paravel and that it must have been in ruins for hundreds of years.  The children rescue a dwarf from some human soldiers and learn a bit of the current history of the area.  The king is now a man named Miraz who has along with his ancestors have hunted, harried and scared the "Old Narnia" (ie the talking beasts, dwarves, giants, centaurs, pretty much anything not human or "normal") into hiding.  Miraz has a nephew Caspian who is the rightful heir to the throne, but must run for his life after Miraz has a son.  Caspian is taken in by the Old Narnian's and together they form an army of sorts to try and defeat Miraz and bring back the Old Narnia.  Caspian is in posession of Queen Susan's horn (one of the gifts given the children back in LWW) and blows it and this is what brings the children back to Narnia.  Trumpkin the dwarf is sent to the castle in the hopes that the Kings and Queens of old would appear there.  Trumpkin is doubtful that the four children are really the powerful monarchs of the past, but they prove themselves quit quickly.  The group decides to head to Aslan's How (the mound raised over the Stone Table) where Caspian and his army are holed up.  Along the way they get lost and Lucy see's Aslan the Great Lion who shows her where to go, it takes a couple of tries, but eventually all the children and the dwarf get where they need to be.  The girls and Aslan go through Narnia collecting the Old Narnians and any humans that want to live this new life.  Meanwhile the boys and Trumpkin work with Caspian to challange Miraz to single combat in the hope of winning the war without too much blood shed.  Peter wins against Miraz and the forest awakens and scares the rest of Miraz's army into surrender.  The old order is restored with Caspian as Narnia's rightful ruler and the four children return to England, but not before Peter and Susan are told that they are to old to come back.
As soon as I started reading about Caspian my 8 year old self fell completely in love with him, I write about 
my undying amore for him here.  I'm not sure if this was my first experiance with a book prince or if this was the first time I was old enough to have a crush (I started reading LLW when I was 5) but this Prince who was willing to risk everything for an imaginary country I wanted so badly to go to won me over completely. Other than my crush, I actually find this to be a very meloncholoy book.  Don't get me wrong, I still love it, I just could empathize with the four children, especially Peter and Susan when they are told they can't come back.  Imagine spending a life time in a magical land, ruling happily over these fantastic creatures, essentially living the dream just to be dumped back into your ordinary everyday lives as children.  Then you finally get to come back to this place of happiness and wonderment only to find it in ruins.  All of your happy memories have been left to crumble, your 
beloved country is being ruled by a tyrant, and you are stuck as a kid again.  To top it all off instead of getting to spend another life time here you only get a week or two before you are sent back to school.  I would imagine this would be especially brutal for the two oldest who are told that they are too old for Narnia and must learn to live and find magic in the real world.  It feels like the author is trying to make a comment about being forced to grow up.  C.S. Lewis continues to use beautiful and simple story telling.  I think that is one of the things I love about all of these books is that they are so simple and direct.  This is not to say that the story and characters are not complete, it's just a different style from the EPIC's one is used reading in fantasy.  It is always interesting to compare these stories, because to me they are more stories then books, to Lewis's contemperary J.R.R Tolkien and his EPIC (yes EPIC has to be in all caps) world building.  I love both authors for completly different reasons, but The Chronicles of Narnia will always be some of the most accessible books for any age.  Prince Caspian, while a little sad for the aforementioned reasons really shows you just how big Narnia and the world it belongs to can be, it reminds you that it is not all about the original four children, but about the world itself and the stories it has to tell.

What did you think of Prince Caspian?  Did you like it more or less then the first book?  Who was your first book crush?  How devestated would you be if you knew you could never go back?  

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