Prince Caspian is chronologically the fourth book in the Narnia series but the second written by C. S. Lewis. It sees the return of the four Pevensie children – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – who first entered the enchanted land of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Prince Caspian grows up being told that talking beasts never existed and that the stories about King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan and Queen Lucy are nothing more than fairy tales. When Prince Caspian learns the truth, he must fight his Uncle Miraz for his rightful place as the king of Narnia and, with the aid of friends, summons the Pevensies to aid him restore Narnia as the land of the free where talking animals can once again live in harmony with humans.
Prince Caspian follows the classic theme of the weak overcoming the strong for justice and freedom. In this sense, the book has a predictable plot and suffers the “sequel syndrome” of not being as fresh or enchanting as the original.
What it does have are memorable characters including Doctor Cornelius, Caspian’s mysterious mentor; Trufflehunter the loyal badger; Trumpkin the agnostic but brave dwarf and Reepicheep the valiant mouse. It has to be said that Reepicheep is merely introduced in Prince Caspian and it is in the next book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that he truly shines and earns his reputation as one of the best loved characters in the entire series.
There are also scenes that although seem minor when you read them, will stay with you long after you’ve read the last chapter, including the dramatic moment when Caspian learns the truth about Miraz from Cornelius, and the poignant encounter between Caspian and his old nanny when they are finally reunited.
This book is subtitled The Return to Narnia and perhaps this should have been used as the main title. The book for me serves only as an introduction to Prince Caspian who does not develop into a fully rounded character until the next title in the series. In this book, the focus is still very much on the Pevensie children and their return. It deals with their faith, relationships and struggles far more strongly than Caspian’s. In the end, it is Peter and not Caspian who must face Miraz in the ultimate battle.
But that aside, Prince Caspian is an enjoyable read and sets the scene very nicely for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.