Prince Caspian has never been one of my favorite books in the series, but it’s never been one of my least favorites, either. It introduces one of my favorite characters, but that’s all that really stuck out to me. That’s the thing about Prince Caspian: It doesn’t really stick out. It felt the most generic in a series of books where all of the others seemed far more unique, but perhaps that’s more because other novels I read tended to be more along the lines of Prince Caspian than the other way around. It probably doesn’t help that I’m dying to start The Voyage of the Dawn Treader already, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty to talk about here (still hard to wait for Dawn Treader, though).
The ruling planet for this book is Mars, which primarily represents masculinity. While Mars isn’t necessarily “about” war, it certainly celebrates warriors, hunters, and survival (we do get the word “martial” from it), as opposed to the celebration of royalty and nobility in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Out of the Silent Planet (the first book in Lewis’s Space Trilogy) literally takes place on Mars, and it has a noticeably similar tone (which I used to find incredibly boring; there’s a reason I never got around to revisiting Out of the Silent Planet…).
And now, on to the book itself!
Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, and it has been told in another book called The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe how they had a remarkable adventure.
It’s been a year since the incident with the Wardrobe, and the children are waiting at a train station to head off to boarding school. This time, however, Lewis hardly even sets the stage in England before the children begin to feel an odd pinching or pulling.
“Look sharp!” shouted Edmund. “All catch hands and keep together. This is magic – I can tell by the feeling. Quick!”
And with that – on the third page – they’re all swept away to the titular Island (although they don’t have a clue where it might be). It appears to be deserted, so after they’re done taking in the beach, they’re far more concerned about finding food and shelter than anything else.
It’s great to see all four of the children working together, since they were never really in the same place and on the same page until the final chapter of LWW. This chapter is mainly just them walking around the island, figuring out it is an island, and discovering a stream, a grove of apple trees, and some old stone ruins. There’s a wall with an archway that appears to be intact, if blocked by some foliage.
They had to break some of the branches to get past, and when they had done so they all blinked because the daylight became suddenly much brighter. They found themselves in a wide open place with walls all round it. In here there were no trees, only level grass and daisies, and ivy, and gray walls. It was a bright, secret, quiet place, and rather sad; and all four stepped out into the middle of it, glad to be able to straighten their backs and move their limbs freely.
So far, the book has more of the feel of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel than a fantasy – and considering that I thought Treasure Island was rather dull when I was younger, I think I can understand why this book didn’t stand out as much. It’s actually very unique as far as children’s fantasy novels go, just throwing the four of them onto a deserted island and forcing them to make do (not to mention figuring out where they are).
The children act more or less the same as they did in the last book (with the natural exception of Edmund). Lucy immediately concludes that they’re back in Narnia, but the others are either dubious or too absorbed in keeping everyone safe and (relatively) happy to comment on it. Edmund seems to be the most in his element here, excited about doing the sort of things he’s read about in adventure stories (especially considering the alternative: School!). Susan is the most uncomfortable, but much like in LWW, she’s frequently the voice of reason, at least for her younger siblings who tend to be more careless. Peter takes the lead, as always, and is clearly trying put two and two together and figure out where they are (in Narnia or otherwise).
Until next time…