9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2003
We discovered the Narnia books on tape 12 years ago when living in France and we drove hundreds of miles around Europe, two small children listening intently in the back seat, all of us captivated by the magic. Michael Hordern does full justice to the beautiful English prose, the complex characters, the extraordinary world where good struggles with evil -- the creation of a remarkable British writer. The music, composed specially for the series, complements it perfectly. Our tapes self destructed years ago and we are ordering the CDs now, looking forward to recapturing our remembered pleasure.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2002
If you never buy your children any other books or tapes, buy them Narnia! In fact, not just children, adults too. Life-changing stuff! If every child had Narnia when growing up then the world would be a better place.
The Michael Hordern versions have now been around for some time but if you like the idea of bedtime stories then this is a superb adaptation with a simple musical setting that adds more feeling to the story rather than detracting/distracting. Rather like having your father/grandfather read to you when you were young.
You're never too old to grow young.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Prince Caspian" is chronologically the fourth book in the Narnia series but the second written by CS 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".
In this second instalment, the four children aid Prince Caspian who must fight his Uncle Miraz for his rightful place as king, and restore Narnia as the land of the free where talking animals and magical creatures 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 Repeecheep the valiant mouse (though he does not truly shine and earn his reputation as one of the most loved characters from the entire series until the next book, "The Voyage of the Dawntreader"). 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 when Caspian learns the truth about Miraz from Cornelius and when Caspian is reunited his old nanny.
This book is subtitled as "The Return to Narnia" and I think that 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. For instance 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 Dawntreader".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2009
Second to be written of the core Narina books (1951) and third in 'reading order'. I've never done this before in an Amazon review, but rather than write something of my own I realise that I can't do any better than the text I found on Wikipedia, which is a brilliant comparative study of Prince Caspian and the Bible, so in the hopes of more widely disseminating it, here it is:
"The two major themes of the story are courage and chivalry and, as Lewis himself said in a letter to an American girl, "the restoration of the true religion after a corruption" (Collected Letters, III, p. 1245). Aslan is portrayed by Lewis as a Christ figure. Aslan's father (the "Emperor-Over-Sea") is God the Father. Some believe the story is a parallel to Moses and the freeing of the Israelites. A more likely parallel can be drawn between the Israelites' war with the Philistines, with Miraz's duel with Peter being similar to David and Goliath. In I Samuel 28:3-25, Saul, desperate to receive an answer from God, has a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel, similar to Nikabrik summoning the White Witch in an act of desperation. Though Samuel is in no way a parallel to the White Witch, it is the concept of turning to evil in extreme situations instead of trusting in God, or in this case the power of Aslan. In 2 Samuel 2:1-5:5, the Israelites refuse to wait on the Lord causing them a grave defeat in battle. This is similar to how the Narnians do not wait for Aslan, and thus suffer a defeat at the Telmarine castle. The Telmarines are descended from pirates, and Philistines invaded Canaan as "People of the Sea." Edmund and Lucy assist Prince Caspian in his attempt to get to Aslan's country (over the sea) in Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The new Narnia can be seen as a parallel to the modern world, with a dislike of religion. "Who believes in Aslan nowadays?" asks Trumpkin when he first meets Caspian. Those who "hold on", like the badgers, are praised: this links with Lewis's views on religious faith. Faith is another of the major themes of the book."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2008
Second book printed, fourth book chronologically.
I began re-reading the Narnia series after coming across a beautiful boxed set of all seven novels. Mainly this was out of nostalgia, as these were favourites when I was young, and I was interested to see how they held up as adults. I found them all to be written very clearly with provocative descriptive prose, and narrative that often draws the reader immediately into the story.
As the first real sequel to "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe", this manages to draw out the story and history of Narnia so that Lewis' creation reaches its full potential. The character of Caspian is readable although a little stiff at times, and the dialogue does falter occasionally where elsewhere in the books it is very smooth. The description of the voyage and the encounters of the crew are imaginative and still feel very original, and the transformation of Eustace still brings a bit of a chill, even in hindsight!
Great for youngsters and very readable for grown-ups.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2011
This fourth novel starts with the abduction into Narnia by the magic horn Susan had received in the second novel and she had left behind, lost if you prefer, of the four kids from the railway station while waiting for the train to take them back to their boarding schools after summer recess.
They find themselves in their old Cair Paravel palace and the old treasure chamber where they recover their swords, bows and arrows, and other magic presents, except the horn that has been lost, misplaced if you prefer. On the following morning they save a dwarf to be drowned in the river by two soldiers who run away after a first and only arrow reached them.
The dwarf Trumpkin tells them the situation. Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines from Telmar. The legitimate king Caspian 9th was assassinated by his brother and the lawful heir marginalized, and finally was going to be executed because his usurping uncle had just had a son of his own.
With the complicity of Professor Cornelius he escapes just in time and goes back to the old Narnians who had disappeared when the Telmarines had arrived. He is able to rebuild some kind of an army, but the usurper is on his tracks and war breaks out. The untrained and undisciplined old Narnians under the command of Prince Caspian are routed in no time and have to escape and find refuge in Aslan's How, a sort of monument built over the old Stone Table where Aslan had been executed by the White Witch to resurrect afterwards.
During these battles Caspian had blown the magic horn that abducted the four kids.
With the help of the dwarf they try to join forces with Caspian. But they get lost on the way because they don't listen to Lucy, the youngest child, because she is too young, and yet she is the only one to see Aslan who has come back, because she is the only one to believe in him. Edmund will be next, Peter quite later, and Susan will be last and reluctant.
They come just in time at Aslan's How when a bitter dwarf was going to call the White Witch back with the help of a Hag or bad witch, and a werewolf. They suggest to propose a single combat to solve the strife and that proposal comes from Peter who is the High King of Narnia, and many other things.
In spite of all logic the usurper accepts the challenge and is on the verge of losing when two of his courtiers cry treachery, kill the usurper and lead the Telmarine army into combat. The battle turns to Caspian's advantage when trees appear and walk and frighten the Telmarines. These come to a ford where there should be a bridge but that bridge has been demolished during the battle by Aslan and the girls with the help of some giant ivy.
The army is made prisoner and Aslan reinstates Prince Caspian on the throne as King Caspian X. The Telmarines are proposed either to stay and accept the new rule, in fact the re-instated old rule, or to go to a land of their own. We discover that they were able to rule over Narnia because they were humans, marooned pirates in some South Sea island where they had found a door to Narnia.
Aslan builds a door in the air with three sticks and suggests that the Telmarines go through back to their South Sea island. The do it only after the four children do it first, though the children will find themselves back on their railway station platform and the Telmarines in their island.
This novel makes it clear that Narnia can only be ruled by a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve. This simple fact has to be understood and it is not simple. These primitive populations of dwarfs and other non human humanoids plus all kinds of magical beings, beasts that speak and trees that walk have to be colonized by people connected to Adam, humans. The first kings were four children, then the White Witch, one fourth daughter of Adam, took over. Then another human race, the Calormenes try to take over, but the kings and queens are still the four kids. And finally here some humans who got stranded in Narnia had taken over and had to be pushed back to their island by the four kids.
Does it mean only human beings can rule the world, this one or the other world or worlds? Or does it mean that the only humans can rule this Narnia world respectfully, at least for the general ecology of nature and life, and yet all humans are not necessarily good for that, respectful of differences and of democracy, even if the only form of government can be a monarchy? Or, since Peter and Susan are excluded for the next episode because they are too old, does it mean only human children can rule Narnia?
That's the aspect of the saga that is most surprising and it can only be explained by the fact that this saga is written for children and the four children are the go-between for the readers to be able to identify with the heroes, the action, and Narnia itself. And the aim is to nicely encourage positive values in these readers, certainly not sever them from what definitely looks like western established ideas. After all these novels were written during the Cold War and C.S. Lewis refused science fiction, a genre for adults. He stuck to fairy tales after all.
But could the same situation have produced a de-westernized story that could have accepted that non-humans could perfectly well govern themselves in a democratic and humanistic way? We will of course never know.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Imagine if you once saved a magical other world... only to return later and find that centuries had passed, and everything had changed.
Well, since the movie adaptation of "Prince Caspian" is about to come out, it seems appropriate to revisit C.S. Lewis's classic novel, the sequel to his even more classic "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." While it has some drippily allegorical moments near the end, Lewis does a pretty good job with what must have been a difficult sequel.
When his aunt gives birth to a baby boy, young Prince Caspian finds himself on the run from his usurping uncle Miraz -- and in the hands of Narnia's secret army of dwarves, centaurs, talking animals and nature spirits. Soon Caspian has an army backing his claim to the throne, but in a moment of desperation, he is forced to blow the magic horn of the legendary Queen Susan -- and subsequently pulls the Pevensies back into Narnia.
But while only a year has passed on Earth, centuries have passed in Narnia, and the kids find that it's no longer the place they left -- they and Aslan are distant memories, and their castle lies in ruins. And as they are led by a very skeptical dwarf to help Caspian, Lucy keeps glimpsing Aslan along the way -- a sign that things are about to change drastically in Narnia, both for the human and magical inhabitants...
The Chronicles of Narnia were probably the first books to feature what is now standard in the fantasy genre -- an ordinary person gets dragged into another world. Just take a look at successful, unique authors like Diana Wynne Jones and Garth Nix to get an example of how Lewis' stories have influenced the entire genre.
If you don't like allegory (religious or otherwise), then steer clear of "Prince Caspian," especially the second half. While Lewis's beliefs are presented in a more complicated and subtle manner in his other fictional works, here the parallels to basic Christian beliefs are very obvious. Reportedly even Tolkien, one of Lewis's best pals, found the allegory annoying.
But if you can get past the slightly ham-handed treatment, it's a lovely little read. Lewis interweaves mythical elements -- dwarves, nymphs, talking animals, witches -- with the chatty, slightly precious style of traditional British storytelling. But this one is a bit darker and more action-packed than "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," with some unexpected twists in the middle of it all. The scene with a strange witch and a werewolf is downright chilling, in fact.
But Lewis' plotting does sag near the end, during a drippy scene where Aslan wanders around fixing life for Narnian subjects. Fortunately after that, he gets back to a mystery that hangs over the whole book -- just where did all these humans come from, if they were such a rarity in the previous adventure?
Peter seems a bit more jaded than before and Edmund a bit more mature, but sadly the girls don't get enough to do this time around. But Caspian is a likable and believable prepubescent king-in-waiting, and surrounded by a bunch of unique Narnians -- a gentle yet fierce badger, a hostile dwarf, a fiery mouse, and the delightfully skeptical Trumpkin, who doesn't believe in lions.
Despite a few rough spots, "Prince Caspian" is a slightly darker, more intricate story, and its finale marks a turning point in the Chronicles of Narnia. Definitely give it a read before you see the movie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I mistakenly purchased an abridged audiobook of "Prince Caspian" to complete my set of Narnia but lost it almost as quickly surprisingly.
I rarely buy any audiobooks abridged or dramatised versions unless I can avoid them and I buy hardbacks, partly because they are often cheaper (obviously too heavy for the paperback brigade) but also because they feel like books.
I was not disappointed with this version; high quality recording, pleasingly read without too many efforts at strange voices. The CDs went to my grandchildren for future use and to make the set complete.
P.S. To Graspee: Thank you for this prudent advice. I will remove them "post-haste" and try to be more diligent and law-abiding in future!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2010
While it's becoming apparent that none of the Narnia books are going to rival 'The Magician's Nephew' for the honour of being my favourite so far, I definitely enjoyed this next installment in the series. I thought the book did an excellent job of developing the characters of the four Pevensie children; they were markedly different, but it seemed a logical character progression after the events of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' rather than an arbitrary change. I also enjoyed the new characters introduced in this volume, particularly Reepicheep the mouse, and I hope that some of them will appear again in the remaining installments.
Curiously, some events which seem as though they should be very important and hold great significance for the characters are not given a great deal of time or attention, whereas other less vital situations are dwelt on more thoroughly. Although I think this is a shame, it is a very minor complaint. Most of the story was well-paced and exciting and on the whole I found 'Prince Caspian' to be an excellent book.
on 2 December 2012
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in revised form, over a decade after they were initially written. Mike London 10-3-2012]
Prince Caspian, the second novel written and published and subtitled "The Return to Narnia", is the first of the so-called "Caspian Trilogy". Explicitly written as the "second" book in the series, "Prince Caspian" shows a much different Narnia from the one we first saw in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe". Hundreds of years have passed, and it is actually in the era of Caspian that the most books of Narnia occur.
Essentially the story is that a young prince, a human descended from pirates who found their way into Narnia via cave in the South Pacific, is heir to the throne of Narnia. The humans have taken over Narnia and have treated all the talking animals and creatures as mythological. In this milieu, Prince Caspian loves the stories and early histories of "Old Narnia", who is taught to him by Dr. Cornelius. Eventually, he discovers that Old Narnia is indeed true history, and not only that, Dr. Cornelius is not what he first appears to be.
"Prince Caspian", in the actual method of story telling, is the most different of the Chronicles as a good portion of the first half of the book does not actually happen in the real time of the tale, but is instead recounted to the children by Trumpkin the dwarf. From it we learn the unusual occurrences that have taken place since they have been gone, and we also come to the first book of what I of as the Caspian Trilogy. Caspian's time frame gets the most treatment of Lewis, where the beginning of the world gets one book, the Golden Age two books, Caspian's lifetime three books, and then the ending of both the series and Narnia as one book.
There are many ties in with Caspian and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Both are the rightful kings, both have uncles who are trying to kill them, and both must attempt to regain the throne. Caspian is successful, but he must place the belief in a supernatural world. Like Hamlet who must accept advice from the ghost of his father, so must Caspian place his belief in the older world to take his rightful place as King Caspian the XI.
We also get directions from Aslan that, even if the crowd does not do what is right, we have the responsibility to do what we know is right. Instead of following Aslan when she knows she should, Lucy disobeys him and goes with the her siblings and the dwarf (a.k.a. D. L. F. -- Dear Little Friend). This scene in Prince Caspian illustrates the fact that you should not go with the crowd when God has told you what to do. Your responsibility is to Aslan, not the crowd. Instead of following Aslan she disobeys him and goes with the crowd. It is a positive message Lewis sends to his young readers about resisting peer pressure, because in the end you do not answer to this crowd but you answer to God..
We also get the theme of the dwarfs as being for the dwarfs. Nikabrick, who cares for no one but the ones with power who will aid the dwarves, does not bear any love for Aslan. He would just as soon be with the White Witch, and indeed he brings evil beings into Caspian's councils, after which he is killed. His story is a sad story, and from this we get the theme that, even though it seems there are no friends for us, in the end God will take care us if we allow him, but if we do not God will not force himself upon us.
Prince Caspian stands as one of the most interesting of the Chronicles for the relationship it shows between God and hnau, especially that remark about God getting bigger as we grow older. We also get several of the pagan elements in this text too, and how, although the Greeks and Romans used it in the wrong sense, God does indeed approve of revelry and that wild passion so intensely felt, for how could it be otherwise? If God did not approve of that passion, he would not have sent Jesus to die for us, because it is borne of that passion that Jesus came to die.
[This is a brief paper I wrote about how Lewis imparted truth to his characters and am including the text here as bonus content to the review proper:]
Lewis has his characters experience truth in a number of ways. The five works this essay will look at are "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", "The Silver Chair", and "The Last Battle". Not all of the truth the characters encounter are what the characters wanted.
In the first book, LWW, we have Edmond who has become a traitor. Edmond does not wish to believe that the Witch is bad, because she can supply his fix. This is one of the biggest truths that Lewis imparts to his young readers: addiction blinds you to the point of where your only god is the addiction itself and you will do anything it takes to get whatever you are addicted too. Edmond is a classic case of addiction, and if this were a work for adults it would have been quite appropriate to make his addiction drugs. When the Beavers are discussing Aslan, Edmond does not like the conversation. He feels this could pose a threat to getting his fix of Turkish Delight. Like drugs, this addiction ruins ordinary pleasures, and Lewis says at the beginning of Chapter IX that memories of bad magic food spoils the taste of regular food. He is so focused on his addictions that Edmond no longer cares about real life, and he will do anything possible to get it, even selling out his brother and sisters to the White Witch, which in everyday life could be a man who will let his family go hungry or will not pay the rent because he cannot get his cocain if he takes care of the basic needs of his family. Even in this degraded state of mind, Edmond gets a realisation of the cruelty of the White Witch, for what he craves the most she will not give him. For truth to come to Edmond, he must accept this terrible fact of his being a traitor and Aslan must die for him. Aslan and Edmond have a talk afterward, which, although we are not told what is said, Lewis does tell us that Edmond never forgot that conversation and he is truly a changed boy.
In Prince Caspian, Lewis gives us another boy who is struggling to discover truth. Caspian learns from his Nurse that there is an older Narnia where Talking Animals lived and there were dwarfs and tree and water people and various creatures who claimed Narnia has their home. His Uncle Miraz, however, denies this and sends his nurse away to be replaced by a Dr. Cornelius, who, as it turns out, is a half-breed of dwarf and man. It is notable that he is the only named example of interbreeding, although, according to Ford, Caspian's nurse may also have dwarf blood in her. Caspian must decide which "truth" he will believe, and because of his relatively good sense he chooses to belief the stories about Old Narnia. This ties into Lewis's theme about the longing for the truth. I highly doubt that, if a person is on Aslan's side (although Caspian is not to begin with), he/she will long for something in a deep spiritual sense and it not be the truth. Lewis talks of this in his Pilgrim's Regress, and it is God's prime instrument in conversion. People long for something true, and unless they are deceived by Satan, they will find their answer in Jesus Christ. It is also important to note the relationship between Dr. Cornelius and Prince Caspian. God wants to use you to help awake and feed that desire for God in someone else's life, and that is why He tells us to go make disciples of men. One reason Lewis chose Dr. Cornelius as a half-breed is to illustrate we are not to perfection yet, but we are progressing toward it, and also one reason the dwarfs intermarried was so the were not killed. Sometimes, as Christians, we cannot be open about our religion but must seek God to know who we should share it with. Of course, this does not apply to America yet, for we have tremendous religious freedom. As the world progresses, however, I fear that will change. Once you discover truth, then you are accountable to that truth and must help fight for it, which Prince Caspian does, and then becomes King Caspian.
Eustace Scrubb also encounters truth for the first time. Much of the first half of the novel Eustace is a perfect ass.
Jill also encounters truth in The Silver Chair. At the opening of the novel, she learns the appropriate ways to approach God, and these ways are not Satanic, as the dark magic she suggested to Eustace as a method of getting into Narnia was. She also learns in that opening scene with her and Aslan more of the nature of God. You cannot put God in a box, and Aslan will make no promises to her what he will do, but she does not doubt his word when the Lion tells her that there is no other stream. Throughout there rest of the novel Jill learns that no matter what God says, you must do as he asks, even if it seems that you will be killed or seriously harmed or seemingly impossible, and she also learns that, through the giants of Harfang, God will take care of you even if you err, but there will be unnecessary complictions if you do not do it his way.
Perhaps the most interesting of all, and certainly rather an anomoly as mostly the examples given are good characters becoming better, but in The Last Battle we have one of the central bad guys learn that there really are supernatural forces, even though he did not believe in them. Farsight, the Eagle, notices that Rishda Tarkaan is very surprised about what is in the stable and of Shift's destruction. His discovery of the truth, however, is horrific. Tash, the god he has called on but does not believe, has come to gather his lawful prey, and Rishda is shocked that Tash even exists. Lewis uses this character to illustrate to his readers that you should be careful in what type of belief system you invoke, for the worship of Tash was a cultural practice that Rishda practice not in belief but because it the culture, and he really does not believe in anything.
These are some examples of the numerous ways in which truth comes to Narnian characters.
*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronciles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".)