#Narniathon21: Back to Narnia

© C A Lovegrove

Narniathoners! Here we are again, with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy back on Narnia soil, called back by the sounding of Susan’s horn. But all is not as it should be, is it, as the Pevensie children soon find out after emerging from a thicket.

Our Narniathon now takes us to the second of C S Lewis’s chronicles, Prince Caspian, published in 1951 a year after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As before I shall pose three general questions which you can answer or evade, depending on what you may want to say.

And as ever, feel free to to share here and elsewhere on social media your thoughts or your reviews, your favourite quotes or your photos, remembering to include the hashtag #Narniathon21 to let like-minded readers in on it all.

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1. Tolkien had written of his Middle-earth saga “I wisely started with a map and made the story fit.” Prince Caspian was the first of the Narniad chronicles to include a map by Pauline Baynes showing part of Narnia and the adjoining lands. Does its addition help you orientate yourself more than if it wasn’t included? Or do you agree with Lucy in the following exchange that there are more important things to keep in mind?¹

‘That’s the worst of girls,’ said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. ‘They never carry a map in their heads.’
‘That’s because our heads have something inside them,’ said Lucy.

Chapter 2

2. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe we had talking animals (such as beavers, and one lion who talked and one who didn’t). In Prince Caspian we have many more fauna which talk, another instance of Lewis’s childhood obsession with animals with the power of speech. Do you find animal characters imbued with human abilities and mannerisms rather endearing, or mildly irritating?

3. Prince Caspian comes across as a book explicitly about war, especially interesting given that Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia suggested that this instalment — in Lewis’s implicit scheme of a series determined by medieval cosmology — was characterised by Mars.² But is there more to this novel than just martial exploits, bickerings, skirmishes, duels and set battles?

Whether maps, talking animals and war mainly strike you as typical of the novel, or whether you think there’s more to it that warrants consideration, I’d be pleased to hear from you in the comments below! Don’t forget to share links to your reviews or commentaries published elsewhere, and do consider looking at responses to the last post added since your last viewing. 🙂

I nearly forgot: it’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next, with comments invited on Friday 25th February!

  1. https://apilgriminnarnia.com/2019/01/24/girls-boys-and-maps-in-their-heads/
    It’s curious how an alternative version of this exchange (which I lazily quoted last month) has become most prominent online: “Girls aren’t very good at keeping maps in their brains”, said Edmund. “That’s because we’ve got something in them”, replied Lucy.” Not quite the phraseology, though the import is very similar.
  2. Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia (2006) is reviewed here: https://wp.me/s2oNj1-narniad

55 thoughts on “#Narniathon21: Back to Narnia

  1. I always loved the talking animals, as a kid, and Prince Caspian was among my favorites of the Narnia books. Then I read the books to and with my children, and they loved Reepicheep in a way that made me fall for him all over again.

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    1. I know there’s a lot of love out there for Reepicheep, and I sort of get that, but — and here’s my inconsistency — I have far fewer issues with talking dæmons in His Dark Materials than the mice, squirrels, badgers and beavers in the Narniad.

      And I do wonder at Lewis’s bloodthirstiness in PC, what with heads being chopped off (even Carroll’s Queen of Hearts shouting “Off with their heads!” was ignored) and Reepicheep’s mouse squadron offering to cut off their tails (as in the nursery rhyme) to uphold their leader’s dignity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, I just realized I was wrong in my comment below about not having anything to compare Narnia’s talking animals to. I forgot about His Dark Materials! Interesting though as to why the daemons work for you but the Old Narnians don’t. The daemons are an extension of the human to whom they’re attached and I wonder if that makes them seem more human to you, therefore more believable to you? Just an observation…

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        1. I think, in fact I’m almost sure you’re right in Pullman’s daemons being another aspect of their humans — but then there’s Iorek Byrnison and the panserbjørne to consider, and I don’t have a problem with them either! Maybe it’s because they have often been assimilated to humans in folklore, what with berserker traditions and legends of Arthur asleep in a cave like a bear?


  2. JJ Lothin

    In my own years-long-gone readings of the Narnia books, I always used to rush through Prince Caspian to get to the far more alluring Voyage of the Dawn Treader!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I’ve seen other declarations saying the same thing! I wonder what way ‘Voyage’ is more.alluring or — perhaps more to the point at this stage — why ‘Caspian’ is less alluring?!


  3. Prince Caspian was never a favourite of mine – After having Jadis vs Aslan in the first book, warring humans are rather tedious in comparison. However, I did enjoy how they went round a la Blues Brothers, ‘getting the band back together,’ rebuilding an army of talking animals and mythical beasts. I could do without the fighting – it’s the journeys I enjoy most in these books. Looking forward to getting stuck into Dawn Treader soon.

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    1. As far as I can work out, after introducing Narnia in LWW Lewis began sketching in further lands in successive books — Telmar here, islands and Aslan’s country in VDT, northern lands.beyond the Ettenmoors in SC, Calormen and Archenland in HHB, Lantern Waste in MN, and back to Narnia in the final book. So one could argue that there are journeys — the Telmarines from Telmar and back to the South Seas, the Pevensies from Cair Paravel to central Narnia — but I agree, it’s not the same as the voyages of discovery that come next!

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  4. This is my second reading of Prince Caspian and to be honest, I was dreading it, because the first time I remember skipping so much. Now, I don’t know why…I so enjoyed the book this time around, head chopping off and all!

    First, YES to maps! In my personal life, give me a map, not a voice giving me directions 🙂 In a book, I feel maps orient me to the action and in the case of both comments about maps, I found them to be sexist (Mr. Lewis), so I will ignore it, hurummph.

    As far as talking animals go, in general, I am not sure I have read much with talking animals. Specifically in the Narnia books, it works very well for me, because it seems so natural at this point that not only animals, but flora and fauna are either talking or are sentient and communicative in their way. Lewis has given their voices specificity in species and personality so it works very well for me.

    This is a book about war and it may have been the battles that caused so much skipping at my last reading. But this time I found PC to be about so much more. There is a definite difference in the writing with this book, more lyrical passages describing Old Narnia and the Old Narnians, more creative, imaginative, metaphorical writing that I loved. The war was to kick out the intruders and establish the old/new Narnia, as a restoration or resurrection (sorry for the Christian symbolism 🙂 ), where people who had been in mental and emotional chains were given the opportunity to be free; I’m thinking of Aslan as a sort of Peter Piper character who releases the school children and other town’s people at the end.

    I had to return my copy of Planet Narnia back to the library, now I think I just want to buy it!

    Once again, thanks so much Chris for taking this on ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “people who had been in mental and emotional chains were given the opportunity to be free” — you put your finger on what for me was the key theme of this book, and of all of Narnia actually. Intruders who want to stay and be free as well are welcome, notably.

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    2. I’m glad that hosting this Narniathon has meant a lot to many readers, Laurie, and I’m pleased you were one of those gently pushing me to do so. It’s also given me a chance to reassess what I thought about the Narniad and to recognise the positives that I hadn’t appreciated more in my previous read of the series.

      As with you, I relish a map, and if there isn’t one I concoct one from the available information. (I even had a mental map of the halls in Piranesi, however impossible it was to devise an accurate representation of that world!) In a way Lewis was having his cake and eating it, dissing the female brain for its apparent inability to orientate — an uncharitable and inaccurate calumny! — while suggesting that females included more important things in their noddles than males often gave them credit for (a truism).

      As for talking animals, we’ve all as youngsters long anthromorphised creatures, even imagining life in inanimate objects, and Lewis was building on that sense of wonderment here, but we also have a sense of the limitations of magic in fantasy, and talking animals is a grey area for me personally. But that’s just me!

      I agree that the emotional core of PC is the righting of wrongs and the restoration of a just world. If the way it was done felt a little heavy-handed I accept that it may not have felt so for others. Still, I can’t fault the intention!

      I think Ward did a slimmer version of Planet Narnia with a different title, more of a summary than a closely argued and academic work, but I can’t remember what it was called.

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  5. I actually thought the map kind of useless as it isn’t very detailed. It could be that I read Prince Caspian on a Kindle and I couldn’t really focus in on it as much as I wanted to. I just didn’t see where Cair Paravel was, which is kind of important in my opinion.

    I love animals. I love them. And, I’m not a huge talking animal fan. However, for whatever reason, I don’t mind them in the Narniad. If someone were to ask me to read another book or series with talking animals (besides His Dark Materials because they’re not really animals; they’re souls), I would choose to read something else.

    I think there’s much more to this installment than “just martial exploits, bickerings, skirmishes, duels and set battles,” especially if you consider the Christian allegory. I talk about it in detail in my post on my blog tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll look out for your post, Jenni Elyse, and for what you have to say about PC, thanks!

      It sucks that you had problems with a map on your Kindle, but when I’ve not had a physical book to hand there have been plenty of representations (especially the Pauline Baynes version) available by searching online. The limitations of Kindles in this respect are just another reason why I can’t cope with e-readers for any extended reading.

      I can just about cope with Narnia’s talking animals because the premise of the series is that the stories are to be appreciated from the child’s point of view, and if that POV involves animals with the power of speech and human thought then so be it. Doesn’t necessarily make it easier for me as an adult to suspend disbelief though!


  6. I like the talking animals well enough, but as I wrote in my own post, I was always more interested in the pagan nature spirits — although come to think of it they actually don’t appear much. Still, the idea of Narnia as a place of “walking trees and living waters” made it magical for me. The way the trees have gone to sleep, and even become hostile and dangerous, is a lesson for our time I think — we need to wake again to our right relationship.

    Yes, this one has quite a martial theme. It’s not only outer exploits, though; all the characters have some sort of crisis of faith. Will they believe in the “old Narnia,” recover their kingly and queenly selves, choose the bright way of Aslan rather than the promises of more unsavory powers? I’m not usually one for a lot of swordplay and bloody battles, but this one had enough of a mix of inner and outer conflict to keep me engaged.


    1. The — for want of a better word — ecological aspect of PC is definitely an attractive one; not that the Telmarines have necessarily destroyed or defiled habitats as we moderns have (though they “cut down trees wherever they could and were at war with all wild things”) but that they haven’t given Old Narnia the respect it’s due. Your highlighting of ‘walking trees and living waters’ wasn’t an observation I gave much if any attention to in my discussions so I’m glad you’ve drawn attention to it!

      I didn’t mean to denigrate or at least downplay the martial conflicts, either inner or outer. For me the behaviour of the two Telmarine lords, manipulating and betraying Miraz as well as conspiring against the legitimate regime was one of the major cruxes in this instalment as far as I was concerned

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    2. An aspect of the planetary and cosmological themes I meant to discuss but which completely slipped my mind concerns the attributes of Mars. As well as being the Roman god of war he was an agricultural deity, perhaps also with a woodland epithet when he was known as Mars Silvanus, ‘of the woods’, and thus highly relevant to the nature themes in PC which you point out here, Lory.

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  7. I think on the spectrum from Beatrix Potter/Kenneth Grahame to – say – Richard Adams, Lewis is somewhere in the middle. His animals don’t wear clothes or drive motorcars, but they’re still heavily anthropomorphized.

    I thought the book started well, then lost focus. I watched the movie on my laptop a few weeks ago. It’s a long movie and I stopped just prior to the siege. Even so, it was interesting how presentation differed. Caspian’s story is told first (rather than being related to the children by Trumpkin) and there’s an additional scene – meant to reflect differing responses to the Calormen threat by Peter and Caspian, I guess – in which the Narnians try to take Miraz’s castle behind his back, with tragic consequences. I reckon both decisions added to the story, but maybe this is as much an indictment of the book as it is praise for the film.

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    1. I know I will have seen the film at some stage but it’s proved eminently forgettable as I only have vague memories of one or two scenes. As for the animals, I agree Lewis’s are somewhere along the Potter-Grahame-Adams spectrum, though Grahame’s have always been confusing for me, Potter’s charming, and Adams’s convincing on their own terms. (I don’t have positive feelings about the latter’s Plague Dogs, however, but perhaps I ought to revisit that … perhaps.)


  8. Prince Caspian was the first novel containing a map that I remember reading as a child and it left a lasting impression on me. I have had a soft spot on fictional maps ever since. I love your maps of the Aiken books for example, Chris. I do think that as a child it intensified the feeling of Narnia being a real place for me. Unfortunately family commitments have meant that I haven’t finished my reread of Prince Caspian in time to comment further but I hope to put that right at the weekend and will come back later. Sorry for being so badly organised! Although from memory I always felt that Caspian was a rather a remote figure.

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    1. Do feel able to come back and comment later, Anne — readers are still adding responses to the LWW post from last month!

      I’m with you when it comes to maps — the map of Treasure Island was an early obsession for me! — so I’m chuffed you appreciate the maps I’ve concocted for the Wolves Chronicles and odd other Aiken books. But family commitments come first, of course, so whenever you feel able the post will still be here!

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  9. Pingback: Book Review: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis #Narniathon21 – Literary Potpourri

  10. Hmm, despite the fact that it’s only a few years since I last read, or listened, to this, I can barely remember anything about it, which I think is a pretty good indication of how underwhelming I found it. I didn’t review it on the blog but left a short review on Audible, so here it is for what it’s worth!

    “I remembered from childhood that this was never one of my favourite of the Narnia books but didn’t remember why. There are all the usual issues of overt religious symbolism, sexism and a kind of glorification of war in the name of the ‘true faith’, but I’m sure none of that bothered me as a child. The truth is, this one just doesn’t have a very interesting story. The baddie is human, which isn’t nearly as much fun as a wicked witch, and there’s very little action – even the battle is distinctly underwhelming. (And truthfully, I preferred Aslan back in the days when I thought he was a lion…) However, it’s lifted by an excellent narration from Lynn Redgrave. ”

    To answer your questions then:

    1. Because I listened to it, I had no map. But in general I enjoy maps, though I rarely find they really add to my appreciation of the story. Like Lucy, my head must be too full of other things! 😉
    2. As you can see, I didn’t even mention the talking animals! In general, again, I don’t mind talking animals in children’s literature, but can’t stand them in adult literature.
    3. War doesn’t bother me as a subject in general, and I quite like stories about heroism in war. But the glorification of war itself doesn’t work for me, especially when it’s to prove the “true faith” and beat the “infidel”. I take it from my review that this one got rather up my nose on those counts… .)

    Don’t know if I’ll manage to listen to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in time, but I’ll try. It was a favourite from childhood, and the audiobook narrator is the wonderful Derek Jacobi…

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    1. “The truth is, this one just doesn’t have a very interesting story.” This was my memory of the book too, in fact all I could rember of it was that there was a prince, and his name was, er, Caspian. So I’m glad I gave this another chance, to remind me of the plot and to spot the positives!

      I smiled at your head being like Lucy’s, and in fact approve! One’s mind needs exercising as well as rest to consider and mull over the experiences and influences that come from hither and yon. I’m with you on speaking animals in adult literature, Watership Down I got for its mythic qualities, but Adams’s follow up The Plague Dogs was truly awful as an adult novel, in both the horrific sense (from what it focused on) and in the actual writing — I’m almost tempted to push myself to reread it so as to point out its serial failings.

      I’m not sure PC actually glorifies war — in fact the Old Narnians under Caspian are mostly forced into defensive situations, and the final outcome is supposed to be decided by a duel to stop any further bloodshed. But nevertheless there is death in Narnia, and backstabbing, and decapitation…

      To have actors of the quality of Redgrave and Jacobi reading the books is one of the attractions that may yet make me a convert to audio books for some of my ‘reading’!

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  11. 1. I enjoy maps in books, fantasy and real-life; though the edition I read had Pauline Baynes’ other illustrations, there was no map–-this is a second hand copy and no pages seem to have been torn out, so perhaps they just omitted it? (Like TLWW, this copy of mine is Collier Books)

    2. I don’t really mind talking animals (as a child I always wished mine could talk (I still do 🙂 ) but as an adult one can’t help wonder about some human characteristics being read into their conduct/thought processes. I did love both the Badger and Reepicheep (he was more fun because of his vanity); the talking vs non-taking animals did bother me though, though I can vaguely see why he might have done it, the children having to eat.

    3. War in the book seemed to have as much a role as in TLWW–structure-wise, both books seemed similar, a peril on Narnia (Jadis there, Miraz here) which needs a battle to put things to rights; while there was indeed an army being put together, strategies and a little more fighting than book 1, it seemed to me that the spirit of Narnia was more at its centre. In my reading, the environmental threads also really stood out.


    1. What a shame your edition had no map: even my one-volume edition, which omits the odd Baynes illustration, includes (as far as I can see) all the maps, each one before the instalment which originally had one. So PC has A Map of Narnia and adjoining lands, VDT has The first part of the Voyage, and SC has A Map of the Wild Lands of the North, HHB has Archenland and the Desert. You might be able to locate these separately online.

      Yes, each animal has its own characteristic, and the fact that Reepicheep had a part to play in ‘Voyage’ suggests Lewis had a soft spot for him too. And I also agree there is no more conflict here than there was in LWW, but it really does feel as if war was a deliberate theme here as much as the ecological message.

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      1. My VDT has the layout of the ship and Silver Chair has the Wild Lands and HHB has the map too; I have assorted eds; the first two were Collier books, the rest are either Puffin or Scholastic.

        I can see war seems more central here in that it is actually described both the initial effort by Caspian’s army and later the duel between Peterand Miraz while in TLWW, the actual battle takes place off the page. We only hear of it rather than see it.

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  12. Well, first off my thoughts on the book are here:

    #Narniathon – that difficult second album…

    As for the questions!

    Maps – I love a good map and I love to see them in any kind of book I’m reading. As Lewis began to expand Narnia and its surrounds I think a map was essential and so I’m glad there was one! I find a visual aid like this helps me get to grips with the narrative.

    Talking animals – very happy with them too. I love animals (well, I’m a vegan…) and tend to give them all personalities anyway. The Narnian animals are lovely, and I got very attached to some of them (and am probably going to do so again). Quite happy that Lewis gave all his living things the qualities he did.

    War – yes, a bit of fighting creeping in here. I think Lewis gets across the grottiness of battle pretty well, particularly as this is a book for younger people. I don’t think he glamourises it at all and that’s really good! I think the book is again about the conflict of good and evil, which does often turn into a war, although there are pleasing ambiguities – the various protagonists are not always painted in black and white terms.

    So although this feels almost like a bridging book, getting us used to the way Lewis will develop his series of books, there’s a lot to commend it and it leaves us set up for the following stories!

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    1. It’s interesting that you see this as a bit of a bridging book, because though I sense Lewis hasn’t quite got into his stride (and I agree with you identifying the ending as a bit abrupt) it still feels quite self-contained –.even as it sets up things to come!

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  13. Pingback: Prince Caspian: A Discussion – Jenni Elyse

  14. Pingback: January reading and February reading plans – I read that in a book

  15. Great prompts again, Chris!

    1. I’ve always loved the atmosphere a map gives to a book, but I seldom refer back to it except in non-fiction. A good writer makes the setting vivid enough that I don’t feel the need of maps except for aesthetics; it doesn’t usually matter if place B is north or south of place A. Pauline Baynes’ illustrations are wonderful, and to me the map stands out mostly for its lovely fonts and decorative bits.

    2. Animals that are just humans in fur coats can be quite irritating, especially when they are cutesy, but Lewis does try to give them animal attributes. Pattertwig feels believably squirrel-like, for example, and I love the sleepy Bulgy Bears with their honey. Maybe it’s because I encountered them so young, but yes, they are endearing to me.

    3. I don’t care much for the war aspect of PC, especially combined with Lewis’ rather heavy-handed insertion of all his medievalist lore, like the style of the letter to Miraz, and the Greek mythology. On this read the line about Bacchus stood out: “He seemed to have a great many names—Bromios, Bassareus, and the Ram were three of them.” I don’t see how the kids would catch even one name in this chaotic scene, and it feels like Lewis showing off (it also reminds me of Tolkien with his eternal “foo, or bar, which the Elves call baz and the Ents qux…”). The focus on physical conflict and hardships requires him to keep expressing that the Pevensies are turning back into their adult selves so their ability to fight makes sense. Lots of death, which sticks out to me more now. Kaggsy compared this to “the difficult second album” and that feels exactly right – Lewis is still figuring out how to write for children, and I think he goes too far into historical realism with the political machinations and single combat. Perhaps tilting the other way from the jokey/paternalistic “it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe” which he repeats FIVE times in LWW!

    I do really enjoy sections of PC, especially Edmund and Susan showing up the DLF (love those humorous touches like that nickname, and the bear sucking its paws on the lists), and Lucy seeing Aslan before the others can. For whatever reason I’ve always found “being proved right” deeply compelling. Also the woods awakening, and the dramatic passage of time. But ugh, “dumpy, prim little girls with fat legs,” Black Dwarfs bad and Red good, wolves as natural allies of the White Witch – he’s such an essentialist!

    Interesting that Richard Adams came up. For me he writes either enduring classics or dreck. Watership Down is one of my favorite books ever (along with The Girl in a Swing and Maia) but I can’t stand his other novels with animal POVs (Plague Dogs, Traveller).

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    1. Thanks, Hilary, glad they worked for you! Baynes had a real feel for a touch of the medieval (I loved her illustrations for Famer Giles of Ham) coupled with whimsy and even some wit where appropriate. Here, especially with coloured versions, she definitely brings the land to life with the marginal images and cartouches in Renaissance style. As for the animals, she imbues them with character, as with Reepicheep’s jaunty air and Bulgy Bear at the lists.

      Lewis’s medievalism perhaps works best with an adult reading the story aloud, pronouncing names with some authority and in suitable voices. But I guess that might have suited the middle class audience which Lewis assumed for his books — these days it probably comes across as elitist and condescending. I did enjoy your tilt at Tolkien’s philologist stance, but at least in LOTR that suits the epic tone he tried to maintain throughout. Lewis’s fat-shaming and anti-make-up moralising must’ve sat awkwardly then but especially now.

      I second your assessment of Adams, though I only admit to reading his two early works and then stopping, as Plague Dogs did it for me…

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  16. Pingback: Prince Caspian, CS Lewis (1951) – Relevant Obscurity

  17. Pingback: Prince Caspian, CS Lewis (1951) – Relevant Obscurity

  18. I have studied that map so often that I could almost draw it from memory if I was any good at drawing. I had an elderly poster of it in my childhood bedroom, and even now we have a smaller, newer one on a kid bedroom wall. I love imaginary maps in general, but also I don’t think of Lucy as disapproving of maps — just snapping back at a crack from her brother.

    I don’t mind talking animals, but they’re not super important to me. I like the horses best, I think.

    And, I think the book is only half about war, if that much. It’s also about rebirth and regrowth, and the importance of wild places.

    My post is here: https://howlingfrog.blogspot.com/2022/02/narniathon-prince-caspian.html


    1. Really fascinating review post thanks, Jean, with many incisive comments. As I said in reply I’m also now considering a piece on the nature of the Stone Table and Aslan’s How, but no idea when that may see the light of day!

      The Baynes poster map for the Narniad remains the iconic fashion one, though I see many others have tried their versions (the photo in my post includes an interpretation based on Baynes from The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. As for the martial aspect, I agree that PC is also regeneration — I see you mention that in your post just as I did in my review! 🙂

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  19. I’m sorry not to be participating more fully, Chris, but I’ve learned a lot from this post and the others related to it. Thank you 😊 Personally, I found PC more enjoyable than LWW. I found the writing better; I quite liked the way the battle scenes were portrayed and the chopping off heads didn’t bother me at all! Most strange! LWW felt like a standalone book; PC feels like the launch pad for the rest of the series, a bridging book as described elsewhere. I had no problem with talking animals – they are simply a part of what makes Narnia the place that it is. The book did not seem to just be about war. There was symbolism in the journeying and as has been mentioned, questions are raised about leadership and having faith. (Not necessarily religious faith.) Having a map wasn’t a key thing for me although it adds to the sense that I had whilst reading – that Lewis had a vision planned for where the books would go and was creating an imaginary world with history and geography beyond the borders of Narnia. I didn’t have that impression with LWW.

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    1. No problem, Sandra, that you’ve participating at all is wonderful and much appreciated!

      Isn’t it interesting how differently readers judge this instalment? You for instance liked it for expanding the geographical bounds of Aslan’s world when in LWW as far as new readers were concerned that world was Narnia and Narnia was all there really was to it! The fact that LWW didn’t itself include a map — I don’t know if that was deliberate, or whether Pauline Baynes hadn’t been asked to provide one — could suggest all kinds of motivations from Lewis!

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  20. Constance Martin

    The more I think about it, the more I really enjoy Prince Caspian! I like Peter and enjoyed his relationship with Caspian. I am not big on talking animals but these do not offend. One always notices new things about Narnia. Having read several books and a short story in the last month about African Americans passing as white, I was struck on this reread was Dr. Cornelius’ passing as a man and the contempt he faced from his peers. But without him, Caspian would not have survived! My review:http://perfectretort.blogspot.com/2022/02/prince-caspian-by-cs-lewis.html

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    1. As a retired teacher myself I admired Dr Cornelius and the way he tutored Caspian while suspecting that this was a reflection of the way that Lewis was educated and which he preferred to his time at school; and we of course remember the way Lewis had a pop at the schooling in Beruna. That the good Doctor partakes of two natures may be also an indication of the combination of opposites in PC: for example the novel combines the two aspects of Mars, namely war and growth; and of course the novel offers us two separate narratives — that of the Pevensies and also Caspian’s — before bringing them together.

      I’ll have a look at your review in a moment, thanks!


  21. I do have a certain fondness for a map in a book. That said, I have a fondness for maps generally.

    As for the question of the usefulness of the map, that’s an interesting subject. I’m not sure I can recall how well this map helped to orientate me on my first read all those years ago and as I have grown with the map having always been there, I’m not sure I could reliably make an unbiased decision of its true merit.

    I will however say that on the few occasions I have read a book and then sometime in the future seen an associated map not originally included, I have always found my visualisation to be quite different than the offered image. This doesn’t occur when I read a book with map included, which I can cross reference whilst reading my way through. So, I guess what I’m saying here is personally I’m influenced by an included map, but also happy to be left with own imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you, er, Merriman! I’ve a long obsession with maps, especially maps of fictional places, as a glance at some of these posts will underline: https://calmgrove.wordpress.com/tag/maps/ So your fondness for them chimes in with mine (you’ll doubtless remember how Kay Harper’s journey were dutifully charted by me).

      In fact you’ve got me wondering about the inclusion or not of maps in novels, their appearance later or sooner or never, their capacity to stimulate the wonder and imagination or to dampen it, and a whole lot more. I must do some research and string some sentences about them and sprinkle a few illustrations around in a future post. Or maybe posts

      Liked by 1 person

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  23. I really love maps in books – they are awesome! I especially like maps which are hand-drawn, but any map is better than no map. I sometimes make maps of stories when there isn’t one. The most interesting map I made relatively recently was an annotated map of the solar system with all of the bases and sites of important battles and events for James S A Corey’s Expanse series (a really excellent modern hard sci-fi series set in the near future when the solar system is colonised). At first I thought I was going to have to find a way to make a 3D map, but then I realised that all of the planets are in the plane of the ecliptic so it wasn’t going to be that hard.

    I quite enjoy talking animals. I think most animals talk in the real world if you know how to listen – they just use body language rather than words. With Lewis’ writing I find his tone makes me feel like a child again. Although I really enjoy being an adult it is really lovely sometimes to snuggle up in a comfy armchair with a good story and forget my responsibilities for an hour or two.

    I think this book is mostly about war, but also about growing up, becoming responsible and knowing who you are. That said my favourite part was when the river-god rose from the river.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too draw maps (and family trees, and timelines) if they are, as it were, missing, though mostly for fantasy rather than SF. As for ‘talking animals’ I like your notion of their conversing through body language, but other than in fables I’m generally leery of anthropomorphised animals, especially those wearing human clothes but I’ve no consistent approach, Jo! Watership Down I can accept, even Beatrix Potter’s creatures, but I’m uncomfortable with Toad of Toad Hall and, I regret to say, some of the Narnian animals.

      I’d forgotten the river god in PC! He reminds me a bit of Pan in The Wind in the Willows, a true spirit of Nature.


      1. I understand your scepticism with talking animals. For me I think it has to be well done.

        I completely accepted and enjoyed the way the daemons talked in Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”. That felt very real to me and it helped that they (mostly?) weren’t clothed. With Lewis I like the animal characters who have a real part in the story but not the side players so much. So, for instance, the Jackdaw in the Magician’s Nephew (in the “First Joke” chapter) puts me off the story a little but Aslan draws me in. It sometimes feels to me that, in places, Lewis is telling a story in a way that he thinks children will like, but I’m not so sure they really do.

        I see the likeness between the river god and Pan frm WitW too.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I completely accepted the rabbits in Watership Down because Adams made lapine mannerisms, traditions, viewpoints and culture very distinctive and believable — no clothes, no making tea, pipe-smoking and all those anthropological touches that jar with me. Even the conversations with the cat and the black-headed seagull work within the conventions that Adams adopts.

          As for Pullman’s daemons, they function as aspects of their humans, so the fact that they talk (or don’t) I don’t find an issue. Even Iorek Byrnison, because he’s such a powerful character, is oddly acceptable.

          Liked by 1 person

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