Prince Caspian Summary

C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian

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Prince Caspian Summary

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Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis (1951) is, chronologically, volume four in The Chronicles of Narnia though it was the second of the seven-volume chronicle published. It tells the story of a Narnia dominated by men, with magical beings and creatures under oppression, and the rightful king in exile.

The story opens at a railway station in England with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy waiting for a train that will take them to boarding school. Before the train arrives, they are whisked away to a forest. They begin to explore, wondering if this is Narnia, and they find the ruins of what they believe to be their old castle, Cair Paravel, from the time of their rule.

They make their way to the treasure room and find all their old things. The next morning, they rescue a dwarf in danger of being drowned by soldiers. He tells them that he is an Old Narnian and fights against the Telmarines. They are understandably confused and ask him to explain.

The dwarf tells them that the rightful king of Narnia, Caspian, is in exile. After his father died, his uncle Miraz ruled in his stead, and everything seemed to be going well. Caspian learned about the old ways and Aslan from his nurse and his tutor, Cornelius. When Miraz’s wife became pregnant, it was clear that Miraz intended to usurp rule and pass the throne along to his child. Cornelius realized that Caspian was in danger and snuck him out of the castle to the southern woods. In the forest, Caspian met the Old Narnians, and they decided that a civil war was in order. The magical beings mounted an attack on Miraz and the Telmarines, but were not successful. Feeling desperate, Caspian blew Susanhoping to call forth backup. The dwarf, Trumpkin, headed towards the old castle to see if Aslan or another divine being might appear.

Trumpkin and the children agree they need to reach Prince Caspian as soon as they can. The journey is difficult, and the children get lost many times. They meet the new Narnians along the way, including a non-talking bear.

They try to take a shortcut, but the way proves increasingly difficult. Lucy spies Aslan, but Peter and Susan do not believe her and refuse to follow him. He then appears to Lucy in a dream and tells her to wake the others up and follow him. When they agree, they begin to see his shadow and finally meet up with Aslan who takes them to the camp.

When they arrive at the camp, they discover that another dwarf, Nikabrik, is trying to resurrect the White Witch to win the battle. They manage to stop him just in time, and Nikabrik and his conspirators are killed.

Peter challenges Miraz to one on one combat because they are highly outnumbered. Miraz agrees; the winner of the fight will be the victor of the war. Peter bests Miraz, but two Telmarine lords claim that Peter cheated by stabbing him in the back. They command the army to attack and in the commotion, stab Miraz themselves.

The old gods and creatures are awakened and join the battle against the Telmarines. The Telmarines are terrified of the magical creatures and run for the river only to find the bridge destroyed and themselves trapped. The Narnians are victorious, and Prince Caspian is returned to the throne.

Aslan gives the Telmarines a choice. They can join him and stay in Narnia, or they can leave magic forever and move to an island on earth, their original home. Some of the Telmarines stay, but many walk through Aslan’s door. The children do as well, and we find out that Peter and Susan are too old to return; this will be their last journey to Narnia.

Many of Lewis’s books are allegorical with Christian themes, and this book is no different. Prince Caspian contains many parallels, such as the Christ figure present in Aslan. Lucy experiences a crisis of faith as the children walk through the forest. She must decide to follow Aslan despite the others’ admonitions that he is not there, and trust a dream in which he appears. It is the classic struggle of faith versus reason.

The story is also a coming of age story, though not a very traditional one. Although the themes of good versus evil are simple and straightforward, the idea of growing up is not. The eldest children, Peter and Susan, are criticized for their adult-like traits and are told in the end that they cannot come back. This childlike faith is required to be in Narnia.

However, the children also engage in decidedly grown-up acts, such as slaughtering a regular bear for survival and fighting in a war. Peter uses politics to his advantage, and all four children are revered as the kings and queens of the Golden Age of Narnia. This suggests that the line between child and adult waivers and is much more complicated than we expect.

Prince Caspian is a classic tale of chivalry and the old kingdom. Lewis uses this story and others to illustrate points central to his Christian faith, and while the religious overtone may not be for everyone, the simple story of good versus evil is one we all know and love.