Prince Caspian, by C. S. Lewis: A Review

Part of my “rainbow” list for the Year of the Series, Prince Caspian is also #1 on my 2017 Reading Challenge list, a book from my childhood. I remember starting to read the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series as a child, but I’m certain I never read the rest of the books. So this was a new experience for me.

Prince Caspian is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, at least by publication date. More recent editions of the series put this book as number four. There is apparently much debate over what order they should be read, whether by publication date or chronologically. Personally, I made the decision to read the books in their original order.

This is the story of Prince Caspian during a time that follows the time of the reign of the four Pevensie siblings in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the realm of Narnia, many years have passed, and the world is much changed. Humans from another land have taken over Narnia and talking animals have become things of legend. Caspian is the rightful heir, but the kingdom has been usurped by his uncle. The story follows his attempt to reclaim the throne with the help of some “old world” Narnians.

Peter, Susan, Edward and Lucy end up getting recalled to Narnia, but without any of their old trappings of rulership. The Pevensies must first rediscover Narnia. Then, with the guidance of Aslan, they go to assist Prince Caspian.

Like the first book, this is the story of the struggles of faith and the triumph of what is right. Even though this series was written many years ago, it is still a fun read. It has remained popular with children for decades, and I’m glad I now get to share this piece of my childhood with my own children.

I started reading these books last year with my boys. Though it isn’t one of their favorites, they will usually go along with it when I pull it off the shelf. I get it. Compared to their usual choices (we’re still in the picture book stage), the Narnia books have a lot of words, and very few pictures. The edition I have does have some black and white simple drawings on some pages.

To be honest, from a child’s perspective (mine are 4, 6 and 7 currently), Lewis’s books aren’t quite as fun as a full color picture book. Still, I keep reading it with them. My oldest seems to enjoy it, and will even sometimes choose the book himself, so I have hope that we will be able to continue to read books together even when they have a lot of words, and not a lot of pictures.

I will continue to read through the rest of this series as my children allow. I hope as they grow they will come to choose these and others like it for us to read together again and again. I am always looking for more such books to challenge myself and my children. What are your favorite read aloud children’s books?

The Magician’s Nephew: a Review

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I started my 2016 Reading Challenge with The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis, which is the second book on my list as I didn’t yet have the first one, and I just couldn’t wait a moment longer. So, on a Thursday, a work day no less, I chose to begin reading the one book I was supposed to read in a day. It took me all day, reading on breaks and between fixing dinner for my children and putting them to bed, but I did read it in a day.

The Magician’s Nephew is the story of Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer. The two young children meet one cold, wet summer in London and begin a friendship that will carry them through some wild adventures. They travel to another world, encounter a wicked witch and embark on a journey that will test their new friendship.

C. S. Lewis wrote a charming, childhood tale that takes the reader on a wild, magical adventure to other worlds. The main characters, Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer are typical curious and adventurous children. Lewis portrays well the innocent, yet self-centered nature of a child as the two new friends explore, play and fight with one another. Despite the trouble they manage to find, both of their own making, and that of others, love and friendship win out in the end.

Little Digory Kirke is the true hero of this tale. Pulled from his country home and thrust into an unfamiliar and unfriendly city, Digory manages to find friendship and hold on to a childlike innocence despite the wickedness of the adults around him. Faced with choices no child should have to make, he proves that good can overcome.

Originally published in 1955 as the sixth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew, is really a prequel, and probably not meant to be read as the first book. When the books were reprinted in 1980 by Harper Collins, they were reordered at that time to a chronological sequence. But many, perhaps most, Lewis scholars feel this was not the author’s intention. You can read the debate here and decide for yourself.

Lewis wrote from an omniscient narrator point of view. There is considerable authorial intrusion with the narrator often breaking into the story to speak directly to the reader. Some might find this too intrusive, but for the most part, I felt this gave a sort of storyteller feel to the book. For the most part. Meaning there were a couple of instances where the intrusion was a little disruptive.

Over all, I enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Though, I think I will go back and start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe I can talk my boys into reading it with me.