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Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Jul 28, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009
Read in July, 2009

Here's one thing I don't get about the parts of "The Chronicles of Narnia" I've read so far: Why does C.S. Lewis feel the need, in each book, to make one of the Pevensie children, seemingly at random, completely loathsome? In "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," it was Edmund who was a complete dick for almost the entire book, and now, in "Prince Caspian," it's Susan who's asking for a good bitch-slapping.

I think I know why C.S. Lewis does this: He's not very good at making characters memorable unless he makes them totally good, totally bad, or start out totally bad and have them turn totally good partway through the story. I know these are children's books, but even children's books can have a little bit of complexity in their characterization, no?

Just as in "Lion," none of the characters in "Caspian" much deserve to remain in the reader's mind after the book is closed. The possible exception is Trumpkin, and he stands out mostly by using such exclamations as "lobsters and lollipops" and "giants and junipers." That's just funny. Caspian himself starts out with the potential to become interesting too, but largely fades into the background once the Pevensie children return to Narnia.

Getting back to Susan, I do get what C.S. Lewis is trying to do with her character in "Caspian." This is still a religious parable, after all, and in this book Susan is the one designated to stop trusting in Aslan, just as someone straying from the Christian faith will stop following Jesus. Fine, no problem, I get it. But Lewis never bothers telling us why Susan has strayed. Did she develop some sort of alcohol problem between the first and second books? Lose her boyfriend in a fiery car crash? Come on, Jack, give us something. You could at least have had one of Aslan's enemies offer Susan thirty pieces of Turkish delight for the lion's head or something. I just want some motivation, for God's sake.

That all being said, the story in "Caspian" is fast-moving and entertaining, and, just as in "Lion," the writing is lively and engaging. Moving on to "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."
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07/28/2009 page 30
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message 1: by Lilias (new)

Lilias I figure it's so that these characters are able to be redeemed in the next book seeing as C.S. Lewis was so fond of sending moral messages through his writing.

The real reason I'm commenting on your review, though, is to tell you how happily nostalgic it makes me feel to see these book covers appear on my news feed since they were the very editions that I read/were read to me when I was very young.

Daniel Happy to be of service, Lilias. Even if my reviews are no good, at least my choice of editions is sound.

message 3: by matthew (new)

matthew in "the last battle", susan is said to be "interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations.", which speaks for itself, i think. it's something of a row amongst later fantasy aficionados.

Daniel I'm still reading "Dawn Treader" right now, and Susan is thankfully absent from that book, having gone to the U.S. for the summer with her parents. Her departure is one reason I'm liking "Dawn Treader" more than the first two books.

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