Pirates of Earth's South Pacific passed through a link between Earth and the world of Narnia, ending up in Telmar, a land to the southwest of Narnia. They invaded and conquered Narnia, and their first king in Narnia was Caspian I, whose line continued unbroken through Caspian IX, father of Prince Caspian. The Telmarines are afraid of the Old Narnians, the Talking Animals, spirits, and other beings who have populated Narnia at least since the Golden Age of 1000 to 1028 when Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund ruled as Queens and Kings of Narnia, as recounted in the novels The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Horse and His Boy. Because of their fear, the Telmarine humans have suppressed all the Old Narnians to the point that hardly any Telmarines have ever seen an Old Narnian and most think that the Old Narnians are mythical. Even so, the Telmarines fear the forest of southeast Narnia, saying that it is haunted. So pervasive is the fear of the forest, along the coast in particular, that even Old Narnians half expect it to be haunted. The sea to the east is even more feared by the Telmarines because that is where Asian has come from when he has visited Narnia in ancient times. The fear of the sea is such that Telmarines do not fish there. Miraz sent seven lords still faithful to Caspian on a mission to find lands to the east of the sea, believing that they would not return; when they do disappear, it only adds to the possibility that the sea is a very...
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Prince Caspian is filled with adventure and magic, but it is the interaction of the characters that has its greatest claim on the imagination. The choice of having the Pevensies remain children is a pivotal one. Lewis could have had them appear in Narnia as grown-ups, leaving Caspian as the sole representative of children among the major characters, but much of "The Chronicles of Narnia" is about the potential for courage in children as well as their potential for making good decisions. Having the Pevensies struggle through the wilds of Narnia and then face down evildoers fits well into the overall chronicles. It is in Prince Caspian that Lewis introduces the air of Narnia as somehow charged with Asian's power, a mechanism for restoring the Earth children to their former strength and skills. This is useful for Lewis in that it allows Peter and the others to retain the usual concerns of children while leaving Peter capable of standing against Miraz after several days of trekking in Narnia's air.
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Although there is more adventure than violence in Prince Caspian, it is a novel about a civil war, and people are hurt in it—even killed. It was Lewis's belief that young readers want decisive results for good and evil in their books; having a wicked witch die is a decisive way of showing evil getting what it deserves. Prince Caspian is much more complex than a fairy tale, and the violence is more complicated than commonly found in fairy tales, but it still reflects Lewis's view of the matter. The usurper Miraz, murderer of his own brother, is murdered by one of the men who helped him seize Narnia's throne. High King Peter lops off the head of one of Miraz's traitorous opponents. Lewis believed that good people had to take active roles in fighting evil or they were not fulfilling their obligations to God or to other people. He fought in World War I and was grievously wounded, but he thought the war was necessary, that good people had to fight the tyranny represented by Germany and its allies; he had the same view of World War II.
The roles of women in the conflict in Prince Caspian are problematic, meaning they are somewhat unclear. This probably reflects the process of thought Lewis himself was undergoing while writing "The Chronicles of Narnia." In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he says that women should stay out of fighting, that women in war is an ugly business. In Prince Caspian, the second book he wrote...
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Topics for Discussion
1. Why do any of the Old Narnians trust Prince Caspian despite the fact that his ancestors have persecuted the Old Narnians?
2. What role does the railway station play in Prince Caspian?
3. Why would the treasure room of Cair Paravel still be intact when the Pevensies return?
4. Why does Asian enter Beruna as he does, rather than rushing to the battle?
5. Is Asian's offer to send Telmarine humans back to Earth's South Pacific, where their ancestors came from, a good one? If you were a Telmarine, would you choose to go to Earth or to remain in Narnia?
6. Why is Prince Caspian to be the last adventure in Narnia for Peter and Susan? Why would Lewis decide to exclude them?
7. What is the special connection between Lucy and Asian? Why Lucy and not someone else?
8. Is Lucy a lioness by the end of Prince Caspian?
9. What problems do the Pevensies face after arriving in Narnia? How good are they at solving them?
10. Why would Doctor Cornelius risk his life to tell Caspian the truth about Narnia?
11. What does the order in which the Pevensies and Trumpkin see Asian tell about each child and the Dwarf?
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Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. Compare the attitude of Nikabrik with that of the ungrateful Dwarfs in The Last Battle. What point is Lewis making with these attitudes?
2. Schools are not cast in the best light in Prince Caspian. What were the schools Lewis attended like? Do you think this affected how he depicted them in Prince Caspian? Why or why not?
3. Peter challenges Miraz to single combat, medieval European style, to determine the outcome of the battle. What were the rules for this in the Middle Ages? How closely does Lewis follow the rules in his depiction in Prince Caspian?
4. The parade of Asian and his friends through Beruna is one of joy, but it is also very inviting as a subject for a drawing or painting. See whether you can capture the wonder of it all.
5. What talents do Lucy, Peter, Susan, and Edmund bring to their adventure in Prince Caspian? How does each contribute to the success of their enterprise?
6. What is the history of the Stone Table? Why would Caspian choose to make his stand there against Miraz?
7. What makes people think Trumpkin is trustworthy? How is this reflected in Prince Caspian as well as The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" and The Silver Chair?
8. Asian tells Lucy that "every year you grow, you will find me bigger." How much bigger does he become in Prince Caspian? Does he continue to appear bigger during Lucy's...
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Lewis said that his publisher chose the order in which his Narnia books were published, and when asked in what order they should be read, if possible, he provided this sequence:
The Magician's Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle
Each novel can stand on its own, without being read in any particular order, but the sequence Lewis preferred is chronological, from the beginning of Narnia's world to its ending.
The Magician's Nephew was written after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so Lewis had the task of making his account of the beginning of Narnia's world match the events that would later occur in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Magician's Nephew provides explanations for the origins of the mysterious lamp post in the woods, the White Witch, the wide variety of talking animals, and the introductions of evil into Asian's young world. The professor in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is presented as the boy Digory.
In the period between the events in The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the kingdom of Archenland, south of Narnia, is established by the younger son of King Frank and Queen Helen, and the kingdom of Calormen is established by people from Archenland. One hundred years before the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch takes over Narnia and declares herself its queen. When the Pevensie children show up, they fulfill a prophecy that the witch would be overthrown by two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve—that is two boys and two girls from Earth. It is in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that Asian makes his great sacrifice, surrendering his life for that of the traitor Edmund, and his resurrection makes death run backwards, meaning eternal life is possible for all who live in Narnia's world.
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For Further Reference
Beetz, Kirk H. Exploring C. S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia." Osprey, FL: Beacham Publishing, 2001. This book is intended for general audiences and covers Lewis's life and career and provides extensive details about the characters and themes in "The Chronicles of Narnia," along with original maps for all the settings and in-depth chapter-by-chapter analyses of each novel in the chronicles, as well as explanations of the biblical sources for some of the events in the novels.
Bingham, Derick. C. S. Lewis: The Storyteller. Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1999. This book is an engagingly written fictionalized version of Lewis's life, intended for young readers.
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