Narnia has long since been conquered by the Calormenes – a neighbouring country who are entirely unmagical and who loathe anything fantastic. Prince Caspian is an unlikely hero – a Calormene himself but a boy who loves the whispered tales of Old Narnia. His uncle and guardian, Miraz, is a vicious king who usurped the throne. When Miraz’s wife bears a baby boy, Caspian’s life is suddenly in grave danger. He falls in with the remnants of Narnia’s magical past, and uses a magical artefact to summon the legendary kings and queens of old – the four children readers know and love from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
I truly love both the book and the movie of Prince Caspian. The book has all the excellent writing characteristics of the rest, but it opens with such eeriness as the children find themselves in a Narnia in which thousands of years have passed since their time. I love that. And I love the joyful explosion as magic comes alive in Narnia after years of stifling “civilisation” by the cynical and capitalistic Calormenes.
The first house they came to was a school: a girls’ school, where a lot of Narnian girls, with their hair done very tight and ugly tight collars around their necks and thick tickly stockings on their legs, were having a history lesson. The sort of “History” that was taught in Narnia under Miraz’s rule was duller than the truest history you ever read and less true than the most exciting adventure story.
“If you don’t attend, Gwendolen,” said the mistress, “and stop looking out the window, I shall have to give you an order-mark.”
“But please, Miss Prizzle –” began Gwendolen.
“Did you hear what I said, Gwendolen?” asked Miss Prizzle.
“But please, Miss Prizzle,” said Gwendolen, “there’s a LION!”
Rating: PG. I’d call it absolutely G and safe for anyone, but one character is a close parallel to Jesus Christ (in one of the later books this character clearly states that he exists on Earth as well, is known by a different name there, and that the children have been brought into Narnia so that they can more easily recognise him on Earth), and some atheists have found that offensive. The books do focus on the adventures, rather than allegory about 95% of the time.