Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. Read by Lynn Redgrave. Originally published by Geoffrey Bless, 1951. Recording from HarperTrophy, 2003.
Moving on with my listening to Narnia with the Boy, we come to Prince Caspian, my childhood favorite of the series, though I couldn’t say why. Maybe the lovely setting, in Narnian summer, and the romance of the deposed boy king trying to regain his throne?
Going back to it now, I still enjoyed it. I could perhaps wish that Lucy wasn’t quite so consistently upstanding, and that Susan was less of a wet blanket – really, especially as a person very often responsible for making sure that all the practical details are taken care of, I don’t appreciate Lewis making the character who attends to such details here so petty. But I still love Caspian’s journey through hidden Old Narnia meeting people, watching the Pevensies trying to meld their school selves and their old royal characters, and especially Lucy’s midnight dance with the trees. Here the difference between my tastes and my son’s show up – it turns out that he reads for plot, and expressed frustration at all of the descriptive passages where nothing happens. I had to tell him that Lewis’s ability to bring a strange landscape to life was one of his strong points as a writer, part of why I love his books so much. That probably won’t change his reading preference in the long term, though it introduced a libarianly discussion of appeal factors. The incident with Trumpkin and Aslan at the end also had me explaining the relevant bit of Christian theology, just so it would make sense. Religiously, it felt like a meditation on faith in Aslan in general and in a higher purpose in general, without such things getting in the way of a good story. The boy very much enjoyed the story, in spite of the complaints and the small bits that needed explaining. I’m pretty sure the battle scenes and the single combat were his favorites.
So far, the Narnia books have all been narrated by different people. I’ve yet to listen to one either that I hated or that I really felt did the story justice. Lynn Redgrave sounds like a mature woman with a slightly rough voice, more of Grandma reading the book than trying to bring it to life. I had no complaints with her accent, but her children all sounded a bit too young, still with oddly rough voices themselves. Sigh. Also, we’re having to wait on hold for each of the sequels, and had just started a second book-while-waiting when Dawn Treader came in. I’m not fussed about this – the stories aren’t so closely linked as to make it necessary to remember every detail from one book to the next, and we won’t get series fatigue the way we theoretically might from spending months on end on just one series.