This book was always my favorite of the series. Something about the kids coming back to Narnia only a year later, but it having been hundreds, maybe thousands of years in the meantime, and their former castle of Cair Paravel now a ruin they have to unearth, and the quest to reclaim Narnia from ill-doers was just so very appealing to me as a kid and young adult. A large part of my affection for it still exists in the many, many re-reads I did of it back in the day, but if I’m being honest, the magic wasn’t there in the same way for me this time as it has been in the past. I’ve been putting off my review because I wasn’t sure if lowering a book to four stars that has always been a firm five in my head was a step I was wanting to take. I guess I’m hedging my bets. I’m doing four here, but letting the five stand over on Goodreads, because those childhood reads should count for something.
Narnia as a concept is sort of a utopian place always at risk of being corrupted, and the fight often seems to be to reclaim those idyllic dreams of a place founded on goodness and honor. There’s also an element of bigotry here. The Telmarine usurper king and all the other bad seeds are anti-magic, and all magic users and talking creatures have gone underground, sometimes literally. I think a large part of my waning enthusiasm for this one had to do with how easy it was to defeat the king and his men. Most of the book is taken up with the kids journeying and then being told the story of Caspian and his uncle. The battle to win back Narnia basically takes less than a chapter. He’s a very one-note bad guy, as well. Not as complicated or interesting as Jadis the witch.
Relegating Susan and Lucy to proper duties for ladies, even if they get to be with Aslan while doing them, also didn’t sit super well with me this time around.
Anyway, this book will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’m thinking the later books I liked less as a kid may actually hold more interest for me now as an adult. Will be interesting to find out.