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Literature / Prince Caspian

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Aslan: Welcome, Prince. Do you feel yourself sufficient to take up the Kingship of Narnia?
Caspian: I - I don't think I do, Sir. I am only a kid.
Aslan: Good. If you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.

The second installment in The Chronicles of Narnia and the fourth book chronologically. A year after the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie siblings are summoned back to Narnia, where a thousand years have passed from the perspective of that world's relative time flow. Narnia has mostly been overrun by the descendants of an exiled group of pirates from Earth called the Telmarines (now ruled by the usurper Miraz), but the rightful heir, his nephew Caspian, has magically summoned Narnian help, receiving it in the form of the Pevensies. Once the Telmarines have been beaten back and Caspian proclaimed king, Peter and Susan are told they are now too old to ever return to Narnia.

Like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before it, the book got a film adaptatation in the form of Prince Caspian, starring Ben Barnes in the titular role, and a miniseries adaptation by the BBC.

This book provides examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: Reepicheep and his people inflict this on the Telmarine soldiers during battle.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • In Prince Caspian, Edmund is the only one to remember that Lucy was right about Narnia in the previous book, while Peter and Susan — who ought to know better — are reluctant to believe her when she says she's seen Aslan. Edmund explains that having been the loudest doubter before their last adventure, he owes it to Lucy to be the first to trust her this time.
    • Trumpkin, the dwarf who lives with a talking badger, is skeptical about magic in general, prophecies in particular, and the existence of mysterious saviors specifically. He also continues to doubt in Aslan for a bit, even after seeing that Susan's horn successfully called in the Pevensie siblings.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Reepicheep the talking mouse has lost his tail in battle, and he argues with Aslan over whether it needs to be regrown. Both of them seem to think a mouse's tail has no practical value, and is of use only as a badge of honor or vanity, but the tails of mice and rats are actually important thermoregulatory structures, without which he'd be quite vulnerable to heat stroke. Or at least, that is so with real mice; the talking mice of Narnia are a very distinct species, who are the size of large housecats and walk on their hind legs, so the same may or may not apply to them.
  • Bad Ol' Badger: Averted. One of the first Old Narnians that Caspian encounters is Trufflehunter the Badger, a gruff but good-natured Talking Beast who is fiercely loyal to to the centuries-old memory of Aslan and quickly becomes one of Caspian's followers. He's still a badger at heart, though.
    Trufflehunter: I'm a beast, I am, and we don't change. I'm a Badger, what's more, and we hold on.
  • Badass Boast: Courtesy of the Werewolf:
    "I am hunger. I'm thirst. Where I bite, I hold till I die, and even after death they must cut out my mouthful from my enemy's body and bury it with me. I can fast a hundred years and not die. I can lie a hundred nights on the ice and not freeze. I can drink a river of blood and not burst. Show me your enemies."
  • Big Bad: Miraz is the central antagonist. As the ruler of the Telmarine regime, he is the enemy of the Narnian fantasy creatures, and as the usurper he is Caspian's personal nemesis.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The enemy is defeated, but those who are not from Narnia have to leave it, perhaps forever.
  • Black Magic: Some evil characters propose to use this to bring back the White Witch from the dead. It doesn't get beyond some vague instructions to "draw the circle, prepare the blue fire" before Peter puts a decisive stop to it.
  • Blow That Horn: Queen Susan's Horn summoned the Pevensies after Caspian used it. However, they had no idea where the Pevensies were going to appear so they sent messengers to a couple of places including the Lamp Post at Lantern Waste and the ruins of Cair Paravel.
  • Character Development: Edmund's Took a Level in Kindness from the previous book stays here. He decides to trust Lucy despite the others' doubt and puts faith in her.
  • Combat by Champion: Peter challenges Miraz to a duel over the right to rule Narnia. This is a token of desperation as much as honor—Peter and his advisors know that they can't defeat Miraz's superior forces in a straight-up battle. Miraz for his part accepts out of vanity and for political reasons, so as not to appear weak before his own followers.
  • Commander Contrarian: Nikabrik, who doesn't like Caspian's leadership, and likes it less and less as the war turns steadily against them. Some of his criticisms are actually quite sound, but then become less and less so as he slips increasingly toward becoming a genuine Knight Templar.
  • Cool Gate: "The Door in the Air" — it leads wherever Aslan wants it to lead.
  • Decapitated Army: Subverted. Miraz's death doesn't lead to Telmarine surrender — in fact, the lords doctored his murder to look like he's been traitorously killed by Narnians and motivate the Telmarine army to fight.
  • The Dissenter Is Always Right: Lucy insists the group is going the wrong direction, because she can see Aslan leading them a different way—but none of her siblings can see Aslan at all. Edmund at least decides to trust Lucy, because he's making an active effort not to be a prat. But Peter and Susan overrule them, and the group continues down the other path. Lucy, of course turns out to be right, and when the group does later take Lucy's path, her siblings all eventually see Aslan themselves.
  • A Dog Named "Dog":
    • Caspian's warhorse is named Destrier, which literally means "great warhorse".
    • Aslan is Turkish for "lion".
  • Doomed Hometown: The Pevensies materialize near some mysterious ruins and are devastated to realize that it is their beloved and proud palace of Cair Paravel... 1300 years later.
  • Due to the Dead: When Nikabrik is killed, Peter orders that his body be given to the Dwarfs for funeral rites. The hag and the werewolf are not accorded the same respect.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: At the celebratory feast, the Walking Trees are served loams of rich soil. They look so delectable that King Edmund "The Just" tries a piece, but doesn't care for it at all.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: Discussed by Peter in order to persuade Reepicheep that it might not be perfectly fair to have him [Reep] as a Marshal of the Lists.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Miraz disbelieves the stories Caspian tells him of old Narnia and Aslan, even claiming that lions don't exist.
  • Evil Uncle: Miraz, to Caspian. He raised him well enough originally, if perhaps not with excessive kindness, but when he begat a son and heir of his own, he sought to eliminate his brother's son.
  • Extended Greetings: Used by Peter when he sends the message to Miraz challenging him to single combat. Justified; up until now the Telmarines have largely viewed the rebellion as a rabble led by a child and he wants them to take it seriously (he also hopes to stall by spending the morning sending envoys back and forth, giving Aslan time to arrive).
    Peter, by the gift of Aslan, by election, by prescription, and by conquest, High King over all Kings in Narnia, Emperor of the Lone Islands and Lord of Cair Paravel, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion, to Miraz, Son of Caspian the Eighth, sometime Lord Protector of Narnia and now styling himself King of Narnia, Greeting.
  • Fantastic Racism: Nikabrik openly hates half-Dwarfs like Cornelius, considering them renegades and traitors — even though it's hardly their fault who their parents were. Trufflehunter calls him out on this.
  • Foreshadowing: A series-long example; when Aslan is testing the children by only appearing before Lucy and telling her to make the others follow them on blind faith, he slowly becomes visible to the others based on how much faith they place in Lucy—first Edmund (who's committed to supporting Lucy) can see him too, then Peter, with Susan taking much longer than the others. In The Last Battle, Susan is the only one of the siblings to have completely stopped believing in Narnia and subsequently does not return.
  • Flynning: Subverted. Lewis is careful to tell his young readers that what Caspian is taught isn't fencing but sword-fighting, which only superficially resembles the former. Pointedly Averted with the "real broad-sword fighting" match between Edmund and Trumpkin, which is less showy and more pragmatic.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Susan is revealed as one, who is apparently a Passionate Sports Girl in "real life" in England. Her favorite sports are said to be archery and swimming.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Nikabrik sees the Telmarine occupation as crossing this, which makes him willing to resurrect the White Witch to defeat them if Aslan doesn't do the job.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Cornelius is half dwarf with human blood. Apparently, so is "Auntie," Caspian's old Nurse.
  • Herald: Caspian with Susan's horn.
  • Hollywood Torches: Spectacularly averted when the kids try (and fail) to make one of these before going down to the treasure chamber. Eventually they have to fall back on an electric torch (flashlight) that Edmund happened to have in his schoolbag.
  • Honor Before Reason: Reepicheep in a nutshell. Peter picks up on this, and uses it to let him down easy when he insists on acting as champion in the duel with Miraz. It's not the fact that he stands no chance, it's that some humans are afraid of mice so it would be cheating.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Trumpkin calls the Pevensies "dear little friends" when he meets them. They point out the irony in a dwarf calling them little, and they proceed to rib on him by calling Trumpkin the "dear little friend." Naturally, he complains about the nickname.
  • Infinite Flashlight: When the children fail to use long sticks as torches, they use Edmund's electric torch. The trope is averted when it is mentioned that they must save the battery. In the very last line of the book, Edmund laments that he left his new torch in Narnia.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nikabrik pointing out the flaw in the thinking that the Magic Horn is Too Awesome to Use — if they keep reasoning that they'll need it even more later, they'll end up never using it. The other characters actually agree with his criticism and decide that he's right and that they should use the horn sooner rather than later — which is what turns out to set in motion the events of the entire book.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: A chivalrous king like Peter will not do this, even to Miraz. Lord Glozelle doesn't mind it, however.
  • Knight Templar: Nikabrik. While he starts out as merely Commander Contrarian, the desperate situation eventually drives him over the edge. He is a Narnian patriot, in his own way, but his excessive zeal leads him to associate with werewolves and forsake Aslan for the White Witch, if she can bring them help when the Lion (seemingly) won't.
  • Least Is First: When Lucy insists on following Aslan when only she can see him, Edmund is the first to say he will go with her. It's implied he does this partly out of remembering what happened the last time he didn't believe Lucy back in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Played with. Thanks to Narnia Time, the characters and events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are regarded as legends or even Fairy Tales. In the recap of this book's events in the following book, the Pevensies' reappearance is compared to what it would be like if King Arthur returned to present-day Britain. "And I say the sooner the better." However, the Narnians were expecting them to be mighty (fully grown) warriors, so Trumpkin in particular is a bit perturbed to find that they've come back as children.
  • The Masquerade: Old Narnians, whom the Telmarines consider fairy tales, live in hiding.
  • Narnia Time: The book lays out the remaining rules for this. While The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe established the "time does not pass on Earth while you are in Narnia" rule, this is the book that codifies "while you are on Earth, any amount of time may pass in Narnia."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As it turns out, when four monarchs ruling a kingdom together vanish on a hunt, political chaos will ensue. When the Pevensies return hundreds of years later, the Narnian citizens that oppose the Telmarines are understandably bitter.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: When Miraz learns that Caspian has been learning tales of Old Narnia from his nurse, he has her dismissed, and hires a tutor to take over the prince's education. Said tutor happens to be half-Dwarf Doctor Cornelius, who not only secretly teaches him Narnia's true history (and to be more careful about who he shares his knowledge with) and effectively converts him fully to the side of the Old Narnians, but later smuggles him out of the castle when the birth of Miraz's own son means that he needs to have Caspian killed.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Glozelle and Sopespian successfully goad Miraz into accepting Peter's challenge (despite the knowledge that it's a bad idea policy-wise) partly by insinuating it might look as though he were afraid of Peter.
  • Noodle Incident: Aslan explicitly skips over explaining the details of the Telmarines' background, and why Narnia was so disorganized that they were able to take over when they arrived.
  • Omniscient Morality License:
    • Susan is shown to be in the wrong in that she refuses to believe that Lucy has seen Aslan even though thanks to the events of the previous books, the four Pevensies were aged, then rapidly de-aged and returned to their normal life. Peter is also understandably skeptical though he eventually believes his sister.
    • A similar thing happens with the bitter Narnia citizens left to fend for themselves. They don't have any reason to believe in the Pevensies initially, and yet they were expected to have blind faith.
  • A Protagonist Shall Lead Them: The Pevensie monarchs have become legendary eschatological figures in the Narnian mythology/religion in the centuries since they disappeared, near-Messianic figures much like King Arthur or Emperor Barbarossa. In the hour of direst need, the Narnians use magic to call for them ... and they arrive, with High King Peter taking over the command of the war effort from Caspian.
  • Purple Prose: Peter dictates a very formally worded challenge to Miraz in full High Medieval style, even specifying that Dr. Cornelius spell "abhominable" with an h.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • From the Narnian perspective, about fifty generations have gone by. The Pevensies are legends.
    • Also brought up humorously regarding Aslan, by the good-hearted but skeptical Trumpkin:
      Trumpkin: A rather elderly lion by now, if he's someone you knew when you were here before.
  • Reasoning with God: Reepicheep manages to convince Aslan to miraculously restore his severed tail. In a slight aversion, Aslan is persuaded not by Reepicheep's logic or appeals to dignity, but by the love the other talking mice show for their Chief when they prepare to cut off their own tails rather than have an honor that is denied to the chief mouse.
  • Regent for Life: Double-subverted with Miraz when he serves as Lord Protector. As long as his nephew Caspian is his own closest male heir as well as his brother's, he does want him to rule Narnia as king eventually, so the crown will at least stay in the family, and honestly tries to prepare him for the position. After he begets a son of his own, however, he starts intriguing against Caspian to push him out of the line of succession in favor of himself and the new prince.
  • Resurrect the Villain: As soon as Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin hear Nikabrik's allies say they're about to "prepare the blue fire" that will allow them to bring back the White Witch, they storm the place. Fortunately, the villains are all killed before they can start that plan.
  • Reverse Psychology: How Miraz is goaded into accepting Peter's challenge even though it was to his advantage not to duel.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Trumpkin raises this point when he, Trufflehunter, and Nikabrik first take in Caspian. Nikabrik argues for killing Caspian before he regains consciousness, but Trumpkin counters that — having taken Caspian in and bandaged his wounds — it would be the same as murdering a guest, and that if they were going to kill him the time to have done it would have been when they first found him.
  • Secondary Character Title: Despite the story focusing on restoring Caspian to the throne, he's definitely secondary to the Pevensies. He is the viewpoint character only of chapters 4 through 7, when Trumpkin is telling his story to the four children.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: The book does this with a chapter titled "The dwarf tells of Prince Caspian", when the dwarf is telling the story to the Pevensie children; the story is presented as a separate story, in which the children are not mentioned at all. Just before this chapter, the Lemony Narrator says "I won't include the children's interruptions".
  • Sequel Hook: There is brief mention in the novel of seven lords who were loyal to Caspian IX who were unafraid of the sea, and were sent out voyaging by Miraz, never to return. Searching for these lords is the impetus for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Specifically between Susan and Lucy. Susan believes Aslan favors Lucy; Peter takes Susan's side in an important argument because she's older and talking logically, while Lucy's suggestion makes no (visible) sense.
  • Smug Snake: Miraz, mildly.
  • Sour Supporter: Trumpkin, in the movie. In the book he is equally skeptical, but quite cheerful.
  • Spare to the Throne: In the backstory, Miraz, who killed Caspian's father to take the throne. In a way, he kept Caspian alive afterwards to function as this — if Miraz were to die, at least the crown would stay in the family. The event that kicks off the main plot is that Miraz has a son, who would become the spare to Caspian... unless Caspian were to die first.
  • The Starscream: Glozelle stabs Miraz to death, as revenge for his ex-leader insulting him before the duel with Peter takes place. He and Sopespian both end up killed in battle. An example of Laser-Guided Karma, no doubt, particularly when you realize that they probably intended to do the same to Miraz's son, who had just been born.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: All the Narnians from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are dead... from old age or possibly other things... hundreds of years ago.
  • Time Skip: The sequel starts one year after the Pevensies' adventures in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The same Time Skip has been much, much greater in Narnia.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Peter issues a formally worded challenge to Miraz, in which he establishes his credentials as High King, lists the crimes for which he plans to hold Miraz accountable, declares his intention to "prove upon your Lordship's body" Caspian's rightful claim to the throne, and concludes by giving the year as the first year of Caspian's reign as though his victory is a forgone conclusion.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Caspian is reluctant to use Susan's horn since there might be an even greater need for it in the future. Nikabrik points out that, by that argument, he will never use it until it is too late.
  • Tragic Bigot: Nikabrik hates (or at least strongly dislikes) humans because the Telmarines have conquered Narnia and driven his own people (the dwarves) underground.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card:
    • The challenge to Miraz opens with a greeting which includes every one of Peter's multiple titles, juxtaposed with Miraz's more meager credentials.
      Peter, by the gift of Aslan, by election, by prescription, and by conquest, High King over all Kings in Narnia, Emperor of the Lone Islands and Lord of Cair Paravel, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Lion, to Miraz, Son of Caspian the Eighth, sometime Lord Protector of Narnia and now styling himself King of Narnia, Greeting.
    • And then Peter throws in Edmund's laundry list of titles and credentials for good measure, just to rub it in.
      ...our well-beloved and royal brother Edmund, sometime King under us in Narnia, Duke of Lantern Waste and Count of the Western March, Knight of the Noble Order of the Table...
  • Two Girls to a Team: Susan and Lucy.
  • Undying Loyalty: Trufflehunter is contrasted with his Dwarf housemates. He still believes in Aslan and still feels he owes fidelity to the legendary, long-lost Kings and Queens.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Miraz isn't killed by Peter, just knocked down. A full-scale battle ensues, and a Telmarine Mauve Shirt the king insulted earlier finishes him off.
  • The Usurper: Miraz, younger brother to the rightful Telmarine king, Caspian IX (the title character is later crowned King Caspian X).
  • Visible to Believers: When the Pevensie children are returned to Narnia for the first time, at first only Lucy sees Aslan. Edmund doesn't see Aslan but he believes her (since she was right about Narnia the first time) but the older Peter and Susan veto Lucy, thinking that either she's fibbing or imagining things. But after they've been lost for hours they finally give in and let Lucy lead the way — Lucy is following Aslan. Slowly, Edmund and Peter start to see him. Eventually even Susan sees him, though it takes a bit longer before she admits to it. As for the skeptical dwarf Trumpkin, Aslan has to pick him up and toss him through the air before he is able to perceive the lion.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Miraz's wife and son are never mentioned after Caspian's escape in the book. This creates a bit of a plot hole if you consider that, by Telmarine reckoning anyway, the baby is Miraz's rightful son and heir, yet no one even on Miraz's side takes him into account in their plans.
  • When Trees Attack: The Telmarines have a superstitious fear of the woods even in their 'sleeping' state. When Aslan awakens the trees and sends them into battle, panic and rout follow.
  • With Due Respect: Inverted: Trumpkin argues strongly against Caspian's plan and then volunteers to do the job he just argued against. He explains to the prince that having given advice, now it's time for him to take orders.