I wasn't sure how I'd like this book because it began a little more roughly than the others, but I was soon engrossed in the story. Eustace Scrubb from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader makes a reappearance here and because of his chastening experience in the previous book, he’s a much more likeable character.
He and his friend Jill Pole are thrust into a Narnian adventure when they receive orders from Aslan to search for King Caspian’s missing son, Prince Rilian. Along the way they meet marsh wiggles, giants and evil queens. Their guide to the ruins of the giant city is the frog-like marsh wiggle, Puddleglum. (If you are familiar with gloomy Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh books, you’ll have a small idea of how pessimistic and funny he is.) I laughed out loud at most of his depressing predictions for their future. And I loved him for his faithfulness and courage in the face of his doubts.
As in all the books, the author’s wisdom and insight shine through especially in the characters’ interaction with Aslan. Lewis’ wit is lurking on practically every page and it’s a delight when it manifests itself. One example is in the final chapter when the children are receiving a lesson on the eating habits of a centaur:
“Son of Adam, don’t you understand? A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he attends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats and a bag of sugar. That’s why it’s such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the week-end. A very serious thing indeed.” (p. 205)
This book has many gentle jabs at modern education which are shrewd and witty. I'm glad I made it my goal to read the Narnia Chronicles this year.