“The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian” was the second book published of the seven books in the series. It is numbered Book 4 in recent editions because it is the fourth chronologically. It takes place about 1,300 years after the events of “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which was the first published book (second in order chronologically–only “The Magician’s Nephew” takes place earlier.) In London, only one year passes between the events of “The Lion” and “Prince Caspian,” so the timing of the film had to be brought forward so the actors were not too old. Here is a summary of the story by C.S. Lewis. Following that is a description of the differences in the 2008 motion picture, based on available information.
Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are transposed from a country railway station to an island in Narnia when young Prince Caspian X – who is heir to the throne at Cair Paravel, and is in danger in a battle against the Telmarine seige of Narnia – has blown Queen Susan’s magic horn. King Miraz (Caspian’s Uncle), a tyrant who murdered Caspian’s father (Caspian IX), has claimed the throne. After Miraz’s wife Queen Prunaprismia gave birth to a son, Miraz planned to kill off Caspian X. However, young Prince Caspian managed to escape into Old Narnia and unite with “the creatures that lived in hiding.” With the help of Glenstorm the Centaur, Trufflehunter (a loyal badger), Trumpkin (a skeptical but dedicated dwarf), Reepicheep (a valiant mouse) and scores of other species of friendly Narnian animals, Caspian forms an army to meet Miraz’s countless, mighty human warriors.
In an early battle, the Narnians make strategic mistakes, many animals die, and they are forced to retreat. Trumpkin intercepts the Pevensies shortly after their arrival at the ruins of Cair Paravel (once a peninsula – now the island they were summoned to when Caspian sounded Queen Susan’s horn). As they travel toward Aslan’s How (the location of the destroyed Stone Table – now an underground fortress, and the loyal Narnians’ defense), the war between good and evil escalates. A rebel Narnian dwarf harbors enemies, Aslan appears to Lucy, and the Pevensies finally unite with Caspian.
High King Peter drafts a challenge, which King Edmund presents to the Lords Glozelle and Sopespian. Angered by his counsel’s subtle (but intentional) doubt of his bravery, King Miraz insists on accepting the challenge. With both armies surrounding them on the Beruna landscape, Miraz and Peter draw swords and duel fiercely.
In a moment of the fight, Miraz is knocked to the ground. Astoundingly, his own lords stab him in the back and then shout out that Peter has killed him egregiously. All at once an immense battle amasses – the Second Battle of Beruna – as the Telmarines and the Narnians fight for autonomy of the land…
In the culmination of the battle, Aslan renews the land. He calls forth the dryads (tree spirits) to dance again; he awakens the river god, who then destroys a massive man-made wooden bridge over the Fjords of Beruna; and he beckons Bacchus and Silenus, and their merry maidens, who run throughout the landscape as far as the town of Beaversdam celebrating.
In Prince Caspian, humans had come to constitute a large portion of the population in Narnia. But in the Golden Age of Narnia, when the Pevensies fulfilled a prophecy by taking throne, they were the only humans in Narnia. Aslan tells Caspian how his ancestors came into Narnia. He reveals that they actually originated from the same Earth as the Pevensies. Years ago, pirates in the “South Sea” (of our world) came upon an island, and, after entering a cave, fell (through a chasm) into Telmar. Telmar is the country to the West of Narnia. After many years in Narnian time, the Telmarines, who suffered famine and internal conflict, invaded and seiged Narnia. During this time, the animals of Narnia fled into hiding, as the human Telmarines came to dominate the land. Prince Caspian was the tenth in a line of kings by that name.
There appear to be some considerable differences in the motion picture in order to complement the story on-screen. The opening scenes portray the birth of Prince Caspian’s cousin followed by a narrow escape in a spectacular chase scene. It is while running away, as opposed to within Aslan’s How, that Caspian sounds Queen Susan’s horn. The Pevensies are summoned not from a country station, but an underground London railway station. Lewis placed Caspian’s character as an adolescent, whereas the actor portraying him, Ben Barnes, is in his mid-twenties. There is a scene in the book in which a hag suggests calling upon the spirit of the White Witch to assist Prince Caspian in a time of desperation. Although this “ritual” is never performed in the book, it is begun in the movie and visually manifested until interrupted by one of Caspian’s allies. A night raid on Miraz’s castle has been added to the plot as a surprise attack. There are a few additional characters such as Lord Scythley and Lord Donnovan, who, while not a part of the original story, will probably have roles similar to those of the Lords Glozelle and Sopespian.
“Prince Caspian” is a story of deliverance and restoration with some intriguing aspects of Narnian history, culture, and mythology.