Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #4) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes "Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different..."

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are sitting at the train station waiting for their train when WHOOSH! They are back in Narnia! Narnia is now under the rule of evil Miraz, but there is one who wants to return it to its former glory: Prince Caspian.

I Liked:
Once again, I find myself at a loss to describe my feelings towards this book.
The story was interesting and didn't try to recreate The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I liked how the emphasis was taken off the race of people, but their hearts (Miraz was bad, not because he was Telmarene, but because he was truly evil; Caspian was good because he wanted to restore rights to the citizens of Narnia not because he was human). Also, for those who weren't gung ho about the heavy Christian allegory, take heart! Prince Caspian still has Christian themes, but it is nowhere nears as obvious as in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
I liked some of the growth we see in the four children. Peter hasn't really changed that much--he is still the take charge eldest, but Susan has a hint of what is to come and while I don't like where her character is going, I do appreciate the foreshadowing. Edmund has really matured; I think the scenes where he is the only one to back up Lucy were very poignant especially in light of his actions in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And even Lucy doesn't come off as the epitome of perfection, which I appreciated.
As always, Lewis continues to describe his land beautifully and populate it with interesting beings. I liked how Cair Paravel had become deserted and the landscape of Narnia had changed drastically.
And since I listened to this on audiobook, I wanted to commend Lynn Redgrave on the narrating. I'll admit, I wasn't fond of all the voices she used, but her voice was definitely gentle on the ears.

I Didn't Like:
It's funny; as I relisten to these books, I begin to recall how when I first heard them (in my teens) I thought they were boring and dull. In many ways, over a dozen years later, my thoughts really haven't changed.
A large portion of Prince Caspian is spent in the dreaded flashback. Four chapters are basically a story a dwarf tells the four children about Caspian. I am just not fond of this device; if it is that important, it needs to be SHOWN not reTOLD (and yes, Lord of the Rings has the similar problem with the chapter that never ends, "Elrond's Council"). It would have been much better, in my opinion, to just tell Caspian's story THEN have the children transport to Narnia (somewhat how the movie did it).
Storywise, not a whole lot happens. Yet again, the children tend to be mostly bystanders in the conflict or the catalyst instead of actively getting involved. This isn't as bad as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as Peter does have a duel with Miraz, but most of the conflict is resolved in the end by Aslan's appearance. I'm still not quite sure what the point of having the children there was in the first place. A lot of the story is hampered with Prince Caspian visiting all these animals, explaining his claim to the throne, and them immediately saying, "I'm on board!" Absolutely no tension whatsoever.
Another thing I didn't care for was the almost complete lack of conflict. Peter has no trouble handing off the crown to Caspian. Caspian immediately believes all the stories about Narnia and has no troubles with four monarchs returning to help him. The "good" animals jump immediately at the chance to join Caspian's army. The conflict about Lucy seeing Aslan was one of the few exceptions and was welcome. I think it's possible to write a novel for young people without dumbing down the character interactions and taking away all complexities.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
None.
Caspian's aunt has a baby.
Peter has a duel with Miraz; there are several battles, but if you blink, you'll miss them.

Overall:
This is going to sound weird, but I found Prince Caspian boring and interesting at the same time. Interesting story told in a boring way. However, that is for a jaded almost 30 year old; maybe if I had read this as a young child or was reading to a young child, I wouldn't overthink it. As it is, it's still a decent story and mildly entertaining.