Synopsis: Edmund explains out how Narnian time works. They scare off two soldiers who are about to drown a dwarf. He catches fish for them to eat. They don’t understand different aspects of what he tells them about life in Narnia so he agrees to tell them everything.
Once again, the conversational narration style is evident, along with Lewis’ habit of giving little pieces of everyday detail or advice – here about what sleeping outdoors is like.
I’ve never really felt a particular connection with Peter’s character, but here is one of my favourite scenes involving him. He manages to express concern about how the younger children might swim to the mainland in the kindest, most thoughtful way possible. It says a lot about him.
Along with never shutting wardrobe doors, I also learned never to swim somewhere unfamiliar, from my Narnia books. And that freeing someone who is tied up is awkward if you have to use a sword.
It is Edmund who solves the puzzle about the different passage of time in different worlds – he is after all ‘great in counsel and judgement’ (LWW) so this makes sense.
Ever-positive Lucy imagines that they will be received with delight – of course this is not exactly the case.
When Lewis writes dialogue for characters like the Telmarine soldiers (another example is the cabby in The Magician’s Nephew) they sound similar in style and language to Tolkien’s orc conversations in the Lord of the Rings.
Finally, Susan is allowed a moment to shine! Without warning or instruction, she fires at the soldiers. (She’s pale, but she’s doing it all the same.)
Has there ever been a character with ‘twinkling’ eyes who didn’t turn out to be on the right side?
I love Trumpkin’s turn of phrase: ‘I’m a dangerous criminal, I am…You’ve no idea what an appetite it gives one, being executed.’ Of course, his most memorable verbal tic is his use of exclamations such as ‘beards and bedsteads’ and ‘horns and halibuts’. I don’t know whether these ideas were based on anyone or in particular, or if Lewis just enjoyed inventing them. I’d love to know.
Lewis’ dwarf characters tend to fit certain fantasy tropes: they live underground; they are skilled smiths; they are a practical sort of people. However, Trumpkin is also a more rounded character, who has more to contribute to the story than an axe and a love of gold. (As an antidote to the trope of the ‘fantasy dwarf’, I highly recommend Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. In fact, I would recommend them anyway, because they are funny and clever and wise, and probably the most ‘human’ books I’ve ever read.)
I love Lucy’s complaint that trying to understand Narnia’s current political situation is ‘worse than the Wars of the Roses’.