book-reviews

Carpetbaggers

by cofax

Rating: ★★★

Carpetbaggers is a piece of derivative fiction set in the world of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series. Specifically, the story aims to fill out the long time-skip from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, where Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter reign in Narnia for 15 years before eventually being accidentally drawn back through to their own world and transformed back into children. That big gap always seemed ripe with opportunity to me, so it's pleasing to see something try and take it on.

The story we get is a slightly grim one, using realpolitik principles to demonstrate how the fanciful notion of the four otherworldly children being left in charge by Aslan would not be sufficient to allow them to rule. The children find themselves alone, practically without aid, attempting to bind together a country only just awakening from a deep winter, where the only source of food was the tyrant now overthrown. There are still loyalists, and as with any unstable region there are those who would use the opportunity to gather their own power.

Yet, despite this less-than-fantastical twist to the setting, Carpetbaggers remains true to much of the original novel it extends. Each of the children expresses their own character and talents, in some ways more clearly than the original, and the Narnian world is rich with fantastical elements and adventure, even if not often safe.

There's certainly nothing wrong with Carpetbaggers, it does exactly what it sets out to do, providing an engaging extension to Narnia which balances the line between making it more realistic and keeping it fun. As light entertainment, it's just fine, but that's about as far as it goes -- it's not an overwhelming epic like Worm, and indeed it feels like it ends a little too soon if anything. Violence, politics and fantasy dominate the story, so apply to yourself as appropriate.