Sunday, November 13, 2016

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Image result for voyage of the dawn treader bookC.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia
Geoffery Bles, 1952

One thing I would like to say is that I really love the title of this book.  It sounds so adventurous and intriguing!

I've been finishing these books every couple days, and I don't want to spend too much time summarizing them each day, so once again I'm just going to pop in the Wikipedia summary and then analyze it a bit more towards the end of the article.

If you are already familiar with the story line, go ahead and skip to the end of this article.  

"The two youngest Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund, are staying with their odious cousin Eustace Scrubb while their older brother, Peter, is studying for an exam with Professor Kirke, and their older sister, Susan, is traveling through America with their parents. 

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Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace are drawn into the Narnian world through a picture of a ship at sea. (The painting, hanging neglected in the guest bedroom in which Lucy was staying, had been an unwanted present to Eustace's parents.) The three children land in the ocean near the pictured vessel, the titular Dawn Treader, and are taken aboard.

The Dawn Treader is the ship of Caspian X, King of Narnia, who was the key character in the previous book (Prince Caspian). Edmund and Lucy (along with Peter and Susan) helped him gain the throne from his evil uncle Miraz. Also present on board are the Lord Drinian (the captain of the Dawn Treader) and the first mate Rhince.
Image result for prince caspian voyage of the dawn treader
Elementary, My Dear Reader

Three years have passed since then, peace has been established in Narnia, and Caspian has undertaken a quest in fulfillment of his coronation oath to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia. Lucy and Edmund are delighted to be back in the Narnian world, but Eustace is less enthusiastic, as he has never been there before and had taunted his cousins with his belief that this alternate universe had never existed. 

The Talking Mouse Reepicheep is also on board, as he hopes to find Aslan's Country beyond the seas of the "utter East". When Eustace teases Reepicheep, much is revealed about the mouse's pugnacious character.

They first make landfall in the Lone Islands, nominally Narnian territory but fallen away from Narnian ways: in particular the slave trade flourishes here, despite Narnian law stating that it is forbidden. Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep are captured as merchandise by a slave trader, and a man "buys" Caspian before they even reach the slave market. 

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Comic Vine
He turns out to be the first lost lord, Lord Bern, who moved to the islands and married a woman there after being banished from Narnia by Miraz. When Caspian reveals his identity, Bern acknowledges him as King. Caspian reclaims the islands for Narnia, and replaces Gumpas, the greedy governor, with Lord Bern, whom he names Duke of the Lone Islands.

At the second island they visit, Eustace leaves the group to avoid participating in the work needed to render the ship seaworthy after a storm has damaged it, and hides in a dead dragon's cave to escape a sudden downpour. The dragon's treasure arouses his greed: he fills his pockets with gold and jewels and puts on a large golden bracelet; but as he sleeps, he is transformed into a dragon.

 As a dragon, he becomes aware of how bad his previous behaviour was. He attempts to shed his dragon skin without success. It is only with the help of Aslan that he is able to become human again, though the process is very painful. Caspian recognizes the bracelet: it belonged to Lord Octesian, another of the lost lords. They speculate that the dragon killed Octesian — or even that the dragon was Octesian. Aslan turns Eustace back into a boy, and as a result of his experiences he is now a much nicer person.

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The Chronicles of Narnia Wiki - Wikia

They stop at Burnt Island, where a coracle is discovered among human artifacts on the now uninhabited isle and given to Reepicheep. Next is Deathwater Island, so named for a pool of water which turns everything immersed in it into gold, including one of the missing lords who turns out to have been Lord Restimar. Then they stop at the Duffers' Island, where Lucy herself encounters Aslan, and at the Island Where Dreams Come True — called the Dark Island since it is permanently hidden in darkness. 

They rescue a desperate Lord Rhoop from this last. Eventually they reach the Island of the Star, where they find the three remaining lost lords in enchanted sleep. Ramandu, the fallen star who lives on the island, tells them that the only way to awaken them is to sail to the edge of the world and there to leave one member of the crew behind.

The Dawn Treader continues sailing into an area where merpeople dwell and the water turns sweet rather than salty, as Reepicheep discovers when he belligerently jumps in to fight a mer-man who he thinks challenged him. At last the water becomes so shallow that the ship can go no farther. 

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Caspian orders a boat lowered and announces that he will go to the world's end with Reepicheep. The crew object, saying that as King of Narnia he has no right to abandon them. Caspian goes to his cabin in a temper, but returns to say that Aslan appeared in his cabin and told him that only Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Reepicheep will go on.

These four named venture in a small boat through a sea of lilies until they reach a wall of water that extends into the sky. Fulfilling Ramandu's condition, Reepicheep paddles his coracle up the waterfall and is never again seen in Narnia (Lewis hints that he reaches Aslan's Country). 

Edmund, Eustace, and Lucy find a Lamb, who transforms into Aslan and tells them that Edmund and Lucy will not return to Narnia – that they should learn to know him by another name in their own world (as Lewis explicitly stated, Aslan is how Jesus manifests Himself in Narnia). He then sends the children home.

In their own world, everyone remarks on how Eustace has changed and "you'd never know him for the same boy" - although his mother believes that Edmund and Lucy have been a bad influence on him in the way that they have made him "boring and uninteresting"."

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Bleeding Cool

Throughout the book, there is mention that Aslan always comes from over the Eastern sea.  I found this interesting since in Middle-earth the sea is also very important and help always comes from the West, the Valar.

I believe that the reason C.S. Lewis chose to have East as his direction of import is that the medievals believed that salvation would come from the East.  They even went so far as to bury their dead facing East so when Christ returned they could just sit right up and face him.

Considering C.S. Lewis' comments connecting Aslan to Jesus (and the extremely obvious parallels) I think that he chose the East to be his direction intentionally.  I've always wondered why Tolkien chose the opposite direction in his work, as a matter of fact.  I suppose it's because the Lord of the Rings is not meant to have such common-to-our-world symbolism?  

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Lampion Press

I personally think this is one of the better books in the series.  I really like the idea of sailing over the sea to search for something and it's almost like Caspian and company have "sea-longing".

"Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more." (The Two Towers
"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voice of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years are failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices of the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people forever!" (The Return of the King)
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Ship_Manifesto - LiveJournal

Overall, I think this is one of the better Narnia books.  How did you like it??

Remember you can find all my book reviews in the Book Nook section.  I love talking books with y'all!


  1. The Dawntreader is such a beautiful book. It's my Dad's number one favorite, and my number three. But since its Narnia we're talking about, there's really barely a smidgen of difference between my #1,#2, and #3. They're ranked by just a hair's width of preference. :)

    1. Yes, they're all quite good, it's hard to choose <3

  2. Hey, Nimrodel- I think you mentioned a while ago that you were looking for a little extra help writing convincing characters and compelling archs. This author here does some really helpful posts on that, and she just released a new book all about character archs.

    1. Oh fantastic! Thanks for thinking of me :)