The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

Title:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  2001

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was published third in the Narnia Series, but was meant to be read fifth by Lewis.  The copy I have read is in a complete book.

 

“Don’t they admire you?” asked Lucy.

 “Oh, not me,” said the magician.  “They wouldn’t admire me.”

 “What was it you uglified them for – I mean, what they call uglified?”

 “Well, they wouldn’t do what they were told.  Their work is to mind the garden and raise food – not for me, as they imagine, but for themselves.  They wouldn’t do it at all if I didn’t make them.   And of course, for a garden you want water.  There is a beautiful spring about half a mile away up the hill.  And from that spring there flows a stream which comes right past the garden.  All I asked them to do was to take their water from the stream instead of trudging up to the spring with their buckets two or three times a day and tiring themselves out besides spilling half of it on the way back.  But they wouldn’t see it.  In the end they refused point blank.”

 “Are they as stupid as all that?” asked Lucy.

 The Magician sighed.  “You wouldn’t believe the troubles I’ve had with them.  A few months ago they were all for washing up the plates and knives before dinner:  they said it saved time afterwards.  I’ve caught them planting boiled potatoes to save  cooking them when they were dug up.  One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat….”

 …now they were jumping in all directions and calling out to one another, “Hey, lads!  We’re visible again….

 “She’s caught the old man napping, that little girl did,” said the Chief Monopod.  “We’ve beaten him this time….

 “But do they dare talk about you like that?” said Lucy.  “They seemed to be so afraid of you yesterday.  Don’t they know you might be listening?”

 “That’s one of the funny things about the Duffers,” said the Magician.  “One minute they talk as if I ran everything and overheard everything and was extremely dangerous.  The next morning they think they can take me in by tricks that a baby would see through – bless them!”

 

 -The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, pages 501-502

 

With an opportunity for Mr. Pevensie to lecture in America for sixteen weeks, it is decided that Susan will go with her parents, while Peter prepares for his exams with Professor Kirke, and the two youngest children, Edmund and Lucy, will spend the summer at their Aunt Alberta’s house.  This prospect is made miserable by the fact they will be forced to spend time with their beastly cousin Eustace, who is a mean-spirited bully.  When the three children are in Lucy’s bedroom, the picture on the wall comes to life and they are drawn into the world of Narnia, finding themselves aboard the Dawn Treader with their old friend Caspian, now King of Narnia.

 Immediately, Eustace makes an intolerable pain of himself, demanding to be taken to the British Consul and threatening to write strongly worded letters to the head of the line for his poor treatment on ship.  It isn’t until Eustace finds himself in a horrible predicament that he can’t bully or talk his way out of that he begins to take a good look at himself, and quickly realizes he doesn’t like what he sees.

 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader chronicles the quest of King Caspian to discover the fate of the seven Narnian Lords, friends of his father, who were sent off by Caspian’s usurping uncle Miraz.  Along the way, he discovers the slave trade still continues in some parts of Narnia, dragons do exist, the waters of one island turns objects (and people) into gold, an island where dreams come alive (and not just those wishful-type dreams, but the ones that make you terrified to close your eyes again, too), and more.  They’re goal is to sail to the Utter East, even to Aslan’s country, and to find what lies at the end of the world.

 Like the other Narnian tales, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a Christian Allegory, though I see this one as the least obvious of all.  It is a good adventure tale, and it has a positive message of living your life with courage and honor.  This lesson is given through Eustace’s self-discovery, Reepicheep’s voice of valor and encouragement, Lucy’s magically eavesdropping on her schoolmates and disliking what she  hears what’s said about her, and the admonishment Caspian receives when he decides to abandon his responsibilities as King to live an adventurer’s life. 

 Aslan is seen more in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader than in Prince Caspian, however, his visits and sightings are more private and tailor-made for their specific needs:  as a glowing albatross leading the ship to safety, in the artwork of the Magician’s book keeping Lucy from falling to the temptation of pride, and as a lion sculpted on the wall of Caspian’s quarters.  The best Aslan appearance, and the easiest to recognize reference, is at the end of Dawn Treader when the children encounter a lamb who offers them food by a warm fire.

 

“Please, Lamb,” said Lucy, “is this the way to Aslan’s country?”

“Not for you,” said the Lamb. “For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world.”

“What!”  said Edmund.  “Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?”

“There is a way into my country from all the worlds,” said the Lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy.  “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“…are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name…”

 

-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, pages 540-541

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was an interesting adventure, but it lacked a lot of the sense of movement and urgency the previous Narnia books have had.  I felt the story dragging in parts, like a ship run aground on one or two occasions, and I had to force myself through to the finish.  Even so, there were parts where I said, “Oh!  I remember reading that before,” which have stuck with me from the time my mom read them to me when I was little (she swears she read them all to us, but I don’t remember it).  And, since this book was third in publication, I can see why so many people haven’t read the whole series.  But it ends well, and everyone likes a good ending.  I give Dawn Treader 3 out of 5 stars.

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Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis

Title: Prince Caspian
Author: C. S. Lewis
Paperback: 767 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 0066298501
Miscellaneous: Second book to be published, Lewis intended it to be read fourth in the series. ALSO, a few of you have wondered about the number of pages listed in my Narnia books. Don’t fret! The book I’ve been reading is a collection of all seven books. The books themselves average 100-150 pages.

“Oh!” said Edmund in a voice which made everyone stop talking and listen to him.

“I’ve just seen it all,” he said.

“Seen what?” asked Peter.

“Why, the whole thing,” said Edmund. “You know what we were puzzling about last night, that it was only a year ago since we left Narnia byt everything looks as if no one had lived in Cair Paravel for hundreds of years? Well, don’t you see? You know that, however long we seemed to have lived in Narnia, when we got back through the wardrobe it seemed to have taken no time at all?”

“Go on,” said Susan. “I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“And that means,” continued Edmund, “that, once you’re out of Narnia, you have no idea how Narnian time is going. Why shouldn’t hundreds of years have gone past in Narnia while only one year has passed for us in England?”

“By Jove, Ed,” said Peter. “I believe you’ve got it. In that sense it really was hundreds of years ago that we lived in Cair Paravel. And now we’re coming back to Narnia just as if we were Crusaders or Anglo-Saxons or Ancient Britons or someone coming back to modern England!”

“How excited they’ll be to see us -” began Lucy, but at the same moment everyone else said, “Hush!” or, “Look!” For now something was happening.

-Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis, page 330

In Prince Caspian, the Pevensie children return to Narnia after what was to them a year’s time, to find Narnia almost unrecognizably altered. Lucy’s naive statement that the Narnians will be happy to see their return is quickly quashed, when many that they encounter feel bitter towards the Kings and Queens of Old as having abandoned them.

In the hundreds of Narnian years that has passed, Narnia has slipped into a dark age. A group of people who were once pirates of Spanish descent called Telmarines, rule with an undying prejudice and hatred of the original Narnians, talking animals, Dwarfs, and other magical creatures. To Lucy’s dismay, the trees have lost their voice and retreated within themselves, and many other Narnians have withdrawn and taken to hiding in the mountains and deep forests where the Telmarines are afraid to go.

The rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian, survives an assassination attempt by his uncle, who wishes to secure the throne for his newly born son. With the help of the Pevensies and Narnians, Prince Caspian stands against the cruelty and evil rule of his uncle. But is it enough? Or have the Pevensies returned too late?

I read this book a couple weeks ago, but evidently forgot to blog the review. It was during a crazy time of the year: Two birthdays, a double birthday party at the hotel, the heat went out, the digital part of my cable (my internet is through my cable company) went out a couple times (and stayed out both times for more than a day), and other various craziness. But, at any rate, here it is :-)

Prince Caspian is the second most read and well-known book in the Narnia series. Second to be written and published, most people reading it in the order of publication, manage to get through the second book. Like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian has been made into a movie, a BBC mini-series, dramatic audio recording, and audio books.

In this book, Aslan is absent for most of the story. Lucy alone sees him, but chooses not to follow him because her siblings do not believe her as they didn’t see him. The main message of this book is that seeing is not believing, and faith comes from believing and leaning on those around you no matter what “reality” says nor how the odds seem to be stacked against you.

Like the rest of the Narnia books, Prince Caspian is written as a Christian Allegory. Trusting that God is with you, even when you don’t see or feel the evidence of his presence, and that He has planned for you to prosper, not fail.

My favorite character in Prince Caspian, second to Aslan of course, is Reepicheep. This warrior mouse proves that the size of the body is NOT the indication of the size of the heart found within. He is courageous beyond those ten times his size, and inspires loyalty in his followers, who are willing to even cut off their own tails so that their leader does not have to carry the dishonor of the loss of his own tail alone.

While Prince Caspian is not my favorite Narnia book, that would be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor my second favorite, The Horse and His Boy is, I did enjoy reading it. It’s definitely worth reading, and should be counted among the must-read classics in English Literature.

I give Prince Caspian four out of five stars.

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The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis


Title:  The Horse and His Boy

Author:  C. S. Lewis

Paperback:  767 pages

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Publish Date:  1998

ISBN:  0066238501

Miscellaneous:  This edition is part of a complete collection in one book copy.   It was chronologically published fifth but is meant to be read third in the series.

He was just going to run for it when suddenly, between him and the desert, a huge animal bounded into view.  As the moon was behind it, it looked quite black, and Shasta did not know what it was, except that it had a very big, shaggy head and went on four legs.  It did not seem to have noticed Shasta, for it suddenly stopped, turned its head towards the desert and let out a roar which re-echoed through the Tombs and seemed to shake the sand under Shasta’s feet.  The cries of the other creatures suddenly stopped and he thought he could hear feet scampering away.  Then the great beast turned to examine Shasta.

“It’s a lion, I know it’s a lion,” thought Shasta.  “I’m done.  I wonder, will it hurt much?  I wish it was over.  I wonder, does anything happen to people after they’re dead?  O-o-oh!  Here it comes!”  And he shut his eyes and his teeth tight.

But instead of teeth and claws he only felt something warm lying down at his feet.  And when he opened his eyes he said, “Why, it’s not nearly as big as I thought!  It’s only half the size.  No, it isn’t even quarter the size.  I do declare it’s only the cat!!  I must have dreamed all that about it being as big as a horse.”

And whether he really had been dreaming or not, what was now lying at his feet, and staring him out of countenance with its big, green, unwinking eyes, was the cat; though certainly one of the largest cats he had ever seen.

-The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis, page 246

The Horse and His Boy, though published fifth, is meant to be read third in the series.  It is an interim book telling a story that takes place within the time of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and features the adults Kings Peter and Edmund and Queens Susan and Lucy.

The book begins, “This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him.”  And then opens on a poor fisherman’s hut where a cruel middle-aged bachelor and his foundling son, Shasta,  live.  When a Tarkaan (something like a lord or baron) stops at the house and offers to buy Shasta, the boy is relieved to be leaving the man he’d always thought was his father but had never loved.

However, his relief is short-lived when the Tarkaan’s horse turns out to be one of the talking Horses of Narnia who tells him that he’d be better off lying dead on the roadside than as the slave of the Tarkaan.  Bree, the Horse, tells Shasta he was kidnapped as a Foal and is really a Freeperson of Narnia.  He further tells the boy that he himself is not a Caloremenian, but is a Narnian (or Archenlander) as well.

The two devise a plan of escape, and when the men are sleeping in the house, the Horse and the boy set off for Narnia and the North.  Along the way, they meet up with another Narnian Horse, a mare named Hwin, and a young girl named Aravis, who is a Tarkeena running away from an arranged marriage to a horribly wicked and hideous old man.

As they set out to pass through the capital city, though, the four are stopped by a procession of the Narnian Royals and Shasta is snatched out of crowd by Edmund who mistakes him for the missing Archenland Prince in their company.  This turns out to be a blessing, as Shasta learns of a hidden path that greatly shortens the trek through the desert that lies between Calormen and the lands of the North.

Throughout this book, there is a force leading, guiding, and protecting the four.  Of course, anyone who’s read the previous Narnia book knows this is Aslan, who has been working behind the scenes for the past 10-15 years (Shasta’s age is never given) to ensure that Archenland and Narnia will be safe from the attack of the Calormenian Prince Rabadash.

The Horse and His Boyis also Christian allegory, this time expressing the steadfastness and ever-present nature of Christ, even when we don’t realize he’s there (as Shasta was unaware of the true identity of the cat that protected and comforted him in the Tombs), and even before we know Him or follow Him (as neither Shasta nor Aravis new of Aslan, and in fact served other gods).  You cannot help but love Aslan as he reveals himself, and how he has been watching after them throughout their lives.  It’s very comforting to know He is always with us and caring for us, even when we’re stubbornly going our own way and resisting His hand.

Though I can’t say I liked The Horse and His Boy more that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I definitely liked it more than The Magician’s Nephew (though I still love the Creation of Narnia), and thoroughly loved and enjoyed it.  I absolutely give this book 5 out of 5 stars :-D

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