Author: C. S. Lewis
Paperback: 767 pages
Publish Date: 2001
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.