Sea monsters, magical feasts, a feisty talking mouse, slave traders, royalty, a dragon, magical transformations and mysterious sea people.
C.S. Lewis’ classic “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” has a huge storyline packed into a relatively short novel.
The story is the fifth book in Lewis’ Narnian series. It starts with two of the characters who will be familiar to those who know the first novels in the Narnian series.
Siblings Edmund and Lucy are staying with their disagreeable cousin Eustace. Their grand adventure starts when they are magically sucked into a picture of a sailing ship. The ship turns out to be “The Dawn Treader”. On board is King Caspian who the children helped to crown in the preceeding book, “Prince Caspian”.
Caspian is on a mission to find and / or rescue seven missing Narnian noblemen who were loyal to his father. They disappeared during the reign of Caspian’s unfriendly uncle. The lords were known to be heading East on a sea voyage towards the world’s end.
Here are some notes about the book:
- Best enjoyed when read in chronological order. Read:”The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” first. It’s possible to read the first book in the Narnian series “The Magician’s Nephew” and the third “The Horse and His Boy” separately.
- The book will appeal to children of primary school age.
- The book will appeal to those who enjoy fantasy formulas: a mission, a journey, a challenge, and some magic along the way.
- Features the return of other familiar Narnian characters: Reepicheep the talking mouse and Aslan.
- Can be enjoyed simply for the great storyline as a sea-themed fantasy adventure.
If you enjoy books with deeper meanings, these are some of the themes that you will find in “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”:
- Growing up – by the end of the story Lucy and Edmund learn they are too mature to return to Narnia.
- It is possible for people to change and learn life lessons. This is shown through the example of Eustace, Lucy and Edmund’s annoying cousin and seems to be a theme of C.S. Lewis. In a previous novel, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” it was Edmund who underwent a dramatic character change.
- Redemption – For example, Eustace undergoes a life changing experience that forces him to assess how he treats others. Caspian is on a quest to make a right of the wrongs done to the Lords who were loyal to his father.
- Self esteem / honesty – As an example, Lucy has the opportunity to cast a spell that will allow to be the most beautiful woman in the world.
- Loyalty and duty – This includes loyalty to friends, Caspian’s obligations in terms of being a good king to his subjects and his moral duty to find the lost lords. Also being a good leader means making decisions in the best interests of others.
- Christian themes – several characters, such as the talking mouse Reepicheep are on a “pilgrimage” or spiritual as well as physical journey. Aslan is a Christ-like figure. Also themes of self growth and rebirth.
Enjoy this adventure in to the Narnian world.