- Published: September 15th, 1952
- Publisher: Geoffrey Bles
- Genre: Fantasy
- Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
- Pages in Paperback: 116
- Preceded by (chronologically): Prince Caspian
- Followed by (chronologically): The Silver Chair
- It was the 3rd published out of 7 novels though it takes place 5th in Narnian history
- Quote: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” —Source
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The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy and their cousin Eustace to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan’s country at the End of the World. —Source
Review of the Characters:
Eustace— Eustace was so deliciously snarky. By far the one of the best characters throughout the Chronicles of Narnia you loved to hate him in the beginning and felt for him when he had to learn to be a better person towards the end. What I loved about Eustace was that he was so real. He was an only child so much of snarkiness was a cry for attention, it wasn’t for no reason (ahem, Susan in Prince Caspian). His journal entries were hilarious and his contrast against Reepicheep in the beginning made for a fun read. Another thing I loved about Eustace is that we actually see him grow as a character which is a breath of fresh air after reading Prince Caspian. We see a boy capable of learning from his actions and to be considerate of others, which makes for a great role model in children’s literature.
Reepicheep— The noblest of them all– and also the tiniest. This mouse was a great character that provided some great dialogue and epic scenes. For example, when the ship encounters a patch of utter darkness and of course everyone wants to go around it because it’s the logical thing to do. But who wants to go through it, simply because not going through it would be an act of a coward? Why, Reepicheep the mouse of course. He’s always eager for a fight wether it be dragons or merpeople but always the first to come to someone’s rescue. He brought this novel to a new level with his spunk and will be missed in further novels.
Lucy— I enjoyed Lucy in this novel even more than Lewis’s previous novels and it is because we see Lucy tempted. I loved Lucy in the previous novels, don’t get me wrong, she was darling and in all honesty the true hero of Narnia, but she was also kind of perfect. She always did the right thing, the noble thing, the honest thing. For a young girl put in a new world full of temptations with magic it was just a bit unrealistic. Lewis changes all this with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We actually see the lovely Lucy succumb to human nature, she actually considers using a spell that would appeal to a dark desire. Does she give in to the temptation? Read the book. (Don’t you hate it when people do that)?
Prince Caspian— Though he was still a bit bland for me I did see an improvement. He too proved more relatable succumbing to human temptations yet still came out admirable. His interactions with Eustace and Reepicheep were hilarious as both brought out a different side in him; one for the better and one for the worst. I hope to see more of him in the final two novels in the Chronicles of Narnia.
Review of the Story:
I LOVED it! A much refreshing read after Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader takes us on an epic adventure. What was fun about this novel was seeing the obvious inspiration from The Odyssey even making a reference to it towards the end. Some readers complain that it wasn’t a cohesive story. They say it’s more like little tales being told instead of one complete story but I disagree. Yes, each stop contains its own mini adventure that gets wrapped up neatly in time to sail on east, but like The Odyssey, the actual sailing part was just as interesting as the port stops. The characters on the ship made for a fun dynamic especially with Reepicheep and Eustace on board in the beginning, their contrasted natures led to hilarious dialogue. So far out of the Chronicles of Narnia, it is THE best one, even counting The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In fact, I’m surprised that it is often overshadowed by the series debut as it a much more exciting tale for children. If you’re going to read only one novel in this series, read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you won’t regret it!
Review of the Writing:
You know, although I found Lewis’s writing just as enchanting as his previous novels for the first time I also found it to be (just a bit) preachy. There was mockery of feminism and liberalism that were not as subtle as they should be in a children’s novel. Though the slight towards feminism was small the liberalism was an issue. In the beginning of the novel, Lewis tells us the way Eustace’s parents run their household, which turns out to be a little differently than the traditional way. But the tone he uses gives us the impression that we should laugh at it. Then Lewis goes on to prove what a spoiled brat Eustace is, implying that it was his liberal upbringing that did so. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it kind of brought me out of the story a bit to shake my head. Regardless, the story is enjoyable and once again Lewis weaves a tell of magic that possesses you.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the true gem of the Chronicles of Narnia. It is an epic adventure that encounters everything from downright silliness to dark fears. If you love fantasy then I highly recommend this novel, don’t let the fact that it is written for children discourage you as it is a novel that any age can enjoy.
P.S.– My next read is The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (hoping it’s just as good)!