My longest book yet. The Dawn Treader was a great read, and I’m excited to talk about what it meant to me. But first, a short gif recap!
Edmund and Lucy have to stay at their cousin’s while Peter is studying with professor Kirk(the protagonist of The Magician’s Nephew) and Susan is doing things. This wouldn’t be so bad if their cousin and his parents weren’t such weird people. Like being vegetarians and nonsmokers and stuff like that.
Edmund and Lucy are chilling away from their cousin and talking about Narnia when he bursts in and berates them for being so silly.
This changes when suddenly a picture of ship on the wall by them starts to become really real.
Suddenly they’re swimming in the ocean. They’re all then fished up by none other than Caspian himself!
He has whole new ship built for finding the 7 lords Miraz sent away to find land beyond the lone isles. Along for the ride are Drinian, Reepicheep, and a whole crew of Narnians.
Everyone meets up and is so excited for the voyage. Well, everyone but Eustace who sulks and later even torments Reepicheep.
The crew lands upon the lone isles. Caspian and Co. arrive on one of them to partake in sightseeing.
But they are then captured by slavers. Caspian to sold. But it turns out to be none other than one of the seven lords, Bern.
Caspian then takes on the corrupt government, by storming the castle, deposing the mayor, destroying the slave trade, and installing feudalism. Deadpan would be proud.
The crew packs up, and heads onwards for a few more days. They hardly find any islands and everyone gets sulky, and Eustace is even sulkier, and even tries to steal.
They soon find an island and get refreshed and restocked. Eustace however sneaks off and travels around the island. In one of the series saddest scenes, he sees a dragon die.
A bit wigged out, he saunters into its cave, takes one of its large golden bracelets, and takes a nap.
He wakes up, and to his terror he’s now a dragon. He then commits dragon cannibalism.
While all this has happened, The Dawn Treader crew have been relaxing. That changes when they notice Eustace, is gone, they’ve found a dead dragon, and now a new dragon has appeared between them and the ship.
Through some communicating, they realize the Dragon is Eustace.
Eustace remains as a dragon for a while, til he comes across Aslan who takes him to a well where Eustace sheds his hide and Aslan use his claws to skin him.
He then takes a dip and feels better.
The crew continues on, realizing the dragon carcass must’ve been the lord Octesian. Later they fight a serpent, find an island with a creepy pool that turns anything, like the lord Restimar, into gold, visit Duffer island where. Lucy gets in on some of that sweet PoV narrative, an evil dark cloud place, where they rescue the tormented lord Rhoop, and to the final island.
Here they find the last three lords, under a heavy sleep at a memorial for Aslan’s table and sacrifice from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
From here the all but one member of the crew, Pittencream, go onto the edge of the world.
However, only Eustace, Edmund, Lucy, and Reepicheep ultimately make it to the edge. There they meet Aslan, who’s implied to be Jesus.
Reepicheep then sails over the world to Aslan’s country. Then Aslan tells the Pevensies that they may no more return to Narnia,
and must learn about Aslan’s real life persona (Jesus).
Everyone is then sent back, Eustace is a better dude, and Caspian and crew make it back.
My Thoughts on It All
Other books toy with multiple narrators. One series that many readers here are familiar with is A Song of Ice and Fire. This story juggles several POVs. Yet all of them add something to the world and story. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is similar because our protagonists often get chapters devoted to their POVs. Prince Caspian, Eustace, and Lucy all have chapters that let the reader focus on them. I get a more rounded view of the story because sometimes these POVs intersect and offer differing views of the situation. Eustace’s growth, Lucy’s body image doubts, Caspian’s restoration of the feudal system. The characters have actual character.
Even Edmund, who doesn’t have his own chapter, still maintains a personality. His speech with Eustace really showed how he views Aslan and is pretty touching. Drinian has a surprising amount of personality for a tertiary character. He can be an ass, but he’s a lovable ass. And then there’s Reepicheep, who is a bit too willing to battle. I’d think he’d fight Cthulhu should he feel slighted. All in all, it’s interesting that just a few structure changes can really improve a book’s characters.
Since now these characters are clearer, their themes are much more apparent. There are several what I’ll call mini-themes that usually correspond to an island. The first theme I’ll talk about is the use of slaves to support a society. This comes up in the lone islands chapters when Caspian and friends are enslaved and sold by slavers. Despite being part of Narnia, these islands have a mayor who uses the economics of the trade to support the island. The use of slaves is criticized by Caspian, and the mayor is overthrown and Caspian installs a dukedom upon the island. Take that democracy!
This is something I’ve noticed; the glorification of feudalism, and how one needs that legitimacy in order to rule. Rightful Kings and queens are the one’s that save a country, and are a must for one to run. The cabby and his wife in the first book, the Pevensie’s rein in The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Caspian. The ruling of a king and queen is usually seen as something good because it is their place to rule.
Yet there are evil kings and queens too. Miraz, and Jadis are coded as evil. Notable is that they took power, instead of being given power. Even the duke of the lone islands was chosen by Caspian. Further, Caspian, the Pevensies, and even Cor have their power given to them. And often this gift is from the divine. The divine often being Aslan.
So in Narnia, it seams those who seek power are coded as evil, terrible leaders. But those given power, regardless of their experience in leadership or ability to govern, are awesome amazing leaders. While this seems great at first, I can’t help but think about a post from my friend Wendy’s, tumblr blog. This series idealizes rightful knights, the rightful feudal order, and conversely looks down on those that stay from this. Hence the restoration of feudalism in the face of the mayor.
One of the best characters is Eustace. He is annoying, but he isn’t totally stupid. For all of his complaining, he is still able to redeam himself and grow. His transformation is another interesting, albeit weird and disturbing, part of the story. The resolution, him having to tear his own skin off, reminded me of Aravis’s resolution in A Horse and His Boy. Both have to feel pain before they can grow, and Aslan is the cause of this both times. So I couldn’t help but feel weirded out about this in the same way I was weirded out in A Horse and His Boy. This is different though, because it is Eustace who agrees to this. And it makes some personal sense to me that we feel pain when trying to heal.
The best part of this resolution is that Eustace, while changing, is still Eustace. He can still be an ass. But he’s still learning. His Arc is much better than Edmund’s from the last two books. Edmund changed almost immediately, while Eustace is slower. Eustace is right now my favorite protagonist, and I’m excited to see him again in The Silver Chair.
Lucy also shows a lot more complexity in this book. This involves her giving in to the temptation. Although I had issues with the spell. It was supposed to show Lucy what her friends actually thought of her. Instead it showed her friend lying about not liking Lucy to some other kid. I like the idea of Lucy giving into temptation, but the temptation isn’t consistent, and I don’t understand why Lucy can’t still be friends with her. So she saw her friend lie about liking her. Her friend actually likes her.
Even though I look back at A Horse and His Boy with more nostalgia and The Magician’s Nephew for its subtly, this is the best book I’ve read in the whole series. Which is weird because I have hardly anything to say about it. A pattern I’m noting is that Lewis will often juggle several different themes in a single book. Dawn Treader exemplifies this. I’m excited to see what he does next in the Silver Chair.