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

Summary:  Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia along with their disagreeable cousin Eustace to sail unknown seas with their old friend King Caspian.  He searches for the seven lords his uncle Miraz exiled many years ago when he wished to dispose of those who would oppose his usurpation of the throne.  To complete the quest, however, one of the voyagers will have to sacrifice everything and choose to remain at the World’s End.

Review: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has always been my favorite book in the series.  Its episodic nature means a lot happens, plus the storyline means that the reader gets to travel, for the first time (assuming one reads the Chronicles in order of publication—my preferred order), outside of Narnia.  To lands no one else has seen (excepting those seven lords whom we tend not to count).  Add Reepicheep, that endearingly martial, loyal, and irrepressible Mouse among all Mice, and you have a story that can’t fail (unless, of course you add some mysterious green mist that eats people—but who would do that?)  Because this is Narnia, however, this is more than a adventure; it is a reflection or illustration of what Lewis would call the greatest adventure of all—that of the soul.

Reepicheep, determined to reach Aslan’s country and fulfill the destiny given to him at birth, most clearly represents this journey.  He sets vision clearly on his goal and lets nothing deter him from it, not gold or power or pride or any other earthly thing that gives false promises of happiness.  His strict adherence to the rules of honour does lead him to act rashly, endangering both himself and others, but it does not take his focus away from his objective.  While Reepicheep represents a soul fairly on the straight and narrow, however, I’ve never heard a reader complain he was too good to be true.  I think Lewis helps prevent readers from feeling this way by giving us key moments of temptation for Eustace, Edmund, Lucy, and Caspian. They each have a particular temptation they must overcome, but, together along with Reepicheep, they make up the full journey of an individual soul.

Dawn Treader reassures readers that the journey to God is really worth taking.  Some things may look desirable at the moment, but no one wants to miss out on the beauty, wonder, and awe waiting for in Aslan’s country.  Lewis, however, proves tricky.  He gives us only a glimpse of this land, only a promise.  We know it’s the greatest story ever told and that Lucy, who has read only a part of it in the Magician’s book, never wants it to end.  However, to see more, we’ll have to return to Narnia again in The Last Battle.

Published: 1952

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