The Chronicles of Narnia # 5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 5
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 320
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The Dawn Treader is the first ship Narnia has seen in centuries. King Caspian has built it for his first voyage to find the seven lords, good men whom his evil uncle Miraz banished when he usurped the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, their cousin Eustace, and Caspian to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward Aslan’s country at the End of the World.

* * *

There are a lot of firsts in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the 5th book in the chronology of The Chronicles of Narnia (hm sounds redundant) and the 3rd book I have read in the series. This is the first time Peter and Susan are not a part of the story, the first time Caspian and his crew have set out to sea to look for the seven lords that his uncle Miraz sent away when he stole the throne,  the first time they ventured out to the far east and the first time we meet the bully Eustace Scrubb. Finally, this is also the first time I read a Narnia book without watching the movie first. I had planned to watch the movie version of this last year but I didn’t catch it in time before the cinemas were filled with our local film festival, and then the movie never came back. Nevertheless, I figured it’s time to read a Narnia book first before I go see the movie and see what difference it would make this time around.

I mentioned in a comment in a previous review that I feel like I appreciate The Chronicles of Narnia more now that I’m reading them as an adult compared to reading them as a child. I think if I read these books as a child, I would probably have skimmed some parts that I couldn’t understand. Now that I am reading them as an adult (or a young adult, if you may), I guess I understand the books better because I have better comprehension, and I have more experiences that could connect to the spiritual themes of the books.

This observation still rang true as I read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If I were younger, I would have disliked Eustace so much more but at my age, I just felt kind of sorry for him because he didn’t know the magic of Narnia until he really got to experience it himself. As always, I liked how many times Aslan showed up (which felt more than the times he did in Prince Caspian), and for this book Lewis showed the Aslan who always takes care of his people. Not that he doesn’t show that in the previous books, but here we see Aslan save them in different instances.

I also really liked what Aslan told Edmund and Lucy in the end. Slight spoiler warning starts here. To know him by his other name in their world reminds me of how one grows spiritually. I got most of my spiritual nourishment from my Catholic community, but at some point, I felt the need to leave because I needed to know God in the world outside of it. It was easy to believe if you’re always immersed in that world, but I believe it takes a lot of maturity to believe in the midst of the humdrum of life, and I think that’s what Aslan wanted Lucy and Edmund to learn. End spoiler warning.

However, I think that compared to the first two books I’ve read in this series, I would have enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader more if I read it as a kid. It’s not one continuous story. There is a goal, yes, but the book is written in chunks — one adventure after the next, all leading to their final goal in the end, but not necessarily required to get to that goal. This is the type of book that I can put down after reading one adventure and go back to it without feeling too lost upon resuming. A friend and hardcore Lewis fan told me that this seemed to be the book were Lewis had most fun with Narnia, almost like he wrote it in parts just to explain the unexplored regions in the Eastern Islands, and then decided to put it all in one book since all of they were all in the Dawn Treader. I guess it’s just the writer in me that wishes for this book to have a more structured plot. I liked the explorations and little adventures in the book, but I think this one didn’t really have a real climax. Case in point: I found myself a scratching my head a bit at the part of the Dragon Island and then wishing that part happened somewhere in the end, to build things up a bit.

But that’s just me. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is just a bit more exciting than Prince Caspian, but not really as magical or charming as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Nevertheless, it is still an enjoyable book, and a good installment to The Chronicles of Narnia. Up next, The Silver Chair! :)

Rating: [rating=3]

2011 Challenge Status:
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Cover: Goodreads
Blurb: Back of book

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie

Reviews of Other Narnia Books:
#2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
#4: Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia # 4: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 4
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 240
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair

The four Pevensies help Caspian battle Miraz and ascend his rightful throne.

Narnia…the land between the lamp-post and the caste of Cair Paravel, where animals talk, where magical things happen…and where adventure begins.

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the dreary train station (by Susan’s own magic horn) to return to the land of Narnia — the land where they had ruled as kings and queens and where their help is desperately needed.

* * *

When the movie Prince Caspian came out, I watched it without having read the book, so I had zero expectations. All I thought after I watched the movie was it was a little bit long, and I squeed when Aslan showed up. I didn’t really like it as much as the first movie on the first watch but it got better when I watched it for the second and third time. Eventually, Prince Caspian became one of those movies that I like watching over and over again, despite my friends’ complaints of it not being faithful to the book, etc, etc.

But how many times have we learned that movies are never equal to the books, and that Hollywood will always, always change something in the book for reasons we do not know and still get angry about?

Anyway, so I finally read Prince Caspian just before the year ended. From the initial impressions of my friends who read the book before watching the movie, I was prepared to see glaring differences compared to the movie. I wasn’t sure what I’d like more, of course, but I’ve learned to read with an open mind.

I was surprised to find out that there really wasn’t much difference. Well, okay, it is different in terms of how the story flowed, and how the sequences were made and how dark it feels and the romance (yes, it never existed in the book). But I can see why the movie people diverged from the book. Prince Caspian is not really an exciting book. While there was a battle, many struggles for both Caspian and the Pevensies, and even some black magic, the way it was written just doesn’t shine as much as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A Lewis fan and friend told me that Caspian is the book he tends to skim over, and while I didn’t really skim through it, it did prove to be very fast reading as I got through 3/4 of it while I was getting my hair done in the salon. Then I stopped so it took me a while to actually finish it.

But I’m not saying that Prince Caspian is a bad book. It just wasn’t exciting as its predecessor.* There were no extravagant rescues, there were no betrayals or resurrections. My favorite part, as always, was when Aslan showed up. It wasn’t quite like how it was done in the movies, but I liked how Lewis wrote it so that the other Pevensies didn’t see Aslan immediately because of the fear that was in their hearts. That’s the same in our faith walk, don’t you think? We can only see God when we let our fears go. And once we see Him, things will never be the same.

There’s this one passage in the book that I really loved, because it sounded so poetic and beautiful:

But all night, Aslan and the Moon gazed upon each other with joyful and unblinking eyes. (p. 213)

Prince Caspian is a good book. Perhaps I’d learn to appreciate it more when I re-read it, but it certainly made me appreciate the movie more. I think it’s time for another re-watch. :)

* NOTE: I must say that I am reading the Narnia books in order of publication, so when I say predecessor, I meant The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and not The Horse and His Boy.

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie

Reviews of Other Narnia Books:
#2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Chronicles of Narnia # 2: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 2
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 206
My copy: paperback from Scholastic Book Fair

What begins as a simple game of hide-and-seek quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy walk through the wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. There they find a cold, snow-covered land frozen into eternal winter by the evil White Witch. All who challenge her rule are turned into stone. Narnia, once filled with all manner of Talking Beasts, Dwarfs, Giants, and Fauns is now a dark, joyless wasteland.

The children can only hope that Aslan, the Great Lion, will return to Narnia and restore beauty and peace to the land. But will the power of Aslan be enough to conquer the dark magic of the White Witch?

* * *

What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting at how I never read The Giver back in high school, I was also sad that The Chronicles of Narnia were never required reading for school, too. I’ve heard of the series for a long time now, but I never really knew of the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until senior year in college, right before the movie showed. I was already nineteen then! Why was this never a part of my childhood? I am glad that Scholastic had a book fair at my office a couple of years later — I got the entire Narnia boxed set for only Php 500 (around USD 11).

Still, it took me a while to read it, and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I decided to go on a Narnia trip for Christmas. Like I said, what better book to read during the holidays, right?

In case you were like me who’s never read this book or watched the movie or even a stage play of this, here’s a quick recap: siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were sent to stay at a Professor’s house, and during one game of hide and seek, Lucy stumbles upon the land of Narnia through a wardrobe. She makes friends with a faun, Mr. Tumnus, and she finds out that Narnia has been stuck in winter for a long time because of a White Witch Jadis. Later on the siblings end up all going to Narnia, and they find out that they are the fulfillment of a prophecy and the Great Lion Aslan is on his way back to Narnia to restore the land.

I first “read” this book through an audiobook before the movie was shown in the cinemas. I loved the audiobook. Then I watched the movie and I loved it too — not caring if there were any differences from what I “read”. I think I loved it because it was a Christian novel, and I truly related to what Edmund did and what Aslan did for him. Aslan became one of my favorite fictional characters, and I always loved it whenever he shows up on the movies (but that may be because Aslan is voiced by Liam Neeson).

Reading the book for the first time reminded me so much of all the things I loved from the audio book and the movie, and maybe even more. Since the entire Narnia series is written as children’s books, the text is lyrical and there’s a whimsical feel in the story, almost like when I was reading the fairy tale books when I was a kid. I think the only way to describe this book is it’s magical. I don’t know if it’s just Christmas, or if it’s because I’m more receptive to fantasy now than I was a year ago, but I really enjoyed reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that if I read this as a kid, I may not have been able to appreciate it as much as I do now, so maybe reading it this late in my life is a good thing. :)

I don’t think I’d have the time to read the rest of the Narnia books before the year ends, but I will finish reading them soon. :) When I have children, I will make sure to have copies of these books at home so they can read it and visit Narnia anytime they want to.

And one more thing: show of hands to anyone who can relate to Edmund? I know I do.

Rating: [rating=4]

Cover and Blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Bookie Woogie
Becky’s Book Reviews

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Have a blessed Christmas Eve everyone! :) Merry Christmas!