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:
3 of 20 in TwentyEleven Challenge (Show it Who is Boss!)

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

8 Thoughts on “The Chronicles of Narnia # 5: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

  1. I read all the Narnia books when I was in my early 20s and when I was rediscovering my faith, too. Needless to say, I read them very slowly because I kept thinking about how Lewis was writing about Christian philosophy stuff in a very accessible way.

    This book isn’t one of my favorites in the series, either, but the part I loved most was the Island where all your dreams come true. And when they were sailing in the dark, not knowing where to go, and Lucy starts “praying” to Aslan.

    • Hi Honey! I liked that part, too. Lucy has always been the one who believed in Aslan no matter what. As much as I wish I was more like her, I think I still relate to Edmund more.

      For kids, this may seem just like very nice stories, until the representations are explained to them, I think. I think it’s nice to go back to the series later in life when the reader can understand and relate them better. :)

  2. I’m a HUGE fan of the books, and one who doesn’t go to many movies. I didn’t read the series until I was an adult.

    I was inspired to write a song several years ago after reading the book. The primary inspiration was Reepicheep’s yearning to travel to Aslan’s country at the end of the world, a main theme in the book that, unfortunately, was mostly absent from the movie.

    I pitched the song, “Eastward,” to Twentieth Century Fox hoping they would pick it up as a trailer for the movie… but alas it was not meant to be.

    If you’re interested, have a listen here:

    The movie is so-so, but worth seeing. Check it out when it comes out on DVD.

    • Hi Nick! Reepicheep’s part wasn’t in the movie? That’s sad. :( I liked that part. Yeah, maybe when it comes to DVD, I’ll check it out. I find that the Narnia movies grow on me after a few watches.

      I’ll go check your song out. :)

  3. I have yet to read a Narnia although I immensely enjoyed the movies. But like you, I missed Dawn Treader last year. Actually, I have not yet seen a single Narnia movie in a movie theater. I really don’t know why I lack the fanatical enthusiasm (like with Harry) to see these films when they come out when in fact, I really enjoy them.

    I’m waiting until I have all the books before I begin reading them. Although really, I’m still confused as to what order I’m gonna read them. It’s just all so confusing to me, the storyline.

    • My friend told me the best way to read the series is by publication order (2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 1, 7) since that’s how Lewis wrote it, and it would make more sense that way. You will still be able to understand it if you read it chronologically but there would just be some gaps in the narrative. :)

      Like I said in another comment above,I find the Narnia movies take time for me to really like them so I have to watch them more than once. I only really watch it because of Liam Neeson as Aslan (and when I read the books, his voice becomes Aslan’s voice whenever I come across his parts, too haha).

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