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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

By C.S. Lewis

Edmund and Lucy are dreading their upcoming summer holidays, which they will spend with their cousin Eustace Scrubb. However, not long into the holidays, everything turns around as they find themselves pulled back into the land of Narnia through a picture of a ship at sea. Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace have stepped into a grand sailing adventure, as King Caspian sets out to explore the Lone Islands and attempt to discover what happened to the 7 lords who set sail years ago. This time, only three years have passed in Narnia when the Pevensies return. While Edmund and Lucy are thrilled to be back with their friend Caspian in Aslan’s land of Narnia, Eustace complains about everything, until he finds himself turned into a dragon and rescued only with the guidance of Aslan. When his attitude turns around, he begins to participate in and enjoy the adventures on each of the unknown islands they visit. Caspian and his crew make their way across the eastern ocean, and their long days at sea are punctuated by inland adventures to rediscover and reclaim the Lone Islands, all the time wondering whether they will ever reach the fabled land of Aslan that lies beyond the end of the world.

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis is the 5th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, originally published third. Lewis again takes the opportunity to expand the realm of Narnia by setting the adventures at sea. Not once do Edmund and Lucy actually step foot on Narnian soil in what turns out to be their last visit to Narnia. By visiting so many different islands, Lewis creates many different worlds that are pleasant, dangerous, bewildering, and all new. Each island comes with its own story and adventure, adding to both the geography of Narnia and the enjoyment of the novel. Much of their discoveries are fueled by the strong words of Reepicheep the Mouse, who despite (or because of) his small size motivates the crew to face each unknown adventure with courage and bravery. With Reepicheep’s words of encouragement and support, Caspian and his friends learn valuable lessons about persevering in the face of fear, and gain wisdom from each island where some previously unknown entity becomes known, whether something dangerous to be avoided or pleasant to be returned to.

Out of the whole series so far, I would say “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” has been my favorite book. I liked that each island was a different world, and the chapters moved quickly through each inland excursion. I particularly liked the end of the book as they neared Aslan’s land at the end of the world. Something about this book seemed a bit more engaging for me. I more frequently felt caught up in the story and less concerned about the impact of disparate time schemes on an aging body. Light, enjoyable, and quick-paced, this book makes for a good read.

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Origin

By Dan Brown

Art historian and religious symbologist Robert Langdon finds himself in Spain at the bidding of a former student, who promises a spectacular evening with a stunning announcement. Edmond Kirsch, futurist and tech guru, plans to make an announcement that will not only shock the world, but also destabilize all known religions. He claims to have found the answer to two fundamental questions: where do we come from, and where are we going? Before he can reveal his discovery, however, he is brutally assassinated. In the ensuing chaos, Robert joins forces with Ambra Vidal, the museum director, and Winston, Kirsch’s personal assistant in the form of synthetic intelligence. With the goal of releasing the final piece of the planned presentation, Robert, Ambra, and Winston race across Spain in search of personal details about Edmond to help them in their quest, tailed by the assassin. Meanwhile, rumors, information leaks, and alternative facts flood the media with speculation about who is responsible for Edmond’s death. Could the revered Bishop Valdespino, close friend to the royal palace of Spain, be the mastermind? What does Ambra’s finance, Prince Julian, know about the assassination? Robert and Ambra’s race to release the presentation quickly becomes a race for their own lives.

“Origin” by Dan Brown is the 5th Robert Langdon book. As with all other books in the Robert Langdon series, Brown weaves together art, architecture, and symbols to create codes, patterns, and intrigue. “Origin” focuses more on the unique architecture throughout Spain, including several iconic buildings by Antoni Gaudi, connecting natural elements and inspiration of the buildings with the interests and passion of character Edmond Kirsch. Also in keeping with other Robert Langdon stories, the novel moves quickly through bite-sized chapters, each ending with a cliff hanger to impel continued reading until the book is done and all mysteries are resolved. Adding to the complexity of the plot, Brown brings in multiple characters, each with their own perspective, motive, and insider knowledge. Flipping between characters, settings, and snippets of plot helps move the story along at lightning pace. And, also as with other Robert Langon stories, the revelations along the way are based in current knowledge, and the prospects for future change call into question morals and ethics at all levels of society. “Origin” suggests a future that integrates human and artificial intelligence, but with what benefits and what costs?

Considering I finished this book in 4 days, it’s safe to say that I enjoyed it. I found certain parts of the plot line to be predictable (Robert and Ambra would join forces, and the pair would soon be in opposition to the Royal Guard set to protect Ambra), but this book was a better balance of detail and intrigue than “Inferno.” Not too heavy into art and architecture, but just enough to make you feel smarter for having read the book. It also felt relatable because it draws on modern technology and recent innovation. This book keeps up, and it keeps going. Add it to your list, and you’ll be done with it before you know it.

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