Tag Archives: young adult

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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Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

By C.S. Lewis

Prince Caspian lives with his uncle, Miraz, the King of Narnia, though he is not rightfully King. Miraz usurped the throne and intimidated the people of the land into supporting his reign. He fears Old Narnia, and strives to stamp out the Talking Beasts, Dwarves, and other species that ran free under Aslan both from the land and from the memory of his people. Caspian loves tales of Old Narina, but isn’t sure whether to believe them, until he is forced to flee for his life and is rescued by a Badger and two Dwarves. Word quickly spreads that Caspian wants a return to Old Narnia, and Beasts, Dwarves, Centaurs, and countless others come join him in a fierce battle against Miraz. Meanwhile, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are magically pulled to Narnia, though not the Narnia they recognize. Their beloved Cair Paravel lies in ruins, and the forests seem large and unfamiliar, then they realize that perhaps hundreds of years have passed in Narnia during their one year in London. Realizing they have been called back to Narnia for a reason, they make the long trek across the forests of Narnia to join Caspian in a desperate battle to preserve the country they love.

“Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia” by C.S. Lewis is the 4th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, though it was originally published second. This is the second book in the series in which the Pevensie children have a more central role in the story, and the reader has the opportunity to explore the familiar land of Narnia through a new and different perspective due to the passing of time. If possible, Lewis increases the fantasy of this novel by creating such a drastic time difference between London and Narnia. This simultaneously serves to regenerate interest in Narnia by building an entirely new country with a long history, while also fostering strong nostalgia for the Narnia of the past by drawing on the fondness already developed for the magical land. Lewis briefly dips into the tension between good and bad when talking about the people who support Miraz and those who long for a return to the Old Narnia, but does not linger long enough to explore the complexity that people can contain both good and bad within. Perhaps that can be a point for discussion or reflection when reading the novel.

I enjoyed the way this book broadened the history of Narnia, though I sometimes felt that the pace at which these revelations unfolded was a bit slow. The main question I am left with after reading this book is, how do these children’s bodies show the wear and tear of time if they spend decades reigning as Kings and Queens, then return to the land as youth after spending a year in “real time” in London? They’ve lived almost an entire lifespan at this point! Doesn’t that have some impact? Whatever. Enjoyable, fun story and worth the quick read.

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