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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C S Lewis

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was always my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia. It’s a lovely story of a voyage into the unknown.

We begin the story with Edmund and Lucy Pevensie having been sent off to stay with relatives while their parents and sister Susan tour America, and their older brother Peter is studying for his college entrance exams. Their rather horrid cousin, Eustace Scrubb, enjoys teasing the two of them because of the stories they tell about Narnia. One day, in the middle of the teasing, the three of them are drawn into a painting of a ship, and find themselves in Narnia, on the Dawn Treader, which King Caspian has commissioned to find the seven lost lords of Narnia.

What follows are a number of distinct episodes where the ship visits various islands as they sail to the east, towards the end of the world. (The world of Narnia is flat. Caspian is rather amazed to hear that the Pevensies live on a round world, as he’s always heard stories about such places, but never believed they existed.)

The stories on the islands can be read on two levels, and the theological level was much more apparent to me this read around. The clearest example is Dragon Island, where Eustace is turned into a dragon, and only Aslan can return him to human form, by removing his dragon skin so that he can bathe in a clear well in a beautiful garden. There’s really not a clearer parallel to the journey of a unbeliever towards baptism, and indeed, Eustace is a changed boy after this encounter, no longer his whiny former self.

The stories in this book have a relaxed dreamy quality to them, and I’ll be very interested to see how they translate them to the screen in the newest movie adaptation. There’s no climatic battle, but a series of what could be seen as smaller internal battles. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what this newest movie team makes of this book.

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