Let's Talk Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

By Thursday, February 18, 2016 , ,

Today we come to one of my absolute favorites in the Narnia series. Previous discussions can be found here, here, here, and here if you want to check them out before diving into this one! :) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is our focus today. I cry basically every time I come to certain parts in it. I can’t exactly pinpoint why it’s so special to me, but the seafaring adventure themes, the variety of characters, and the focus on Edmund and Lucy likely have a lot to do with it. This book certainly feels the most adventurous and exciting to me, and I really love the development of the characters. And personally, I think the spiritual underpinnings in it are some of the strongest and most moving in any of the Narnia books. 

Chronologically, this book falls fifth in the series, but it was the third one that C.S. Lewis wrote, after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and then Prince Caspian. For a time, he thought that these three might be the only Chronicles of Narnia, and when you read them consecutively, they do form a fairly complete trilogy. In this adventure, Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia to aid King Caspian in his quest to locate seven lost Narnian lords who were deceptively sent to sea by the evil Miraz before Caspian’s reign. Now, Caspian wants to discover what happened to them and avenge their deaths if possible. There’s also talk that they could sail to the very end of the world and maybe even Aslan’s country. The mouse Reepicheep is aboard ship with Caspian and the crew, and Lucy and Edmund have quite accidentally brought along their bratty cousin, Eustace Scrubb. Adventures abound! Where on earth to begin with favorites? 

Favorite Characters

That being said, I just can’t pick favorites for this category ;) The trio of Lucy, Edmund, and Caspian carries this book amazingly. They work off each other so well that it’s hard to separate them at times. Edmund and Lucy have become such confidantes, and in some ways, Caspian now seems like a closer sibling to them than Peter or Susan. I just love the dynamic the three of them create, and it’s a treat to see through all the adventures of this book. 

Eustace understandably remains a bit separate for much of the story, but his famous dragon adventure endears him in a special way. I also love how he and Edmund bond over it afterwards. Edmund’s maturity is inspiring and even humbling to read here as he shares honestly with Eustace about his past mistakes: “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.” 
Will Poulter as Eustace, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, Georgie Henley as Lucy, and Ben Barnes as Caspian in 20th Century Fox and Walden Media's 2010 film adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Photo Credit: Deviant Art
And of course…Aslan. The tried and true favorite who always has the right word for someone. His guidance in this book rings with divine love for each character, and he pushes each one to trust him in specific ways that they need to in their individual lives. He protects them at different points when they most need it, corrects them when they’re straying from him, and is constantly guiding. And he often shows up when they least expect it, reminding them of their need. 

Favorite Scenes

Eustace is Un-Dragoned: This is the scene that perhaps most people would think of when they hear The Voyage of the Dawn Treader mentioned. It’s a relatively short sequence, and the book is much more than just this part, but it’s an extremely powerful moment and it marks the turning point for Eustace’s character. The spiritual significance is profound, especially in how Eustace describes the moment Aslan tears off the dragon skin. He says it’s excruciatingly painful, but in a good way that he knows is necessary. And he knows that only Aslan could do it for him. 

Lucy and the Magician’s Book: This scene is suspenseful and slightly nerve-wracking, but exciting at the same time. At this point, we’re not entirely sure what to make of the “invisible people” who have sent Lucy on the mission to the Magician’s Book, so it’s not clear what we’re supposed to think. But when she starts reading the Book, I think the fun and adventure and magic of the story are emphasized enjoyably. C.S. Lewis’ imagination does him credit in this scene. Think of all those spells! I’d be just as engrossed in it as Lucy. And her interaction with Aslan at the end of the scene is a classic one between them – so much love, excitement, reverence, and correction all at once! 
Lucy reading the Magician's Book in 20th Century Fox and Walden Media's 2010 film adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Photo Credit: NarniaWeb.com

Aslan’s Table: Is the food enchanted? Why are the three men asleep at the table? This scene is charged with mystery and magic as soon as it begins, and this is also where we meet Ramandu and his beautiful daughter. Again, that imagination, Mr. Lewis! Who else would have thought of making characters out of stars?! I love them and their wisdom, and Caspian’s near-immediate crush on the daughter is lovely. I love the dialogues, the birds that replenish the food on the table, the explanation of the enchantment, and the feeling of anticipation that the journey is almost complete, yet there are better things awaiting them at the very end. 

The End of the World and the Children’s Farewells: These are the parts that make me really emotional. Heavenly glimpses are all over the place, especially as the sun at the end of the world grows unnaturally bright and the ocean water becomes fresh and sweet. The entire company is able to look into the huge sun without pain, and the water makes them strong and whole. And when the children say goodbye to Caspian, then to Reepicheep, and then to Aslan before they go home…just feels, you guys! Emotions run high in everyone, and the awe of Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace as they come near Aslan’s country makes you feel awed and reverent too, even as the reader. And Aslan’s words to them at the end are so deep and moving. I think it might be the most profound passage in the whole Narnia series, as it so clearly demonstrates what Aslan means and who C.S. Lewis intended for readers to see through him. After hearing they will not return to Narnia, Lucy and Edmund mourn the idea of not seeing Aslan again. But Aslan then assures them that they will meet him, though not in Narnia:

“Are–are you [in our world] too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” 

Chills. So many chills. Every time. 

Favorite Quotes

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. 

Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real. 

No one except Lucy knew that as [the albatross] circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face. 

“Do you mean to say,” asked Caspian, “that you three come from a round world (round like a ball) and you’ve never told me! It’s really too bad of you. Because we have fairy-tales in which there are round worlds and I always loved them. I never believed there were any real ones. But I’ve always wished there were and I’ve always longed to live in one…It must be exciting to live on a thing like a ball. Have you ever been to the parts where people walk about upside-down?” 

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”

So how do you like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader compared to the other Narnia books? Do you have any favorite scenes or quotes that aren’t listed here? Who are your favorite characters? I’d love to hear!

*I do not own the rights to the second and third images in this post. Photos used were retrieved from credited Internet sources*

You Might Also Like


  1. I really just want Narnia to be real. I don't think that's too much to ask :)

    1. Right with you! Surely it's not too much to ask ;)