Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
© 1952 C.S. Lewis
223 pages




            There are unwanted gifts, and then there are unwanted gifts that pull your only son into a fantasy world of dangerous creatures, powerful enchantments, and the odd supernatural beging.  These last are usually called books, but a certain portrait of a ship at sea can do the same thing. At any rate, that’s what happened to Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their obnoxious cousin Eustace.  One moment they were sitting in a guest bedroom, staring at it, and the next they were on the ship with the boy-prince whose throne they’d help win.  With his country at peace, regal Caspian decided to set out to find some lost countrymen, and perhaps discover the End of the World. So begins The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,  a tale of Narnian adventures at sea.  There’s no enormous stakes here, just the call of the open ocean, a thirst for adventure slaked only by salt spray as a ship of merry friends sails into the unknown.  They have a serious mission in discovering the fate of several nobles who were sent on fools’ errands by the wicked regent who attempted to kill Prince Caspian. The forlorn peers have met various fates; some, eaten by dragons; others turned to gold; still others captivated by spells.  The character of  Eustace makes for a particularly entertaining tale, not because he’s a delight because he’s such a boor. He’s a very modern boy, Eustace, raised by parents who know better than everyone else, and whose head is filled with practical things like the workings of watermills, and no cranial capacity given over to dragons.  It’s a pity, for when he was turned into a dragon it might have helped to know what such a thing was!  The humorless Eustace is completely out of place in this magical world, although he takes the existence of talking, combative mice in stride.  The mishaps and adventures aren’t mere amusement;  each carries with it some moral import. This is most obvious on the isle of Deadwater, where the party encounters a pool of water that turns anything immersed in it into gold; the wealth is tantalizing and deadly. Aslan makes infrequent appearances, offering mercy or a warning to those who err.  Lewis’ interweaving of Christian themes and European myths continues,  with an ending that makes plain Aslan’s significance. 

7 comments:

  1. Heh, yes. A week ago I decided to reread "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" as part of the challenge, and then figured -- "Eh, why not see what one of the other books are like?" They're quick reads...it's a bit like that summer I read through the entire Series of Unfortunate Events while babysitting -- I didn't intend to get hooked, it just happened.

    (Also, my nonfiction attempts keep stalling..including a book on downtown that's mostly about zoning laws so far, and an old science book by Asimov that just isn't sparking despite being BY ASIMOV and about ASTRONOMY. I figured it was a can't-miss...)

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  2. I was lent a copy of Mere Christianity by a Christian at work in an attempt to convert me - FAIL. After 30-40 pages I gave him it back as unreadable. Saw the first two movies (they haven't made any more have they?) wasn't overly impressed. No great desire to read the Narnia books though I do remember enjoying the BBC series....

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  3. They've done four movies so far. I've not watched any of them yet, but plan to see at least the first one to get an idea for their quality.


    I've also been sticking my nose into LOTR's The Two Towers this week...it's much more grueling! Have you read that trilogy?

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  4. I first read the trilogy (in one massive volume) in my late teens. I then read it again (unusually for me) in a posh 3 book box-set with each book being read following each film. I enjoyed it/them the 2nd time for probably different (more mature?) reasons than the 1st but parts of it did irritate me with their tedium (which thankfully Peter Jackson edited out of the movies - though I think he might have edited them *in* to the Hobbit films!

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  5. I think you have to be a hard-core LOTR fan to sit through all of the Hobbit films. I remember sitting through the first one -- for two hours, I think -- and the film closing on him *just* spotting the mountain. And they made two movies after that!

    I read "The Two Towers" in high school (why that one and not the first, I have no idea) and didn't understand a thing. Now I've read the first novel and understand...a little more.

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  6. Middle-Earth is a *very* well thought out world that holds together beautifully. It's an amazing body of work and deserves its classic status - but it is a bit boring in places [grin].

    Watched the first two Hobbit movies and was so turned off by the whole thing I really couldn't face the third one! Very self indulgent and honestly Peter Jackson should be ashamed of himself.

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