The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis
Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin, Eustace, are drawn into Narnia through a painting of a ship in the sea. They land on Caspian’s ship, the Dawn Treader, in Narnia. Caspian, now the king of Narnia, explains that he is sailing east on an expedition to find the seven lords that the usurper, Miraz, condemned to explore the unknown eastern seas. The seven mates that Caspian is seeking are:
It is also rumored that Aslan’s country lies in the far east of the world. Therefore, in addition to finding the missing lords, there is some expectation that Caspian and his crew will reach Aslan’s land. For me, this book felt similar to the Greek epic poems of “The Odyssey” and the “The Aeneid.” These epic tales are filled with adventure, mythical creatures, and sea-faring adventures. They are fun to read and encourage the reader to get lost in a fantasy adventure. It’s all the excitement of an adventure without any of the physical risks.
(1) Lord Bern
The Dawn Treader’s first stop is the Lone Islands. And their adventure was off to a very poor start. Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, Eustace, and Reepicheep were seized by slave traders and auctioned to the highest bidders. Luckily, the man who purchased Caspian was Lord Bern. Bern quickly recognized and accepted Caspian as Narnia’ High King. Together, Caspian and Bern confront the governor of the Lone Islands, Governor Gumpas. They flip his table and accuse him of not paying the appropriate tributes to Narnia and for illegally promoting slave trafficking. In response to Gumpas’s offenses, Caspian relieves Gumpa from the role of Governor and appoints Bern in his place.
(2) Lord Octesian & Eustace’s Transformation
After leaving the Lone Islands, the Dawn Treader experiences a terrible storm and gets pushed to an unknown island. On the island, Eustace goes exploring on a solo adventure and finds a dragon’s cave. Discovering that the dragon was dead, and the cave uninhabited, Eustace takes a nap inside of it. When he wakes, Eustace discovers that he has been transformed into a dragon! He flies to the beach to meet his comrades, and he is eventually able to convince them, without the ability to speak, that he is still Eustace, but he is stuck in a dragon’s body by some powerful magic. Nobody knows how to return Eustace to his human form. However, while he is a dragon, Eustace proved to be very helpful. He would fly over the whole island, finding food and other provisions. Overall, Eustace’s character improved while he was a dragon. He was anxious to be helpful.
One evening, Eustace enters a dream-like state. He sees a great lion, and Eustace is compelled to follow the lion to a small pond. At the water, the lion spoke and instructed Eustace to take off his clothes. Confused at first, Eustace did not know what the lion meant. Then, he realized that the lion must be referring to shedding, so he began clawing at and stripping away his dragon scales. Layer after layer, Eustace peeled off, but he was unable to reach the bottom. Finally, the lion offers help. With his great claws, the lion peeled away all of the dragon’s scales and exposed Eustace’s human form.
At the beginning of the story, Eustace is a miserable, conceited, sea-sick, and disagreeable child. However, a major theme of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is Eustace’s redemption and transformation. The lion, Aslan, introduced hardship into Eustace’s life by transforming the boy into a dragon. In the midst of Eustace’s affliction, his character and attitude improved. And then only after learning from his experience, and only with the help of Aslan, Eustace’s human body was returned. This is how God works in our lives. God places challenges and difficult situations in our paths. Through these challenges, we improve our characters and increase our faith. In terms of redemption, it is only through God’s hand that we are saved. Nobody else can remove the dragon scales from our broken lives. Only Jesus can remove the evil dragons from our bodies. Only Jesus has the power to tear away our old scales and transform us into a new being.
Prior to his transformation into a dragon, Eustace placed a bracelet from the dragon’s cave on his hand. The bracelet belonged to Lord Octesian. This ring helped Lucy and Edmund identify Eustace in the dragon’s body, and also the ring confirmed that Lord Octesian never made it past this island in his quest for the east. Caspian named Lord Octesian’s island, “Dragon Island.”
(3) Lord Restimar
The sailors of the Dawn Treader battle a Sea Serpent, and then they arrive at an island that Caspian later names “Deathwater Island.” On this island, they discover a pool that transforms anything that touches its water into gold. At the bottom of the pool is the solidified body of a man. Based on the jewels and armor alongside the pool, Caspian concludes that this man was one of the lords they are seeking, although they do not know which one. They all agree that Deathwater Island is cursed and that they should leave immediately.
(4) Lord Rhoop & the Dufflepuds
For their next adventure, the travelers meet a population of invisible people. The invisible people refused to let Caspian and his crew return to the Dawn Treader until they broke the Magician’s spell and turned the invisible people visible again. To remove the invisibility spell, Lucy needed to find the Magician’s book and recite the “spell to make hidden things visible.” The Magician’s Book was an unusual book. For example, it could only be read forward, and never backwards. Which means that you can never re-read it. There was a story in the Book that greatly impacted her emotions, but which she could unfortunately not recall. In the future, Lucy sees glimpses of the story, but she is never able to remember it. Also, she recited some spells that she was not supposed to say. They were simply too tempting, and she fell into the temptation. Although she sinned, Aslan offered redemption, and they did not prevent Lucy from achieving her ultimate goal. Along the path of life, we might stumble, but stumbling does not mean that we are stopped. Keep pushing towards the end goal. God forgives.
Immediately after reciting the spell, Aslan appeared to Lucy. Aslan and Lucy proceeded to meet the Magician, Coriakin. The invisible people were called Dufflepuds. On Dufflepud Island, Caspian learned that the Magician met Lords Revilian, Argoz, Mavramorn, and Rhoop seven years ago, but that these Lords had continued to sail further east. Thus, so did Caspian and his crew.
After sailing for several days, a black wall loomed ahead. After some deliberation, they decided to sail into the darkness and seek the adventures within. Inside the darkness, they rescued a wild man who warned them to turn around. The darkness is the place where dreams come true, and they should sail immediately towards the light. Only thanks to the direction of Aslan, who assumed the form of an albatross, were they able to escape the darkness. Lucy’s desperate prayer to Aslan saved them. The wild man introduced himself as Lord Rhoop. Only three more lords left.
(5, 6, 7) Lords Revilian, Argoz, Mavramorn
On the next island, Eustace, Lucy, Caspian, and Reepicheep find three men asleep and frozen around a table filled with marvelous food. Initially, they are skeptical about eating the food. However, a beautiful woman emerges and encourages them that the food is safe. The three Lords are frozen in a spell because they touched a holy relic, the Knife of Stone, which was used by the White Witch to kill Aslan. Why were they punished for touching a holy relic? I don’t know. I guess some things are too holy for human hands or human sight? Just like it is blinding for man to see God, the same is true for God’s holiest vessels. It is not right for mere mortals to interact with certain aspects of perfection. This is an idea that would be interesting to explore further at a different time. Anyway, Caspian and his companions meet the lady’s father, Ramandu, who tells them how to free the three Lords. To break the enchantment, they must sail to the End of the World, and they must sail back after leaving behind one of their companions. Reepicheep immediately declares that it is his deepest yearning to reach World’s End and that he will be the one who is sacrificed at World’s End. Traveling onward, Lucy observes some Sea People on the bottom of the ocean. While observing the Sea People, Reepicheep dives into the water and discovers that the water tastes sweet. Onward, they sailed through the Silver Sea and saw a wall of white ahead. Like the wall of darkness they saw earlier, this was a wall of lightness. Lucy, Eustace, Edmund, and Reepicheep knew that this is where they separated from Caspian and the Narnians. However, with pride and longing in his heart, Caspian tried to join Reepicheep in the mouse’s quest for the World’s End. He was quickly chastised and discouraged, much like Odysseus in Homer’s “Odyssey” was tied to his ship when his heart longed for the Sirens. It is Caspian’s responsibility as Narnia’s King to return to his people. Humbled, Caspian concedes. This is the sign of a great King. He did not let his pride blind him from his greater purpose.
Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace left the Dawn Treader and rowed toward the great, white wave where they met Aslan in the form of a Lamb. Aslan told them many things: Lucy and Edmund will never return to Narnia, Aslan’s country can be reached from every world, Aslan is, “I am the Great Bridge Builder,” and Aslan is named differently in every world. It is clear that Aslan is the bridge between heaven and earth. Only through Jesus can we reach God’s kingdom.