MMGM is a weekly meme hosted by middle grade author, Shannon Messenger.
Lewis does a great job creating different adventures within the Narnian series. Of all the installments, books one and two are probably the most alike. After that, characters begin to shift, settings change, and the plots vary widely. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, only the two youngest Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund, make it back to the magical land. They reunite with Prince Caspian and bring with them their reluctant (and beastly) cousin, Eustace. And in this adventure, they embark on a voyage to the Very End of the World in the utter East.
Eustace, in my opinion, becomes the central character in this book, because he is the one who undergoes an astounding change. The others have already been proven worthy of their nobility in adventures past, but Eustace comes in a selfish, spoilt brat. When he wanders off from the others on one of the many islands they visit, he stumbles onto a dying dragon and shelters in its lair. Then follows the most symbolic event of the book: “Sleeping in a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.” It is only after Aslan cuts him free of his dragon skin that his personality begins to change for the better. It is something he could not accomplish without divine help.
As in the rest of the series, Christian allegory abounds. In fact, when Lucy and Edmund learn they are not to return to Narnia, they mourn that they will never see Aslan again. He assures them they will. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little while, you will know me better there.” One of my favorite things about the series is digging out these hidden meanings. And I love that these beloved characters pass on lessons of faith to my kids.
Yet the voyage is riveting enough to please any kid. Who wouldn’t want to set of on an old-fashioned sailing ship to explore uncharted waters? The children have all sorts of adventures. They’re sold as slaves, meet invisible adversaries, narrowly escape death in a pool that changes everything to gold. They meet former stars (as in heavenly bodies) in human form and solve a seven-year mystery. And at the very end, valiant Reepicheep, my favorite character, sails over the edge of the world just after they catch a glimpse of Aslan’s country beyond.
Interestingly enough, I liked the movie even better than the book. That doesn’t happen often. The writers stayed very true to the spirit of the book, and while the written version lags just a bit in the final chapters, the movie does not. But on the whole, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds its own in the Narnian series. I highly recommend it.