I made a quick jump from Prince Caspian to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Book 3 (or 5) in the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. I remembered this one fondly, and happily found my memory correct–this was absolutely excellent, from “There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it” all the way to the end.
This is the third (and last) book focused primarily on the Pevensie children, though in this case it’s only the younger ones, Edmund and Lucy. They and their cousin Eustace are swept through a picture to find themselves on The Dawn Treader, King Caspian’s ship sailing into the far and mysterious East. A few years have passed since their last trip to Narnia, and Caspian is ruling over a peaceful country. He’s set out in search of seven lords who were friends of his father, and disappeared into the East years before. Their journey takes them through a series of islands and adventures, searching for the lords–and, perhaps, Aslan’s Country.
Journey-focused stories can be engaging or aimless, and this is one of the good ones. Interesting adventures are frequent, and though each island has little connection to each other, the ongoing quest keeps the story moving forward. There are wonderful adventures, from Eustace’s transformation into a dragon to the hilarious Dufflepuds to the terrifying, darkness-enshrouded Island Where Dreams (nightmares) Come True.
The adventures are good and the characters are excellent. Lucy and Edmund uphold the Pevensie banner just fine without Peter and Susan, and Caspian is splendid and noble while still able to be young at times too. And there’s the boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb… For all that I like the plucky, capable Pevensies, I also enjoy a character who does not handle magical adventure well. S/he among you who would not be upset by a lack of indoor plumbing, throw the first stone at Eustace. And while too much of Eustace would have been, well, too much, Lewis begins his redemption process early, and so he grows throughout the book.
(A sidenote–you may recall my issues with The Magicians by Lev Grossman, mentioned in an earlier Narnia review. Try to imagine traveling through Narnia with six Eustaces who never learn anything. That’s kind of how The Magicians felt to me.)
Perhaps the best character of all, though? Talking mouse Reepicheep, the bravest and noblest of them all, despite his diminutive size. We met him in Prince Caspian, but we get much more of him here. Reepicheep is fearless, unswervingly devoted to honor, and fierce as a lion. Reepicheep is hugely comical even while being genuinely noble, an impressive blend.
All in all, an excellent installment in the series, and the first rival to The Magician’s Nephew for status as favorite. Next up, The Silver Chair, which I also remember particularly fondly, so I’m looking forward to it!
Author’s Site: https://www.cslewis.com/
Buy it here: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader