One of the Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
, this book tells of the voyage of the young King Caspian
towards the uttermost East, through hostile seas and unknown island
We met Prince Caspian as he then was in the book of that name, when his tyrannical uncle King Miraz was usurping his throne. The four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, had returned to Narnia to help him. Now in The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader', the younger two, Edmund and Lucy, with their exceptionally nasty cousin Eustace Scrubbs, are called back into Narnia again in mid-sea and hauled upon Caspian's ship, the beautiful little Dawn Treader with its golden dragon prow and crimson sail.
Among their shipboard companions is another old friend, Reepicheep, the most valiant and most courteous of all the talking mice of Narnia.
Eustace is a real rotter, a beastly and selfish little boy, but the voyage is the making of him. After complaining and arguing and feeling sorry for himself constantly, he gets his come-uppance at one of the many perilous isles they encounter. Getting lost and seeing an old dragon die, he crawls into its lair, thinks dragonish thoughts, and finds himself transformed. By the grace of Aslan the Lion he is eventually restored, on the whole a kinder and more thoughtful boy.
Caspian's ostensible purpose now that he is safely established on his throne is to fulfil a quest to find seven lords of Narnia exiled by his uncle Miraz: they are the lords Argoz, Bern, Mavramorn, Octesian, Restimar, Revilian, and Rhoop. But he is also rebuilding from nothing the once great Narnian maritime tradition; and in truth there is some greater quest in the air, the very idea of journeying towards the sunrise, perhaps to Aslan's land itself. It is this that impels Reepicheep.
Gradually they encounter the lords, or their remains, as they explore each island. One is resident on the Lone Islands, once loyal Narnian but now a haunt of slave traders, and he aids King Caspian in retaking them. Another is found to have dived into a stream that turns all to gold. Another was eaten by the dragon Eustace met.
Another, the lord Rhoop, is rescued from a Darkness. Almost mad, almost destroyed by the torture, he tells them this is the land where dreams come true. At first the crew marvel at this and indulge in daydreams, but Rhoop screeches out at them that they are fools: Your dreams come true! -- In about thirty seconds it sinks into each man of the crew what dreams they have had, and what it would be like for them to come true, and they row away as hard as they can, possessed by panic. Only brave Reepicheep is unmoved.
Three more are found asleep at a banquet at the last island of the world, where a star called Ramandu, who once blazed in the night sky, and his daughter beautiful beyond words, reside, and tend them. It is this Ramandu's daughter (never named, in either this or the next book) who is to become Caspian's queen, and mother of Prince Rilian of The Silver Chair. From here, they travel into a world of sweet waters and bright light, close to Aslan's land, and here the company part.
First published by Geoffrey Bles in 1952, with illustrations by Pauline Baynes.
The title is one of those typographically awkward things, like Conrad's The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'. The ship's name Dawn Treader goes in italics, but so does the whole book title: so how do you represent double italics? The conventional solution is to put the inner ones in quotes instead, as I have done in my text. But we can't use italics in node titles, and the quotes aren't really part of the name.
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