And so we come to the third Narnia book to be published (5th in the chronological order) in Chris’s #Narniathon21 readalong and once more, I’m reading from my original Puffin book, inscribed with all my (very serious) play library remnants, another application to join the Puffin Club (still 7⅓ years old), and horror – not very neatly coloured in pictures – I mean look at the sea, left. I didn’t really try very hard, did I?
Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying with their aunt and uncle while older siblings Peter and Susan are away doing other things. This means they have to do things with their cousin Eustace, who is a bit of a bully and not much fun, and of course, not part of their other adventures in Narnia. One daythe pair are talking about Narnia while staring at a painting on the wall of a dragon-prowed ship, when Eustace buts in, and the ship appears to move on the ocean and before we know it, all three are drawn into the picture where they are rescued from the waves to find themselves on Caspian’s ship, The Dawn Treader.
Reunited with their friend Caspian and the stalwart Reepicheep, the ship’s captain Drinian and Caspian outlay their plans to search for the seven lords. They were friends of Caspian’s father that his usurping uncle Miraz had effectively exiled, making them sail towards the Eastern end of the world to explore.
Eustace, meanwhile has been terribly seasick, and had struck an immediate enmity with Reepicheep, the sole talking animal on board. It’s fair to say that that Reepicheep felt likewise, challenging Eustace to a duel!
The trouble between Eustace and Reepicheep arrived even sooner than might have been expected. Before dinner next day, when the others were sitting around the table waiting (being at sea gives on a magnificent appetite), Eustace came rushing in, wringing his hand and shouting out:
‘That little brute has half killed me. I insist on it being kept under control. I could bring an action against you, Caspian. I could order you to have it destroyed.
So the scene is set for an exciting island-hopping voyage in which Eustace and Reepicheep will learn to live with each other. Eustace discovers how to get along with people too after a spell turns him into a dragon for a while, getting one of the lost Lord’s bracelets stuck on his paw:
‘Oh look,’ said Lucy, ‘there’s something wrong with its leg. The poor thing – that’s probably what it was crying about. Perhaps it came to us to be cured like in Androcles and the Lion.’
Lucy’s cordial cures Eustace’s dragon paw, and Aslan eventually turns up to return him to being a boy. Meanwhile, the reference to fable of Androcles and the Lion reminded me of reading GB Shaw’s play of it in my first year of senior school.
They also find the remaining Lords or their remains, Caspian meets a girl, and Aslan puts in an appearance or two when they really need him. It’s episodic, but there’s continuity in the underlying quest which was lacking in Prince Caspian. Each of the main characters gets a starring role and has challenges. I was enjoying it – even the strange ‘Duffers’ (funny little one-legged men with huge feet) but…
… then in the last chapter, Lewis went and spoiled it for me with a rather heavy-handed Christian ending (which I won’t elaborate on so as not to spoil things), rather than a neat moral tieing up.
But I’m not detered. I remember The Silver Chair as my favourite and darkest of the Narnia books as a child. I’m keen to meet Puddleglum again but can’t really remember much about the story which will make it fun!
Here are the links to my write-ups of the previous books: