The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Does Everything Wrong | Talking Beasts

Today marks 70 years since the publication of C.S. Lewis’s third Chronicle of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader! To commemorate the book, 3 Narnia podcasters gathered to discuss how unconventional choices by the author make the book such a classic. Listen and post a comment below!

Post-Show Video: The podcasters discuss their favorite books and movies.

Listen to more episodes of Talking Beasts: The Narnia Podcast.

Rilian, Gymfan, Glumpuddle

10 Responses

  1. Roger says:

    Great podcast. VDT is one of my favorite Narnia books, but I like HHB and SC a little better. I also love the last part of LB after the battle. I find some very inspiring words there. Emeth relaying his conversation with Aslan is absolutely inspiring. What left me cold about VDT is the very ending. I do not like the way Aslan told Lucy that she would not be returning to Narnia. That caught me off guard and still does. Lucy is my favorite character, and we find that she is human and makes errors in VDT. I think this makes her more endearing. She gives some of her water to Eustace. Lewis created four wonderful heroines in Narnia; Lucy, Polly, Jill and Aravis, and Lucy is the best. Eustace is tolerable, but a complete pain. Eustace proves that forgiveness is possible. Both Lucy and Reepicheep prove themselves by helping Eustace.

    I also love “The Great Divorce” by Lewis and Pullman’s “Golden Compass” series. The Golden Compass audio books are better than the Narnia audio books. The Golden Compass audio books are performed by a cast. I ignore the references to Pullman’s atheism, but the books are great. There are three books in the series; The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Lyra is a well developed, complex character that ultimately does some great things. The Amber Spyglass is the best book but you need to read the other two books first to understand what is going on. The Amber Spyglass is the book that got the Carnegie Medal in 1995, the first time a children’s book got the adult award.

  2. Cleander says:

    The first line of the book is like 30% of the reason I love it so much. I’d go on about how much I love the atmosphere and the exploration, but ya’ll articulated all that pretty well already. It does seem like the atmosphere was mostly why Lewis wrote it – his original concept notes for the book just talk about the children travelling on a “ship of ancient build” and that it was going to be “a very green and pearly story.”
    Great chat, as always, guys!

  3. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    Voyage of the Dawn Treader is perhaps my favorite book in the series. It’s more of a journey story and very human. Crazy to think that it’s 70 years old.

    There’s no real villain (Walden’s excuse for creating one with the Green Mist, which was not even a good villain!); the characters actually struggle within itself. Not every story has to have a villain. It’s almost like Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, where Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one and the same, struggling within. Voyage of the Dawn Treader has the same affect in a way.

    I love Moby Dick though I haven’t read 20,000 leagues under the sea. I love Arabian Nights, though some stories are obscure. Each Narnia book is unique in its own as a story.

  4. hiraeth says:

    You guys are making me want to reread this one yet again! Great to have the podcast back 🙂

  5. Col Klink says:

    I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if this episode would be that interesting since you guys have talked about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader so much in the past. But I actually really enjoyed it and I think you found ways to say old things in new ways. I think the discussion at the end of the episode about ranking the books still might be your best tribute to your favorite, but this ran it a close second (and it featured Gymfan.)

    It’s funny the things listed as problems or theoretical problems with VDT don’t bother me at all. I grew up reading episodic stories. (Winnie the Pooh, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Five Children and It, Anne of Green Gables) I never felt like putting the book down after an “episode,” seeing how much was left. The only reason I would do that was if the book was bad and none of VDT isn’t.

    And just because there’s no one overarching villain doesn’t mean there’s no suspense or excitement in the book. The characters get kidnapped and sold into slavery. There’s the sea serpent attack and the mysterious magician. (The true nature of the magician is probably a part of the book that’s not so spoiler proof.) How are those things not exciting?

    I’ve been trying to think of why the book isn’t my favorite though it’s high in my personal ranking. It might be because I don’t love the main characters. I mean Eustace and Reepicheep are awesome but Caspian, Lucy and Edmund, I’d say, are just OK. Maybe it’s because they agree with each other too much. There’s not as much conflict as there is between my favorite groups of lead characters in the Narnia books. (Those are Digory and Polly in MN and Shasta, Aravis, Bree and Hwin in HHB for those interested.) That’s not to say their personalities are all exactly the same of anything. The differences between them can be most clearly seen in the different ways they react to Eustace. And I really hesitate to call this a flaw of the book. (A limitation maybe.) You see I don’t really think it needs super interesting main characters. It’s more about setting and plot.

    I also don’t think I find the ending quite as emotionally resonant as the podcasters do. I mean I do find it moving; it’s very poetic. But it moves me to be wistful and contemplative. It doesn’t make me really happy or really sad like it does Rilian, Gymfan or Glumpuddle. For them, it’s a symphony. To me, it’s a lullaby. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s a beautiful lullaby. The image of Reepicheep sailing over the wave with the dim images of mountains behind it doesn’t really spark my imagination the way it does theirs either. It sounds like to them anything specific would be anticlimactic. It strikes me as a fairly generic image of someone passing into the afterlife. (OK, a really cool generic image of someone passing into the afterlife.) Running up waterfalls and not being able to feel scared in The Last Battle or even the birds’ singing that sounds more like advanced music than animal sounds in The Silver Chair capture my imagination a lot more. That’s why I don’t think VDT is a better finale than LB though I do think it’s a better book if that make sense.

    Are we really going to have to wait until November for more episodes? That’s a whole month. Ah well.

    P.S.
    The Dark Island did that badly in the poll? Unacceptable!

  6. Rebekah says:

    I have to say I’m one of those who just doesn’t get excited about space travel—never have—but I do love VDT. It’s been consistently my 3rd favorite Narnia book (HHB and PC come first and second)

  7. JFG II says:

    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (just the novel, no adaptations) interests me in that: Those who love the book, Really Love It. I know what it feels like to love a story so much it feels like it has impacted my life, and even if it actually didn’t, I am still brought into a unique state when I think about the book, let alone read it. So I think I understand their enthusiasm. And I wonder why on earth I don’t share it.

    Is it because I’m not an open-enough reader? Because Dawn Treader doesn’t take place in Narnia at all? Because we never experience the very beginning (and very end) of the voyage? Is it because – on first read – I disliked Eustace? (So viscerally in fact that I flipped to the half-way point to see if he was still in the story, found out that he was, and just stopped reading.)

    Whatever the reason, Dawn Treader is still not my favorite Narnia book, yet I’ve grown to really like what it has the offer as a piece of literature & and as a piece of written art. And I’d enthusiastically re-read it over any number of books I’ve already read. It’s that good. I just (sadly) respect it more than love it.

    But I’m craving a great visual adaptation of the book, as with all the Narnia books.

    I’ve been waiting patiently all summer for the Return of Beasts who Won’t Shut Up (‘Will nobody silence that mouse?!’) and what a return it was!

  8. Eric says:

    I don’t care about the lower stakes. Dawn Trader is one of the most unconventional unique phantasy books ever. You’ve got an island of nightmares’ coming true. Three people who are actually Stars. The food that renews and the birds. One of the main characters becomes a dragon. Drinkable light. Who thinks of that?? It is my favorite Narnia book and one of my favorite phantasy books ever.

  9. Musgrave says:

    Will you be doing a podcast about the Radio Theater productions of The Chronicles of Narnia for the 20th anniversary of The Last Battle being released?

    • jasmine_tarkheena says:

      They totally should. The discussion should be about some trivia, the voice actors, and how the scenes were dramatized. For instance, Victor Spinetti who voiced Shift had previously voiced Mr. Tumnus in the animated adaptation of LWW. Dialogue was added where Titian and Jewel gave themselves up to the Calormenes.

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