All at sea: #Narniathon21

The Dark Island by Pauline Baynes

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
by C S Lewis,
illustrated by Pauline Baynes.
Puffin Books 1965 (1952)

When an author takes many of their childhood obsessions — and not a few of their adult ones too — and stirs them around in the cauldron of their imagination they may well produce a dish similar to that which Lewis has concocted for us here. Some may consider it a mess of pottage, others a culinary triumph, but there’s no doubting that there is richness here, drawing on many different and mostly complementary flavours.

As he did in Prince Caspian Lewis plunges us in medias res with a call to adventure, the context for which we are told in a backstory. The fact that, after a brief preamble, that call requires three youngsters to be summarily thrust into the middle of an ocean is daring enough; that there is a ship conveniently passing by proves fortunate; and that from the start there is conflict to be resolved is sufficient to entice us to join the youngsters in their unexpected dunking.

If what follows may at first be seen as a series of random episodes, it soon becomes clear that there are patterns to be discerned and processes to be revealed as the voyage of many weeks and leagues wends its way towards a final goal. And we may be sure that, as this is Narnia, Aslan will be coming back into the picture.

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