The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 3

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Parents recommend
Thrilling, thoughtful Narnian quest.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers who enjoy this series will stretch their imaginations as they follow the characters through a number of adventures. The book gives readers a lot of questions to ponder, such as, what do you make of the book's Christian themes? Parents may want to explore some of the other ideas in the "Families Can Talk About" section.

Positive Messages

The idea of redemption resounds: Edmund, of course, betrayed his friends in his first visit to Narnia but has matured into a stalwart friend. Eustace enters as a selfish, hateful boy, but spending some time stuck in the form of a dragon proves a sobering experience, and he emerges humbled and wiser. Themes of loyalty and doing what’s morally right – rather than easy – also run through the story. Characters who are tempted to make a poor choice always take the better path, with guidance but no judgment from their supportive fellow-travelers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are the strength of this book. Lucy is a strong heroine, and both Eustace and Edmund demonstrate the possibility of redemption. Among the Narnians, Prince Caspian and the mouse Reepicheep are classic heroes in heart and action. 

Violence & Scariness

On several occasions it appears violence may be imminent, but the situations are resolved without anyone coming to blows. The children are captured by slave traders early on, and they repeatedly find themselves in very dangerous situations.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this high-seas journey into the great unknown is a satisfying fantasy that can be appreciated on its own or as part of the seven-book Chronicles of Narnia series. Originally the third book in the series, it's the fifth book in editions that are ordered along the chronology in the stories. There are perilous moments, including encounters with a sea serpent and a terrifying Island of Dreams, but it all serves the story, and drawn weapons are put away without being used. The Christian theme that runs through the series is very clear here: The adventurers seek the country belonging to Aslan, a Christ-like figure who rules over Narnia in the form of a lion (though he also takes the shape of a lamb here). Aslan tells the children they must learn to know him by another name in their own country. That said, the book can easily be enjoyed as a fantasy without a Christian interpretation.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1 and 11-year-old Written byZoethustra January 23, 2018

Amazing book

The book opens with "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." I feel like I can drop the mic now, but if you'r... Continue reading
Adult Written bytara1 October 14, 2014
Kid, 10 years old October 1, 2017
Parents need to know that there is almost no violence in this book, less than any other narnia book (except the magician's nephew) just a tiny bit of peril... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 12, 2016

Superior Narnia adventure is very unique

This is one of the best of the Chronicles of Narnia. I personally liked The Last Battle the best, as it had really well-done villains and an incredibly gripping... Continue reading

What's the story?

Edmund and Lucy are visiting their disagreeable cousin Eustace when they find themselves falling into a painting of a great ship: The siblings have returned to the magical country of Narnia, reuniting with Prince Caspian, and Eustace is along for the ride. The children join Caspian and his shipmates on an epic journey into the unknown Eastern Seas. They are seeking seven Narnian lords who had been banished by Caspian’s usurping uncle years ago – and perhaps, even, the land of Aslan, the mystical lion who watches over Narnia. The adventurers encounter enchanted islands, strange merfolk, a fearsome sea serpent, and more, testing their character and their loyalties time and again.

Is it any good?

This fantasy is a classic for good reason. The characters are true and heroic, and their epic adventure sees them escape one danger after another through cleverness, wisdom, sheer bravery, luck, and divine intervention. Even the least appealing characters – the miserable Eustace, later the wearying Dufflepuds – are treated, ultimately, with kindness and affection. C.S. Lewis draws out the good in his characters as they are challenged, and without fail the diverse companions prove their worth and mature further with each stage of the adventure. Throw in strange creatures, curious enchantments, and mysterious, magical islands, and you have an irresistible yarn. Young American readers will find it a bit dated: Originally published in 1952, it’s very British in tone. But kids who are up for the adventure probably will be charmed by those quirks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this series. While the Narnia series stands on its own as a fantasy adventure, it also is appreciated as an exploration of Christian themes. How do you see Christian ideas represented here? Do you think Lewis wanted his book to speak specifically to Christians, or do you think he wanted his stories to strike a spiritual chord with readers of other religious faiths?

  • Do you plan on seeing the movie based on this book? Do you think that movies are ever as good as the books they are based on? If you were going to make this movie, is there anything that you would leave out -- or put in?

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