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- This article refers to the ship itself, the Dawn Treader. For the book by C. S. Lewis which features this ship, see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The Dawn Treader was a Narnian ship in the fictional world of The Chronicles of Narnia. It was built by King Caspian X and is featured primarily in the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was the first Narnian ship to be built since the Golden Age and was commissioned by King Caspian, so that he might sail beyond the Lone Islands and on to the unknown Eastern Ocean to seek the Seven Great Lords – friends of his father who had disappeared during the reign of Miraz as Lord Protector of Narnia after he had murdered King Caspian IX.
- 1 Crew
- 2 Ship design and construction
- 3 The Voyage
- 4 Other Media
- 5 Other references
- 6 See also
- 7 External links
The ship is captained by the Lord Drinian, friend of Caspian X. Also on board are Rhince, the first mate, Rynelf, a loyal sailor, Reepicheep, the captain of all talking mice, and around twenty other men, mostly of Galmian origin. They are joined shortly after setting sail from Narnia by Lucy Pevensie, Edmund Pevensie and Eustace Scrubb who have managed to enter the Narnian world through a painting of a ship in Eustace's home.
Ship design and construction
The Dawn Treader – which is described in great detail early in the book – is stated as having a gilded bow that resembles a dragon's head and wings and is its primary feature. Many artists have adopted this design in their illustrations so that the figurehead resembles the neck and head of a dragon. In the BBC adaptation they designed the ship so that the wings of the dragon ran along the port and starboard sides. Her hull is painted a rich green, with smooth, flowing lines from bow to stern. A single mast extends from the center of the main deck, and holds a single, large, square, purple sail.
Though the Dawn Treader is but a shadow of the great Narnian ships that sailed in the Golden Age, she is described in the book as a beautiful ship, almost a work of art. She is driven by sail, but can also be rowed using oars.
On the forecastle is the Dragon's Head, the gilded ship's figurehead that is also a look-out post, with a small ladder at the base of the short neck leading up to a place where a look-out can lay down inside the dragon's open mouth and look out over the bow.
Underneath the forecastle is the galley. The reason given for this is that – in a sailing ship – there is always a tailwind, so everything "smelly" is put as far forward as possible. It can be inferred from the description given in the book that the twin smokestacks from the galley run up to the Dragon's Head, where they come out of the nostrils, so the dragon looks as if it is breathing smoke while food is being prepared. There are small cabins for the boatswain, the carpenter, the cook, and the master archer.
The main deck is quite small, being about the same size as the forecastle and poop combined. The railing on the Dawn Treader is low for a sailing ship, because in Narnia, ship-to-ship battles are done with archers and missile weapons, rather than with cannon and artillery. It is relatively featureless as described, with the mainmast coming up from amidships, and two square hatches fore and aft that lead down to the lower deck. These hatches are kept open except in bad weather to allow light and fresh air into the lower deck. On either side of the main deck, just aft of the forecastle, the ship's boat rests on one side and the hen coop on the other (Lucy fed the hens). There is a fighting top atop the main mast, just above the large square sail.
On the poop deck is the tiller, where Drinian, Rhince, or both steer the Dawn Treader. Being such a small ship, the Dawn Treader does not need a full-size helm to steer it. Behind that is the Dragon's Tail, the gilded counterpart to the Dragon's Head at the bow of the ship. Within the Dragon's Tail is a small circular bench for people to sit and supposedly a place for another look-out to sit and watch astern. At night, great lanterns are set by the Dragon's Head, Dragon's Tail, and the fighting top.
Beneath the poop deck is Caspian's cabin, which occupies the entire aft of the main deck. The rear of the ship has six large square windows on it, four in the main cabin, and one in each of the quarters on either side. In the cabin is a table that serves as an officer's mess, and the materials necessary to plan the sailing of the Dawn Treader. Hanging above the door leading out to the main deck is a large gilded representation of Aslan. The interior of Caspian's private cabin to starboard makes up only small portion of this cabin, but is very well-appointed, with blue-green colored walls painted with vine-like patterns and set with gilded decorations of Dwarven make. Drinian and Rhince share the port cabin (see explanation in Lower Deck section).
There are no cabins for women aboard the Dawn Treader, so when joined aboard ship by Eustace, Edmund, and Lucy, Caspian gives up his private cabin for Lucy, who becomes the ship's only female crew member.
The lower deck of the Dawn Treader is accessed from one of two hatches in the main deck, located just fore and aft of the main mast. The bulk of the lower deck is taken up by the crew area, where the crew sleeps, eats, and rows during times of little or no wind. There are benches on either side of the ship, and the crew sleeps in hammocks hung from the ceiling. There are portholes on either side of the ship, one for each bench, where large oars are extended from the ship.
Running down the center of the lower deck, in between the rows of benches, is the cargo pit, an open area that runs almost all the way down to the Dawn Treader's keel. In here is kept all manner of non-perishable foods and supplies. The ship generally holds enough fresh water to keep going for around four weeks. Hanging from the ceiling of the lower deck are strings of onions and dried meats.
At the aft of, and supposedly slightly below, the lower deck is a low cabin used as guest or additional officer's quarters. When Eustace and the Pevensies come on board, and Eustace is taken with extreme seasickness, Eustace, Edmund, and Caspian share this cabin, while Drinian and Rhince – under Caspian's orders – use the port cabin above due to their need to be on deck at a moment's notice. There are several low, thick windows in this cabin, designed to be at or below the water line and thus remain closed. When the ship is rocking in rough seas or a high wind, the color in the room quickly changes from a bright orange with the sunlight to a dim green from the ocean.
The fore area of the lower deck is never discussed, and it can be assumed that it is more crew area or storage space.
The Dawn Treader was the first Narnian ship constructed and launched since the Telmarines started avoiding the sea around 150 years ago, Narnian time. She was launched with a twofold mission. The first was to find the seven missing lords that Caspian's uncle, the usurper Miraz, sent to sea to be rid of them. The second was to attempt to sail to the eastern end of the world, where some say that Aslan's country is. This second mission was guided in spirit by the mouse Reepicheep, who told the tale of a dryad who sang a song about the "utter east" when Reep was but an infant in his crib. The story of the voyage is the plot of the book itself, with the outset being revealed in an explanation by Drinian, and the storm related in first person in the form of a diary kept by Eustace.
The Dawn Treader left Cair Paravel and set sail for the island of Galma, arriving on the next day. There for a week, the Duke of Galma threw a jousting tournament in Caspian's honor, where the king unhorsed many knights. After respectfully declining to marry the lord's daughter, Caspian and the Dawn Treader set out for Terebinthia, arriving four days later. They did not make port due to the sickness on the island, instead dropping anchor in a cove far from the capital where they replenished their supplies.
Leaving Terebinthia three days later due to calm, the ship set out through wide, open seas towards Seven Isles. Three days later, they ran into a pirate – probably Terebinthian – which they held off by arrow volleys, although Reepicheep expressed a desire to board the pirates' ship and hang every one of them. Five days later, they arrived at Muil, the western most island of the Seven Isles. They rowed the straits to Redhaven on the isle of Brenn where they were welcomed. They stayed a short time, only long enough to restore their provisions, before setting off for the Lone Islands. About a week out from the Lone Islands Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace fell through a magical painting in our world, landing in the Narnian sea not far from the Dawn Treader.
The Lone Islands
With their new crew members safely aboard, the Dawn Treader arrived at the Lone Islands off the coast of Doorn, where Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Reepicheep disembarked to walk across the island while the Dawn Treader sailed the channel between Doorn and Felimath, and were then captured by slavers. Caspian was then purchased by a lord of the island of Avra as he reminded him of Caspian IX. The lord turned out to be the Lord Bern, one of the seven lords he set out to find; he had married and stayed in the Lone Islands.
At Narrowhaven, capital of the Lone Islands, a group consisting of Caspian, Bern, Drinian, and several armed soldiers from the Dawn Treader went to wrest control of the government from Governor Gumpas and return it to the crown. They had to act quickly, as the Governor did not realise this was the only ship and thought this was the flagship of a fleet. They were able to gain the people's support and stop the Governor's guards attacking them. Caspian reminded the Governor the tribute to the Crown hadn't been paid for a long time, but let the Governor off. Bern was then made the Duke of the Lone Islands. They also went down to the slaver's market to rescue Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Reepicheep and abolish the slave trade once and for all. Caspian was persuaded to make the Slavers return the money they had been paid for slaves that day. After replenishing their supplies, the crew of the Dawn Treader caught a good wind and began sailing East once more.
The Dawn Treader was rocked by a storm for several days, even to losing a man overboard. At the end of it, the ship almost gave in as the main mast was snapped and came toppling over onto the ship. To make matters worse, two of the water casks in the hold broke, and the crew had to go on extreme water rations.
After a few days, they managed to row into sight of what would come to be known as Dragon Island.
On Dragon Island
Laying anchor off the shore of the island, most of the ship's company went to the island to restore provisions, repair the broken water casks, and find a tree to fell and replace the Dawn Treader's broken mast.
Not wanting to participate in the work, Eustace ran off to find a shady spot. Wandering off into the mist, Eustace became lost and found his way into a valley where dwelled a dragon. The dragon had only just come out of its cave when it lay down and died, apparently of old age. Eustace went into the cave and found its treasure hoard – donning a rather lovely golden bracelet he found – and lay down to sleep. When he woke up, he found himself in the form of the dragon, and due to his greater size was unable to remove the bracelet. In a panic, he tore his way out of the valley and came down to the beach. The crew was about to slay him when he was challenged by Caspian and Reepicheep, quickly deduced who he really was.
Working with the crew for a while, and even finding them a tall tree with which to make a new mast, Eustace became disheartened in that he might have to remain on the island since he won't fit on the Dawn Treader. However, Aslan appeared to heal him and restore him to human form so that he can remove the bracelet, which Caspian recognized as belonging to the Lord Octesian. At the end, when the ship was ready to set sail, they decided that the dragon had either killed Octesian, or was itself the lord transformed. They left an inscription on a rock saying it was thought the Lord Octesian died there.
Burnt Island, Deathwater Island, and the Sea Serpent
A few days afterward, the crew arrived on a small island they had seen afar off from Dragon Island. The remnants of stone huts and burns on the ground from fires showed that the island was recently peopled, possibly having been dispatched by pirates. It was then named Burnt Island.
Around four days out from Burnt Island, the Dawn Treader was assaulted by the great Sea Serpent. It formed a giant loop just fore of the poop deck around the ship, and was quickly drawing the loop tight, intending to crush the Dawn Treader. On the suggestion of Reepicheep, the crew formed a line along the bulwarks and began to push the ship out from under the loop made by the Serpent. They managed to get it over the poop, but was then blocked by the gilded stern, the Dragon's Tail. Just as a crew member ran up from the lower deck with an axe, the Serpent drew the loop closed, snapping the gilded stern off the ship.
The ship then arrived at another unknown island, this one with no signs of life. Here, the landing party – consisting of Caspian, Edmund, Eustace, Lucy, and Reepicheep – went ashore. They found by a large pool metal objects of a Narnian origin: a sword, mail shirt, coins, etc. They then looked in the pool and saw a golden figure resting on the bottom. Soon they discovered that anything that entered the pool turned to gold and that the statue at the bottom of the pool was in reality the body of a man (possibly one of the missing Lords) turned to gold. Caspian named the island and pool a Narnian possession and swore all to secrecy. After almost coming to blows, the landing party found themselves under an enchantment by Aslan; it destroyed their memory of the place, and they could not tell the crew much of anything other than that they had found the body of a Narnian lord and that Reepicheep felt the island should be named Deathwater Island.
The Island of the Duffers
The Dawn Treader continued eastward, almost for two weeks, up to the point where they would have to turn back, when land came in sight. The usual landing party went ashore. It was then that Lucy heard voices coming from all around her, but saw no people. These invisible people, who called themselves the "Duffers", had gotten between the landing party and the ship.
First through threat of force, then through violence, the Chief Duffer said all they wanted was Lucy's help. The wizard who ruled the island, Coriakin, had cast a spell on the Duffers, making them "uglified". To combat this, the Duffers stole away to the wizard's chamber and read a spell from the wizard's book to make them invisible. Now, they were tired of not being able to see one another, and Lucy was the only one who could help them.
Going up to the wizard's study, Lucy discovered the book. Reading through several spells, she found the one to make invisible things visible. Speaking the words, the magic turned all invisible things on the island visible, including the wizard and Aslan himself, who said he had always been there. It was then that the others saw the Duffers for what they were, Monopods. The Magician had made them like this due to their stupidity. Once again, they wished to be un-uglified, but Lucy told them that they looked nice the way they were. Due to their stupidity they ended up calling themselves Dufflepuds. With their ship restored and restocked by Coriakin's magic as well as a magical map created by Drinian's description of their journey thus far, the crew of the Dawn Treader set sail for lands further west.
The Island Where Dreams Come True (The Dark Island)
After twelve days, the ship came in sight of what looked to be land. They turned away from the wind and had to row toward it. A day later, they noticed that it was not land, but rather like a great, black cloud. Sailing into it, they discovered it was absolute Darkness, as thick as fog. It was there that they found a man splashing in the ocean, begging to come on board; they let him come on board. He then told them that this was the realm of the Island Where Dreams Came True. Remembering certain bad dreams they had, the crew turns the ship and begins rowing out as fast as possible, greeted by noises reminding them of their nightmares. Eventually, they were led out by a great albatross that appeared from the darkness. Once they had sailed out, the darkness and the island vanished behind them, never to be seen again. The rescued man identified himself as the Lord Rhoop, one of the missing Lords.
The Island of the Star
When next they sighted land, they saw a long, low country. It was not mountainous as all islands before it had been. There the crew was greeted with a strange sight: a banquet table sitting outside in a pillared courtyard, and three creatures sitting at it appearing to be all hair. Upon further examination, they were discovered to be three sleeping men, their hair and beards grown so long that it covered their bodies. Caspian realized that these were the last three lords they were in search of.
Sitting vigil that night over the three sleepers, they were greeted in the morning by a tall lady who came out of a door in the hillside, who turned out to be the daughter of the master of the island. This master, named Ramandu, was a fallen star who had taken up residence on this island. It was revealed the magician Corakin was also a star, who had lost his position for unknown reasons. As morning rose, the group saw birds flying out of the now-enormous sun and clear the banquet table and deliver a strange, glowing fruit to Ramandu that he said made him younger every day. Having found out the fates of all seven Narnian lords, who had fallen asleep after touching the stone knife which had killed Aslan, Caspian asked the star what could be done to wake the last three lords and what land lies to the East. Ramandu answered that there was no land to the East, only ocean to the very edge of the world. Also, to wake the sleepers, the Dawn Treader must sail to the absolute edge of the world and leave one of their company behind. This was what Reepicheep had planned to do since their voyage began.
Ramandu offered a seat at the banquet table to the poor Lord Rhoop, where he said there was sleep without measure or even a hint of dreams, which was exactly what the tortured man needed. Turning in the direction of the enormous sunrise, the Dawn Treader set off for the Utter East, with only one man staying behind.
Approaching the Utter East
As the Dawn Treader sailed from Ramandu's island the crew on board saw differences in everything around them, such as the lessened need to sleep or eat and an abnormal amount of light (for they were close to the eastern end of the world, where the sun looks largest). As the voyage continued, Lucy began to see seapeople in the clear waters of the East and Reepicheep even attempted to attack one (thinking that it challenged him) and found the waters sweet like sugar, giving him more hope of finding the World's End. As they sailed on, they encountered white lilies that covered the whole sea beyond them. They sailed on until Caspian called for them to stop, lower a lifeboat, and call the men to him.
Caspian had intended to take Reepicheep in the boat and sail with him to the ends of the world, never to return to Narnia. After being rebuked (in a sense) by Edmund and the rest of the folly of his mission, Caspian storms off to his room where, upon Lucy and Edmund's entering, reveals that Aslan has once again appeared and spoken to him. Aslan told him that Reepicheep, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace were to sail on to the ends of the world, while he returned to Narnia to rule.
Soon after the encounter with Aslan, those chosen to sail to the ends of the world entered the lifeboat and sailed east, while the Dawn Treader sailed west. As they drifted (a strong current carried them), they approached a wall of water and, behind it, a mountainous region known as Aslan's country. Reepicheep, knowing he had found the place he had searched for his life, set off on his coracle toward the wall of water and disappeared over the top of it, where it is said that he lives, over in Aslan's Country, forevermore.
After Reepicheep's departure, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace waded south until they came upon a grassy area. They saw a Lamb cooking fish on a fire, and they feasted there. Lucy asked for the way to Aslan's Country, to which the Lamb's reply was that it wasn't the way for them. The Lamb then turned into Aslan and he told Lucy that she and Edmund were to never to return to Narnia again. Lucy sobbed that it wouldn't be the same never seeing Aslan again, but he told her that their reason for being in Narnia and knowing him there was so that they would know him better in their world. Aslan then opened the door for the children to return to Eustace's home at Cambridge.
Caspian returned to Ramandu's Island and took the lords and Ramandu's daughter back to Narnia with him, where she married Caspian and became a great queen.
In the film adaption, the voyage visits the same locations, but the Duffers' island is visited immediately after the Lone Islands, Deathwater and the Dragon's island are the same, and the Dark Island is visited after the Island of the Star, and is revealed to be the source of a great darkness – the nature of which is never specified – that will eventually sweep across Narnia unless it is stopped by the seven enchanted swords of the seven lords. Other differences include Eustace remaining in dragon form for a longer period, helping to pull the ship and confront monsters when his aid is required.
In Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear, the Dawn Treader is the name of the Ship of the Law crewed by children survivors of the destruction of Earth. Richard Meyer also wrote a song for concert band called "Return of the Dawn Treader".
The Dawn Treader makes a random appearance as a vessel in the videogame Sid Meier's Pirates!.
- Book Review and cover photograph shown here