Caspian explains the purpose of the voyage, and Eustace starts a diary. Hijinks ensue.
It’s been three years in Narnia since Caspian’s coronation, and having secured stability and peace in Narnia, he’s making good on a vow to discover the fates of seven lords (friends of his father, Caspian IX) who had sailed away to explore the unknown Eastern Sea long ago and never returned (it was mentioned in chapter 5 of Prince Caspian, if you’re curious). This is the closest thing we get to a plot in the book, for better or for worse. Seriously – you could probably skip this book entirely and hardly even miss a beat in terms of plot. But you would be missing out on one very important thing: Character development.
You know how Edmund was a stupid, spiteful brat at the beginning of LWW, but then he got better?
[Eustace] must have felt better because, instead of wailing about the storm and his head, he began demanding to be put ashore and said that at the first port he would “lodge a disposition” against them all with the British Consul.
Yeah, Eustace has a long way to go. Fortunately, Reepicheep is determined to forcibly instill some manners into him (especially after Eustace decides it would be fun to pick him up by the tail and swing him around).
“Stop it,” spluttered Eustace, “go away. Put that thing away. It’s not safe. Stop it, I say. I’ll tell Caspian. I’ll have you muzzled and tied up.”
“Why do you not draw your own sword, poltroon!” cheeped the Mouse. “Draw and fight or I’ll beat you black and blue with the flat.”
“I haven’t got one,” said Eustace. “I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe in fighting.”
“Do I understand,” said Reepicheep, withdrawing his sword for a moment and speaking very sternly, “that you do not intend to give me satisfaction?”
I’m sorely tempted to quote all of their confrontations, but since there are in fact other things going on, suffice it to say that they’re all comedic gold.
Aside from his mission to reform and/or duel Eustace, Reepicheep has his own agenda on the voyage: To sail to Aslan’s Country, which is thought to be across the Eastern seas, beyond the Sun (note that they’re sailing toward the Light). Reepicheep’s always eager to right wrongs and fight injustice, occasionally to the point of recklessness; however, it’s often checked by his sense of honor and chivalry (because when an authority figure tells him “no”, he’ll honor that, although he’ll still speak his mind).
Caspian is perhaps a bit more proud as King than as a Prince, but he still puts his men first. Lucy seems more kindhearted than she used to be, going out of her way to actually be nice to Eustace (as vain an effort as that might seem), and she’s still as valiant as ever. Edmund hasn’t gotten much focus yet, but to be fair, at least he never says any of the things he’d like to tell Eustace.
As for Eustace himself, he’s still completely oblivious at this point. All he writes about in his diary is how backwards the Narnians are and how incredibly unfairly he’s been treated (even though they’re all as civil as they can manage, and Lucy only gets preferential treatment because she’s the only lady aboard). He’s selfish and self-righteous, complaining about how things are being done “wrong” because they do things differently than he’s used to. He’s the sort of kid who spouts all the ideologies his parents espouse (like “pacifism”), but doesn’t really understand them. His self-centered attitude is really comparable to that of the Pharisees, wanting only for the world to leave him alone to live his life according to “the rules” and generally be perfect in his own mind.
Until next time…