Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

I feel like I always open these by explaining why they're late, so for once I'm doing that above all the Narnia matter so you can skip over it! So here goes: This post is late and I'm sorry.

There are reasons for this--I took a much-needed vacation that lasted for two days but mentally occupied me with preparation and packing for two weeks; I worked on Patreon stories (which are my main source of online income right now, and my highest of spoon-priorities); I played Breath of the Wild for many wonderful good hours; I became briefly sick with food poisoning from rancid shortening; I dealt with an unexpected air-conditioning outage that I'm still trying to sort out; and so forth--and I never know how long to spend on those reasons. It's not that I feel I have to justify myself (you're all incredibly understanding about delays!) but I'm always torn between "wanting to let people know what's happening in my life" and "not wanting to constantly complain".

So this post is late and here are the reasons why. I'm alive and I'm as well as someone can be in 2017, which is not very well at all but here we are. I love you all and miss you and I hope you're well.

[Narnia Content Note: Racism, Violence]

Narnia Recap: The fight against Rabadash has been won and we're doing narrative clean-up now. Aslan has briefly visited Aravis, Bree, and Hwin to convert them. Obligatory note about racism, intent, and Lewis is here.

The Horse and His Boy, Chapter 14: How Bree Became a Wiser Horse

This is a second-parter to the last post, so if you haven't read that one, I suggest doing so first here. When we last left Chapter 14 it was morning when Aslan showed up and he didn't speak with them for more than maybe a half hour? Tops?

This is in retrospect disappointing. Can you imagine Hwin's point of view? She got a whole sentence from her creator and then was ignored afterwards. Even his terrorizing of her was for someone else's benefit: Aravis and the servant girl. (When does Aslan need to know how Hwin felt being chased by him? An eye for an eye, Lion Jesus!)

   Strange to say, they felt no inclination to talk to one another about him after he had gone. They all moved slowly away to different parts of the quiet grass and there paced to and fro, each alone, thinking.
   About half an hour later the two Horses were summoned to the back of the house to eat something nice that the Hermit had got ready for them and Aravis, still walking and thinking, was startled by the harsh sound of a trumpet outside the gate.
   “Who is there?” said Aravis.
   “His Royal Highness Prince Cor of Archenland,” said a voice from outside.

I'm trying to get a handle on the timeline here. The battle was yesterday, some time after breakfast and apparently concluding while the sun was still pretty high. (There was no mention of darkness or of the Hermit having trouble seeing in his pool.) So maybe twenty hours have passed? And the Hermit's hut seems to be an hour's ride from the castle, if you have a good horse and know the way.

On the one hand, I imagine it took a while for everyone to settle down and listen to Shasta; it seems in character for adults to be so busy celebrating their lost prince that they wouldn't pay attention to said lost prince saying things like "please can you send someone to check on my friends because I left them at the Hermit's place and a bunch of Calormen soldiers fled into the woods near his house".

On the other hand, we've yet to see any evidence that Shasta is thinking about his friends or is particularly concerned; once he parted from them to carry on the message, he seemed to forget about them entirely. He doesn't once think about Aravis being wounded, or whether she recovered from those grave wounds. He doesn't seem to worry that the Hermit might not be treating the Horses well, despite being given every reason by his "father" to distrust elderly old men. He doesn't seem to care that Calormen soldiers will be desperate for food and water, making the Hermit's house an attractive target for a raid, nor that they will need horses to get back home, meaning the Horses are in danger of recapture. And even if Lewis didn't want to raise the specter of sexualized violence in a kids' novel--though it's about 100 pages too late for that--Aravis is in mundane danger as someone worth kidnapping and ransoming back to her father.

Shasta considers none of this.

Shasta is, in fact, so deeply unconcerned about his friends that I almost wonder if they weren't a later addition to an earlier idea. The last third of the novel, where Shasta is separated from the others and they essentially stop existing as far as the narrative is concerned, reads like a drabble that Lewis stapled onto the end. But here we are and we're left wondering why it took Lune--who is supposed to be the picture of a good Lewisian king--twenty freaking hours to send someone to check on the helpless wounded girl and Narnian kidnapped-into-slavery refugees who brought his son back to him.

Furthermore: Why is their first encounter with Shasta? Why didn't Lune send messengers ahead to check on them? Lewis was outright stealing from The Arabian Nights in the first third of the book, but he couldn't take the narrative device of a strange and mysterious benefactor sending servants ahead of him to lavish gifts and favor onto his audience? Not to mention this would be a better way of establishing Shasta's rise to power, as well as giving us some idea of what power even means in Archenland. Hell, we could've seen some character building, too: how would Aravis react to presents at this stage in her journey? Would she be relieved to have her wounds dressed in silk? Would fine cotton feel odd to her after days (weeks?) on the road, leading her to realize something fundamental inside her has changed? Would she feel relief or trepidation at the idea that some local king has set his sights on her?

Speaking of, this is how Aravis meets "Prince Cor".

   Aravis undid the door and opened it, drawing back a little way to let the strangers in.
   Two soldiers with halberds came first and took their stand at either side of the entry. Then followed a herald, and the trumpeter.
   “His Royal Highness Prince Cor of Archenland desires an audience of the Lady Aravis,” said the Herald. Then he and the trumpeter drew aside and bowed and the soldiers saluted and the Prince himself came in. All his attendants withdrew and closed the gate behind them.
   The Prince bowed, and a very clumsy bow for a Prince it was. Aravis curtsied in the Calormene style (which is not at all like ours) and did it very well because, of course, she had been taught how. Then she looked up and saw what sort of person this Prince was.
   She saw a mere boy. He was bare-headed and his fair hair was encircled with a very thin band of gold, hardly thicker than a wire. His upper tunic was of white cambric, as fine as a handkerchief, so that the bright red tunic beneath it showed through. His left hand, which rested on his enameled sword hilt, was bandaged.
   Aravis looked twice at his face before she gasped and said, “Why! It’s Shasta!”

I'm almost at a loss for how disappointing this is. I actually closed the browser for a bit and went to complain at Kristy. I need a rewrite of this book that treats Aravis as a character. Gives us a sense of what she's thinking, and of who she is. Even the reveal is oddly stilted and cardboard: "Why, it's Shasta," not "Why, it's you."

We get no sense of how she feels about any of this. There's a trumpeteer at the door announcing a prince. Has she heard of Prince Cor before? Lewis seems to forget that Aravis is a member of the gentry and within spitting distance of royalty, so it's entirely possible that she has learned the names of the Archenland royal family as part of her education. Does she know about the Lost Prince Cor? (No, no-one does. This is impossible but I've beaten that dead lion enough.) Does "Cor" sound sufficiently like "Corin" that she could mistake this one for that one, or posit an older relative? That alone would strike fear into my heart: the idea that Prince Corin might be calling on me.

Is she afraid? Anxious? Curious? Relieved? What emotions does she feel at the sudden and unlooked-for presentation of a prince on her doorstep? Is he here to send her back to her father, thus avoiding more diplomatic tensions when the two nations already teeter on the brink of war? Is he some Narnian (er, Archenlandian) lout come to claim her as a bride or mistress? What is her official status here? Hwin told her Narnian maidens live free, but Hwin is a sweet soul speaking about her memories from childhood; Aravis should know reality is always more complicated.

Is she about to be wooed or forcibly carried off? Are they even here for her or do they want to see the Hermit? Should she play ignorant and hide herself, or should she assert herself as nobility and wield the power of manners against them? Is now the time to press herself into an advantageous marriage she may not want but would prefer to being sent back or enslaved or worse?


We don't get to know what she is thinking. In a few short sentences we come to the reveal: the unlooked-for and unexpected prince is Shasta. Her... friend? companion? person she knows and has traveled with for somewhere between two-and-five days total? What does she think about this? Is he sexy now, like the girl in the teen movie taking off her glasses for the first time? Does Aravis feel as though she's seeing him for the first time? Is he "righter" somehow, like the fine clothes and rich wardrobe suit his inner spirit? Is he "wronger" under those clothes, but she can still see the clean goodness in his humble face?

Lewis didn't want to write romance (except no-one is forcing him to pair the two main characters hastily off, so he has no-one but himself to blame!), but he can't even moralize properly. Here was a golden opportunity to talk up Shasta's richness of spirit or humble carpenter's fisherman's face, but instead we know more about Shasta's clothes than we do about him. Give me honest eyes more than red tunics; give me a humbled face rather than white cambric. Give us something to show us how Aravis feels about him and his character--especially given their incredibly hasty marriage that will soon be hurled at our faces.

   Shasta all at once turned very red and began speaking very quickly. “Look here, Aravis,” he said, “I do hope you won’t think I’m got up like this (and the trumpeter and all) to try to impress you or make out that I’m different or any rot of that sort. Because I’d far rather have come in my old clothes, but they’re burnt now, and my father said—”

Wait, they burned his clothes? Why on earth would they burn his clothes? He didn't have scarlet fever or anything; he was poor. He wasn't allowed to keep them in a hope chest or whatever as a reminder of where he'd been and all that he'd come from? This honestly distresses me, like, why would you do that? He's lost everything from his childhood and those clothes were his last connection to Calormen.

   “Your father?” said Aravis.
   “Apparently King Lune is my father,” said Shasta. “I might really have guessed it. Corin being so like me. We were twins, you see. Oh, and my name isn’t Shasta, it’s Cor.”
   “Cor is a nicer name than Shasta,” said Aravis.

I think Lewis' books persist because we have to fill in these blanks. Presented with cyphers, our minds fill in the missing details. Why does Aravis say this? Does she really think that Cor is a nicer name and she's just bluntly sharing her opinion, banishing his old name the way his new father burned his clothes? Does she not know what to say and this is a clumsy attempt to comfort him? Our brains are forced to filter the options and pick a reason--and a matching characterization stemming from that reason--because nature abhors a vacuum.

   “Brothers’ names run like that in Archenland,” said Shasta (or Prince Cor as we must now call him). “Like Dar and Darrin, Cole and Colin and so on.”
   “Shasta—I mean Cor,” said Aravis. “No, shut up. There’s something I’ve got to say at once. I’m sorry I’ve been such a pig. But I did change before I knew you were a Prince, honestly I did: when you went back, and faced the Lion.”
   “It wasn’t really going to kill you at all, that Lion,” said Cor.
   “I know,” said Aravis, nodding. Both were still and solemn for a moment as each saw that the other knew about Aslan.

Aravis, having converted to the church of Aslan, now speaks British fluently. Oh, I say, we are grand, aren't we? Oh, oh! No more buttered scones for me, mater; I'm off to play the grand piano.

   Suddenly Aravis remembered Cor’s bandaged hand. “I say!” she cried, “I forgot! You’ve been in a battle. Is that a wound?”
   “A mere scratch,” said Cor, using for the first time a rather lordly tone. But a moment later he burst out laughing and said, “If you want to know the truth, it isn’t a proper wound at all. I only took the skin off my knuckles just as any clumsy fool might do without going near a battle.”
   “Still you were in the battle,” said Aravis. “It must have been wonderful.”
   “It wasn’t at all like what I thought,” said Cor.


Aravis has left the book--fled, perhaps, when it became clear Aslan wasn't going to apologize--and left behind the Aravisbot 2000 for Shasta to ineptly woo.

The real Aravis had a brother who was in battles all his life. He died in a battle, if I recall correctly. She kept his armor in her room and polished it to a high shine and missed him with all her heart. At night she probably told herself that if he were still alive he would speak to their father and talk him out of the disastrous marriage Aravis dreaded enough to flee. When she did run, she wore his armor--for protection and disguise, yes, but also because it was the one thing she couldn't bear to leave behind forever.

Where is that armor now? She took it off to go into Tashbaan, but she wouldn't have left it by the roadside. It must be in Hwin's tack now. I had a momentary panic that perhaps Aslan tore it to shreds, but Aravis had no reason to be wearing armor across the desert ride. I hope it's still in good condition, for her sake. But she doesn't romanticize battles as something dreamy and wonderful to witness. Battles are glorious and terrible and bloody, not (*dreamy sigh*) (*chinhands*) ~ w o n d e r f u l ~. That is something Lasaraleen would say--and be despised for by Lewis for saying it.

Here is the infodump most of you have already seen in my previous post on the topic:

   “But Sha—Cor, I mean—you haven’t told me anything yet about King Lune and how he found out who you were.”
   “Well, let’s sit down,” said Cor. “For it’s rather a long story. And by the way, Father’s an absolute brick. I’d be just as pleased—or very nearly—at finding he’s my father even if he wasn’t a king. Even though Education and all sorts of horrible things are going to happen to me. But you want the story. Well, Corin and I were twins. And about a week after we were both born, apparently, they took us to a wise old Centaur in Narnia to be blessed or something. Now this Centaur was a prophet as a good many Centaurs are. Perhaps you haven’t seen any Centaurs yet? There were some in the battle yesterday. Most remarkable people, but I can’t say I feel quite at home with them yet. I say, Aravis, there are going to be a lot of things to get used to in these Northern countries.”
   “Yes, there are,” said Aravis. “But get on with the story.”
   “Well, as soon as he saw Corin and me, it seems this Centaur looked at me and said, A day will come when that boy will save Archenland from the deadliest danger in which ever she lay. So of course my Father and Mother were very pleased. But there was someone present who wasn’t. This was a chap called Lord Bar who had been Father’s Lord Chancellor. And apparently he’d done something wrong—bezzling or some word like that—I didn’t understand that part very well—and Father had had to dismiss him. But nothing else was done to him and he was allowed to go on living in Archenland. But he must have been as bad as he could be, for it came out afterward he had been in the pay of the Tisroc and had sent a lot of secret information to Tashbaan. So as soon as he heard I was going to save Archenland from a great danger he decided I must be put out of the way. Well, he succeeded in kidnapping me (I don’t exactly know how) and rode away down the Winding Arrow to the coast. He’d had everything prepared and there was a ship manned with his own followers lying ready for him and he put out to sea with me on board. But Father got wind of it, though not quite in time, and was after him as quickly as he could. The Lord Bar was already at sea when Father reached the coast, but not out of sight. And Father was embarked in one of his own warships within twenty minutes.
   “It must have been a wonderful chase. They were six days following Bar’s galleon and brought her to battle on the seventh. It was a great sea-fight (I heard a lot about it yesterday evening) from ten o’clock in the morning till sunset. Our people took the ship in the end. But I wasn’t there. The Lord Bar himself had been killed in the battle. But one of his men said that, early that morning, as soon as he saw he was certain to be overhauled, Bar had given me to one of his knights and sent us both away in the ship’s boat. And that boat was never seen again. But of course that was the same boat that Aslan (he seems to be at the back of all the stories) pushed ashore at the right place for Arsheesh to pick me up. I wish I knew that knight’s name, for he must have kept me alive and starved himself to do it.”
   “I suppose Aslan would say that was part of someone else’s story,” said Aravis.
   “I was forgetting that,” said Cor.

I really cannot imagine a worser way to spill all this out. The main points (lost prince, twin) were foreshadowed so clumsily as to make everyone in the story look like fools, while the details (evil chancellor, epic prophecy) weren't foreshadowed at all, so they seem like unnecessary additions. Why did Shasta even need to be prophesied to do something great? The only point of this detail seems to be motive for the Chancellor to take the baby, which is adding unnecessary complexity! There are, after all, always good reasons to kidnap a royal baby.

Why, too, did the evil chancellor need to be in the employ of the Tisroc? This is a completely new development regarding diplomatic relations between the two countries, which seems rather important in a book that has largely been about those two countries going to war. As it is, it feels like an extra little dig at Calormen: oh, yeah, they were also the evil jerks financing the guy who kidnapped Shasta.

Were there any good Calormen in this book? Wikipedia's discussion of racism in this novel makes a big deal of Aravis being a Good Calor(wo)man and marrying into the royal family (because how could a country be racist if the king marries a foreigner? this is sarcasm, to be clear!), but being the designated Rahab for the book doesn't mean THAHB has a free get-out-of-racism-free card. Shasta's adoptive father was abusive; Aravis' biological father was abusive; Aravis' fiance was abusive; Prince Rabadash was abusive; the Tisroc was abusive. The only Calormen man who we aren't sure was abusive is Lasaraleen's nonentity of a husband, and I have my suspicions about him.

Oh, yeah, and the guy who wanted to buy Shasta was abusive. So were most of Rabadash's generals, if their names and titles are anything to go by. Now we find out that the one person in Archenland who was well-disposed towards Calormen was of course an evil embezzling traitor who kidnapped a royal infant not just to be a jerk or for ransom money, but because the infant was prophesied to save Archenland and I guess the Calormen-loving Chancellor wanted the place to burn and left behind not one friend or loved one. This is what happens when you associate with Calormen, kids! (/story moral)

   “And I wonder how the prophecy will work out,” said Aravis, “and what the great danger is that you’re to save Archenland from.”
   “Well,” said Cor rather awkwardly, “they seem to think I’ve done it already.”
   Aravis clapped her hands. “Why, of course!” she said. “How stupid I am. And how wonderful! Archenland can never be in much greater danger than it was when Rabadash had crossed the Arrow with his two hundred horse and you hadn’t yet got through with your message. Don’t you feel proud?”

The Aravisbot 2000 claps her hands with pride while actual Aravis shakes her head in the distance and points out quietly to herself and her horse that she saved Archenland just as much as Shasta did. More, actually, since she was the one who overheard Rabadash's plan. All Shasta contributed to the ride was picking the wrong direction that was slower but had more water for an army.

   “I think I feel a bit scared,” said Cor.
   “And you’ll be living in Anvard now,” said Aravis rather wistfully.
   “Oh!” said Cor. “I’d nearly forgotten what I came about. Father wants you to come and live with us. He says there’s been no lady in the court (they call it the court, I don’t know why) since Mother died. Do, Aravis. You’ll like Father—and Corin. They’re not like me; they’ve been properly brought up. You needn’t be afraid that—”
   “Oh stop it,” said Aravis, “or we’ll have a real fight. Of course I’ll come.”

Nothing could be less attractive an offer than "come live at a court full of men" except possibly "come live at a court full of white men who will hypersexualize you for being a brown-skinned foreigner". I realize--and I hope Lewis realized--that Aravis' presence as a lady at court would bring more ladies with her, since she'll need servants and maids and ladies in waiting and gentry girls to socialize with, but still she's going to be signing up for an incredible amount of social pressure.

You know who would thrive under those circumstances? Lasaraleen.

You know who has been characterized as hating court and polite socializing, and would presumably prefer to retire to a quiet country estate and hunt in peace for the rest of her private life? Aravis.

   “Now let’s go and see the Horses,” said Cor.
   There was a great and joyous meeting between Bree and Cor, and Bree, who was still in a rather subdued frame of mind, agreed to set out for Anvard at once: he and Hwin would cross into Narnia on the following day. 

Here's what I don't get or like: Why aren't the Horses welcome at court? Lewis made a situation where Horses aren't horses; they're intelligent and talking. They have interests and hobbies and are just as much people as you and I. But Aravis and Shasta are going to go live in a castle while Bree and Hwin are going to live in a field and eat the same grass the commoners eat. Why?

We can accept that perhaps they want it that way, but in order to do that we have to consider why the humans are making the choices they are. Why is Aravis going to court when she has been established as hating court? Why is Shasta going to be a king when that's the last thing he wants? They would be as justified retiring to a private life as Hwin and Bree would be! So why is it just assumed that the humans will be royalty for the rest of their lives while the Horses will go be commoners? They did just as much work to get here and save Archenland as Aravis and Shasta did.

Indeed, why is the happy ending for Bree and Hwin that they get to go be horsey and do horsey things? They've been silent in captivity for their entire life. Why doesn't Hwin go to court and become a famous storyteller, employing the techniques she watched with quiet wise eyes as she waited in the Tashbaan market for her mistress to return from the shops? Why doesn't Bree travel the world as a singing bard, regaling audiences with tales of battle and bravery in the southern lands? Why don't they have happy endings doing and being something more than "horses in a meadow"?

   All four bade an affectionate farewell to the Hermit and promised that they would soon visit him again.

WHY.  They aren't friends! They barely know him! He's been the bare minimum of polite to them! I mean, good, okay, whatever, but this is more Generic Endingtron 5000. "And then they petted the goats and promised to bring them crunchy carrots..."

   By about the middle of the morning they were on their way. The Horses had expected that Aravis and Cor would ride, but Cor explained that except in war, where everyone must do what he can do best, no one in Narnia or Archenland ever dreamed of mounting a Talking Horse.
   This reminded poor Bree again of how little he knew about Narnian customs and what dreadful mistakes he might make. So while Hwin strolled along in a happy dream, Bree got more nervous and more self-conscious with every step he took.
   “Buck up, Bree,” said Cor. “It’s far worse for me than for you. You aren’t going to be educated. I shall be learning reading and writing and heraldry and dancing and history and music while you’ll be galloping and rolling on the hills of Narnia to your heart’s content.”
   “But that’s just the point,” groaned Bree. “Do Talking Horses roll? Supposing they don’t? I can’t bear to give it up. What do you think, Hwin?”
   “I’m going to roll anyway,” said Hwin. “I don’t suppose any of them will care two lumps of sugar whether you roll or not.”
   “Are we near that castle?” said Bree to Cor.
   “Round the next bend,” said the Prince.
   “Well,” said Bree, “I’m going to have a good one now: it may be the last. Wait for me a minute.”
   It was five minutes before he rose again, blowing hard and covered with bits of bracken.
   “Now I’m ready,” he said in a voice of profound gloom. “Lead on, Prince Cor, Narnia and the North.”
   But he looked more like a horse going to a funeral than a long-lost captive returning to home and freedom.

Thus ends Chapter 14, and I want to scream a little. It's so little and so late. Like, yes, good, Bree feelings of ambivalence at being "free" but finding yourself a foreigner in your homeland. But we get nothing from Hwin except her constant cardboard acceptance of Lewis' will, and the Aravisbot 2000 seems equally placid. Only Bree is worried and his valid worries--social acceptance is important! people live and die based on their positions in society!--are treated as childish and silly.

Here I will add that I have always been upset by the "no humans ride Horses" social barrier. It's a sudden and unnecessary retcon after a series full of humans riding centaurs, Horses, Owls, unicorns, dragons, and even Aslan himself, and it only serves to instill a sudden social distance between Shasta and Bree--they can't even ride together now that Shasta is a prince. This feels less like a thoughtful social rule and more like something put in at this midnight hour to shame Bree: he mocked Shasta for his terrible riding skills, but little did he know that every time he let Shasta "mount"* him, he was demeaning himself as a Horse.

[* I'm trying very hard not to make this "mounting"--Lewis' word in-text--sound sexual, but Lewis' issues about sex and power exchange infest these books so much that it is sometimes difficult to tell where the power-kinks end and the sex-kinks begin. See also the extremely uncomfortable bit in The Silver Chair where Jill whips girls with a riding crop.]

There's an impression created here and left with me as a child that Bree and Shasta won't see each other again much, if at all, and certainly not as equals and friends. Shasta is off to become a king, for all that he pleads that he has it worse. (Nice white male entitlement showing from the most privileged in the group!) Bree is off to become a commoner with odd social behaviors that will set him apart from his peers--a situation he dreads and which he's allowed to dread!--and if he meets Shasta and Aravis again, it will be as a subject meeting a king. Not as a trusted friend and older mentor; not as an equal.

As a kid I had imagined a happy ending where Bree and Hwin would visit Shasta and Aravis once a year. The Archenland King and Queen would run away from their duties for a much-needed vacation and would ride on-and-with their friends out into the countryside. They would reminisce together about those days when they rode for their lives and saved themselves and their countries; they would eat in the wild and sleep under the stars. They would remain friends and companions and never be separated by courtly distance or stilted Narnian customs**. How could they? They weren't Narnian. Blood didn't determine nationality. They were a unique and beautiful blend of Narnian and Calormen, bicultural in a way no one but the four of them would ever understand.

[** How do the Narnians even have this custom? Or indeed any customs at all? Everything is new to them! Vive la révolution! Humans are new! The White Witch was thrown out less than two decades ago; before that it was one hundred years of winter and not a human in sight. How can there possibly be a moratorium on riding horses such that "no one in Narnia or Archenland ever dreamed of mounting a Talking Horse"? Lewis clearly means humans--I can't imagine a Horse would begrudge a tiny Sloth a ride rather than have to set a matching pace when traveling with the other--but how are there humans here it makes no sense.]

Then Lewis smashed it all with his social customs designed to stratify Power and Respect and Honor. Which wouldn't necessarily be wrong--haven't I complained enough about how the Talking Animals are treated like animals?--except that the Talking Animals have been treated like animals all this time. You can't give the Horses a "happy" ending of "and then they were horses, basically" but then expect me to feel like you Respect Their Proud People And Culture because of an arbitrary tacked-on no-riding rule. That isn't respect! It is the flimsy trappings of the respect we ought to have been showing them all this time yet never were.

So here is the real ending.

Shasta, now Cor, became a king not because he had to for his blood and kin and country, but because he saw how irresponsible Corin was and he couldn't let his brother have a crown. He'd been raised in poverty and so he took a throne in order to prevent any more little Shastas being abused in his realm. As much as he possibly could, he adopted young children into his court and made sure they had a safe place to live and grow and learn useful trade skills in a caring environment.

Aravis moved to the Narnian court to live with Lucy and Susan. She learned to enjoy life there and the girls helped her adapt to this new world; Lucy and Susan hunted with her (a pastime she continued to enjoy immensely) but also helped revive the social skills she'd learned as a child but then scorned and buried when she grew older and tried in vain to become a son to replace the one her father lost. The Narnians were kind to her and she even let herself enjoy a few courtly flirtations, but she could never shake the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land.

When she ran into Shasta again many years later at a court event, it was like meeting an old friend you didn't know you missed. The two of them reconnected almost overnight, romance and passion blossoming alongside the wonderful complete feeling of being with someone who understands you in ways no one else ever could. She became his queen and co-ruler of Archenland, sharing his vision of making the world a better place, and Lasaraleen was assigned to permanent diplomatic residence in the Archenland court. Lady Lasa was instrumental in bringing to freedom a certain servant girl Aravis had never forgotten; the young woman became Aravis' most trusted lady in waiting.

Hwin settled in the Narnian court as a skilled poet, and even read one of her own creations at Aravis' wedding. She did not relocate to Archenland when her friend married, but she visited often. The Pevensies (who reigned long and died happy in their beds at an old age) greatly respected their court poet and rained praises and honor upon her; she returned their love and lavished words on them which set in stone the goldenness of their golden age for generations to come. Without Hwin, the Pevensies would not have been remembered the way they were--she made them famous in ways their own words and deeds never would.

Bree tried his hoof at being a warrior in King Peter's army, but he found he didn't magically enjoy fighting more as a free horse--he longed to live a life of peace and he came to realize it was not cowardly to want good things for himself. He traveled the lands as a bard, singing and storytelling about the battles he'd seen and witnessed. Somehow, in his stories, he was always the clever-and-wise horse carrying the brave-but-foolish hero! You would think he had been owned by every infamous Calorman and friend to every Archenland hero ever to walk the land.

But his stories were so clever and skillful you could never doubt the truth of them.

When trade with Calormen opened to Talking Animals and it was safe to visit without fear, Bree was one of the first to travel to Tashbaan, leading others through the desert with the aid of his experience and memories of the land. He told stories for coin in the market of Tashbaan and a new generation of Calormen bards were influenced by his style and turn of phrase. Though dozens begged to apprentice to him, he took only one human student in his lifetime: a little Calormen slave boy he bought from an owner who used to beat him in the Tashbaan square. Bree raised the boy as his own son and successor.

"Shasta"--the name Bree gave his son, for the boy could remember having no other name and Bree had always been troubled by the way Cor shed his after all the grand deeds he'd accrued to his fine name--grew up to be the greatest storyteller in Calormen history. Even now to this day, everyone in Tashbaan knows which Shasta you mean when you say his name, much as we know our Shakespeare.

And that is the story of The Horse and His Boy.


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