C. S. Lewis’s gift for setting the scene is remarkable. The journey across the many-arched bridge and the landscape of Tashbaan is vivid. The hill city reminds me a lot of Belgium landscape with its cliffs and levels of roads. It goes to show how remarkably fit the horses and children are that there’s no mention of exhaustion.
It’s telling that Calormen’s beauty exists side by side with its smells and rottenness – as opposed (I’m sure) to the utopia of Narnia where even the best-fitting clothes are the most comfortable ones. The elite of Calormen ride on rickshaws and build sound-proof walls to shield themselves from the chaos without. Still, something has to be said from a society where everyone has a place (and has the potential of rising above that place e.g. Ahosta Tarkaan). Calormen is still standing at the end of the world while Narnia, despite its utopia, falls. Or perhaps it’s because of Narnia’s utopia that it falls because if the Narnians had been more sceptical, the chain of events that led to calamity in the Last Battle would have happened differently.
“Shasta cried very little. He was used to hard knocks.”
Statements like this make it hard to feel sorry for old Arsheesh, don’t they? I haven’t read many books where a male character cries because of physical pain without this inferring cowardice. A lot of writers draw the line on manpain tears at emotional and spiritual. Kudos to Lewis for breaking that frankly ridiculous cliché.
LOL @ the description of the Narnian party wearing ‘gay’ yellow. Ah for the days of innocence. :P
Am I the only one who wonders how you speak in parentheses?
Susan/Corin ship alert!!!
LOL! Seriously though, I think it’s awesome that Corin is so obviously Susan’s best friend and came along with the Narnias to Tashbaan at her request. It’s my personal fanon that she wanted him to have a good time in a new place (since he’s clearly a handful) and she also wanted him to judge Rabadash in his den. Corin is so clearly not a mama’s boy that this just makes this gender-bending even better.
As I’ve mentioned before I read this book before The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Although the ending of that book is spoilt (with the Pevensie children clearly crowned as Kings and Queens), nothing else in that story, not even the mention of the White Witch, is given away. We meet Narnia and Calormen in media res, so to speak and there’s no long, boring exposition to catch up on what happened in the former book(s) neither is there any sense that we’re missing something. It’s a fine balancing act between eons of exposition and leaving new readers feel like if they’re missing something. Very few books in any series can stand alone as well as this one does. I’ll be looking out for this while I review the other books.
King Edmund is Teh Hotness. But more on that in the next chapter! :D