If you ever go on a Calormen tour and you pass through the Tisroc’s Palace without visiting the Hall of Black Marble, the Hall of Pillars and the Hall of Statues, know that you have been cheated of your money’s worth. According to the narrator, these are ‘all too magnificent for words’, which certainly saves a lot of tiresome description that would not do this justice.
At last Aravis’s suspicions about Ahosta are vindicated. Which leads to the question of if Ahosta is evil because of his ‘base blood’, despite the heights to which he has risen as opposed to Shasta and Aravis who are intrinsically noble because they are high-born even though at certain times, they had fallen to hard times. But that theory isn’t supported by Prince Rabadash and the Tisroc, who are dishonorable blue-bloods. (Or, from the Narnia angle, King Miraz the Usurper?)
Aravis blackmailing Lasaraleen is not at all nice, or particularly spunky but whatever anger I feel at the character for doing this is immediately countermanded when she owns up to it, and apologizes for it. The girls’ friendship really shines through with their parting. They still see things very, very differently, but the affection is clear and I love Aravis wishing her friend a wonderful life. I hope she has a happy life. There’s something so endearingly naive about Lasaraleen’s blind loyalty to the Tisroc, the way she’s just satisfied with her life and the way things are.
"But she stuck out her chin (and a little bit of her tongue too)"
Spare a thought for the poor groom who would no doubt have had a perfectly dreadful night.
Aravis instinctively and with no hesitation whatsoever tells the others about Rabadash’s stealth invasion. One reading indicates that her loyalties are flexible. Another reading is that it’s Calormen-bred pragmatism: escaping to Narnia is useless if the country that she’s escaping from will soon invade it. But while these could be factors, I think Aravis’s decision here is primarily due to outrage that the rules of engagement are being broken. The fact that herpeople are the dishonorable ones only makes it worse. That’s also why she’s so vitriolic towards the ‘Tisroc’.
"All that about galloping for a day and a night, like in stories, can't really be done."
It can’t? Damn.
This chapter ‘reads’ particularly long but I’ve counted the pages and it’s no longer than average. I love how realistic the journey is. It starts out delightful and everyone feels adventurous and excited as they trot across cool sand in the moonlight. Then it gets boring even before they start feeling tired. Then the sun comes up and it becomes almost nightmarish.
It’s scary to realize that if not for the fortuitous encounters at Tashbaan, our Fab Four would not have made it across the desert with their original plan of just facing North and walking.
"One wouldn't expect Horses to keep awake after a day's work like that, even if they can talk. And of course that Boy wouldn't; he's had no decent training. But I ought to have known better."
I am unrepentantly amused by the way Aravis capitalizes Boy the same way as she does the talking Horses. Perhaps she really believes that Shasta is a different kind of species from herself because he is/was almost a slave. Or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a male.
Was I the only one who wanted to smack Bree hard for wasting everyone’s time and then dragging his feet? I’ve had to work with people like that on several occasions – from high school to my professional work – and I can assure you that you can never get used to that brand of prima donna.
Next: The Hermit of the Southern March where structurally Act 3 of this story commences!