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The Horse & His Boy: Chapter 10

So now it’s time for Sights & Sounds of Archenland:

Winding Arrow: A river that marks the southern border of Archenland. I’m sure in the Calormen dictionary, there’s a section for idiomatic expressions where ‘Crossing the Winding Arrow’ (curiously analogous to our own ‘Crossing the Rubicon’) refers to the point of no return for a foolhardy venture. It’s also referenced under the picture of Rabadash the Ridiculous.

Southern March: Apparently, a sort of welcoming post/inn with a topography that reminds me of some villages in The Netherlands.

Stormness Head: Probably the highest point in the Archenland mountain ranges.


Back to discussing the actual story:

Our quartet barely have time to enjoy the Sights & Sounds before they spot the 200 and they’re off!

It’s always a kick in the gut for me when I follow Shasta and co. into the gradual realization that the sandstorm approaching is Rabadash and the 200. (Note that the 200 should not be mistaken for the 300 of Earth legend; even though both armies are reputed for Famous Suicidal Last Stands.)

Aslan makes his appearance at such a fortuitous moment – inspiration to the Horses to really fly – that I don’t believe for one instant that this is not Aslan… Until he tears Aravis’s shoulders with his claws!

OMG OMG OMG!

I remember how scared/horrified/shocked I was as a child to read this. It totally went against one of the Unwritten Laws of Children’s fiction at the time – the child-hero can be kidnapped/starved/threatened/punched around but is never attacked by wild animals. I don’t think I really expected Aravis to die (because that would have been just abominable) but I was more scared in that moment than I had ever been from reading fiction.

At the same time, I remember thinking that the lion running off after Shasta shouted at it made perfect sense. Go figure.

Shasta was really brave there, wasn’t he? *hugs Shasta* It’s telling that it’s not a conscious decision that he makes to save Aravis. He doesn’t even think about it when he says, “Must go back. Must help!”. That’s his first impulse. Because Shasta is awesome. (I shall be saying this a lot. Be warned.)

He looked forward again and saw something which he did not take in, or even think about.

For an Omniscient PoV story, Lewis really does a great job of putting us ‘in the moment’ with Shasta. Every aspect of the race, then the chase, is described with all vividness of an adrenaline high.

Shasta's heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.

In other words: No good deed goes unpunished. Probably my favorite quote ever. Lewis just re-phrases it in a less cynical way.

But Shasta asks for directions, and goes anyway. Why? Because he is awesome.

I like the realism of the horses be two exhausted to speak. It’s more important in fantasy than in any other genre for characters to be ‘real’.

So Aravis wakes up in a bed of heather (question to readers: has anyone ever slept on heather? It’s awesome) to a breakfast of goat’s milk (which is actually nicer than it’s described), and gets to sleep in all day. I think she ended up getting the better deal than Shasta. :P

I think she realizes this, too, when she goes, “Poor Shasta! Oh my poor boyfriend! Has my sweetheart got far to go? Will my hero gets there on time?” (What do you mean it doesn’t read like that in your own copy?) because she is remembering the lion attack and how awesome Shasta was.

I love the way Aravis calls the Hermit, ‘father’. It’s such a Calormen aristocracy thing: Emeth does the same in The Last Battle.

The weather had changed and the whole of that green enclosure was filled, like a great green cup, with sunlight.

Lovely!

Bree is such a Drama Queen™, isn’t he? As I mentioned in an earlier chapter-meta, Bree’s gradual deconstruction in this story from Hero to Zero doesn’t support the popular theories that the Chronicles are horrifically anti-feminist. Hwin, Bree’s foil, shines more and more throughout the course of the story with her traditionally feminine characteristic of common sense and gentleness. Bree’s traditionally masculine characteristics of pride and aggressiveness end up being his downfall.

Aravis, who is the Bree to Shasta’s Hwin, also has to eat humble pie in this scene. She’s more sensible about it, though. Better to stay in Archenland close to the Awesome Shasta, than to return to Calormen. Smart girl.

BTW, I’m loving the fact that the three of them are practically having a council meeting to discuss just how awesomecakes Shasta was.

…[Shasta] ran in the right direction: ran back.

That ^ so needs to be on a T-shirt. :D :D



Coming Up: More awesomesauce from Shasta. Plus, I’m just realizing that the Four’s plan was, at best, to get into Anvard and warn the King to close the gates a few minutes before the 200 stormed the capital. But that plan depends on so many factors – that they would get immediate audience with the King or someone with the authority to close the gates; and that they’d be believed without too much explanation – that it’s really kind of a lousy plan…
Tags: books: by cs lewis, meta: narnia chapter-by-chapter, review: book
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