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Literature / The Horse and His Boy

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The fifth book written for The Chronicles of Narnia series and the third book chronologically; a midquel that takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Horse and His Boy is the only book in the series where no action takes place in our world. It tells the story of four runaways from the southern kingdom Calormen — the peasant boy Shasta, the Rebellious Princess Aravis, and two Narnian horses Bree and Hwin — whose quest for their own freedom soon turns into a mission to warn Narnia and Archenland of an impending invasion by the Calormene prince Rabadash. The journey will take them through the great city of Tashbaan, across the treacherous desert that borders Calormen, and over the mountains that separate Archenland from their ultimate goal — Narnia and the North!


Unlike other books in the Narnia series, this one is not mythic in scope (until the ending, where certain epic deeds are done and The Reveal is... revealed.) Royalty is mentioned only in passing until the finale, there are barely any religious or magical elements, and the protagonists don't have a ready-made court of willing, loyal Narnians ready to help them through any troubles they have. The novel makes it clear that our heroes are alone in a largely hostile world, and that no one will respect them until they've earned respect. The plot focuses mainly on the four's long, long journey to Narnia, the sights they see and things they learn, and the Character Development everyone goes through in doing so.


This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: A mini-one. On arriving in Tashbaan, Aravis is horrified to discover (from her friend Lasaraleen) that her father is also in town — and yet this discovery does nothing more than keep Aravis from moving openly through the city, which she probably couldn't have done anyway.
  • Action Girl: Queen Lucy (who is a young woman at this point in the timeline, rather than a little girl as in most of the books) fights together with the other Narnians in the battle against Rabadash's army. Averted by Susan, who is "more like an ordinary grown-up lady" and prefers not to go to war when she has a choice, though she is still an excellent archer.
    • Aravis, to a lesser extent. She doesn't fight directly, but she's still undergoing a dangerous quest by her own free will.
  • Action Survivor: Shasta. At the beginning, he's just an escaped teenaged slave who has mostly done minor physical labor. While his attempts at being conventionally heroic generally leave him looking ridiculous, he grows into being competent and self-sufficient, and he ends up saving the day. The postscript describing his fate reveals that he graduates into being a full-fledged badass as an adult.
  • Adipose Rex:
  • Agony of the Feet: Shasta is unable to help Bree by dismounting during the daylight part of the desert crossing because the sand is hot and he has no shoes.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Lasaraleen. She is friendly, likable and Spoiled Sweet — but also conditioned by Calormen's horrible culture of slavery and oppression, which she has never had occasion (or opportunity) to question. Thus, she is casual and even cheerful about things like arranged marriages and random death threats to the servants, though in an innocently thoughtless rather than cruel manner.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Calormene culture is heavily inspired by the Arabian Nights version of the Middle East; notably, C. S. Lewis is on record as being a fan of the English translation and even borrowed the name "Aslan" from the footnotes to one edition. It's Turkish for "Lion."
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Bree scoffs at the idea that the tombs of the ancient kings are haunted, regarding it as foolish superstition. Bree is a talking horse. Also, it was established back in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that ghouls exist in the Narniverse, though since Bree was taken from Narnia at a young age — he wasn't even aware that Aslan was a real lion — he may not have known this.
  • Arc Words: "Narnia and the North!" It's the rallying cry for Narnians and Archenlanders in Calormene territory, most frequently used by Bree.
  • Arranged Marriage: What Aravis is fleeing. Suggested to be the case with her friend Lasaraleen. However we never see her husband (it is suggested that he spends a lot of time away from home) and she rather enjoys her high life.
  • Asshole Victim: Anradin Tarkaan, who is apparently a very cruel man. He dies in the Battle of Anvard, and his death gets only a glancing mention.
  • Automaton Horses: Defied quite resoundingly. The horses, particularly Bree, are explicit about their physical limits (no "galloping for a day and a night" or anything crazy like that). Further, the threat of "Rabadash and two hundred horse" drops from 'legendary' to 'big but manageable' when Bree points out that all those riders have to be awakened, their horses saddled, provisioned, watered, etc., so the children and their horses will have a couple hours' head start.
  • Bad Boss: Shasta flees before he can be sold to the Tarkaan Andradin because his (talking) horse assures him the man is cruel to his slaves. Lasaraleen seems to blur the lines, see ...In That Order below.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Aslan turns Prince Rabadash into a donkey during his Humiliation Conga. The final part? He can only be changed back by showing up at the temple during a huge festival, letting thousands see what happened to him. Furthermore, if he ever goes too far from the palace, he'll turn back into a donkey forever. This prevents him from conducting any military campaigns against neighboring kingdoms, since he would lose the respect of his own people if he sent his army to fight while he stayed behind, and might get overthrown.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Shasta is the (adoptive) son of a pauper fisherman and has no shoes, though this doesn't cause him any problems or distress until they have to cross the desert (see Agony of the Feet, above).
  • Barefoot Sage: The Hermit of the Southern March.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Aravis is disguised as one so she can accompany Lasaraleen into the royal palace in Tashbaan without being recognized. The idea is that she is (notionally) a present for one of the princesses.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Shasta and Aravis verbally spar with each other most of the book. By the conclusion, they've gotten married so they can fight — and make up — more conveniently.
  • Berserk Button: Did you just talk smack about Queen Susan in Prince Corin's hearing? Talk to the Thunder Fist!
  • Big Bad: Rabadash is The Heavy, but his father, the Tisroc (may he live forever), is clearly the brains of the operation.
  • Big Fancy Castle: The Tisroc's palace is so vast, there is a whole section (the Old Palace) not used very much anymore.
  • Big Fun: King Lune is heavily implied to be this: he's certainly fat, but he's described as jolly, and he throws great parties.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rabadash was gallant enough to interest Queen Susan when he visited Narnia, but she changes her mind upon seeing what a bloody and capricious tyrant he is in his home country.
  • Blind Obedience: Lasaraleen remains loyal to the Tisroc, at least initially, even after witnessing the same cruelty that causes Aravis to lose her faith in him. The great ruler must surely have a good reason to act as he does, even if someone like herself cannot immediately understand it.
    Lasaraleen: How can you say such dreadful things; and about the Tisroc (may he live forever) too. It must be right if he's going to do it!
  • A Boy and His X: The protagonists are Shasta and his talking horse Bree, plus Aravis and her talking mare Hwin. Bree takes offense at such phrasing and believes it's just as fair to say that the horse has a boy and the mare has a girl: hence the title.
  • Break the Haughty: Bree, Aravis, and Rabadash all go through humbling experiences over the course of the book, although only the first two really learn anything from it.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Downplayed in this book, but there is a mention of how the Calormene villains dislike free countries like Narnia because they put people ahead of profits. In other volumes in the series, Calormen is consistently associated with the slave trade, environmental destruction and other destructive expressions of greed and commerce.
  • The Chains of Commanding: When Cor, his older brother, returns to Archenland — and thus becomes next in line for the throne — Corin is delighted that he will not have to become king. Lune agrees, pointing out that princes live in luxury and are highly respected, but kings have to do a lot of work and make hard decisions.
    "For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there's hunger in the land (and must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land."
  • Changeling Fantasy: Shasta, a peasant orphan, turns out to be the long-lost Prince Cor, heir to the throne of Archenland. Atypically for the trope, he feels overwhelmed by the responsibility, while his brother is only too happy to be bumped down to Spare to the Throne. ("I shan't have to be king! It's princes that get all the fun!")
  • Chekhov's Gunman: This book details the society of the Calormenes (introduced briefly in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), their god Tash and their tense relationship with the Narnians - in short, setting up The Last Battle.
  • Clever Crows: Sallowpad the raven is considered the voice of wisdom in the council during the deliberations of Edmund, Susan and the Narnians who were held hostage to Rabadash's whim.
  • Closer to Earth: Hwin in general. She tries to keep humble (even saying that what she said to Aravis wasn't nearly as poetic as what Aravis claimed), at the same time keeping herself less concerned with how others perceive her (whereas Bree worries as to how "proper" Narnian talking horses act).
  • Cool Old Guy: The Hermit of the Southern March.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Bree is an excellent teacher of riding, poor demeanor notwithstanding. However, Bree teaches Shasta how to specifically ride him — and as Bree is an intelligent, reasoning creature, he doesn't need to be reined or spurred. Shasta thus has excellent form and balance astride a horse, but absolutely no idea how to control one. When he's given a normal horse to ride, he's completely at a loss as to what to do with the reins and he soon falls behind the other riders.
  • Cult of Personality: There is an almost religious element to the Calormenes' veneration of their ruler, the Tisroc (and indeed, he is vaguely implied to be a sort of Priest King). Even the casual mention of his name is always accompanied by the formula "May he live forever!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many, but one especially takes the cake. When the Tisroc has a meeting with Rabadash, his son rather begrudgingly gives the standard salutation. Later in the discussion, Rabadash opines that High King Peter will overlook the planned kidnapping of Susan in order to have "his nephew and grand nephew on the throne of Calormen." The Tisroc replies, "He will not see that if I live forever, as is no doubt your wish."
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Aravis is proud and fairly cold for the first half of the book, but she eventually warms up to Shasta as he demonstrates his courage and resourcefulness.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: All the upper-class Calormene characters believe, as a matter of course, that inferiors who fail at their duties should be physically disciplined, and this applies not only to villains like Rabadash, but is also true for the sympathetic Aravis and Lasaraleen. In Aravis's case, it becomes part of her Character Development to learn from Aslan himself, no less, that this is not acceptable.
  • Determinator: Shasta, best exemplified when he rushes to warn King Lune of the impending Calormene invasion. To be clear, he has had little rest beforehand, just jumped off a speeding horse, which knocked the wind out of him, and stared down an angry lion in order to save his friends. He is then forced to make a mad dash, also without rest, to King Lune and his party. He notes beforehand how tired he is, that he feels as if he has no energy. Yet all he asks when the Hermit informs him that he must go is where the King is.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lewis uses Bree to poke fun at those who de-mythologize Christianity (saying that Christ was an inspired teacher, for example), having him say that Aslan isn't really a lion, he's just as strong as a lion or as fierce as a lion. The very-literal (and highly amused) lion is right behind him as he says this.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Bree is noted as being fairly strict with Shasta about learning to ride, and even after all the lessons claims that Shasta sits in the saddle like a sack of potatoes. This is likely another case of Bree's pride; when Archenlander nobles give Shasta a non-talking horse to ride, they immediately note his excellent form.
  • Eccentric Mentor: The Hermit of the Southern March, who helps the cast with his medicine and magical scrying powers once they cross the desert.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Played straight with the Calormene nobility; subverted with the Narnian nobility who dress more modestly but seem more regal; averted with King Lune in everyday clothes.
  • Evil Chancellor:
    • Grand Vizier Ahoshta is a downplayed version. He's genuinely loyal and grateful to the Tisroc but is happy to support a plan that may result in the death of Prince Rabadash (who, to be perfectly honest, is a really detestable person). (And it's implied that he's more like a Yes-Man with some ideas for the Tisroc to implement than someone that wants the top spot; in this he'd be like almost every other member of the nobility.)
    • Lord Bar, King Lune's chancellor, is mentioned in passing as the one who was caught embezzling money, selling secrets to the Tisroc, and kidnapped the infant Prince Cor before the story started.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • While Rabadash outlines his plan to kidnap Queen Susan and force her to become his wife, the Tisroc rationally points out that even if he were to succeed, High King Peter would retaliate when he found out what happened. Rabadash brushes off this concern, stating that Peter won't want to lose the political advantages of a marriage alliance with Calormen, and that they can always send fake letters from Susan that claim she's changed her mind and is happy with the arrangement. The idea that Peter might not be okay with his sister being assaulted in this manner never crosses their minds.
  • Evil Prince: Rabadash is hot-headed, selfish, and ambitious, and his father the Tisroc (may he live forever) knows Rabadash may overthrow him if he is not distracted. Evidently there is some precedent: more than five Tisrocs died early when their eldest sons grew impatient.
  • Evil Virtues: Prince Rabadash is decisive, bold, and courageous. The narrator even says he could hold up well under torture. Unfortunately, all of it is undercut by his fragile ego and excessive pride; he is effectively a Spoiled Brat with way too much power over other people's lives.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Both Aravis and Shasta learn crucial information when, through no intent or fault of their own, they overhear secret councils of the highest levels of government: Aravis and Lasaraleen learn about Rabadash's planned sneak attack on Archenland and his further campaign through Narnia to capture Susan; Shasta (mistaken for Corin) hears the Narnians plotting their escape and also learns of a safer way through the desert. Of course, since we are in the Narnian universe, There Are No Coincidences.
  • Expansion Pack World: In role-playing terms, this is the world-book for Calormene; Lewis does an excellent job of detailing its culture, down to the food, in a short novel. Often overlooked is the job Lewis did of foreshadowing it.
    • The first Calormene characters appear in ''The Voyage of the Dawn Treader;" the unregenerate Eustace says that Calormen "sounds the least phony of these countries."
    • The entire story is referenced in The Silver Chair, as the entertainment after a banquet at Cairn's parallel: "the grand old tale... which is called The Horse and His Boy.... (I haven't time to tell it now, though it is well worth hearing.)"
    • And, the very first reference to Calormen comes in Prince Caspian, as the Pevensies are realizing not only where, but when they are: " was the very day before the ambassadors came from the King of Calormen...." It's not certain that Lewis intended this, but by implication this throwaway line recalls the start of Queen Susan's ill-fated romance with Rabadash!
  • Fate Worse than Death: Bree tells Shasta that he should prefer to be dead tonight than be Tarkhaan Anradin's slave tomorrow.
  • A Friend in Need: Both Bree and Hwin reveal they can talk just when Shasta and Aravis, respectively, are in desperate need of help.
  • Game Face: Subverted — Rabadash rolls his eyes, sticks out his tongue, and wiggles his ears. It terrifies his underlings (who know he can have them boiled in oil at any minute), but it doesn't have the same effect on the free Northerners, who just worry he's having a seizure or a fit.
  • God-Emperor: The Tisroc is said to be descended from the Calormene national god Tash and is treated with downright religious veneration, much like a Chinese emperor or pharaoh. When his name is spoken, a good Calorman always appends "may he live forever." He does not literally have supernatural powers, but his people treat him as sacred all the same.
  • God Was My Copilot: When Shasta finally meets Aslan, he reveals just how many times he's helped out Shasta, beginning when he engineered the infant Shasta's arrival at Arsheesh's hut.
  • The Good King:
    • Both Edmund and Lune. Lune gives a good summation of the job — see The Chains of Commanding, above.
    • Also, Rabadash in a way: since he couldn't go to war due to Aslan's curse, he did wonderful things for Calormene's education system and became a fine diplomat. Of course, the Calormenes didn't respect a Tisroc who wouldn't make war — plus everyone had seen him change back from being a donkey — so he went down in history as Rabadash the Ridiculous.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Corin is an outstanding boxer even as a boy — it takes three Calormene watchmen to subdue him — and, as an adult, punches out a bear, thus earning the name Corin Thunder-Fist.
  • Gracefully Demoted: Corin is fine with losing his heirship when his older brother is finally found. Aside from being a genuinely good person, Corin prefers a life of adventure to the burden of being king. In the epilogue, it's mentioned that he travels around subduing enemies of the kingdom, winning both happiness and glory.
  • The Grand Vizier: The Calormene Grand Vizier is too minor a character to be a good example of the trope, but he is portrayed as ugly, grovelling and petty. His brief appearance is an interesting deconstruction of the Evil Vizier trope, though, as his seemingly fat and decadent master is every bit the cool-headed pragmatic ruler that his immediate circle aren't.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Queen Lucy brings her bow to bear against Rabadash and his Sneak Attack, while even Corin and Shasta ride into the melee. To be fair, the latter is in direct and willful disobedience to King Edmund's express command, but still, none of the front-line fighters are even implied to be female.
  • Heir-In-Law: A Calormene prince wants to marry Queen Susan of Narnia so he'll be able to take over the country.
  • Hero of Another Story: Aslan warns against being too interested in this, but the Pevensies are this to Shasta and he is this to them. It's one of the few books that are written from the Hero Of Another Story's point-of-view.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Shasta's backstory, the knight who starved himself to keep Shasta alive.
  • The High Queen:
    • Queen Susan. Prince Corin describes her as "like an ordinary grown-up lady". Queen Lucy features as well but she doesn't fit the trope — essentially being a grown up version of her Genki Girl self.
    • Corin's off-hand description of Susan becomes utterly chilling in the light of The Last Battle, though Lewis scholars are undecided whether this is a case of Production Foreshadowing or Harsher in Hindsight.
  • Humiliation Conga: Prince Rabadash, ending with a Karmic Transformation.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty:What Rabadash plans to do to Susan.
  • Identical Stranger: Shasta is mistaken for Prince Corin of Archenland. Subverted, since they're actually twin brothers.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: After Prince Corin runs away from the Narnian group, they later meet Shasta and mistake him for the prince because the two look exactly alike. It's later discovered that Shasta's real name is Cor and he and Corin are identical twins.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: One of the Tarkaans that rides with Rabadash is Corradin of Castle Tormunt.
  • Insistent Terminology: When speaking to or of the Tisroc, it is reflexive to add "May you/he live forever."
  • Intellectual Animal: A Narnian staple, but Bree and Hwin are unique among the Calormene horses.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Aravis in her Back Story. Hwin stops her.
  • ...In That Order: Lasaraleen tells her servants that if they reveal Aravis' presence, she'll have them beaten to death, burnt alive, and then kept on bread and water for six weeks — rather ineffectual punishments if done in that order, and a display of her casual, lazy attitude.analysis 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Bree could have been a bit politer about pointing out that Aravis had just as much right to say Hwin was her horse as he does to say Aravis is Hwin's human... but even the narrator basically agrees with the point.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bree acts like this on several occasions — a combination of being a Talking Horse among horses and the prize war-stallion in an official's stable has left him with an over-inflated sense of his own magnificence. That said, he's got a strong sense of honor, helps Shasta escape from a Fate Worse than Death, and is an unquestionably loyal companion.
  • Justified Criminal: Shasta feels guilty about taking food and supplies from the Calormenes, but Bree rationalizes it by explaining that they are Narnian soldiers raiding "enemy territory".
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • After Ahoshta and the Tisroc (may he live forever) give Rabadash permission to invade Narnia, Ahoshta helps the Tisroc justify his decision to send his own son into a situation that will probably get him killed. It's meant to show Ahoshta as an amoral Yes-Man — and the Tisroc not much better — but then it's not like anyone would really miss Rabadash.
    • Rabadash also gives the Grand Vizier a Literal Ass-Kicking during the interview, but it doesn't make us feel all that sorry for Ahoshta.
  • King Incognito: Not intentional, but due to the fact that Lune was gardening at the time, Shasta had no idea that he was the king of Archenland.
  • Lack of Empathy: In their secret council (which Aravis and Lasaraleen overhear), the Tisroc, Rabadash and the Grand Vizier all provide examples of this through their ambitious plans and ruthless assessments of various people's prospects for life or death in the near future due to the same. This contributes importantly to turning Aravis (who was already a Rebellious Princess, but not unpatriotic as such) against her country's regime.
  • Lady of War: Queen Lucy joins the archers in battle. Queen Susan, it is explained, is an excellent shot, but doesn't like fighting.
  • Last Stand: Discussed, but ultimately averted and slightly deconstructed. It's pointed out that while they make for noble stories, they don't do much good beyond that, as the house ultimately ends up burned to the ground. The Narnian court decides to sneak away with a clever ruse instead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When our heroes are chased and attacked by a lion who, it turns out, is Aslan it scratches Aravis across her back. The Hermit who tends to her wounds notes that his was unusual behavior for a lion. When Aslan reveals himself, he explains that the wounds he gave her, "tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood" were equal to the beating received by the slavegirl Aravis drugged in order to make her escape. "You needed to know what it felt like."
  • Lemony Narrator: C. S. Lewis waxes eloquent on several occasions.
    "For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays."
  • Like an Old Married Couple: (And then they end up becoming one.) Aravis and Shasta become so used to fighting and making up again that they get married "to go on doing it more conveniently."
  • Made a Slave: What Shasta is fleeing, and the horses' backstory.
  • The Magnificent: Rabadash is called "the Peacemaker" to his face, due to Aslan's judgment making going on campaign nigh-impossible for him, but he ultimately goes down in history as "Rabadash the Ridiculous."
  • Mighty Whitey: The free Narnians and Archenlanders immediately catch Calormene-raised Shasta's attention as being a cut above, while even Calormen who aren't sympathetic to the "barbarian" Northerners also call them "beautiful." Though Shasta's reaction, at least, has much to do with wonderment at how they all carry themselves like free men around their own monarch, rather than with the fearful servility that Calormen's tyrannical regime imposes even on noblemen in the presence of royalty.
  • Modest Royalty: King Lune of Archenland makes a first impression like this with Aravis, but in this case it's justified in the narration: he was wearing older clothes because, at the time, he had been inspecting the kennels of his hunting-dogs.
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Shasta a.k.a. Prince Cor.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Bree may be an Intellectual Animal, but he still panics and bolts from a lion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod!: It is revealed at the end that when Shasta was a baby, there was a prophecy that one day he would save Archenland from its greatest danger. A Calormene agent, correctly presuming that this great danger would be an incursion from Calormen, kidnapped him in an attempt to prevent the prophecy coming true. Circumstances prevented him from killing the baby, which was raised in Calormen, and eventually got wind of Prince Rabadash's plot to invade Archenland, and so the prophecy came true.
  • No Name Given: In the backstory, one of Bar's knights sailed away with the young Prince Cor, starving himself so the child might live on what little food they had.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Bree and Hwin among Calormene (i.e. non-talking) horses. This has somewhat gone to Bree's head.
  • Not So Similar: This is the book that introduces Tash, a figure that is theorized to be another culture's name for Aslan. (It isn't.)
  • Oddball in the Series: Absolutely no scenes on Earth, the story focuses on characters native to Narnia and neighboring countries, the main thrust of the story focuses on Archenland and Calormen rather than Narnia, and the plot is on a much smaller scale than previous entries in the series.
  • The Ojou: Lasaraleen Tarkheena is the sweet type: ditzy, gossipy, and shallow, but not half as bad as most of the Calormene nobles in the story.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: Aravis is somewhere in her early teens when betrothed to Ahosta Tarkaan. Bree explains that all Calormene noblewomen marry young, though her Wicked Stepmother is implied to be rushing her out of the house earlier than usual.
  • Overly Long Name: The titular horse's full name is Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah (i.e. a horse's neigh). He begrudgingly accepts the shortened form "Bree" for the rest of the book. "Hwin" sounds like the shortened version of a similar name.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: As grown men, Cor becomes a better swordsman, but Corin gains eternal fame as a boxer.
  • Person as Verb: In Calormen, the actions of Rabadash in this book caused the phrase "a second Rabadash" to become synonymous with foolish behavior in schools.
  • Pony Tale: It's not one, but C.S. Lewis thought the title "might allure the 'pony book' public."
  • Phrase Catcher/Verbal Tic: The name "The Tisroc" is usually followed with "May he live forever." As a free Narnian at heart, Bree makes a point of omitting that little titbit. The other characters stop saying it over time too, though the length varies.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: After the story is over, Bree and Hwin remain close friends for the rest of their lives, and eventually get married "but not to each other." Which makes sense, since they earlier discovered they were cousins when comparing family trees.
  • Pride: One of Bree's defining characteristics, perhaps as a result of being both the only talking horse surrounded by dumb animals and pampered as a prize warhorse for a Calormene official. It later backfires on him, as he becomes neurotic about what "proper" Narnian horses do (whereas Hwin states that she's just going to do what makes her happy), and only by admitting that his own weaknesses and insecurities after abandoning Hwin and Aravis to the lion while Shasta runs back to help does he become a better and humbler person. Similarly, the text notes that Rabadash wouldn't fear any torture, but he can't bear to be humiliated.
  • Prince Charmless: Rabadash was charming enough in Narnia, but when Queen Susan and her company visit him, the mask starts to slip. It comes off entirely when she escapes him.
  • Purple Prose: The Calormenes all tend to talk this way, especially in their poetry. Aravis has even been taught formal storytelling in school, and Hwin observes that she has made her dialogue much more elaborate in the retelling of their adventures.
  • Rags to Royalty: Lowly Shasta, the supposed son of a Calormene fisherman, is actually the rightful heir to the kingdom of Archenland.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As the heroes are starting out from the tombs to warn Archenland about Rabadash's attack, Aravis is worried that Rabadash and his forces will already be setting out, but Bree reminds her that Rabadash won't be able to get two hundred horsemen supplied, armoured, fed, watered and ready to travel all in a minute.
    • When Shasta is making his Big Heroic Run to save the day, all he can think about is how he's winded, tired, his side hurts, his feet hurt, and it's just not fair that he should be given more to do after what he's already been through.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Lasaraleen gets hit with some of this when paired with the relatively more tomboyish Aravis. She is presented as gossipy, fashion-crazy and generally a little vapid, and is also the girl who ultimately does not rebel against the evil Calormene regime. It's also downplayed, however, since she is still shown to be quite competent, loyal and even brave when Aravis needs her help.
  • Rebellious Princess: Aravis, who likes fighting and adventures more than Lasaraleen's girly stuff... but still likes girly stuff. Lucy is a grown-up version, and they get along quite well.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Mr. Tumnus's plan to escape Tashbaan: make it look like Susan is excited to marry Rabadash, invite him to a banquet on the Narnian ship, load the ship with their possessions under cover of preparing for the party, and then escape by night. It works, but it enrages Rabadash to the point of setting up the main conflict of the book's second half.
  • Reflexive Remark of Reverence: The Calormen always say "may he live forever" after mentioning the Tisroc. Even Shasta and his friends are in the habit, though they slowly drop it along with their respect for Calormene customs.
  • Reluctant Ruler: Corin. He is delighted when he finds out Shasta is actually his older twin Cor, as that frees Corin from the responsibility of being king someday (assuming Shasta/Cor outlives him, which in fact happens).
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Calormen is run this way, or at least its rulers claim it is. They contemptuously contrast Narnia's freedom with their own efficiency and orderliness.
    These little barbarian countries that call themselves free (which is as much as to say, idle, disordered, and unprofitable) are hateful to the gods and to all persons of discernment.
  • Right Behind Me: Aslan appears just as Bree is holding forth on how ludicrous it would be for their Big Good to be an actual lion.
  • Royal Blood: Besides the usual suspects, Shasta, whose real name is Cor, the heir to the throne of Archenland.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Lune and all the Narnian royalty are active in battle as a matter of course, with the possible exception of Queen Susan. Prince Corin sneaks into the Battle of Anvard, dragging Shasta with him, and the only reason he's not officially in the fighting is because of his age. And, in fairness, even Rabadash leads his cavalry across the desert, leads the charge against Anvard, and winds up fighting King Edmund himself.
  • Runaway Fiancé: Aravis again. She was engaged to the much older Ahoshta Tarkaan, aka the Grand Vizier, as both a way to gain power for her nobleman father and an excuse for her Wicked Stepmother to get rid of her. We only hear her side of the story, but it's clear that she doesn't want to marry the evil, ugly old politician; the conference between her betrothed, the Tisroc, and Rabadash makes it equally clear that her initial judgment was sound.
  • Samus Is a Girl: When Bree and Shasta first meet Aravis, they assume she is a young prince since she is wearing her brother's armor.
  • The Savage South: Calormen. Deconstructed, as Calormenes (at least those in power) consider Calormen more civilized than the North, and, indeed, their empire is well-organized and of a high cultural standard, if engaging in practices like slavery and abuse of power that the Northern nations do not.
  • Sapient Steed: The two Narnian horses in the story. Some additional talking horses are seen as the Narnians go to war, although it's noted that nobody rides talking horses (or centaurs) unless there is a pressing need.
  • The Scully: While his father and the vizier accept as a matter of course that Narnia's century-long winter was caused by the White Witch's magic, and therefore died with her, Prince Rabadash thinks it was occasioned by stellar influences and other natural causes, not believing that one sorceress could have been so powerful.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Cor was kidnapped at birth to subvert a prophecy that he would someday deliver Archenland from great peril. This results in his being raised as Shasta in Calormen and puts him in a position to discover and ultimately thwart the Calormene invasion of Archenland, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
  • Separated at Birth: Cor and Corin, thanks to a crooked nobleman who stole and lost one of them by the shores of Calormen.
  • Siblings Share the Throne: We get to see three of the four Pevensie siblings in action as the rulers of Narnia.
  • Sidenote Full Story: The Silver Chair takes a brief moment to discuss an old legend as part of dinner entertainment, and says one day that story would have to be told in its entirety. That legend became this.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Aravis and Shasta. As the narrator puts it, they had so many fights they decided to get married to make making up more convenient.
  • A Slave to the Index:
    • Slavery and freedom are a main theme of the book, and some variety of unfreedom drives the actions of all the main characters: Shasta is a slave de jure and wants to escape that; Bree is a horse, thus also treated as property, and wants to escape that; and Aravis, though a noblewoman who is otherwise privileged, fears an arranged marriage to a man she hates, and wants to escape that. At the same time, they also all learn that there are rules to which even free persons must submit.
    • Also, the institution as such permeates Calormen's hierarchical society. The casual way all the Calormene characters (including the very protagonists who seek to escape it) consider the widespread slavery a matter of course, and how the subject comes up off-handedly every now and then in the narration and dialogue, will be striking to many modern readers. Even Aravis is allowed to say that she misses her slaves, as well as her fine clothes and other nice things she had to leave behind when she ran away from home. Of course, all of this is very much Deliberate Values Dissonance, and meant to show that even "good" people are affected by the culture they live in.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Bree, at first, thanks mostly to being a talking intelligent horse surrounded by regular witless horses. He panics on the verge of arriving in Narnia when he realizes that he's spent his life as a big fish in a small pond and begins to fear that he will embarrass himself in front of the other talking horses. Aslan tells him gently to get over himself — he may not be exceptional, but he's a perfectly fine horse.
  • Smug Snake: Ye gods, Prince Rabadash! Ahoshta Tarkaan as well, being a slimy adviser who fancies himself the power behind the throne.
  • The Sociopath: Rabadash is a bad enough Caligula that he might well be a clinical psychopath. While he is presented as a competent warrior, fairly intelligent and superficially charming (at least when he cares to be), his personality as such has few admirable traits. When the mask slips, he is very unrestrainedly abusive, physically and verbally (at one point, he casually kicks his father's grand vizier, or basically the prime minister of the government, while said official is literally face down in prostration before them), and though very concerned about the public perception of his dignity and honor, he shows absolutely no compunctions about perfidy and treachery when such actions are the most efficient way to get him what he wants. His hastily composed scheme of going to war to force Susan to comply with his plans for her shows his impulsivity, grandiosity and Lack of Empathy all at once. Throughout the book, he never evinces the slightest trace of any genuinely noble sentiment, or indeed any concern about anything or anyone but himself.
  • Spare to the Throne:
    • Turns out Shasta was one of two princes of Archenland and had been kidnapped as a baby. As the older twin, guess who's next for the throne? His twin brother is delighted when this is discovered, not wanting the throne anyway.
    • Prince Rabadash's father the Tisroc (may he live forever) allows his eldest son to attack Archenland and Narnia because the prince is Hot-Blooded, hard to control, and easy to replace (the Tisroc has a lot of other sons).
  • Spoiled Sweet: Lasaraleen is a noblewoman who grew up in Calormen, and is a rather rich, spoiled and sheltered young woman, who is also ditzy and rather shallow. She's married off at a very young age. Aravis remember her as a "terrible giggler", always gossiping about weddings, engagements, parties and scandals. She's never anything but kind to Aravis, despite Aravis's short temper and impatience with her, risks her life to help her, and overcomes her fear in the end, albeit with a bit of prodding.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Aravis nearly takes her own life to avoid being forced into marriage (she's implied to be in her early teens) with a man several times her own age, until Hwin talks her out of it by saying basically "Nothing gets better for the dead, but if you live, your fortune has a chance to change." It's implied that beyond the sensibility of the argument, it works partially because Hwin gives Aravis a means of escape, partially because holy crap a talking horse?! helps snap her out of it, and partially because Hwin kneels down and places her own head between the dagger and Aravis' heart to show how much she cares.
  • The Starscream:
    • The Tisroc sends Rabadash, partially because he fears he may be this, as the oldest sons of Tisrocs often are. He mentions this happened to more then five Tisrocs.
    • When he becomes Tisroc, Rabadash doesn't go to war against his neighbors because his generals might win glory while he's stuck at home, and "that is how Tisrocs get overthrown."
  • Stealth Pun: The grand vizier describing Rabadash's familial love as a "carbuncle." (This usually means "ruby" but can also mean "festering sore.")
  • The Storyteller: Aravis tells her backstory in the manner of a royal court storyteller, since in Calormen all children or at least all children of the nobility are taught storytelling in school.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Aravis dresses in her brother's armour so she won't be recognised when she runs away. This is only on the first night however.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: Subverted. When a lion pursues the horses and claws Aravis, Shasta runs at it and yells "Go home!", which even the narration describes as "idiotic." The lion checks and runs. (But of course it was not just any lion, but Aslan inflicting a little Laser-Guided Karma).
  • Theme Twin Naming: This is a tradition in Archenland - Cor and Corin, Dar and Darrin, and Cole and Colin are the examples we meet.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Aslan tells several characters that they are not meant to know a) other people's stories, and b) what could have been if they made different choices. However, the implication is less "You would Go Mad from the Revelation" and more "Hey, look, I'm not a gossip," as well as a gentle reminder that it is more important to focus on the path ahead of you rather than get preoccupied with what-ifs.
  • This Is My Human: The title, also Discussed when Aravis objects to Bree asking questions of "her" horse instead of her.
  • Title Drop: One of the long-recounted legends from the Golden Age of Narnia is known as the tale of 'The Horse and His Boy' (Eustace and Jill hear it in The Silver Chair, before this book was published but after Lewis had already written it).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Aravis is the tomboy to Lasaraleen's girly-girl. When they meet after some years apart, each finds the other boring — Lasaraleen doesn't understand why Aravis wants to dress like a boy and do rough things, whilst Aravis can't stand Lasaraleen's whirl of parties and dresses.
  • Tomboy Princess: Aravis. Also Queen Lucy.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Aravis again. Also Queen Lucy acts a little more feminine in a private environment, since when she and Aravis meet they start talking about dresses and girly stuff.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Yeesh, Rabadash! First, he's captured in battle by the Narnians and, even though they treat him quite nicely, he continues to throw fits and refuse to negotiate with them and threatens them all, even though they could just as easily have his head for it. This despite the fact that his father had told him in so many words that Calormen would not rescue or even avenge Rabadash if he fails. Then he continues to act like this while Aslan is in the room, even when he's told to shut up or something bad will happen to him.
  • Trash Landing: Shasta does one while escaping across the Tashbaan rooftops.
  • Twin Switch: Inadvertently done by Shasta - he's found by the Narnian contingent in Tashbaan and they mistake him for Archenland's Prince Corin, who had earlier run off. Corin seems to be considering continuing the switch for a bit for fun when he finds Shasta in his place, but Shasta, who's used to Calormen attitudes and thinks the Narnians will kill him if they realise he's not Corin, refuses. To Corin and Shasta's later surprise, they really are twins.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When Aravis tells how Hwin convinced her not to kill herself, Hwin comments that she wasn't nearly so eloquent, but Bree knows it's just storytelling in the grand Calormene style.
  • Uptown Girl: Aravis to Shasta. Though it evens out by the time they actually marry.
  • Villainous Valor: Rabadash, for all his many faults, is a brave and valiant warrior. But while he could have endured suffering with pride, he cannot endure the humiliation Aslan inflicts on him.
  • We Have Reserves: The Tisroc isn't all that broken up over the thought of losing his son Rabadash, since he has many sons waiting in the wings.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Aravis, who's grown up as a nobleman's daughter, can be quite haughty and initially does not have very much use for Shasta at all. She develops respect for him and grows in humility as the adventure progresses, but they never stop bickering, even - according to the ending - after they're married.
  • Wham Line: After Shasta relates the story of all his travails, including all the lions they met, to a person he can't yet see due to a thick nighttime fog:
    "There was only one lion," said the Voice.
    "How do you know?"
    "I was the lion."
  • What an Idiot!: In-Universe; when the lion attacks Aravis and chases her and Hwin furiously, Shasta's reaction is to yell at it and command it to leave, like it was a stray dog or something. Despite the fact that it works because it's actually Aslan, and Aslan is merely trying to make a point, the text is pretty quick to point out just how foolhardy Shasta was being and how his success was rather unlikely.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Shasta wonders what happened to the slave girl that Aravis drugged to escape. Aravis off-handedly mentions that she was probably beaten for oversleeping, which Shasta calls out as unfair. As noted under Laser-Guided Karma, Aslan agrees.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Aravis had one, who was one of the reasons why she left.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Corin, who scoffs at the suggestion that he'd do anything other than tell the truth about his and Shasta's inadvertent Twin Switch.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Tisroc's (may he —oh, forget it) plan in letting Rabadash off the leash to chase after Queen Susan. Firstly, he thinks the surprise attack on Archenland will succeed, giving Calormen a foothold from which to pursue later advances. Secondly, if Rabadash gets Susan, it will keep his Hot-Blooded impulses in check for a while (a lot of Tisrocs were booted into the afterlife by their impatient sons). Thirdly, if Rabadash is captured or killed, the Tisroc can disavow him faster than the Secretary disavowed a failed IMF agent and he'll be rid of a difficult son he can easily spare. Shasta and Aslan's intervention ends up stymieing all of those outcomes, and it's not mentioned what the Tisroc thinks about the end result.
  • You Are Not Alone: The main characters agree to meet up near the tombs outside Tashbaan if they are separated in the city (the locals avoid them because the tombs are said to be haunted). Shasta gets there first, and he has to spend a night there before his friends rejoin him. As his fear begins to overtake him, and he hears jackals coming, a tawny cat arrives to keep him company. As with all feline interference in Shasta's life, it's Aslan in disguise.


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