Is This the Most Underrated Scene in The Chronicles of Narnia? | Talking Beasts

The Horse and His Boy Book Commentary, Part 5
Podcast Discussion

An impossibly proud Tisroc, a reckless sexually frustrated prince, and a sycophant vizer with his face to the floor. After reading The Horse and His Boy so many times, how am I just now appreciating what a gem this scene is?

Could I be the only NarniaWebber that somehow overlooked this amazing dialogue until recently? Listen to my discussion with Rilian and then post a comment!

Oh, and in case you haven’t read it, here is C.S. Lewis’s excellent essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” that we mention in this episode. It’s a great read if you love Narnia. And here‘s a podcast discussion about the essay on

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34 Responses

  1. narnia fan 7 says:

    This scene has always been one of my favourites to read. I like how it's kind of an interrogate chess game with each one of them trying to subtly manipulate the other two in to doing what they want.

  2. QueenLucyTheValiant15 says:

    A Narnia movie day is a brilliant idea! I will try to join in. What time would it be?

  3. QueenLucyTheValiant15 says:

    For anyone who hasn't a copy of the books themselves, I found this online. Not that you shouldn't bother trying to get a proper copy…
    (It's in publication order, too, I believe.)

  4. Col. Klink says:

    This is a great chapter. It's really scary and really funny at the same time.

    The character of Ahoshta, I think, is a lot like Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. (I've probably just lost a bunch of people. Oh well.) He spends all his time groveling before his boss. He wants to marry the main heroine of the book but she's not having it because she cannot respect someone like that. Her mother figure and her friend think she should marry him anyway though because of the security it would bring. Mr. Collins would have been a great Calormene grand vizier. It seems like his environment.

    Speaking of non-Narnia books, here's a quote from Teller of Tales by William J Brooke that really describes both Rabadash and the Tisroc. "He hated anything beautiful that he could not possess."

    I don't get why Rilian (the podcaster, not the prince from The Silver Chair) says both Aravis's and Lasaraleen's eyes have been opened. At the beginning of the next chapter, Lasaraleen still calls Ahoshta "a great man" and says Aravis shouldn't criticize the Tisroc. It seems like she hasn't changed.

    I didn't read the books in chronological order or publication order. First I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
    Then I tried to read Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader but I couldn't get into either story.
    Then I read The Horse and his Boy and The Magician's Nephew. (Can't remember which one first.)
    I might have read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader here but I couldn't say for sure.
    Then I read The Last Battle.
    Then I read The Silver Chair.
    And finally I finished Prince Caspian. (I'd read bits and pieces of it before. But for some reason I never tried to do the whole thing.)

    I agree that LWW should be read before MN because MN is written like a prequel. But I think some people exaggerate the importance of publication order specifically. The order I read them in worked great for me and you could probably come up with some great alternative orders of your own.

    I agree with SearchlightRG that the narrator is one of the best characters.

    • Anfinwen says:

      I agree Lasaraleen really didn't change after that scene, but we do find out more about her. Her facade seems to crack a little, and we see that she is controlled by fear.

      • Jillian says:

        Yes, ditto to that. La-sara-leen, (that's how I say it. Lol, I wish C.S. Lewis were here so we could ask him.) did seem a little less sure of herself, after overhearing the conversation. She basically wanted Aravis to stay because she was afraid for her and blind obedience had been ingrained into her head. Instead of any moral, rational thought.

    • Jillian says:

      Yes! Pride and Prejudice is a great book! I agree Ahosta is similar to Mr. Collins but Ahoshta is a little bit smarter than Collins lol!

  5. Anfinwen says:

    I've always loved this scene. It's hilarious, brilliantly written, and quite suspenseful as well. What I have recently discovered is just how much Lewis accomplishes in this one scene. He gives us a glimpse into Calormene culture and poetry, their views of Narnia and it's history, the plan for invasion, the personalities of all three men (and reveals a lot about Aravis and Lasaraleen), and sets up the invasion of Archenland. It's just rich! I'm writing a HHB screenplay for fun, and I'm finding it's really hard to shorten that scene.

    A brief note: I didn't comment last week, but I've always heard Lasaraleen pronounced
    Las-AIR-a-leen. I suppose it could be Lasa-RA-leen, but that's really hard to say. There is definately a second "a" sound.

    • The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

      That's how I pronounce Lasaraleen as well.

    • JillPole2 says:

      It's really not a big deal 😉 but just to weigh in in defence of my pronunciation (LAZ-ra-leen which is actually LAZ-a-ra-leen said fast), I looked it up and saw that in chapter 7, Aravis calls her 'Las' several times, which I think makes me feel that the first syllable is emphasised. But I can see that's not really conclusive proof, and we shall most likely never know how Lewis pronounced the name – unless someone somewhere has a recording of him reading the book aloud! Peace 🙂

    • Yes I do agree with you about how much C.S.Lewis accomplishes in this particular chapter. As a matter of interest, what does everyone think about Susan's would be suitor, Rabadash? Lasaraleen had earlier said how handsome he was when showing off to Aravis. I don't think he liked Susan particularly, except as a work of art to own, and a possible way to extend his father's kingdom. The Tisroc holds all the cards in this particular scene, and when Rabadash gets too impertinent, soon brings him back into line. As for Ahoshta, now he is seen in the flesh, is Aravis justified in running away from him and do you agree with her opinion of him, and of her stepmother in trying to marry her off to him?

      • Anfinwen says:

        I don't think Rabadash really loved Susan, but he was definitely infatuated with her. After she rejected him and escaped, I think it became a matter of pride and revenge to get her back. That's a really good question about Ahoshta though. Obviously Aravis is justified in rejecting her stepmother's plan, but for what reasons exactly? (besides the ones that stand out to us who no longer live in a medieval society) Some of the reasons Aravis herself gave were his age, that he was ugly and originally a commoner; but there is one other reason she gave that is cemented in this scene. He used "flattery and evil counsels" to gain his position. He shows himself to be the type of man to harm others to get shat he wants.

  6. The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

    I got a kick out of Narnia Nana's Ahoshta voice! 😛

    I think one of the reasons that this scene flies under the radar is because of all those clunky Calormene maxims. So much of the verbiage is superficial and absurd and I think it lays a heavy cloak over all of the danger and drama in the conversation. Awesome listening to you two unpack this scene… it's amazing when you discover a new treasure trove during the umpteenth rereading of a book, but I find that's a regular occurrence with CoN.

    Ditto to SearchlightRG about the narrator being a great character!

  7. AravisofYork says:

    This scene is Byzantine intrigue at its finest! And Ahoshta is the classic flatterer that experienced monarchs and students of political intrigue rail against! We read about them in Machiavelli but, in my opinion, the best explanation of how they work is to be found in Cato's Letter No 34 Prince Rabadash's death means nothing to Ahoshta and if the current ruler would lose his throne, Ahoshta would still manage to keep his place. Classic palace snake.

  8. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I totally agree that HHB has some of the best (if not the best) dialogue. And I also think it's ridiculous (no pun intended) that the Calormenes think that Susan would be cool with marrying the prince if he slaughtered their allies.
    I'm looking forward to that viewing party!

  9. Throne Warden says:

    You guys asked an excellent question that I have been thinking a lot about for the last couple days. Is Rabadash's plan strategically sound? Or is it simply a fool hearty attempt that the Tisroc knows will fail?

    200 horsemen in a surprise attack against Archenland. Their chief advantage, as said by Rabadash in the book, is surprise. If they catch the Archenlanders off guard, 200 would be easily enough to ride in and take the Castle Anvard. And if they take Anvard (and with it presumably King Lune), Archenland would undoubtedly fall. The book isn't clear on how much of an army Archenland has, but I get the feeling it isn't much. In an open field battle, 200 trained Calormen calvary might be a fair fight for Archenland. But a surprise attack is strategically a good plan. Another question which the book doesn't answer is how long Anvard and Archenland could have lasted without the Narnians arriving to help their allies. Could they have held out with the Calormene horsemen beating down their gates? Could they have then mounted a counter attack and defeated them on their own without Narnian intervention? The book doesn't say, but I would guess it would be a tough fight.

    I think that 200 horsemen in a surprise attack on Archenland is strategically sound. The part that I feel is foolish and reflective of Calormene pride and naivety is the next portion of their plan.

    Even if everything went perfectly in Archenland and Anvard fell without a single casualty for Rabadash's army, I don't think 200 horsemen would be enough to drive across Narnia and take Cair Paravel. I think this is a vast underestimation of Narnian military strength. Even with Peter up north with presumably a large portion of the Narnian army, Narnia is much stronger than Archenland. Additionally, the Tisroc and Rabadash demonstrate multiple times in their conversation how little they understand about the Narnian culture and determination. They do not have a good understanding of the many different talking beasts, the giants, and other creatures they would be facing in Narnia. I feel that Cair Paravel would be able to hold off Rabadash for a long while; in the meantime, the rest of Narnia would be surrounding and attacking Rabadash's army. This would be unfamiliar ground for Rabadash and he clearly does not understand how Narnian war works.

    I think 200 horsemen would not be enough to conquer Narnia. This portion of the plan betrays how little the Tisroc and Rabadash think of Narnia and their military strength.

    • You might say that, since Narnia is a land which is inhabited by non-human beings, and their experience of horses is that their horses can't talk among themselves, or plan, let alone wage war against a troop even as few as 200 horsemen. But the force they took was adequate enough. Any more troops would make it more difficult to cross the desert, deplete the oasis where the horses would have been able to drink. The whole plan depended on speed, surprise and ensuring that hard-ridden horses had the stamina and adequate supplies to get across it. The Tisroc, not to mention Rabadash and Ahoshta, couldn't know there was a fly on the wall, (or rather two flies stuck behind the sofa) observing the proceedings, who just might have been able to spoil the surprise, or that at least one of their men's escaped horses was well able to do all the things that their own horses weren't expected to do, including talking.

  10. Roger says:

    I almost always consider that the Narnia audio books use the definitive pronunciation. Glumpuddle, maybe you should go back and listen to the audio book. It is great.

    I love the Mercurial nature of the book with all these little stories woven together masterfully. This is one of the reasons why HHB is my favorite Narnia books. On this book you have not surprised me once by your discussions. I can not say this about the other books. I must listen to HHB again soon. It is such a treat.

    The book says that the reason why only 200 horsemen are sent is because that is all the oasis in the middle of the desert can support. Only the Narnians know about the other way. Talking birds are very useful.

    Suggestion: I would love to hear you discuss "The Great Divorce". It is not Narnia but the same look and feel. It is more philosophical than the Narnia books but very visual. I still have not completely figured out the ending.

  11. Traveler to the Real Narnia says:

    In regards to book reading order, I first read the books in chronological order, although I had watched the movies first and was already familiar with Narnia. I disagree with publication order simply because I enjoy the pleasure of the flow from one story to the next in chronological order. Now, if someone not familiar with the Narnia stories asked me what book to read first, I would tell them either MN or LWW. I feel there are arguments for both sides. With MN, a person truly sees the creation of Narnia through the children's eyes, as they have no idea what Narnia is like and would enjoy the sense of wonder at the new world. On the other hand, with LWW, one would find a more in-depth introduction to the world through the Pevensies' eyes. In the long run, it really does not matter which book to start with, so long as the person actually gains an appreciation for Narnia that keeps them coming back for more. 🙂

    For the Prince Caspian movie watch, will you make the live commentary/comments available for viewing at some point after the fact for those, like myself, who are unable to join the live portion?

    I want to thank Rilian, Glumpuddle (love your screen name!!), and all the other NarniaWebbers. I discovered this site a few months ago when searching for news of the Silver Chair movie, and I have been hooked ever since. I love anything Narnia (I own the movies, books, and Radio Threatre productions), and this site has been tremendous. Thank you for keeping all of us Narnia fans in the loop for news and providing amazing podcast discussions!

  12. Jilian says:

    I’m gunna reread this scene now. I feel like it’s more the tisrcoc and his son are more like Kylo and Hux

  13. Jilian says:


  14. Jilian says:

    I read LWW first then everything else in Chronological order.

    • JillPole2 says:

      Here's my two cents on the topic of reading order:
      If introducing Narnia to kids, I think Narnian chronological order works best. I have young kids and we have recently read the Chronicles aloud to our 6 and 4 year old boys. They LOVED them, but when we try to explain about the author actually writing LWW first and the rest of it – they are like "huh?"
      In my experience, kids cannot really get their head around 'going back in time' in stories until they are a bit older; exactly how old probably varies with the child. Another example of this concept coming up, which will be familiar to other parents ;), is the Pixar film 'Monsters University' which is a prequel to the wonderful 'Monsters, Inc'… Each time we watched the newer movie we have had to try several different ways of explaining the concept that "so actually this movie happened BEFORE Mike and Sulley went to work at the factory… yeah… that's why Randall is a good guy…" etc – with many a puzzled look on faces 🙂 😀

  15. Teddy says:

    Guys, I'm so confused but I found the same point: