Narnia is imperiled primarily by internal politicking (and also Rabadash being a possessive creep).
“And now the whole day has been wasted. And they are gone – gone – out of my reach! The false jade, the –“ and here he added a great many descriptions of Queen Susan which would not look at all nice in print. For of course this young man was Prince Rabadash and of course the false jade was Susan of Narnia.
And now we know why Susan was so eager to get away from him!
Anyhow, this chapter is all about planning a war, and it all revolves around Prince Rabadash, the Tisroc, and Aravis’s charming fiancé (who is actually more morally bankrupt than I remembered).
“Understand, O my son,” said the Tisroc, “that no words you can speak will move me to open war against Narnia.”
“If you were not my father, O ever-living Tisroc,” said the Prince, grinding his teeth, “I should say that was the word of a coward.”
“And if you were not my son, O most inflammable Rabadash,” replied his father, “your life would be short and your death slow when you had said it.”
Note that the Tisroc says he wants to avoid “open war”, but he does admit later that he wishes he could add Narnia to his empire. On a different note, I can’t be the only one who finds it a little creepy when Rabadash describes Narnia as “fruitful and delicious.”
Anyhow, the Tisroc goes on to explain that he fears the lion-shaped “demon” that protects Narnia, whom he (rightly) assumes helped the current rulers defeat the “old enchantress.” He still makes it very clear that he wants to take Narnia, leading Rabadash to offer an alternative to simply sending in their armies to take Narnia (and Susan) by force.
He proposes taking Archenland (a human kingdom) by surprise and then moving on to Cair Paravel.
“The High King will not be there; when I left them he was already preparing a raid against the giants on his northern border. I shall find Cair Paravel, most likely with open gates, and ride in. I shall exercise prudence and courtesy and spill as little Narnian blood as I can. And what then remains but to sit there till the Splendor Hyaline puts in, with Queen Susan on board, catch my strayed bird as she sets foot ashore, swing her into my saddle, and then ride, ride, ride back to Anvard?”
I notice that he doesn’t factor Lucy into his calculations; she would have been left in charge of the castle while the others were away and seems like the sort who would agree with Edmund’s evaluation of Rabadash…but of course she is ONLY a woman.
Rabadash goes on to explain that with Archenland in their hands, they could slowly build up a garrison and strike Narnia at a more opportune moment, but if by some crazy chance he should fail, the Tisroc could deny he knew anything about the attack and claim that Rabadash was acting on his own.
“How shall I dare freely unfold to you my mind in a matter which may imperil the life of this exalted Prince?”
“Undoubtedly you will dare,” replied the Tisroc. “Because you will find that the dangers of not doing so are at least equally great.”
“To hear is to obey,” moaned the wretched man [Ahoshta]. “Know then, O most reasonable Tisroc, in the first place, that the danger of the Prince is not altogether so great as might appear. For the gods have withheld from the barbarians the light of discretion, as that their poetry is not, like ours, full of choice apophthegms and useful maxims, but is all of love and war. Therefore nothing will appear to them more noble and admirable than such a mad enterprise as this.”
What kind of literature does he think the Narnians read? Twilight?
At any rate, Ahoshta’s advice seems calculated to raise the Prince’s hope of success, because whether he accomplishes any of his goals or not (both he and the Tisroc are doubtful that he’ll actually get away with Susan), there’s something to be gained from it, if only by allowing him to release his frustrations outside of the palace; the Tisroc thinks Rabadash is getting a bit too big for his britches, while the Vizier hates him for pretty obvious reasons.
“My son, by all means desist from kicking the venerable and enlightened Vizier.”
But of course, Aravis and Lasaraleen have been hiding in the room and listening all this time…
“He is gone without my knowledge or my consent, I know not whither, because of his violence and the rash and disobedient disposition of youth. No man shall be more astonished than you and I to hear that Anvard is in his hands.”
“To hear is to obey,” said Ahoshta.
“That is why you will never think even in your secret heart that I am the hardest hearted of fathers who thus send my first-born son on an errand so likely to be his death; pleasing as it must be to you who do not love the Prince.”
Until next time…