Aslan deals out justice, and our heroes live happily ever after. But first, Lune proves himself to be a sufficiently embarrassing parent:
“It was he who did all that, Sir,” said Aravis. “Why, he rushed at a lion to save me.”
“Eh, what’s that?” said King Lune, his face brightening. “I haven’t heard that part of the story.”
Then Aravis told it. And Cor, who had very much wanted the story to be known, though he felt he couldn’t tell it himself, didn’t enjoy it so much as he had expected, and indeed felt rather foolish. But his father enjoyed it very much indeed and in the course of the next few weeks told it to so many people that Cor wished it had never happened.
After Aravis and the Horses have been thoroughly welcomed, Lune prepares a feast and is forced to deal with Rabadash.
“Your Majesty would have a perfect right to strike off his head,” said Peridan. “Such an assault as he made puts him on a level with assassins.”
“It is very true,” said Edmund. “But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.” And he looked very thoughtful.
After some discussion, Lune agrees to offer Rabadash freedom if he’ll make a promise of good future conduct. Rabadash rejects their pity rather colorfully, ending with this line:
“The bolt of Tash falls from above!”
“Does it ever get caught on a hook halfway?” asked Corin.
Then Aslan appears, warning Rabadash to just accept the mercy that’s been offered him or else. Instead, Rabadash starts making strange faces and threatening Aslan.
He had always found this very effective in Calormen. The bravest had trembled when he made these faces, and ordinary people had often fainted. But what Rabadash hadn’t realized is that it is very easy to frighten people who know you can have them boiled alive the moment you give the word.
Because people took this emo teen seriously in Tashbaan!
After two paragraphs’ worth of ranting and raving, Aslan puts an end to it.
“The hour has struck,” said Aslan: and Rabadash saw, to his supreme horror, that everyone had begun to laugh.
And then he turns into a donkey, but Aslan does offer him hope: He’ll be able to change back at the Autumn Feast in Tashbaan, with the caveat that if ever he goes more than ten miles away from the temple of Tash in the city, he’ll change back permanently.
And here, to get him out of the way, I’d better finish off the story of Rabadash. […] During his reign, and to his face, he was called Rabadash the Peacemaker, but after his death and behind his back he was called Rabadash the Ridiculous, and if you look him up in a good History of Calormen (try your local library) you will find him under that name. And to this day in Calormene schools, if you do anything unusually stupid, you are very likely to be called “a second Rabadash.”
And thus the self-serious prince eventually became synonymous with stupidity and ridicule. A fitting punishment.
The feast continues with stories all around…including Lucy telling “the tale of the Wardrobe,” which she was implied to have forgotten over the course of her stay in Narnia (at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrabe), but considering that this whole book is framed as a legend of the Golden Age, I’m not going to be a stickler for continuity.
Anyhow, Cor discovers that he’s actually older than Corin by 20 minutes, so he’s going to be king one day. Corin takes it very well.
“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be King. I shan’t have to be King. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”
He would’ve been a terrible King anyway.
It would be nice to end the story by saying that the two brothers never disagreed about anything again, but I am afraid it would not be true. In reality they quarreled and fought just about as often as any other two boys would, and all their fights ended (if they didn’t begin) with Cor getting knocked down. […]
Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently. […] Bree and Hwin lived happily to a great age in Narnia and both got married but not to one another.
And thus our story concludes. My feelings about it really haven’t changed much over the years – it’s still one of the best-told stories in the series with a very likable cast. It has an appropriately epic scope for an adventure story, and it’s just a lot of fun! Also, it contains all of the best female characters in the series (seriously, Hwin is amazing), which is a welcome step up from the last book. It may not add much to the overall story of the series, but it makes up for it in adding flavor and texture to the world of Narnia (both by elaborating on the cultures of the surrounding countries and simply creating and embellishing legendary figures in Narnian folklore). It’s a good story told well, and that’s all it needs to be.
Next time: The Magician’s Nephew