The Magician's Nephew

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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby AJAiken » May 31, 2017 12:30 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote:As for the trees, themselves, there is plenty of silver and gold paint around to make a convincing pair of trees whenever required.

Now I am imagining Narnians painting trees gold and silver a la Alice in Wonderland! ;))

Art Nouveau is more 'natural' - think the Paris Metropolitan, Alphonse Mucha. Art Deco is sleeker - think the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building.

I would love to see wall paintings that are possibly animated in some way, maybe using live action as a reference, but remaining in the medium they were made in. Maybe something a bit like (but much more photo-real than) the dream sequence in The Prince of Egypt, which takes place on the decorated walls of the palace.

Maybe it's like CCTV, Rose, and it's been recording constantly! I suppose it depends on how it'll be presented. If it's a long corridor of paintings I might question how the last few were painted if, essentially, Armageddon had taken place. But perhaps if a few paintings were shown coming alive, and then the camera dissolved into a full-frame video, I might not question it so much because it would be a flashback more than something seen by the characters ... if that makes sense.

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:I do wonder about the times in the story when the children know something about how the rings work and the adults don't, and how they'll illustrate that on screen. It just seems like it's the sort of thing that could easily cause confusion for some viewers as the story goes on and they've got to keep track of how the rings function. We'll see, though; I'll have to give it some more thought the next time I re-read the book.

Yes, that's a good point. I think I'll need to re-read the book too, I can't remember exactly how that's described. Especially as though we've read the book before (probably multiple times) we can't remember which ring is used for which purpose ...

Arfinwen wrote:So for this scene I have always imagined the story coming to life in a shaky ghostlike form as she describes it. We look over the city and see empty streets; suddenly a vast misty army fills them and the sound of battle comes to our ears. As she describes it we see Jadis' sister coming up the stairs to this very terrace. Everything is horribly clear, then the deplorable word, and we are jerked back to the present emptiness and dust and desolation.

This is also a really good idea. Especially the way of being 'jerked back' at the end.

Please don't apologise for your imagination! :) It's great to hear the ideas you have. I've always wondered about the other figures in the long room of people, and what they mean to Jadis. I suppose one of them is her sister.

It would be good for the film to emphasise the fact that Jadis destroys everything rather than facing her defeat, as you said.

Arfinwen wrote:Filmakers seem to fall into the trap of trying to fit it into their little box, but it is so much more beautiful and complex than that.

So true! I want to watch a film that doesn't feel like I've watched something similar before. I think LWW captured some of that, particularly in Lucy's discovery of Narnia. I'd love to see more moments of wonder, I guess. Not sure I'm describing this very well.

One scene I want them to keep, and to do well, is when Strawberry becomes Fledge. I love Pauline Baynes' interpretation and it would be wonderful to see it 'live'.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby coracle » May 31, 2017 2:24 am

Boethius wrote:Maybe they would begin with the battle of Charn somehow in a pre-credits sequence. You could start with Jadis's sister ascending the stairs of Charn with a huge army behind her (in the background not right behind her) they exchange a few words (and we see a huge sun) and Jadis speaks a word (maybe she whispers it to her sister and we don't hear it at all) a moment of Jadis's sisters face then we shift to Polly.

I love the idea of Charn being the pre-credit part, although I also like the thought of a sudden change from Charn in the moment of destructive evil, to a summer morning in an Edwardian backyard, where a young girl is playing quietly.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 31, 2017 3:21 pm

One idea that has recently come to my mind as to how they might begin the movie with the war in Charn, as coracle described, while also refraining from making Jadis's later speech redundant... they could show the war and the sudden and total end of the armies and every other living thing on the planet, but the audience has no idea what has caused this destruction. Later on when Jadis is describing the war and her own involvement, the audience learns that it was this singular woman and her pride and her Deplorable Word that caused the wave of total destruction. That would probably be a quite a shocker for those who haven't read the book!

Anfinwen wrote:My views on many things in the Chronicles are colored by the FotF audio dramas. I grew up with those even more than the books. For the Charn scene they are all on a balcony or terrace overlooking the city. In the drama we hear the noises Jadis is describing as she says them: "the trampling of feet, the creaking of wheels, the cracking of whips and the groaning of slaves, the thunder of chariots and the sacrificial drums beating in the temples.... the roar of battle went up from every street." So for this scene I have always imagined the story coming to life in a shaky ghostlike form as she describes it. We look over the city and see empty streets; suddenly a vast misty army fills them and the sound of battle comes to our ears. As she describes it we see Jadis' sister coming up the stairs to this very terrace. Everything is horribly clear, then the deplorable word, and we are jerked back to the present emptiness and dust and desolation.


Oooh. I love the mental images you're painting here! :ymapplause: And ditto what AJA said about not apologizing for your imagination... I wanna put you on the phone with whoever is going to be making MN into a film. ;))

Anfinwen wrote:Something that is just in my head is what if Jadis' sister was not evil like her? A last good queen. Jadis describes her sister as looking "wicked" and cheating by using magic in war, but I don't think we can really trust everything she says. It would make the deplorable word even worse if the audience recognized that the "good" side was about to win.


That's an interesting thought! I don't think I've ever wondered if her sister might have been good, or at least comparatively good. On the one hand, it seemed like such a bloody war could only have been caused by pride versus pride, but it's difficult to say because it's Jadis who is telling the story and may well be blinded by her own incredible pride. Jadis does describe her as being a weakling, which makes me wonder if that's her way of saying that her sister had morals. It would be interesting if the sister was actually the leader of a rebel group seeking to overthrow the oppressive regime... for her army to have so much military success prior to the Deplorable Word, it would seem that the people fighting under her banner must have been more personally motivated than Jadis's armies. Or perhaps her sister possessed charms and wiles more like the LotGK, and was capable of capturing hearts and minds instead of ruling by terror and overt tyranny.

(And that said... Jadis's description of her sister flashing her "horrible, wicked eyes" has always kind of reminded me of Lewis's description of the serpent's huge, flaming eyes in SC. That's not meant to encourage the filmmakers make Jadis's sister and the LotGK the same person, although I have at times wondered if that was supposed to be the case in earlier drafts of MN. :-?)

And as for who possessed the throne at the time of the war, I've always imagined that it was Jadis because she describes watching the battle from the... royal palace? ... of Charn for three days before her sister's armies overcome her own. I think "yield the throne" simply meant for her sister to withdraw her claim on it and give up the fight, but it's hard to say for sure.

AJAiken wrote:I would love to see wall paintings that are possibly animated in some way, maybe using live action as a reference, but remaining in the medium they were made in. Maybe something a bit like (but much more photo-real than) the dream sequence in The Prince of Egypt, which takes place on the decorated walls of the palace.

Maybe it's like CCTV, Rose, and it's been recording constantly!


Good point about that dream sequence from The Prince of Egypt! Something similar to that could do nicely. And it's true—maybe the mosaics or wall paintings could be magical and have been recording the history of their own accord. One definite benefit I can think of for going the artsy wall painting route is that it will give the filmmakers an opportunity to indicate the horror of the war without getting in trouble with the family-friendly side of things... what Jadis is describing is pretty graphic stuff, so taking a more stylized route could be necessary.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby Anfinwen » Jun 15, 2017 8:43 am

There's something I've been wondering for a while, but it didn't seem relevant enough when we weren't sure we'd ever get MN as a movie. Now that we're hopeful again, I'll ask: What do you think the effects of the deplorable word should be visually?
In the book Charn seems to be nothing but stone and dust. This is very effective thematically, but docent seem to line up with Lewis' description of the effects. Every living thing died- moss, insects, bacteria, algae, fungus, molds, plants, trees, people, animals etc. Or do you disagree with that? One passage seems to imply that a vine continued to grow after the word was spoken, so maybe the lack of plants is due to some other factor. The river dried up, but that must have been for some other reason since the hydrologic cycle would continue. Lewis describes dreariness and sameness, but shouldn't the palace be a sort of Sleeping Beauty castle? Fabric could rot away (the air seems very dry, though, and the process might be slowed), but the hardwood, stone and metal furniture would remain. For example, in the banqueting hall they cross, there could still be tables and overturned chairs, dishes pitchers, platters and goblets all were they were when the word was spoken. What do you think is the best way to depict Charn? I'm not really sure what I'd like to see.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby King_Erlian » Jun 16, 2017 1:45 am

One thing I'd like to see about Charn is evidence that it was a very advanced society. I'm not thinking of Star Trek-type tech as such, which would jar with the overall feel of the story, but Charn was an older world than ours and appeared to have followed a similar path of "progress" through military conquest, which has been the driving force behind the development of a good deal of our technology in our world. Magic rather than electricity may be the energising force in Charn but I'd like there to be some suggestion that the Charnians had conquered other planets in their universe, for instance. I'd be disappointed if it all looked too primitive, like a story-book kingdom; if it were apparent that Charn's history wasn't that dissimilar to our own, it would make Aslan's warning to Digory and Polly at the end much more effective. I tend to think that Aslan's words "Someone in your world may discover a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things" is Lewis referring to the invention of atomic weapons, since at the time he was writing the books, the prospect of a global nuclear war which could indeed destroy everything was becoming a possibility.

Also, it would make sense that The-Being-Known-In-Narnia-As-Aslan would have lived in some form (probably not a lion) in the Charnian world too at some point in its history, and Jadis had encountered him there, so she was able to recognise Aslan for who he was when she arrived in Narnia at the time of its creation. So I'd like to see some evidence of Aslan-By-Another-Name in Charn which had almost, but not entirely, been destroyed by the Witch.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby Ryadian » Jun 16, 2017 11:22 am

Anfinwen wrote:There's something I've been wondering for a while, but it didn't seem relevant enough when we weren't sure we'd ever get MN as a movie. Now that we're hopeful again, I'll ask: What do you think the effects of the deplorable word should be visually?
In the book Charn seems to be nothing but stone and dust.


From the rest of your post, I realized that you meant what we see afterwards, though for a moment I thought you might mean seeing what actually happens when she spoke the Deplorable Word. I suppose I might tackle both at once. ;)) Bear in mind that I haven't read the book in a while and don't have it with me (and, admittedly, I'm probably also more familiar with the FotF version than the book :ymblushing: ), but as I recall, there is no mention of skeletons or any kind of remains, not even clothing scattered about. Perhaps it's just due to the ravages of time, or because Lewis thought that would be an image too graphic for children, but this has always fed into my imagination that when Jadis spoke the Deplorable Word, every living thing (except her) simply vanished, or instantly turned to dust. I've always had an image of a world utterly frozen in the moment the Word was spoken, except with all of the people and creatures just gone. Not entirely unlike some people's vision of the Rapture, if a much darker version of it.

PhelanVelvel wrote:This film would be great for 3D, I feel, not for gimmicks, but for bringing to life the still, green Wood and the dark, yawning arches of Charn.


Even speaking as someone who normally doesn't really care for 3D, I actually really, really want to see that now. TMN is my 3rd favorite book (just barely behind VDT, which is just barely behind HaHB), and half the reason for that is how thoroughly the descriptions capture my imagination and pull me into the worlds described. 3D could be used for great effect to capture the atmosphere of these places. I also want to see it used to capture a sense of scale for the Wood Between the Worlds - I want that place to feel like it could go on forever.

In terms of the discussion about introducing the movie with the last battle of Charn: I... have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I could see that being a very effective way to draw us into the film and raise the mystery for later. On the other hand, I hesitate to give the audience any sense of Jadis's character before we meet her. TMN is one of the ones where I actually vaguely remember hearing the story for the first time, and I remember the impact of hearing Jadis explaining how she had killed everyone else in the world... to end a power struggle with her sister.... I think the fact that we'd already partly gotten to "know" her, and the children had had split opinions on her up until that point, really heightened the impact. Any sense that perhaps she was just abrasive or her culture was just very usual compared to ours, was gone instantly - and the children were now stuck with her.

I do think they could still pull that off if you see the battle at the beginning, but the battle is portrayed very "neutrally" - and we don't see how it ends, and we have no idea which one of them is in the right (if either). Perhaps reveal that Jadis was there, but don't give any indication of the power she has - or that she intends to use it. Though, I'm worried that even that much of a preview might spoil the effect. But, I am not a professional film maker, so we'll just have to wait and see what they do. ;)

Personally, I wouldn't be opposed to seeing visuals while Jadis tells the story. Actually, I'd be more on-board with visuals that aren't present in-universe, like a flashback with Jadis's narration, or perhaps a sort of "imagine spot" where the children are envisioning it. Overall, I'd prefer the image that Anfinwen described with the ghostly images filling in the visuals for the story, which would also give Jadis a chance to show off her power. The wall paintings idea is interesting, but given that they won't have much time after Jadis is woken and when the palace collapses, I'm not sure there'd be a really good place for it.


Anfinwen wrote:Something that is just in my head is what if Jadis' sister was not evil like her? A last good queen. Jadis describes her sister as looking "wicked" and cheating by using magic in war, but I don't think we can really trust everything she says. It would make the deplorable word even worse if the audience recognized that the "good" side was about to win.


Oh my, that's a terrifying thought. I tend to agree with the common interpretation that it was just a power struggle and that neither sister was particularly good, especially given the implication that Charn's royal family had been descending into evil and darkness for quite some time. But I have honestly never considered that before. Jadis doesn't lie much in this book, but she certainly has her own view of things....

King_Erlian wrote:One thing I'd like to see about Charn is evidence that it was a very advanced society. I'm not thinking of Star Trek-type tech as such, which would jar with the overall feel of the story, but Charn was an older world than ours and appeared to have followed a similar path of "progress" through military conquest, which has been the driving force behind the development of a good deal of our technology in our world. ... I'd be disappointed if it all looked too primitive, like a story-book kingdom; if it were apparent that Charn's history wasn't that dissimilar to our own, it would make Aslan's warning to Digory and Polly at the end much more effective.

Also, it would make sense that The-Being-Known-In-Narnia-As-Aslan would have lived in some form (probably not a lion) in the Charnian world too at some point in its history, and Jadis had encountered him there, so she was able to recognise Aslan for who he was when she arrived in Narnia at the time of its creation. So I'd like to see some evidence of Aslan-By-Another-Name in Charn which had almost, but not entirely, been destroyed by the Witch.


To your first thought, I completely agree. I do worry that it'll be too easy to slip into the "fantasy = ancient Earth culture" trap, but hopefully the filmmakers will surprise us. Perhaps if they have skyscrapers and the appearance of flying machines, long since crashed? Oh, I think I'm getting ahead of myself. ;)) I'd also like for Charn to have a unique look to it - not a sort of fantasy Babylon or something like that, but something completely new and completely foreign to us, at least in terms of aesthetics. Fantasy Babylon/Egypt/other great civilization, I think, would both have potential unfortunate implications that this is a commentary on that culture specifically, and in a way, I think making sure Charn feels like its own place makes it feel more real - and that what happened there could really happen somewhere.

As for the second... on the one hand, I'm torn between the idea of the filmmakers trying to add a story element with that kind of implication when C.S. Lewis did not explicitly write about it himself, and how interesting that could be if pulled off well. If they did go that direction, I'd want them to go with a great deal of subtlety - never have Jadis identify Aslan verbally as an entity she recognizes, but perhaps have it written all over her horrified expression. Something that would be there for the fans (book or movie) who pay attention and analyze, but something that isn't explicitly stated.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby King_Erlian » Jun 19, 2017 3:21 am

It occurred to me that if The Magician's Nephew had been written by Tolkien, he would have written a complete history of Charn, including the names and dates of all of its kings and queens, the names of the countries (or even planets) it was at war with and when, its languages and dialects and so on, even if he never intended any of that information to be published - and that information would have influenced the depiction of it on film. Lewis never bothered with that sort of thing; to him it wasn't relevant to the story he wanted to tell, which in the case of The Magician's Nephew was the creation of Narnia and how the White Witch got to be there. So I don't think he put a great deal of thought into what kind of place Charn had been, other than (a) it was the home world of Jadis and (b) it had been destroyed by war. I get the feeling that when he came to describe the ruins, he was thinking of a society fairly similar to the human societies in the Narnian world, just gone bad; medieval in appearance and action. In other words, the Charn in Lewis' imagination wasn't enough of its own place, it was more of what we had already seen in the previous Narnia stories. So I'd be happy if the filmmakers actually changed some details, to make it look more like a separate world, unrelated to either Narnia or our own.

Another thing that's always bugged me ever since I read the books as a child is how Jadis, after conquering everyone and everything in her own world, and making threats to do so in ours, appeared content to rule a small country in the Narnian world and no other. Taking Archenland after Narnia would have been a piece of cake, and I would have thought that ruling Calormen would have been right up her street, its culture bearing some similarities with that of her home. I know that the real reason was that Lewis didn't plan all seven books from the beginning and so when he wrote LWW he probably had no idea of where the Witch had come from (and so Mr. Beaver's ideas were probably correct in Lewis' mind at that time). Still, I'd like to see something in a film of The Magician's Nephew to explain why she went on to conquer Narnia and no further. Maybe make it apparent that her magic in the Narnian world is much weaker than it was in her own, given that it didn't work at all in our world.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 19, 2017 11:19 pm

King_Erlian wrote:It occurred to me that if The Magician's Nephew had been written by Tolkien, he would have written a complete history of Charn...Lewis never bothered with that sort of thing; to him it wasn't relevant to the story he wanted to tell, which in the case of The Magician's Nephew was the creation of Narnia and how the White Witch got to be there. So I don't think he put a great deal of thought into what kind of place Charn had been, other than (a) it was the home world of Jadis and (b) it had been destroyed by war.


Yes you are right, especially because Charn in some ways does parallel our own world. I'm beginning to think that it is the moral dimension that is the most important theme of the whole Narnian series, including Magician's Nephew. Not because of Christianity or any other religion but what the series tells us about our humanity and how we exercise it or not. I don't see that we need exotically alien characters etc, Star-Wars style. And Tolkien's languages and attention to detail, as you say, was not the point in MN, anyway.

But when C.S.Lewis was young also coincided with archaeological discoveries, including Schliemann's earlier discoveries of Troy and Mycenae in the late 19th century, not to mention finding ancient ruins at Assyrian Nineveh and Babylon. I suspect C.S.Lewis was more into graphic art than was Tolkien, because of that hall of statues in MN, and what these sorts of graphic artistry can tell us about the people who made them.

This is why Pauline Baynes' illustrations were so pivotal to the Narnia series, not only in a sketch of what a marshwiggle might look like, and not only the rich clothes but also the expressions on the faces of the statues in that hall, and what they can tell us about the people depicted. I'd imagine Charn as something like Nineveh or Babylon in its heyday, perhaps moreso, if you include tame dragons and flying carpets. Especially Nineveh as the Assyrians had a reputation for cruelty above and beyond what normally went on in those days, with their Babylonian replacements hardly any more merciful. That is why designing and enhancing the sets and picking suitable landscapes would be key ways of presenting a film of any Narnian books, including MN and SC.

The Charnian landscape, according to the illustrations, and my imagination, is just like a huge ruined city, only this time without any vines, flowers, water or grass or even snow to mask its utter lifelessness, which I'm sure was exactly C.S.Lewis' point in Jadis' use of the Deplorable Word. When C.S.Lewis died in 1963, it was the height of the Cold War, and only a year previously, the entire world had been on the brink. At that time there had been even talk of the development of a neutron bomb which would have been worse than the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, since it would kill all life without damaging the buildings.

Just the noise of an explosion detonating, and a long roll of cloud passing over the landscape, leaving nothing, no life at all in its wake would do nicely to depict the effects of the Deplorable Word. Another idea which might inspire people's imaginations might be the dark dust storm which enveloped Melbourne last year, though Melbourne has seen worse ones.

Ryadian wrote:Fantasy Babylon/Egypt/other great civilization, I think, would both have potential unfortunate implications that this is a commentary on that culture specifically, and in a way, I think making sure Charn feels like its own place makes it feel more real - and that what happened there could really happen somewhere.


No I think it shouldn't really have too many implications. In many ways we are all heirs to all those ruined civilizations, especially Egypt, Nineveh and Babylon. Yes my ideas of the graphics and the archaeology might reflect other great civilizations now in ruins, not only Babylonian/Assyrian but also Aztecs and many others. But I don't see why that should be more offensive than depicting Melbourne, or some other city in a heavy dust storm, especially a red dust storm. However, Melbourne is just a tad too contemporary and alive to play ancient Charn, or ancient anything, even though Melbourne was once considered the ideal place to film "On the Beach", a 1950's apocalyptic, post nuclear war story of the end of the world.

Jazzing scenery up to make Charn look far more technologically advanced, and somewhat more "space-age" than these ruined civilizations were, or ever aimed to be, might well do the trick. But would it clash with the tamed dragon transport Jadis seemed to prefer? And would similar Star Wars monsters of any sort seem to be a bit unrealistically hackneyed and over the top?

King_Erlian wrote:Another thing that's always bugged me ever since I read the books as a child is how Jadis, after conquering everyone and everything in her own world, and making threats to do so in ours, appeared content to rule a small country in the Narnian world and no other. Taking Archenland after Narnia would have been a piece of cake, and I would have thought that ruling Calormen would have been right up her street, its culture bearing some similarities with that of her home.


I thought so, too. But ruling Calormen would not be much of a challenge for Jadis, since they weren't interested in having anything to do with such Jadis' frozen realm. Besides, like Calormen, Jadis liked revenge, and revenge is a dish served cold. Too cold for Calormen's comfort, and judging by the Tisroc's opinion in HHB, they just stayed away. Same probably with Archenland, trapped between fire and ice. Jadis might have immortality but only because she was anti-life.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby Anfinwen » Jun 20, 2017 11:09 am

King_Erlian wrote:Also, it would make sense that The-Being-Known-In-Narnia-As-Aslan would have lived in some form (probably not a lion) in the Charnian world too at some point in its history, and Jadis had encountered him there, so she was able to recognise Aslan for who he was when she arrived in Narnia at the time of its creation.

That's a fascinating idea! I always felt that at first Jadis just had a bad feeling about the lion, but when she couldn't destroy him (how can you destroy something in the very act of creating life?) she recognized the power, the force, that he had in him. I don't really want them to spend time telling that backstory in Charn, but I wouldn't mind a mural depicting the creation of Charn that obviously has something painted or chiseled out. Perhaps Jadis could boast that "even HE couldn't stop me" without giving away too much. The real moment happens in Narnia, the moment of recognition - not only of her powerlessness - but of the person she is facing.
Ryadian wrote: I've always had an image of a world utterly frozen in the moment the Word was spoken

That's pretty much how I imagine it. I don't think there should be bodies, but I would be fine with armor, weapons, and wrecked chariots in the streets.
King_Erlian wrote:Another thing that's always bugged me ever since I read the books as a child is how Jadis, after conquering everyone and everything in her own world, and making threats to do so in ours, appeared content to rule a small country in the Narnian world and no other.

Jadis was great in her own world, but in Narnia she is revealed to be quite small and petty. I think the only thing on her mind was destroying what Aslan created in Narnia.
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Re: The Magician's Nephew

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 20, 2017 10:35 pm

Anfinwen wrote:I don't really want them to spend time telling that backstory in Charn, but I wouldn't mind a mural depicting the creation of Charn that obviously has something painted or chiseled out. Perhaps Jadis could boast that "even HE couldn't stop me" without giving away too much. The real moment happens in Narnia, the moment of recognition - not only of her powerlessness - but of the person she is facing.


B-) Cool idea! Starting off nicely, and it would explain the sovereigns that Polly noted were good and kind. What about a picture of Tash somewhere, as well? Calormen thought of Tash as someone great, even having temples devoted to him/it. Aslan gave an explanation of what Tash was in LB. Maybe Jadis couldn't interfere with Tash, or with anyone within cooee of domains she considered under its protection. Maybe Tash is from where the Charn nobility got the idea of the Deplorable Word, in the first place?
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