Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

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Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby Korliyon » May 01, 2018 9:05 am

Hello. I’m writing a fantasy story, and I’ve decided to get help from this forum for solving a particular problem I’ve encountered.

In drama, there is the principle saying that a pistol that appears in the first act should fire in the third. I have such a “pistol” in my story, which appears in the first and second acts, and fires in the third. I want the readers to be surprised when it fires. The thing is, it appears in the first and second acts under such circumstances that I fear some of them might guess it will fire in the last one, which will ruin the element of surprise.

In an attempt to solve this problem I’m now searching for other “pistols” in books I’ve read, and trying to learn from them how to do hide the pistol properly. One of the books I’m reviewing is “The Horse and His Boy”. On a few occasions in the book, characters mistake Shasta for Prince Corin, because of their physical similarity. Only at the end of the book it turns out that they are twins.

I’d like to ask you: When you first read the book, had their similarity made you realize that they are twins even before it was revealed? Or maybe you weren’t bothered by this at all? And what do you think made you realize/miss this?

Also, if it’s not the right forum to post this topic in, please direct me to the right forum.

Thanks for answering, it’s really helpful!
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby King_Erlian » May 03, 2018 1:24 am

I was only about 6 or 7 when I first read all the Narnia books, which is nearly 50 years ago now, so it's hard to remember what I thought about any particular plot point, but I don't think I "twigged" that Corin and Shasta were twins until it was revealed at the end. I think that at the point in the story where they first met, I had practically forgotten the scene at the beginning of the book where Arsheesh told the Tarkaan how he had found Shasta as a baby.

If I had been older when I first read the book, and had read other stories in which "two characters who look the same are revealed to be twins separated at birth", I may have realised sooner.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » May 03, 2018 6:19 pm

I'd have to agree with King_Erlian about age being an issue here. I read HHB in my teens and I immediately thought that Shasta and Corin were twins. If I had read the story when I was much younger, though, I may have been surprised by the twist. So I think it definitely depends on the age range that your story is written for. That said, even though I guessed the twist when I read HHB for the first time, finding out I was right wasn't a letdown. Honestly, Aslan's reveal at the end was such a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring moment that the twist about Shasta being the lost prince pales in comparison, in my opinion.

Welcome to NarniaWeb, by the way! :)
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby Korliyon » May 03, 2018 11:06 pm

The Rose-Tree Dryad wrote:Welcome to NarniaWeb, by the way! :)

Thank you!

And I think you're right - the age range is an important parameter.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby AJAiken » May 04, 2018 2:36 am

When I read The Horse and His Boy I was fairly young and I didn't see the twist coming. Thinking about it now I wonder how I missed it, but I think the pacing of the book is such that there isn't time to mull over it. When the similarity of Shasta and Corin is first seen, Shasta's thought is that he must get back to Aravis, Bree, and Hwin. I guess it's subtle misdirection, like a magician's wand.

In terms of other stories with such 'pistols', the ones at the forefront of my mind are Megan Whalen Turner's Attolia books. I read them as an adult and they certainly fooled me.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby Sir Edmond the just » Jan 07, 2019 12:04 pm

I never realized until the king told him.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby coracle » Jan 07, 2019 12:44 pm

I read them in my late teens, and by then I'd seen (or read) The Prince & The Pauper, and an earlier version of The Parent Trap (and the original book that was based on), so it wasn't a big surprise - but if you had asked me to predict the ending I doubt I'd have actually guessed.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby Cleander » Jan 07, 2019 1:16 pm

The twin thing tipped me off, I seem to recall... but I wasn't really thinking about the implications of Shasta being the brother of a prince, so the ending was still a bit of a surprise.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jan 09, 2019 1:36 am

Horse & his boy was and still is my favourite Narnia story. Like the others on this thread the confusion of identities with Prince Corin in Tashbaan did set the stage for the big reveal, plus the manner of Shasta's warning King Lune. But it wasn't until I had to do an assignment (in Modern French/Medieval French) for university on an old story called Aucassin & Nicolette that Anradin's overheard conversation with Arsheesh which reveals that Shasta looks nothing like him, and therefore not his son, that is to say, the first clue, er pistol, really sunk in.

I did actually pass this assignment, somehow :-\ and now I ought to reread Aucassin and Nicolette to discover where is the pistol & the firing pistol in that story as well. /:) After all these years I hope I can still translate & understand the story, which is in an Old French edition. :(

Nice to meet you, Korliyon. :D Good luck with the story.
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Re: Question about "The Horse and His Boy"

Postby puddleglum32 » Jan 31, 2019 1:00 pm

Being a kid when I first read HHB, it wasn't even on my radar that Shasta could possibly be a twin. I just assumed that the Narnians thought he looked very similar to their missing prince. I remember how satisfying the ending was when the audience found out Shasta was a prince and from that moment on his life would change forever. It is by far my favorite book for many reasons but, I think one of them is because of the rags to riches element the story gives.
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