||This Narnia-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (January 2011)|
|Title||Queen of Archenland|
|Parents||Kidrash Tarkaan (father)|
|Children||Ram the Great|
|Siblings||Two brothers, unnamed|
|Family||Rishti Tarkaan (grandfather); Kidrash Tarkan (great-grandfather); Illsombreh Tisroc (great-great-grandfather); Ardeeb Tisroc (great-great-great-grandfather); Tash (claimed ancestor)|
|Major character in|
Aravis is a young Tarkheena, a female member of the ruling nobility of Calormen. With her horse, Hwin, who is revealed to be a talking beast from the land of Narnia, she flees from her home, in order to escape an arranged marriage to Ahoshta, which is repugnant to her. Aravis is a strong character, whose confidence, bravery and loyalty are offset by arrogance and self-centeredness. She is also said to be an amazing storyteller, which is partly the result of her upbringing: the art of telling stories forms part of the education of the nobility. On their journey north to freedom in Narnia, they fall into company with the talking stallion, Bree, and the boy Shasta. Aravis overhears a plot by the Calormenes to invade Archenland and Narnia, and with this intelligence the four companions are able to warn the Archenlanders in time to thwart the invasion. In the process of their adventures, through a series of "lessons" and encounters, Aravis's character is transformed, and she acquires humility and sensitivity. Her companion, Shasta, is discovered to be the lost heir to the kingdom of Archenland, and, upon reaching adulthood, he and Aravis marry, and rule as king and queen. They are the parents of Ram the Great, the "most famous of all the kings of Archenland".
Aravis says of her family, "...I am the only daughter of Kidrash Tarkaan, the son of Rishti Tarkaan, the son of Kidrash Tarkaan, the son of Illsombreh Tisroc, the son of Ardeeb Tisroc who was descended in a right line from the god Tash." (from The Horse and his Boy)
Aravis has spent her youth in the heart of Calormen, apparently in Calavar, the province over which her father is lord. Her mother and older brother have both died and her father has recently married an unkind woman, who makes no attempt to disguise her dislike for her stepdaughter. She also has a younger brother who is "but a child". Aravis' already difficult home life is rendered impossible when her father announces her engagement to Ahoshta Tarkaan, a wealthy and powerful but loathsome courtier whom she despises. In response she decides to commit suicide. However, her mare, Hwin, reveals herself as a Talking Horse from Narnia and persuades her to flee to Narnia instead.
As the two ride through Calormen, they meet Bree and Shasta, the eponymous horse and boy, who are also escaping to Narnia. The four try to traverse Tashbaan undetected, but they get separated and Aravis meets her friend Lasaraleen, who is also a Tarkheena. Aravis and Lasaraleen explore the Tisroc's palace, and accidentally overhear a plan by the Tisroc and Prince Rabadash to invade Archenland. When she meets Shasta and the horses again, they agree they must urgently warn Narnia and Archenland.
As they near the border of Archenland, they are chased by a lion (later revealed to be Aslan), who claws Aravis' back in penance for the punishment administered to her slave-maid (whom Aravis dosed with a sleeping draught in order to escape). Her wounds force her to remain with the Hermit of the Southern March while Shasta goes alone to complete the mission. She watches the battle through the Hermit's magic pool, appalled at the danger that Shasta faces. While in the Hermit's home, Aravis encounters Aslan, an event that changes her.
Marrying Shasta (or rather, Prince Cor), she becomes a princess of Archenland (later queen) and the mother of King Ram the Great. She is last seen in The Last Battle, and is present at the Great Reunion in Aslan's Country.
Some critics[who?] consider the use of Calormene characters as villains to be evidence of racism. Aravis is often presented as a counterexample to this (along with Emeth), since she is a sympathetically portrayed, and largely virtuous, Calormene heroine. Aravis, along with the other people of Calormen, are described to be dark skinned and often with dyed hair, resembling darker Arabs and Indian people. Aravis should be identified with the Biblical character of Ruth, the Moabitess who goes to Israel with her Mother in Law Naomi and who marries Boaz. Ruth tells Naomi "Your people will be my people and your God my God." Ordinarily, Israelites were not to marry foreigners because these would turn their hearts away from God, but Ruth is different in coming to Israel as a willing convert to Judaism. Likewise, Aravis goes to Archenland in a similar willing fashion, ready to adopt the customs and beliefs of the northern peoples.
- Ford, Paul (2005), Companion to Narnia, Revised Edition, SanFrancisco: Harper, ISBN 0-06-079127-6
- Lewis, C.S. (1954), The Horse and His Boy, London: Geoffrey Bles
- Lewis, C.S. (1956), The Last Battle, London: Geoffrey Bles
- Markos, Louis (2000), The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis (audio course), Lecture 10: Journeys of Faith-The Chronicles of Narnia II, Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company, ISBN 1-56585-316-4
- Schakel, Peter J. (1979), Reading With the Heart: The Way into Narnia, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, ISBN 0-8028-1814-5