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Bree (short for Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah) is a fictional character in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. He is one of the title characters and is featured prominently in The Horse and His Boy. This was the book published fifth, but the book's events are chronologically third.
Bree was born as a free talking beast in the Land of Narnia, but was captured as a colt by the Calormenes, and has lived his life as a war horse in Calormen, owned by humans, and hiding his true nature as a talking horse. Living as the only talking beast among "dumb and witless" horses, Bree has come to be both proud and vain. In The Horse and His Boy, Bree and the boy Shasta become companions on a journey to escape from Calormen and find freedom in the northern countries of Archenland and Narnia. On their journey, they are joined by a talking mare, Hwin, and a Calormene Tarkheena, Aravis. In the course of their adventures, they thwart an attempted invasion of Archenland and Narnia, and Bree learns to face up to and surrender his pride and vanity in order to truly enter into a free life in Narnia.
Bree, an adventurous and inquisitive colt, was born in Narnia. He disregarded the warnings of his mother and ventured south past Archenland and into Calormen, where he was captured and either enslaved by or eventually sold to the Tarkaan Anradin. He spent many years pretending to be a dumb and witless horse to hide his origins, and became one of the Tarkaan's prized possessions. Bree developed a very high opinion of himself with only non-talking horses to compare himself to, further enhanced by his status as the prized steed of a Calormene lord and his training as a war charger. Furthermore, having spent less time in Narnia than most talking horses, he had certain incorrect notions of Narnian behaviour and culture. In particular, he asserts that Aslan, Narnia's creator and patron, is not an actual lion, and is only referred to as an analogy of the fierceness and power of a lion; part of his reason for believing this is that he secretly fears lions.
When the Tarkaan Anradin stays at Arsheesh's hut, Bree and Shasta plan to run away to Narnia together, Shasta having overheard Anradin's intention to buy him from Arsheesh. They set out north immediately, despite the fact that Shasta had never ridden a horse in his life; Bree is obliged to teach him as they go. Before long, they come upon another pair of runaways after being herded together by a pursuing lion: the Tarkheena Aravis, and her talking Narnian mare, Hwin. Aravis, who is headed for Narnia in order to escape an odious arranged marriage, is at first reluctant to join forces with Shasta, but Bree and Hwin eventually convince her to do so, and the four continue on to Tashbaan. Though Bree is glad for the company of a fellow Narnian horse, his self-important personality tends to overpower the meeker Hwin's.
In the crowded capital city, the group is split up: Shasta is mistaken for the visiting prince of Archenland, Corin and is bustled off by the Narnian embassy, while Aravis and the horses become the guests of the bubbly Tarkheena Lasaraleen. Eventually, Aravis persuades Lasaraleen to help them find a way out of the city so that they can meet Shasta at the prearranged rendezvous point. Lasaraleen arranges for a groom to take the horses to the meeting place while she herself takes Avaris down to the river via the palace, where they accidentally overhear Prince Rabadash and his father the Tisroc planning to lay siege to Anvard, the stronghold of Archenland's king, as a prelude to invading Narnia.
After finally meeting up again with Shasta, the foursome sets off across the desert to Archenland to warn of the impending attack. Though the need is urgent, Bree tends to set a slower pace than he is truly capable of, his years of enslavement making him lazy without spurs to egg him on. As the group nears the dwelling of the Hermit of the Southern March, they suddenly find a lion in close pursuit. Bree flees in mindless terror, forcing Shasta to dismount at full gallop in an attempt to aid Aravis and Hwin. This incident deflates much of Bree's ego, as he feels intense shame for leaving the two females behind while a boy raised as a peasant found the courage to go back.
Shasta continues on, eventually finding King Lune of Archenland and telling of him of the impending attack. However, while returning to Anvard with the King's party, Shasta is separated from them in a thick fog and accidentally passes through Archenland into Narnia, where he warns the Narnians about the attack on Anvard, and ends up fighting with the forces of Narnia against the Calormenes, while the horses (exhausted from the chase with the lion) and Aravis (injured by the lion) remain behind under the Hermit's care. The battle is a decisive victory for the Narnians and Archenlanders, and the Hermit describes it (and Shasta's participation) to the others as he views it in his magic pool. The last of Bree's preconceived notions is then shattered when Aslan himself visits the hermitage; while Hwin submits meekly to the great lion, Bree retreats and cowers until ordered forward. Aslan reveals that he was not only the lion who brought the group together, but also the lion who chased them across the desert, the latter act done to force the horses, Bree in particular, to the speed necessary for warning of the Calormene attack to reach Archenland and Narnia in time. Aslan admonishes Bree for his hubris, but says that Bree can change his ways as long as he realizes that he will be "nothing special" once he returns to Narnia, where he will be only one talking animal among many.
After the defeat of the Calormenes, and the discovery that Shasta is really Prince Cor, the long-lost son of King Lune of Archenland, Bree is finally able to return to Narnia. As he and Hwin say their goodbyes to Shasta/Cor and Aravis (who is invited to stay at Archenland by King Lune), Bree's former self emerges in a frantic moment of uncertainty as to whether real Narnian talking horses roll in the grass, or if rolling is a low habit he has picked up from the Calormen horses. Hwin, in a rare moment of assertiveness, says that she will roll whether or not it's acceptable in Narnia, and Bree reluctantly follows her lead (though he takes one last roll, just to be safe).
At the books close, the author notes that Bree and Hwin live happy lives in Narnia, both eventually marrying (though not to each other). They are said to make frequent trips to Archenland to visit Cor and Aravis, who do end up married to each other and later become the rulers of Archenland.
In other works
- 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
- Schakel, Peter J. (1979), Reading With the Heart: The Way into Narnia, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, ISBN 0-8028-1814-5