Tor.com content by

Nasim Mansuri

Our Country: C.S. Lewis, Calormen, and How Fans Are Reclaiming the Fictionalized East

The country of Calormen, located to the southeast of Narnia, appears twice in the seven Chronicles of Narnia books, but not once in the movies. It’s the stage for some of the most exciting parts of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories—and also some of the most controversial.

Throughout the only book where characters actually set foot in Calormen, The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis can’t seem to decide how to treat it. He describes it as “one of the wonders of the world” with “orange trees and lemon trees, roof-gardens, balconies, deep archways, pillared colonnades, spires, battlements, minarets, pinnacles…” And yet, the Calormene people “were not the fair-haired men of Narnia: they were dark, bearded men from Calormen, that great and cruel country” who smelled “of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces.”

Finally—and perhaps most ominously for a book series that is transparently a Christian allegory—“they have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture.”

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