In this post I am taking a detour from Charn to talk about fanfic of Charn.
Narnian fanfic has been on the internet for at least two and a half decades, though not in the massive amounts inspired by the Disney live-action movies. The pre-Disney fanfics were based on the books, and far more diverse and interesting. The movies, as is often the case, popularized the fandom, leading to a glut of re-imaginings using author inserts in the form of an extra Pevensie — sibling or cousin — and in more than a few stories, the White Witch’s daughter. There’s tons of romance, and the main characters being siblings, incestuous romance.
This isn’t to say all Narnian fanfic is like that. Many stories attempt to fill in the gaps that Lewis left in the books or argue philosophical plot points, such as Susan’s spiritual redemption or if Aslan’s actions really were for the greater good. In this Lewis supplied a more robust framework than Tolkien, whose Middle-Earth was mapped in finer detail that didn’t leave a lot of room for author riffing (Legolas/Aragorn slash notwithstanding.)
Which brings us to my favorite Narnian setting, the city-world of Charn and its ruler, Queen Jadis. Charn made only a brief appearance in The Magician’s Nephew, but one that inspired many readers, as well as myself, to fill in some of its mysteries.
In recent years Deviantart.com has been being used by creators to host fanfic as well as fannish artworks. Celestialhost has written two of these, both about Jadis, in snippet style… not really a story, but an exploration in story form of an element that Lewis left out of the books. In this case, the nature of Jadis’s Charnian army, and how Jadis might have felt about a visit to the Lone Islands which were stated to be under her authority in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Both are worth reading, the author pulling out all the stops in the first one in particular. Jadis riding a manticore? And barefoot, yet, to wash her feet in the blood of her enemies? What imagination!
Pointed Up (at the Red Sun), by mihrsuri
I didn’t quite get this short fic, which was about the daughter of a sorceress who is drafted to help Queen Jadis in the war against her sister. As such the daughter hardens herself emotionally even as she realizes her twin brother is the one who has given Jadis the Deplorable Word. Head-scratching.
Elizabeth Culmer is a talented writer with many stories about Narnia, Jadis and Charn which are archived on her home site at archiveofourown.com. These three explore Charn’s destruction. The first is a brief AU where Jadis is silenced (by a knife to mouth!) before she can speak the Deplorable Word. The second describes the state of Charn and its decay after Jadis, Polly, and Digory leave. The third is about Jadis and her siblings and is an actual story, not a snippet; Jadis and her future nemesis, her sister Cynara, also had an older brother, and together the sisters… you have to read it to find out, but know that Charnian Royals are ruthless when it comes to attaining power.
Daughters of Charn, by Alpha Starwell
How did the war between Jadis and her sister begin? “Daughters of Charn” posits sibling rivalry, Jadis vying with her sister Emeralas for their father’s affections. Note the names that recall green gemstones; it’s one of the nicer touches that explores the culture of the world of Charn. Jadis tries to be a better fighter, magician, and scholar than her sister, but it isn’t enough, and resentment simmers. Imperiously, she takes it out on her slaves, but then, one night, it’s implied Aslan comes calling. Unfortunately, the story ends there, unfinished. Jadis is perhaps too bratty to become the fierce ruler we see later, but all in all it’s a nice effort.
Deplorable, by WingedFlight
Here we have a fanfic that not only takes place in Charn, but there’s another story embedded inside it, the legend of Prince Hekkenet who sets out to free his father the King of Charn from some cursed rubies… and it turns out to be the origin of the Deplorable Word as well. The fable is told to a young Jadis, and it ends ironically. I liked it, but it could have been finessed some. Why not make Prince Hekkenet the keeper of the Word, for example, and that is why he never returns to Charn? But otherwise there’s some interesting world-building here.
The Price of a Word, by Laura Andrews
How did Jadis learn the Deplorable Word, and what was the price? The author tells us how, and it’s at once mundane and terrifying. Not much could frighten Jadis, but the price did. A short horror read that was scary without being gory, and kudos to the author for copying Jadis’s speech patterns from the Lewis books.
Two Prices, by ZachValkyrie
Another story of how Jadis received the Deplorable Word, this one even better than the previous, with a wonderful early Wierd Tales feel to it. There are several twists to the story, Jadis was in character, and Charn’s worldbuilding was in line with its bloodthirsty majesty: barges full of slaves from vassal cities float continuously down the river to be sacrificed. Recommended.
Charn – Cradle of Monsters, by TheophilusG
This author makes no bones about how terrible Charn was in its last days — it’s a combination of Tudor England and Imperial Rome, with public games the nobles fly to on their magic carpets above the heads of the hoi polloi. Jadis is born but the King of Charn desires a son. Unlike Anne Boleyn, however, the Queen of Charn takes matters into her own hands, and so does Katilu, Jadis’s elder sister. This one is more snippet than story, but the writing is energetic and engaging, and the worldbuilding of Charn the best out of all I’ve read. This is the kind of exploration I like to see!
The Precise Magic of Snowflakes, by KannaOphelia
This is one of these NSFW stories that are definitely, defiantly erotica, and erotica about Jadis at that. But it’s part of the plot and not purely for titillation purposes. This one posits that in Jadis-ruled Narnia there’s another powerful legendary being, akin to Father Christmas and Bacchus, living there — the Snow Queen of Hans Christian Anderson fame. The author skillfully integrates her into the setting so it’s not as jarring as it sounds. The conflict comes when Jadis objects to the Snow Queen kidnapping human children instead of turning them over to her, and it runs from there, with both beings finding an attraction in the other.