This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and two sisters were King and Queens under him. It is during this glorious era in Narnian history that Shasta, a young boy living in Calormen with a cruel man who claims to be his father, dreams of traveling to the unknown North. One night he overhears his “father” offering to sell him as a slave, and Shasta decides that now is the time to begin his journey. When he meets Bree, a Talking Horse of Narnia who is a slave himself, the two decide to escape together.
The pair soon encounters Aravis, a high-born girl escaping a forced marriage, and Hwin, another Talking Horse. The travelers must combine their wits and all their strength to reach the freedom they long for. And when they discover a Calormen plot to conquer Narnia, they must also race against time. The battle that ensues matches in excitement any of the adventures described in C.S. Lewis’s previous two books of the Chronicles of Narnia. Assisted by the majestic Aslan, the Kings and Queens of Narnia, first introduced in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, once again rise to the occasion to defend their kingdom.
Review of the Characters:
Shasta (a.k.a. Prince Cor)– He was a typical hero. Starts off as poor slave boy and then goes on a journey in which he proves his worth. Even though he was typical he was enjoyable to read. I loved that Lewis gave him the courage to face a lion without any weapons but when it came to battle Shasta was shaking in his boots. He was a young boy with a good heart which is somewhat surprising considering he was raised with a hateful and spiteful guardian. I guess that’s a whole nature vs. nurture argument and we certainly don’t have time for one of those.
Bree– He was definitely not what I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess from the title of this novel I was expecting a wise horse that would help Shasta realize all that he can become but that wasn’t the case. If anything, Bree learns from Shasta in that he is humbled. Bree was this big, egotistical creature that almost let his proud nature allow Archenland to be overcome, but alas he is humbled two times. First when Shasta goes back to save Aravis and Hwin from the lion and secondly by Aslan himself. Bree was an example we should all take to heart, sometimes we can be extremely self-centered. (A lot of the time for me).
Aravis– Though Aravis also suffered from pride she was still a great example for all girls. She proved her strength many times especially when she was recognized by her friend. She reacted quick and thoughtfully. She definitely had to learn a lesson about being considerate but once again, it’s something all people have to learn and so made Aravis all the more realistic.
Hwin– Believe it or not she was one of my favorite characters throughout the whole novel. She was so simple and because of this at times she was the smartest creature in the room. Though she was no war-horse she proved to be just as noble if not more so than Bree, no doubt fully intended by C.S. Lewis.
Review of the Story:
I really enjoyed the story though it was not what I was expecting. From the title I was expecting a story about the relationship between a horse and boy (I can feel everybody thinking the words: literal-minded). I thought maybe the horse and boy would learn from each other and both walk away for the better because of it but throughout the majority of the novel they did not spend any time together. The story was not really about their relationship but rather them as separate beings. Also, I would have liked it if C.S. Lewis had given the reader more on the history of Calormen such as where does Tash originate from but besides these factors Lewis has written another charming story.
Review of the Writing:
Just as in his previous novels Lewis writes in a tongue-in-cheek way that speaks to children. He interacts with the reader as if he were there in person telling you this story around a fire, making it all the more magical. Also I liked that there was no moment that felt rushed as in Lewis’s previous novels. Overall, he accomplished what he wanted too, a child’s dream.
The Horse and His Boy makes an excellent contribution to the Chronicles of Narnia and deserves just as much attention as Lewis’s popular The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He wrote an enchanting coming-of-age story with magical influence creating a story that all ages will enjoy!
P.S.– My next read is Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (I hope it’s better than the movie)!