The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

(Chronicles of Narnia, #5)
Children, Young Adult, Fantasy

Shasta is a young boy living in Calormene with a cruel man who claims to be his father. One night he overhears his "father" offering to sell him as a slave, so Shasta makes a break and sets out for the North. He meets Bree, a talking horse who becomes his companion. On their way they encounter Aravis, a high-born girl escaping an arranged marriage, and her talking horse. Despite their differences the children and horses learn to work together to reach the freedom they long for. In the meantime, they uncover a Calormene plot to conquer Narnia

 “Do not by any means destroy yourself, for if you live you may yet have good fortune, but all the dead are dead like.”

This time around it surrounds a young boy and his horse in a heroic type, rags to riches tale. The adventure element was high as the child tries to escape being sold to a cruel master and travels to Narnia with a talking horse, Bree. Along the way they meet a girl who is also escaping, although she's privileged and leaving for a much different reason, with her talking horse as well. Each character has their own personal reason to get to Narnia, all escaping different enemies, each with their unique character flaw to transform. It's similar to a medieval fairytale romance set in a royal time.

The characterization in this one helped make the story the success it was. While it was a good story, there was additional charm with the players. I loved the horses and their conflicting personalities, adorable things. Bree is funny and far from humble, while Hwin holds a supreme gentleness and nobility. Shasta is a very likeable hero with his morals and strength, but also his insecurities, doubts, and humorous thoughts. Aslan is present again in this one, and pretty heavily. He repeats in this book several times the same he said in others - that he would only tell the person their story and not others. There was a particularly awesome scene, almost creepy with the ending whisper, on Him answering to Shasta who He was. I really loved King Lune too, he was jolly, kind hearted and hilariously well-natured.

We get to see Lucy, Edmund and Susan again. This time they are in their King and Queen station and, while it's nice to see them in their element, it doesn't really seem like them from the other stories. Could be because it's not told from their viewpoint, or else because they are only seen as royalty here. There's a fun, short cameo with Tumnus too. Their high speech again, though, argh!

There's no great, huge villain, but a series of them - from lions, slave-owners, and invading, spoiled princes. The only time the book lagged was when Susan and Edmund debated on the best action to take while still in the Prince's town. I thought that could have been shortened a little, but this didn't take from the story much.

It may seem unrealistic to have Aslan himself in so many stories, while before it made sense because of his connection to the children and them fulfilling their prophecy. Here it ends up making sense as the end reveals this is also part of another prophecy which was foretold in years past. The scene with the boat reminds me a little of the story of Moses as a baby in the basket. The ending was a surprise and I love how CS Lewis wrote it. It finished on a sweet, charming note unlike some of the others. Maybe it held less sadness because the players were already in the world they were supposed to be in and wouldn't be leaving it.

Regarding the order of the story, this is one of those that had been exchanged with another in the Publication Versus Chronological changes. A big change too, swapping from being book five to becoming book three when republished later chronologically. Besides it being during the children's reign over Narnia, there is no difference in time that would affect series reading. Still happy I stuck with the original publish sequence. As book five, it's a delight after reading the last two to revisit the world as it was with the Kings and Queens in their prime and look back on that era to see familiar faces again.

   Book Quotes:

“But one of the worst results of being a slave and being forced to do things is that when there is no one to force you any more you find you have almost lost the power of forcing yourself.”

   Special Week Feature:

I did a special weeks feature for the Chronicles of Narnia series back in 2012. Here is link to the full feature listing, along with other special weeks done.

Posts from that feature for this book:

Cover Comparison: The horse and his boy

   Reader's Autopsy:

I did a Reader's Autopsy post - The Bizarre Order That is the Chronicles of Narnia...

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