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Of all of the beloved *The Chronicles of Narnia* books, my favorite since childhood has been *The Horse and His Boy*. The book is the closest to the idea of swash-buckling adventure that any young boy wants to read. Sword fights, knights, and steel-clashing battles are all there, plus intrigue. The story starts with a young boy named Shasta who is doing chores for his fisherman father at their home in a country far south of Narnia. The story is said by Lewis to take place in the time of the reign of the Pevensies, alluded to at the end of *The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*, during what is referred to in the books themselves as the “golden age” of Narnia. One evening, a wealthy Calormene lord (for Calormen was the country in which they lived) came for lodging, and Shasta was turned out with even less supper than he normally received. He was not well-brought up, as his father did not truly loved him, and so he had learned very few good habits. Because of this, just out of boredom, and no sense of guile, he eavesdropped. What he heard told him all he needed to know of his life at that time. Arsheesh was *not* his father. In fact, he didn’t love him at all, but was going to sell him into slavery to the Calormene lord. Young Shasta wandered outside and went to the stable area to think. He murmured to the lord’s horse that he wished the animal could somehow tell him if he was going to a good master, or one as bad as, or worse than, his “father”. He was utterly shocked when the horse said that he could, in fact, talk, and that his lord was a horrible master. The horse went on to expalin that he had been kidnapped as a young foal from his home in the northern country of Narnia where animals were talking Beasts. He despaired of how to escape from his predicament when the horse (who gave his name as Bree) proposed an escape, noticing that Shasta’s different looks from others of his countrymen was likely due to his having “northern blood”, or being from Narnia or Archenland. During their escape, they eventually meet up with two fellow escapees, Aravis Tarkheena, a nobleman’s daughter, and her talking horse Hwin. Aravis was desperate to escape from an arranged murder to an old, evil man who is an assistant to the Tisroc (the lord of the realm). Eventually, they learn of a plot to overthrow the northern countries, and must race against time to save the very countries, and very freedom, for which they are hoping to escape to. Beyond the high sword play and intrigue described, there are also important lessons taught. Above all, these pertain to the foolishness of pride and the sovereignty of God. These are linked together by C. S. Lewis in the story, and for good reason. Pride is, at heart, the elevation of self and denial of God. We decide that we are able to handle things ourselves, and don’t need the Lord’s help. Even those who *claim* to depend on God, and put him above themselves, often do not. In fact, we often look down on others and treat them as less than ourselves. It might be those who have less money, lower grades, less education, or any other of numerous areas that we see as “deficient”. Sometimes, this is not because of the areas above. Sometimes, it is more insidious. We meet folks who are down in their sins, or grumpy, or in the midst of some other deep moral or personal difficulty. We look at them with derision, or sympathy, but false sympathy. Like the Pharisee looking down on the tax collector in our Lord Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:9-14. We are glad that we are not as “bad as they are”, or we don’t “have it as bad as they do”. God has not made us suffer like *that*!This is what the characters in the story do to each other. Aravis the Human and Bree the Horse, look down on Shasta and Hwin. Shasta is of poor birth, and Hwin is not a great “warhorse” as Bree is. The ideas and views of Shasta and Hwin are viewed with contempt by Aravis and Bree, even when they are the views that are the ones that will work best. In the end, they see how they are not all that special in and of themselves, but special enough in the way that God, or Aslan, has chosen for them to be. Their pride and disdain for those of less supposed “nobility” or “worth” than themselves is laid to naught, and they are happier for it. They rejoice at the great plan of Aslan the Lion. Moreover, Shasta finds that the hard life he has suffered is something he has every reason to be upset about, but NOT to be bitter about. He has walked on the path that Aslan has chosen for him. The path that lead to him being the hero of the story. I have to admit that I did learn from this story myself. Indeed, I can see myself in all of the characters. I see my pride in Bree, but oddly mixed with Hwin’s timidiy, and Shasta’s self-doubt and self-pity. I am proud too often, but it is all bluster. When provoked, I am crushed like Hwin is, and I am filled with anger and self-pity as Shasta is. I feel angry for what I go through and have gone through, but I don’t do what I need to go do get myself out of the situation. I am not even where Shasta is. My shyness, timidity, belief in my low worth, and other factors have put me here. I can see all of these fictional persons in my own self, and see a way out. With effort, I can put God first, put myself after Him where HE SEES FIT, and then, with His help, *do* what is necessary to better the situation. Before I close up this review. I want to deal with the perennial allegation that C. S. Lewis was being racist in this book. There are many arguments to point to against this ridiculous charge, but I will just point out the obvious fact that Aravis was a hero and racists don’t do that, and moreover, part of the charge is purposeful dishonesty in support of relativism. Even those who acknowledge that Lewis was not racist by any standard defintion, still try to label him as such for daring to say that that countries of Narnia and Archenland, which are like the Christian countries he was used to in Great Britain and her one-time empire, are better culturally than other countries. This recognition that Lewis believed a Christian culture to be superior makes him a racist, in this pathetic reckoning. Well, I’m sorry, but if preferring one’s culture to another, or one’s country to another, or one’s religion to another is racist, then man is naturally racist. He was a Christian, and an Englishman. As such, he favored the ideals and values inherent in these two characteristics of his own self. So for those who honestly think he was a racist, then the evidence is easily there that he wasn’t. For those who think that he is a racist for viewing a Christian culture as superior than others, well, they are not worth the time. Ignore their baiting remarks, pray for them, and treat them kindly. *The Horse and His Boy* has it all. Sword-fighting, action, adventure, good moral lessons and application are all there for the reader to enjoy and learn from. A superb book, and (though others may disagree with me on this) the very *best* of the seven *Chronicles of Narnia* books. Highly Recommended. Check it out!
From School Library Journal Grade 4-7-British narrator Alex Jennings does a smashing job with C. S. Lewis’ delightful classic (HarperCollins Children’s, 1994), the third story in the Narnia series. The tale begins with a poor slave boy named Shasta escaping from his adopted fisherman father who plans to sell him to a brutish stranger. A dignified talking war horse named Bree helps Shasta flee. Jennings plays Shasta with refreshing gentleness-listeners get a sense of the boy’s sensitivity and fear as he embarks on the adventure of his life. The talented narrator plays Bree with the right amount of dignity and haughtiness. This horse amuses with his witty observations about human behavior, and sense of equine superiority. The horse and his boy hope to travel north to Narnia, and encounter numerous adventures and strange characters, all beautifully portrayed by Jennings. The most memorable supporting characters are another escaped child, a tough girl named Aravis, and her talking mare called Hwin. Jennings brings these two adventure seekers to life with his crystal clear narration. Thanks to his skills as a storyteller, the action moves rapidly from one exciting episode to the next. Evocative music plays at the beginning and end of each side of the tape. This presentation will enchant young listeners and encourage them to read the other titles in the series. It is helpful for students to have read The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before enjoying this, but The Horse and the Boy stands alone as enthralling, self-contained entertainment.Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, ILCopyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Horse and His Boy Paperback – March 5, 2002 by C. S. Lewis (Author) Review
Reader thoughts: This one might be my favorite Narnia book of all. Why? More Aslan. The scenes with him talking to Shasta or Aravis, and I can imagine that their reactions would be how I’d react to God talking with me. And I love long-lost family returning to save the kingdom. (This is what I write, after all. ) It’s a bit like a retelling of Joseph or Lion King, except Shasta had no idea who he was. Oh, and the horses ran the show. Some authors have talking/magical animal companions, but they never rise above just pets. Paolini’s dragons in Eragon have some personality and are almost full characters, but Lewis’s horses here and Timothy Zahn’s Draycos are clearly their own people, with their own thoughts and motivations. There’s one point where Shasta is swinging a sword, and I love that he doesn’t immediately become an expert. The ending is well-planned, too. Writer thoughts: One way Zahn brings Draycos to life is by having him learn to read (definitely a non-pet thing), and one way Lewis brings Bree and Hwin to life is by having them confess fears and pride (also definitely a non-pet thing). These authors know how to make their animals into real characters. -Read Reviews-
Bought the audio version to listen to with my 4 boys and wife on road trip to grandparents at Christmas time. Amazing how quiet the car ride was with all paying attention to the entertaining voice work of the narrator. First of all — it’s a great story (book 3 of Chronicles of Narnia) best of all — No arguing or bickering over the video games from the back seats. …pricelessMade the entire trip more enjoyable and me and the wife may have enjoyed it even more than our kids did. Highly recommend
Tags: Action & Adventure, Ages 9-12 Fiction, C. S. Lewis, Children: Grades 4-6, Children's Books, Christian, Classics, Family, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fantasy & magical realism (Children's, General, HarperCollins, Horses, Juvenile Fiction, Narnia (Imaginary place), Pauline Baynes, Religious, Siblings, Teenage), The Horse and His Boy, Voyages and travels