Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Horse and His Boy

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In modern collections of English author C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy is listed chronologically as the third entry, although the writer published it fifth overall, and it’s more a side-story (or midquel, for those familiar with that term) to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, taking place during the reign of the Pevensie siblings before they ultimately return to Earth after their first adventure, with the Narnian monarchs sometimes appearing throughout the story. As explained in the beginning, the plot occurs in Narnia, Calormen, and the lands between, with a Tarkaan offering to buy protagonist Shasta as a slave, who meets the male talking horse Bree and wants to run away.

Shasta ultimately meets escapee Aravis and the talking mare Hwin, and runs away with them, as well, the girl giving her backstory in an early chapter. The children and their horses soon reach the city of Tashbaan, which the Narnian monarchs visit, and where they are held captive, with the rulers of Narnia in response plotting to kidnap Prince Corin of Archenland and take him north, Shasta mistaken for the royal scion. The rulers of Calormen plot against Narnia and Archenland, the latter where the children and horses make their way, meeting the Hermit of the Southern March and getting directions to Archenland’s monarch King Lune from him.

Twists about Shasta’s lineage ultimately reveal themselves towards the end, accounting for a satisfying story, one occurring unlike most others in its series entirely within the land of Narnia and its neighbors, although there are some stylistic choices the author made with which this reviewer somewhat disagrees, such as the capitalization of some of the generic names for animals such as horses at times, not to mention the lack of a calendar system within the franchise itself indicative of exactly how many years after the main events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe elapsed before the story opened, although fans of children’s fantasy will definitely appreciate this yarn.

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