What’s it all about?:
The Horse and his Boy is a stirring and dramatic fantasy story that finds a young boy named Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.
What did I think?:
When Chrissi and I first started doing our Kid Lit challenge, the Narnia books were an absolute must as they formed such a staple part of our own childhood reading. We also wanted to read them in the order recommended by the author, C.S. Lewis, the third of which is The Horse And His Boy. It’s quite strange as I didn’t have fond memories of this particular volume in the epic saga – in fact, I think it was probably my least favourite so I was quite shocked to discover that I actually enjoyed it a lot more when reading it as an adult! I was also pleasantly surprised by the re-emergence of favourite characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, something I hadn’t remembered being part of it previously.
The story is set some time after the events of the second book and Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy have had a few happy years reigning over Narnia from Cair Paravel. They play somewhat secondary characters in this novel however, our star turn and hero of the proceedings is Shasta, a young boy who does not remember his real parents but has been raised by a fisherman who treats him as little more than a skivvy and has no qualms about striking a deal with a mysterious and exotic stranger who wishes him to be his personal slave. Shasta happens to overhear their conversation, is frightened and confides in the stranger’s beautiful horse, not expecting for one second that the horse will a) understand him and b) talk back! For the horse, Bree is actually a slave himself and was originally a “free” horse from the land of Narnia where talking animals are quite the norm. He convinces Shasta to run away with him and escape to Narnia where he tells the boy that he bears a striking resemblance to the people that live in the North.
So, the adventure begins and what an adventure it is! Soon after they start on the road, Shasta and Bree come across another rider, Aravis and her horse Hwin (also a talking horse from Narnia – what are the odds?) and they team up so that they can travel to Narnia together. Aravis is a rich daughter of a very powerful man who has made plans for her marriage to a very nasty old man, Grand Vizier to the Tisroc (King) of the Calormen people and she is also running away to try and escape her fate. Of course, what kind of adventure story would this be without danger, wicked villains, new friendships, a deadly plot to attack the land of Narnia and a fabulous battle sequence? The unlikely foursome soon become a force to be reckoned with in their attempts to warn Narnia of the dastardly plans and Shasta finally learns the surprising secret of who he really is.
As I mentioned before, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book considering I had originally considered it the weakest of The Chronicles Of Narnia. The characters were wonderful, especially brave little Shasta and his proud war-horse Bree but I also loved that the author provided us with a strong female character in Aravis. Of course, it was lovely to see old favourites like Mr Tumnus the faun, the children from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and obviously the mighty Aslan who makes some very welcome cameo appearances throughout the novel. This book has a lot of other great things going for it in the form of a clever plot and some strong “love-to-hate-them” villains who, of course, get their comeuppance in some very humorous ways. Finally, anything which has talking animals in it is already a winner in my eyes and the Narnia books are both unforgettable and obvious classics in the world of children’s literature.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):