I was hoping to post earlier this week, but I’ve been pretty busy which has been nice, so here I am now, and I’m excited to talk about The Horse and His Boy. As it turns out, the Narnia books don’t take very long to read, and I finished this one a couple of weeks ago. I started reading The Horse and His Boy when I was little, but I was disappointed to find out that Polly and Digory or the Pevensie children weren’t main characters, and I just couldn’t get into it so I stopped reading about five pages in. So it’s kind of funny now that it is one of my favorite Narnia books.
The Horse and His Boy takes place entirely in Narnia, as opposed to many of the other books in the series, during the rule of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. It shows more of Narnia, and its surrounding lands, specifically Calormen Archenland. Shasta is a boy living with his father in Calormen, but he is not happy in his situation and decides to run away with Bree, a talking horse from Narnia.
On his journey he runs into Aravis and her horse, Hwin, who are also running away. The two of them team up on their way to Narnia and run into more trouble and adventure than they ever planned in, especially when they discover a plot to take over the Narnian crown from the Pevensies.
In my opinion, The Horse and His Boy has some of the strongest characters in the Narnia series. Aravis is awesome, and I particularly liked her conversations with Lasaraleen, a snotty Calormen princess and old friend of Aravis, since the two are such polar opposites. Lasaraleen has a tough time seeing past herself while Aravis is primarily focused on her own safety and escape.
Shasta also has a great relationship with Bree the Horse, who has some great, funny lines.
It was also interesting to see Narnia from an outsider’s view, particularly a negative one such as the Calormen’s. The prince of Calormen is the one actively against Narnia, while his father, The Tisroc, is more against it, but is not strong willed to stop his son. This is where most of the conflict comes from the story, but it also sets up an interesting dynamic within the royal family.
Even though Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund are not main characters in The Horse and His Boy, they do make an appearance as kings and queens of Narnia (which I would have found out if I had stuck with the book longer when I was little). I particularly liked this, not only because we got to see them in a different light, but we got to see how Edmund’s relationship with the Witch in the last book affected his rule as king, particularly when he shows mercy on a traitor . It was nice to see Edmund as something other than a stuck up, insecure little boy, so I particularly liked that. It was quick, but it really showed development within his character.
And of course there is Aslan. He doesn’t have as active a role in this book as opposed to other per say, particularly compared to Lion, Witch & Wardrobe or Prince Caspian, but even though he doesn’t have as much screen time, some of my favorite, and his most powerful lines of his are in this book. (Some of these are spoilers but) two that really stuck with me were,
I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.
Child, I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.
There were others, but those are the two that resonated with me the most.