The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

20 09 2012

The sixth book of the Narnia series is very different from the first five.  In every other book there’s at least one character who is transported to Narnia (or the surrounding fantasy kingdoms) from our Earthly world.  They each became a character for readers to relate to, suddenly transported to a foreign land, unaware of the ways things work and what’s good and what’s evil.  In this book, the main character is a young boy named Shasta, originally from Narnia, but living in another land called Calormen as a slave.

Because of this slight difference, The Horse and His Boy is actually one of the best of the Narnia books.  The story behind the book is even more interesting though.  

Books three, four, and five of the series are known as the Caspian trilogy, because all three books focus on the Prince (later King) of Narnia – Caspian.  While writing those three books, C.S. Lewis took a break and wrote The Horse and His Boy.  So, if you number the books in the order they were written, this one is fourth.  However, since Lewis didn’t want this story to come out in the middle of the Caspian books, he kept it on his desk and didn’t publish it until fifth.  But, since he’d already written it, he gave a little sneaky shout-out to Shasta and the horse Bree in Book Four – The Silver Chair.  

The Silver Chair takes place thousands of years after The Horse and His Boy, but some of the characters in The Silver Chair make mention of a famous legend in Narnia of Shasta and Bree.  Lewis was able to make this reference to a piece of fake Narnian history, because he’d already written the story.

Much like J.R.R. Tolkien did with his Lord of the Rings world – MiddleEarth – Lewis gave Narnia it’s own history, mythology, and cultures to make it more real to readers.

I thought this little story was the best part of the book.  As a whole, it’s a fun adventure story, but not great by any means.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless they were trying to read the whole Narnia series.  I did like that after three books that took place several thousand years after the original story (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), this one went back to the time period of the first book.  Also, after a few books without them, it was fun to catch the little references to Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy – the heroes of book one and book two.  

So far, I’m giving this series 3 out of 5 stars.  This book gets 3 1/2 stars.  

Each year I challenge my students to read 40 books over the course of the school year.  I believe I can’t ask the kids to do something I’m not willing to do myself, I take the challenge to.  In fact, this year I’ve challenged myself to read 60 books.  The Horse and His Boy was the 5th book I’ve read this school year.  

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