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 This is my third journey into the lands of Narnia as I have been reading the series in chronological rather than publication order With probably the most intriguing title of the series, this was the tale I was most excited for, but it ultimately didn t live up the magic of the previous two books, for me This is the first book in the series not set from the perspective of someone entering Narnia from the human real I still enjoyed it, though it is not what I thought it would be and, as such, it lost a lot of the mystical and magical qualities that pervaded the previous stories.This tale surrounds a young boy, Sashta, and his talking horse, Bree, in a heroic type, rags to riches tale Coming from bordering savage lands, the duo traverse cities and deserts to flee the slavery that would otherwise await them Along their journey they meet a similar pair of escapees, Avaris and talking horse Hwin, who join them on their adventures.Characters from the previous tale made a reappearance in their new roles as Kings and Queens of Narnia and it was exciting to see how the characters had progressed.The adventurous elements of the story were high and seeing of this magical realm was a real joy, but I lost some of my suspended belief in reading this With no connection to the human world, this still made for pleasing but not enchanting reading.My largest grievance with this tale was that I felt it relied on the stereotype of the savage other and incorporated some racist elements that might have been acceptable for the time it was published but jarred with me, as a modern day reader I could not forgive the book this sin and it dramatically lessened my enjoyment I see few other reviews with similar statements so perhaps this was only my interpretation of the text but, nevertheless, the feeling that the stereotypes were somewhat misplaced continued to niggle at me as I read this. I feel conflicted about this book than any of the other Narnia books On the plus side, the story is stronger and CS Lewis manages to keep his blatant editorializing to a minimum maybe because none of the characters are transplants from wartime London But holy crap, the modern reader will find his racist descriptions pretty hard to swallow He reintroduces his devious, smelly, turban clad race, the Calormen A lost white boy is raised among them and he is sad until he is finally reunited with the beautiful white people of Narnia.I ve read an argument that Lewis isn t really racist because he portrays one Calormene character in a positive light But that s like Sarah Palin gushing about her gay friends to prove she s not homophobic Inviting a lesbian coworker to your annual moose BBQ is not enough to overcome an active campaign against gay rights For Lewis, commenting that one Calormene lady is a good storyteller is not enough to over come the contempt he feels towards his own Arab stand ins. I feel really guilty about loving this book as much as I do I loved it as a kid and I love it now, and there is just so much wrong with it The xenophobia is positively racist by page 5, we re already hearing the first of many references to the fact that the residents of Narnia are considered by the residents of their southern neighbor, Calormen, to be fair and whiteaccursed but beautiful barbarians The Calormenes, on the other hand, are nothing but walking Middle Eastern stereotypes They wear turbans and have long beards and speak in overblown wise old sayings like, Has not one of the poets said, Natural affection is stronger than soup and offspring precious than carbuncles This aspect of the story is ridiculously, inexcusably bad As I ve mentioned in reviews of other Narnia books, Lewis seems to take great pride in backing the wrong horse at every possible social and or historical point, and boy howdy, does he blow it here He puts his last dollar down on good old colonialist Hey, look Savages If only they had a civilized country to tell them what to do This should not be taken as me buying into moral relativism and excusing the very real sexism and lack of democracy running rampant through the real Middle East, by the way It s me thinking that those weren t exactly the things that bothered Lewis about that region So knowing all that, how can I possibly enjoy this book I cringe at times, but I do Lewis has some of his most memorable lines and greatest moral triumphs in this story For instance, I once wrote an article and later created an e card featuring this terrific line If you do one good deed, your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one It s true It s one of the horrible unfairnesses of life, but there it is And when you see life in those terms, you re better able to bow your head to the deeds that are your lot It isn t fair It just is.I also love when Hwin, the gentle nervous motherly talking horse, speaks up to Bree another talking horse when he insists they should take a break before setting out on a march Time is short and the enemy is almost at the gate, but he wants a snack and a rest and a rubdown first More than that he thinks he needs them P please, said Hwin, very shyly, I feel just like Bree that I can t go on But when Horses have humans with spurs and things on their backs, aren t they often made to go on when they re feeling like this and then they find they can This is true both morally and physically How often do we get to what we think is the breaking point the point where we simply Can NOT Go on And then, if we don t give in but push ourselves a little harder, we learn the difference between what we think we need and what we re really capable of Because of course Hwin turns out to be right, and Bree s wrongness almost ruins everything.I didn t understand this when I read it for the first time, but I remembered it And now I think about it all the time, whether I m running a hill or writing a few words or any words at all on a day I could have sworn I was too tired to get some writing done.There are too many outstanding examples like this to resist And as always, Lewis nails the little moments we can all relate to, even if we ve never quite experienced them Like when Shasta, waiting anxiously for his friends alone in the dark among some ancient tombs, hears a terrible noise After almost jumping out of his skin, he realizes it s a distant horn blowing for the closing of the city gates Don t be a silly little coward, said Shasta to himself Why, it s only the same noise you heard this morning But there is a great difference between a noise heard letting you in with your friends in the morning, and a noise heard alone at nightfall, shutting you out And then, later, when the two main character children Shasta and Aravis are riding across the desert On again, trot and walk and trot, jingle jingle jingle, squeak squeak squeak, smell of hot horse, smell of hot self, blinding glare, headache And nothing at all different for mile after mile Such brilliantly understated word painting Oh, and one last passage, a short one and one of my favorites ever One of the drawbacks about adventures is that when you come to the most beautiful places you are often too anxious and hurried to appreciate them So, yes, this book is bad And yes, I love it Because it s great, too. You know you re bored when it nearly takes you a month to read something of this length. Ugh, this is the worst episode of Mister Ed ever. The basic story is a good and entertaining one, but I could not get beyond the overt prejudices of C.S Lewis on display throughout this book.I m incredibly disappointed His portrayal of the people of Calormen is horrid I admit, by calor I don t known if he is implying people of the hot lands as calor indicates heat or if it is a not so subtle way of suggesting colored people, but the descriptions speak for themselves These people are described as dark skinned, turban wearing, cruel slave owners Their leader is a corrupt war monger This land and its people are consistently contrasted against the fair skinned, judicious and free thinking people of Narnia and Archenland It s not a book I would recommend In fact, it has lessened by desire to continue reading the chronicles This is really too bed because, other than the cultural depictions, the story idea is marvelous. Instagram Twitter Facebook PinterestTo cure a book slump, I decided to revisit the Chronicles of Narnia series I grew up with the books as a kid, but I d never actually finished the series to completion Conveniently, I happen to own a stack of them that I purchased from a thrift shop a few years ago on a whim To make things extra interesting, I m reading the books in chronological order instead of publication order, which means that some of the lesser known books like THE MAGICIAN S NEPHEW THE HORSE AND HIS BOY come before the better known sequels like PRINCE CASPIAN.THE HORSE AND HIS BOY is set during the time period when Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and Peter were ruling Narnia after defeating the White Witch, but for most of the book it isn t actually set in Narnia, but Calormen, one of the other countries The hero of this book is a boy named Shasta who lives with an abusive father When he learns that his father plans to sell him off to a racial stereotype of an evil Middle Eastern man, called a Tarkaan which seems to be fantasy speak for Turk , he decides to run off with the man s horse.Shasta finds out that the horse, whose name is Bree, was born in Narnia and can talk Soon, he finds himself pursued by an assailant on horseback until he finds out said assailant is a girl, and then he s like, Hyuk, hyuk, you re a girl, wow, I m not afraid of you any The girl s name is Aravis and her horse, who is also from Narnia and can also talk, is named Hwin Aravis is escaping her fate as a child bride to another Middle Eastern stereotype.Their flight takes them to the capital of Calormen, which is called Tashbaan There, Shasta discovers a plot by the son of the king there to bridenap Susan, and he calls her a whore a couple times literally false jade but we all know what he means , before announcing his plans to conquer first Archenland another one of the lesser known countries in Narnia land and then Narnia itself In a GAME OF THRONES esque twist, the prince s father says he s totally okay with this and will totally support him if he succeeds, but if the plan fails, he s going to deny knowledge of it and basically destroy his future to punish him The prince agrees, because he s so certain his evil plan will work.Spoiler his evil plan does not work.Aslan also makes an appearance and if you thought he was a judgy sh t in THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, just wait until you see him bring the punishment in THE HORSE AND HIS BOY He scratches up Aravis s back to punish her for getting her evil stepmother s spy whipped, even though the spy was helping to make her life miserable and being complicit in Aravis s being married off as a child bride He also punishes Prince Rapadash the one who wanted to rape Susan by turning him into a donkey and then basically putting him under house arrest by cursing him so that if he ever ventures than ten miles past his homeland, he will never be able to assume his human form again That s pretty harsh considering that none of the other bad people in this book get punished and it seems like Aslan s only bringing the pain because Rapadash threatened one of his favorites kind of like that soccer mom who bursts into the principal s office screaming NOT MY CHILD at any sort of real or imagined slight, and yet never attends any PTA meetings.Also, apparently he can shape shift.If not for the appearance of Aslan, I never would have believed this book to be a part of the Narnia cannon It s pretty to see why this book never got a movie adaptation The Pevensie children appear only briefly and not as children, but adults The focus is on characters who, to my knowledge, never appear again in the narrative Plus, the weird bridenapping plot and Middle Eastern stereotypes make it feel like C.S Lewis got really drunk and forgot he was writing a fantasy novel for kids, got halfway through a bodice ripper, remembered what he was doing, and then finished it with a neat, children s parable type morality heavy ending without taking out any of the bodice rippery elements.Don t get me wrong I thought this book was hi larious, but I love bodice rippers and entertained to see a portray of a Middle East type setting that appeared to borrow heavily from E.M Hull s THE SHEIK while employing the same amount of cultural sensitivity, to boot That said, THE HORSE AND HIS BOY is entirely skippable.3.5 stars Do not by any means destroy yourself, for if you live you may yet have good fortune, but all the dead are dead like This felt as if I was reading a folktale about a horse and a boy who wander around and seek their new adventure Yet the humor in this book is abundant, even though the narration is not as intriguing as the other books And the storyline is quite straight and lacks of twists or epicness, too I yawned so many times while I was getting past the first half of the book I d used my whole day to finish this book despite how short it is, the story runs on until I felt so tired and wished it should have ended sooner than later When things go wrong, you ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better Anyway, The Horse and His Boy has strange words that I tried so hard to understand The dialogues are weird, too, for the characters always talk to each other like, O enlightened Prince, O loquacious Vizier, O my resourceful son, O eternal Tisroc, O impeccable Tisroc I didn t use to something like this in literatures.But I kind of enjoyed this book, and this is the story that doesn t includes the old characters in it However, I want to see the conclusion where everything meets it ending and is deduced to the finest point for the readers to see the whole picture Do not dare not to dare. The boxed set of Narnia that I have and am now reading, was published in 2002 I have noticed, so despite having 1950 60s covers, these were NOT my original Narnia books from the early 70s I wonder where my originals went and when I bought these Who knows, what I do know is that it s strange, I could not remember a single thing about this book, I don t think I have ever read it That said it was very enjoyable, a fun romp through the countries bordering Narnia with an interesting mix of people and animals Aslan appears, as do some of the Pevensie children and the usual shenanigans ensue As well written as ever and a delight to read, a solid 4 novel.