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The Horse and His BoyReview - The Horse and His Boy
by C. S. Lewis
HarperAudio, 2002
Review by Su Terry
Apr 9th 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 15)

 The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis is the third book of the popular Chronicles of Narnia series. In it, a poor young orphan runs away with a talking horse and has many adventures on the way to discovering his true identity.

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis is the third book in the seven-book Chronicle of Narnia series. The story is set in a fantasy world. Shasta has been raised as the son of Arsheesh, a cruel and penniless fisherman living in coastal Calormene. One day Anradin, a powerful Tarkaan warrior arrives at Arsheesh’s cottage. While Shasta stables his regal white horse, Anradin makes an offer to buy Shasta from Arsheesh. When Shasta eavesdrops on Arsheesh negotiations with the warrior, he is shocked to learn that Arsheesh is not his real father and that he is, in fact, a foundling. With nothing to lose, Shasta decides to run away. Talking to himself, he is surprised when the warrior’s horse talks back to him. Bree, the talking horse, offers to help Shasta escape if he will take Bree to his home in Narnia. So it is the two set off and head for Tashbaan in order to get supplies in order to cross the desert. One night on the way to Tashbaan, Bree informs Shasta that they are being followed and that it sounds like the tread of a Tarkaan warrior on horseback soon this sound is joined by the roar of a mighty lion. Bree gallops into a river in order to escape the lion, and is forced to confront the other rider when s/he follows suit. The other rider turns out to be a young Tarkheena (girl) named Aravis. She is also running away, but she is escaping a forced marriage to a very old and powerful Tarkaan lord named Ahoshta. She also is heading for the land of Narnia and riding a talking Narnian horse that happens to be named Hwin. At Tashbaan, they encounter danger. A chatty old friend of Aravis named Lasaraleen recognizes her. Shasta is mistaken for a Narnian prince and taken to King Peter, Queen Susan, and Tumnus, the faun, from The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Shasta learns that Queen Susan like Aravis has been trapped into an unwanted engagement. Susan is engaged to Rabadash, the son of the Calormene ruler or Tisroc. If she does not consent to marry him, Rabadash will invade Archenland and Narnia. As Shasta, Aravis, the Narnians, and the talking horses, escape from Tashbaan, the novel picks up pace as the main characters race to warn the innocent people of Archenland and Narnia of the coming invasion of the Calormenes.

Listening to The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis reminds me just how delightful the Narnia books are. While I consider them to be Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring for the young reader, I must admit to enjoying them as an adult. For the theologically minded, I am told that The Horse and His Boy represents the Moses stories in the Bible. (Personally, I find that to be a bit of a stretch, but I am no expert on their Biblically symbolic meaning.) More mundanely, the story has a decidedly Arabian flavor and with a bit of imagination many of the place names sound vaguely like places I have heard associated with Afghanistan, again that is just my two cents.  Personally, I just enjoyed revisiting the series and once more sharing in their special brand of magic.

Clive Staples Lewis is a noted theologian and author of children’s books.  He was a Fellow and Instructor in English Literature at Oxford University and the chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University. While he wrote more than thirty scholarly tomes, he is best remember for his fictional works including the Screwtape Letter, Out of the Silent Plant series, and best of all for his Narnia series. The Narnia series is composed of seven volumes The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn, and The Last Battle.  The Last Battle was awarded the United Kingdom's prestigious Carnegie Award. The series evolved out of an image Lewis had when he was sixteen years old of a faun carrying parcels and an umbrella in a snowy wood. It should be noted that the series is in the midst of celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.

Alex Jennings is the narrator of this rendition of The Horse and His Boy.  He is a stage and television performer. Jennings won the Olivier Award for Comedy Performance of the Year, Plays and Players Award for Actor of the Year, Drama Magazine Award for Best Actor of 1988 for his role in Too Clever by Half; the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his role in Peer Gynt; the Helen Hayes Award for his role in Hamlet; and was nominated for Outstanding Debut by an Actor in a Play by the Outer Critics' Circle and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in A Midsummer Nights Dream.  He also appeared in the film Henry V.

The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis is a delightful adventure for children and former children. Enjoy it for the first time or for the hundredth, the Chronicles of Narnia are sure to enchant young and old. This book is rated “timeless”. I highly recommend it.

 

© 2003 Su Terry

Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.


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