The School Library Journal's Top 100 Children's Novels #96
The Chronicles of Narnia # 3 or #5, depending on which series edition you're reading
Genre: Children's Fiction, Fantasy
The Recipe: With the help of talking horse Bree, Shasta, a young boy, escapes from his life in Calormen and the cruel man who claims to be his father. Along the way he meets Aravis,a young princess fleeing from a an arranged marriage. Together they embark on a dangerous adventure to reach a new land and new lives.
The Frosting and Sprinkles: The Horse and His Boy is a fantasy tale that can be read separate from the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia, as its story does not advance the plot of Narnia itself. It tends to be the least favorite of the Chronicles for this reason, but holds some very dedicated fans, which is how it surprisingly made the Top 100 list.
I love each of the books in this series, but I confess, I also never considered much of The Horse and His Boy. But, when I read it again recently, I gained a new appreciation for this novel and now consider Lewis' story-telling in this novel to be superior to that of many of the other Chronicles.
Though I love the Chronicles, I do admit that Lewis often uses his story for the purpose of the allegory, meaning the allegory drives the plot rather than enhancing it. Usually a well-written fantasy story would be the opposite: a well written story driven by plot with symbolism that enhances and brings deeper meaning to the story. The Horse and His Boy is just that. (That is not to say the other Chronicles are poorly written, but THAHB is better story-telling in my opinion. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and The Last Battle still remain my favorites).
The symbolism in this novel is still rich and Lewis' theology runs deep in the lines. Perhaps I grew a new appreciation for this novel because it spoke to me in the time of life in which I am currently in.
Shasta and Aravis are great characters-they are flawed and multi-dimensional. Shasta is an insecurely prideful boy who is forced to humble courage while Aravis is an arrogant, prideful (and a bit of a) snot who is humbled to kindness. Despite their flaws, they are likeable and admirable characters who, despite their fears, bravely escape their prisons. These two work so well together and show that Lewis had a keen understanding of human relationship. Amusingly, I think I found each of them slightly annoying by themselves, but together, they are brilliant.
The story is fun-and exciting and adventurous tale where kids are the heroes. The ending is easy to guess, but that is forgivable in light of the rest of the story's jewels.
The Horse and His Boy contains positive themes of humility as the ideal characteristic, kindness to others, protection by a higher being, perseverance, and providence.
The Hair That Fell Into the Batter: None
5 Out 5 Cupcakes!
(It was Amazing)