The Chronicles of Narnia #5: The Horse And His Boy

by C. S. Lewis

Paperback, 1994



Call number




Harper Trophy (1994), Edition: First Thus


A boy and a talking horse share an adventurous and dangerous journey to Narnia to warn of invading barbarians.

Media reviews

In the opinion of this admirer, "The Horse and His Boy" is relatively unispired. It does not glow as much as the incomparable first book of the series, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." It has not as much gay satire and plain excitement as several of the others. Just possibly the Narnian
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fields are suffering from overcropping, and could stand lying fallow while other fields are put back into cultivation.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
I love all of the Chronicles, but if I had to pick just one to read for the rest of my life (what an awful decision to be forced upon a person!), this would probably be it. There is something very epic about this book, in the best and most traditional sense of the word, and yet it is also warm and
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intimate in tone, as befits a story for children. In my opinion, it may very well be the greatest adventure story ever written. And even though only a small portion of it is set in the actual lend—or, perhaps, because of it—I feel that this book captures the beauty and mystique perhaps even better than the others in the series.

This is the story of a rag-tag group setting out from the hot, southerly country of Calormen to find the land of Narnia. First, there is Shasta, a boy of unknown parentage who has for many years been the slave of the fisherman Arsheesh. He meets a talking horse named Bree, who hails from Narnia itself, and is trying to run away from his cruel master. They set off together, and soon their paths cross with Aravis, a runaway tarkheena avoiding marriage to the noble but despicable Ahoshta, and her Narnian mare, the loyal, timid, sensible Hwin. Together they must find their way through the great Calormene city of Tashbaan, across the dangerous desert, and through the mountains of Archenland in order to reach their destination. Various other tensions inform the story: Is Shasta of Northern blood? Can Aravis pass unrecognized through Calormen? What of the current political impasse between that country and Narnia? And do talking horses roll?

As well as being my favorite, I think this may be the most misunderstood of the Chronicles. Yes, I am referring to the charges of racism that have been leveled at Lewis. There seems to be an assumption that because the Calormenes are dark-skinned and, to put it tartly, “the bad guys,” Lewis must by necessity be making some comment on the nature of dark-skinned people in general. I think this is yet another result of the mistaken notion that the Narnia books are allegories—that is, that everything in them corresponds, either literally or symbolically, to something in our world. This simply is not the case. Moreover, Lewis’ portrait of the Calormenes in this book is not wholly negative. Aravis is an amiable and sympathetic character, and not just because she rebels against Calormene culture and runs off to Narnia; even her friend Lasaraleen, though silly, is far from evil. Lewis isn’t saying that the Calormene people are evil, but that their political system and culture may be, and that their political system certainly is. That’s not PC either, but there you have it. And there are certain aspects of Calormene culture that Lewis does seem to love; you can just hear the affection in his writing as he talks about their storytelling abilities, or as he describes the architecture of Tashbaan. This is not really surprising, considering his love for The Arabian Nights, which undoubtedly inspired this tale.

But of course Calormen, however complex and affectionate its portrayal can never compare to Narnia. There is something deep inside the characters that calls them hence, the cause them to call with glee “To Narnia and the North!” as they set out on each leg of their journey. It is this feeling of deep-seated longing that really makes this book for me, along with the idea that things do not happen by chance. Just wait until you read the chapter about “The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler”!

If you have not read this book, along with all the other Chronicles of Narnia, you’re really missing out. To Narnia and the North!
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LibraryThing member saroz
After four books following the same rough pattern - children from our world finding their way into Narnia - Lewis decided to go back and tell a story set during Narnia's "golden age"; that is to say, during the reign of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. Lewis had previously referenced the story (very
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briefly) during "The Silver Chair," so it's clear he'd had the idea for a while. Unfortunately, the idea is *pants.* This is a simple story of a runaway, talking horses and even a slight "Prince and the Pauper"-style twist, written in a pastiche of an "Arabian Nights" tale. Lewis finds flavor in the adventure by succumbing to depicting every stereotype of "barbaric" Middle Easterners, from ritualistic speech to random violence to the worship of a false god. The worst part, however, must be the cameos from the now-grown Susan, Edmund and Lucy, who all speak in the worst sort of cod-Shakespearean dialogue. The racism renders the whole adventure distasteful, from a modern standpoint, but the whole thing is tedious in just about any age. At least Lewis manages to restrain from openly attacking Islam; that's yet to come in "The Last Battle."
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LibraryThing member m-andrews
I tried reading the Horse and His Boy as a child and got lost fairly quickly in all of the eastern imagery, and so it was about time that I got back to it and finished it. There are some wonderful moments in this book: I particularly love the way that Aslan keeps on popping in and out of the
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storyline, looking after the young boy, Shasta, but without Shasta realising that he's been there helping him all along. At one point he wants the lion, Aslan, to leave him alone, only to find that Aslan actually wants to help him and has carried him on his journey up until that point. Shasta's character begins to morph into a wiser creature, now rooted in the mercy and kindness of Aslan. Having faith, myself, the meaning of these scenes is not lost on me. How often have I wondered whether God has been with me in a situation, but in hindsight it has been so abundantly clear that he has been there the whole time. Few stories are as enriching as this – this is not a children's novel; this is a novel for all ages.
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LibraryThing member Maggie_Rum
The entire series is a masterpiece. This particular work had an air of middle eastern or persian history to it, which set it apart from the rest. A great story.
LibraryThing member lit_chick
2002, Harper Audio, Read by Alex Jennings

The Horse and His Boy is set entirely in the Narnian world: Calormen, Archenland, and Narnia. The four Pevensie children, Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy, are the reigning queens and kings of Narnia.

Shasta, an orphaned boy who is found at birth and raised by
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a cruel Calormene fisherman, escapes with Bree, a nobleman’s stallion – a magnificent, talking Narnian horse who was kidnapped as a foal. They encounter two other escaping travellers also bound for Narnia: Aravis, a young Calormene aristocrat, and her talking horse, Hwin. Aravis is fleeing to avoid a forced marriage. The party of four must travel through Tashbaan, the capital city of Calormen, and here, in spite of their precautions, they meet with considerable danger – and drama! A band of travelling Narnians is plotting its escape from Calormen where Queen Susan will be forced into marriage with the Tisroc’s son, Rabadash. Aravis, who is spotted by her friend, Lasaraleen, and who relies on her friend to conceal her and help her escape Tashbaan, overhears Rabadash revealing his plans to invade Archenland and then Narnia in order to capture Queen Susan. Shasta and Aravis, mounted on Bree and Hwin, must reach Narnia to warn High King Peter of the impending invasion. Along the way, they will have help from a lion …

Favourite Memories:
Bree teaching Shasta how to ride and the little diva, Lasaraleen, who made me chuckle.

Recommended: Highly! The fact that I am so enjoying The Chronicles of Narnia as an adult is a most pleasant surprise.
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LibraryThing member bonesteeldavid
Two young people flee their lives in the country of Calormene with the aid of a pair of talking Narnian horses. When they learn of a plan to attack the neighboring country of Archenland, they must race the invading force in order to deliver a warning.

This is a good adventure, though not up to the
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standard set by "Magician's Nephew" and "Lion, Witch, Wardrobe." The most disappointing (though not surprising) aspect is the depiction of the Calormene people. They are clearly meant to represent Muslims, and C.S. Lewis denigrates every aspect of their lives: their food is terrible, their clothes are silly, they have no sense of humor, and their dark skin is not as attractive as the light skin of the Archenlanders and Narnians. It's a shame that Lewis is apparently unable or unwilling to write his Christian parable without putting down other races. But if you can look past this aspect, it's a good story.
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LibraryThing member MrsLee
Most of this story takes place not in Narnia, but in the country of the dreaded Calormenes. It is about a boy and his horse, or a horse and his boy. Who would have guessed? The relationship between them is a treat to read. The roles of servants and masters, pride and humility. A girl and her horse,
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or visa-versa, are also added. How these four will manage to get along and survive makes very compelling reading.
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LibraryThing member Jiraiya
Imagine my horror when I read this once familiar story in e-book form, and stopped reading when Aslan was saying 'myself' to poor Shasta. The problem of evil has never been more apparent in any book.

C.S. Lewis has always been disingenuous about his Narnia books, imparting the sugar coated
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dishonesties about the Creation of Narnia, implying in other books that the worst should fall on Aslan's tawny shoulders.

Forget about all of the previous grievances. Forget the implied racism. This book is boring. Every talking character is. More rubbish being spouted each page. By the way, I do think, unlike Lewis, that Cor is a far worse name than Shasta.
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LibraryThing member bexaplex
I have mixed feelings about The Horse and His Boy. On the one hand, excellent adventure, great characters (especially the horses), and the sure hand of Aslan guiding the narrative. On the other...well... there's Calormen.

Also, inexplicably, Shasta develops a British schoolboy's diction at the end
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of the book.
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LibraryThing member ogopogo
this is my favorite book in the Narnia chronicals, it shows the world outside of the stories that centre around the main characters and i like that.
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
A boy runs away with a talking horse to escape slavery, and meets up with a princess and another talking horse running away from a similar fate. Their journey takes them into Narnia- where they warn the kings and queens of Narnia (Lucy, Peter, et. al.) of an attack by the Calormenes and help fight
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them off.
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LibraryThing member susan139
Possibly the hardest book to get into, we don't have any familiar characters until late on into the book, and Narnia does not appear until very late. An interesting book, and opens out the world around Narnia.
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
A look at Narnia from a slightly different viewpoint, that of Shasta, who has been raised among the Calormen.
LibraryThing member lassiter
This is a story of runaways and how their lives are intertwined with each other. It is an interesting view as the book starts out with the "Horse" seemingly the master. This book was much slower and harder to get into than the first two of the Narnia series.
LibraryThing member golfgurl13
The Horse and His Boy is an amazing story! I havent READ the ones before this book but i have recently seen the movie and LOVED it! but reading the book is even better than watching the movie. i highly recemened this book.
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
"An orphaned boy and a kidnapped horse gallop for Narnia ... and freedom." So goes the blurb on the back cover of this, the third chronicle of the mythic kingdom of Narnia. In case you haven't been following my reviews, I thought the first two chronicles were great. Mr. Lewis had clothed great
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Christian truths in rich, colorful fantasy and wove a tale that struck a chord deep within my heart. This third book does the same, but with a different twist. The tale takes place outside of the kingdom of Narnia and we meet characters who for various reasons set out for that fabled kingdom of the North. The Christian truths embroidered here focus more on the individual, how they seek out the kingdom of Heaven, sometimes in complete ignorance, and how the King finds them. Overall, I found the book slightly less delightful then The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe--I thought the Tashbaan culture was dissed a bit too much in comparison to that of the Northern countries--but it's still a worthy tale to keep on my shelf.
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LibraryThing member emhromp2
An unexpected twist in the Narnia Chronicles. I knew absolutely nothing about the chronicles when I first started reading them, and I like the idea of noble horses. It puts things in perspective.
LibraryThing member ladymink
An enjoyable story about a boy, a girl, and two Narnian horses that escape a neighboring, tyrannical kingdom and make their way to Narnia and Archenland. Lucy, Edmond and Susan make appearances as adults in the book. Aslan does as well, but in much more magical and mysterious ways than in the Lion,
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Witch and the Wardrobe. It's a fun story with a predictable, happy ending. Not as enjoyable as the previous Chronicles of Narnia stories, but decent and in keeping with the ongoing themes.
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LibraryThing member wirkman
The funniest and most endearing of the Narnia series, it is also the one with the moral most Christians forget: mind your own business. One of the very best in the series, and the one that would make the best movie.
LibraryThing member Anduril85
A great story for the young and old, Lewis is an artist with words and you should not miss out on any of this wonderful series, in the simplest terms this is a good book and you should read it.
LibraryThing member jessilouwho22
Yet another wonderful addition to the Chronicles of Narnia :) I especially like this one because the story is fast-paced from the beginning and it's full of adventure. The "runaway" story is intriguing and fills the reader with suspense. I liked seeing Edmund, Lucy and Susan again in the stories
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and once again, an appearance from Aslan is always a treat. Additionally, C.S. Lewis did a great job at developing the characters in this novel, specifically Shasta. I loved the way the story development flowed so smoothly, which is what makes this book one of my favorites.
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LibraryThing member jennyk81
I picked up this book because I loved "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," and was curious what the after stories were like. Didn't really like this story as much, but thought the characters were interesting.
LibraryThing member Tryion
Not my favorite in the series because none of the previous main characters returned. It wasn't until I re-read them as an adult that I appreciated this book more.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I recently read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and in my review complained about the heavy handed Christian Allegory, but did admit it to be well-written and imaginative with some striking imagery. Two of my friends insisted though that (The Last Battle aside) the rest of the Narnia books
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aren't preachy and worth the read.

Having read The Horse and His Boy I see they're correct--at least so far. Barely a faint whiff of Christian allegory except in two brief scenes with Aslan, and I think if I weren't sniffing for it, I wouldn't have scented it--and this time Aslan struck me more the wise and valiant lion rather than smug and self-righteous the way he did in the prior book.

I was quite taken with the talking horses--Bree and Hwin. They made me wonder if Narnia is where Mercedes Lackey got the idea of the Valdemar companions in her books, and there were bits in The Horse and His Boy that certainly reminded me of it--even down to Narnia's traditional enemy reminiscent of a land from Tales of the Arabian Nights. And Avaris is a girl certainly fully as brave and clever as the boy Shasta--in terms of strong female characters Lewis is if anything better than what I find in the usual fantasy and I wouldn't hesitate to give this charming tale to a young girl.

They style is still more "children's story" than one I can read unselfconsciously as an adult, but I was charmed enough I do intend to continue on to Prince Caspian (which actually was written second after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I've read.)
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LibraryThing member Othemts
Who can’t enjoy a book about a talking horse? No one of course! I think this is one of my favorite of the Narnia series thus far, although I tire of archetypal tales of children of royalty finding their way to fulfill a prophecy. Why can’t a child of poor parentage make good helping out others
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of their ilk for once? Anyhow, I really like the talking animals, especially Bree the Talking Horse, and of course Aslan the Lion, when He disguises himself as a cat to protect Shasta by the tombs.

“For in Calormen, story-telling (whether stories are true or made up) is a thing you’re taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.” (p. 28)

“He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward is to be set out to do another and harder and better one.” (p. 123)

“’Child,” said the Lion, ‘I am telling your story, not hers. No-one is told any story but their own.” (p. 171)
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Original publication date



006440501X / 9780064405010
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