Top critical review
The (Slight) Disappointment and Her Boredom...
on 22 July 2017
I was eager to read this one after having enjoyed the previous book a lot. For some reason I haven’t posted those reviews yet but have decided to post this one. I know, I don’t understand my reasoning either. But oh well.
This story surprised me. It wasn’t even set in Narnia, and featured an entirely different set of characters, which wasn’t what I was expecting after having read and loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Different to all the action in the first book, this one was more of a slow adventure. The pace was slow and steady. Sometimes a little too much on the slow side for my liking, but it was all bearable.
The difference in characters surprised me. I believed we were going to be following the main four for the whole series, but apparently not! Shasta was the main character in this story, and I found him to be okay. I couldn’t love him or hate him. It wasn’t that he was unlikeable or anything – he just wasn’t the best person either. Most of all, which made him seem very human, and I believe that is exactly what C.S. Lewis was aiming to get at.
What intrigued me a lot about this book was the horse to boy relationship. As is in the world of Narnia, the animals can speak and have their own minds. The action of riding a horse changed, because of this. Shasta had to ask permission to ride Bree, and treat Bree right. It would epic if all animals could be like that. I bet mistreatment would disappear as well. It was also interesting to see the human personality traits that Lewis gave the horses, such as pride and nervousness. It was entertaining, but then I also felt a little weird realising how much I was relating to a talking horse.
I was also surprised by the amount of slavery in the novel. A lot of people seem to be slaves to others. I was more so surprised because of how much of it was included, and that it is a children’s novel. I’m not exactly sure why I was so unprepared for it, but there it was nonetheless. It doesn’t get into a moral debate about it, but it’s just present in the novel as numerous people have a slave status.
There was an appearance of the main four, and plenty of mention of Narnia for all that I am complaining about it being absent. We get to see Lucy, Edmund and Susan all grown up and ruling their kingdom, which was shocking to see. It was so different, and yet also intriguing to see the characters I had come to love through the eyes of someone else. It put a new perspective on their position in the world Lewis has created.
The descriptions of the food were glorious. I was practically drooling while reading about them. The landscape description was impressive too.
Lastly, like with the previous book, we have the character who represents God returning again in this short little novel. In this scenario, He is presented in a different way, and brought a new perspective on the way in which God fit into Shasta’s story. Even as a Christian, there was one element to something which was a metaphor to religion that I didn’t agree with. However, just like before, you could read this one without looking at the Christian literature meaning behind it. Otherwise, it’s just another Narnia story. You get to choose what you’re looking for in the story.
It’ll definitely be on to the next one for me.
This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe