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on 4 September 2013
I enjoyed the Narnia Chronicles as a child many, many years ago, and still find the series as magical today. I revisited the first two books in the series (at least in the order that Harper Collins recommends) and only picked up this third book.

For readers who have already read the two books, especially "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (arguably the most popular of the series), they would already have been familiar with how the four Pevensie children stumbled into Narnia through an old Wardrobe in the English countryside during the Blitz of WWII, discovering their destinies as the rightful Kings and Queens of Narnia, after overthrowing the White Witch, who had been keeping the free creatures under her oppressive rule.

While in that book, the real world connects with Narnia, in "The Horse and His Boy", the Lewis sets his story squarely in the fantasy universe. It centres on Shasta, an adopted son/slave of a fisherman from Calormen, one of the neighbouring lands of Narnia, who escapes with a talking horse in search of the free land of Narnia, when he discovers he was about to be sold to a Calormene nobleman. In their journey, they come across a young Calormene aristocrat Aravis, who was also escaping on her mare from an arranged marriage.

Without being preachy, Lewis doles out nuggets of wisdom about pride, courage, and what it means to be a friend. When Bree feels discouraged about entering Narnia, an old hermit who helps them escape their enemies tells him: "Of course you were braver and cleverer than (the rest of the regular horses). You could hardly help being that. It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But as long as you know you're nobody special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse, on the whole, and taking one thing with another". What a gentle yet firm way to tell someone that with a good head on your shoulders, you'll do fine, rather than thinking the world of yourself. A good lesson for both adults and kids alike.
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on 26 July 2017
Brilliant read
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on 21 June 2017
Gift for boy who wants this book
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I like it... it's not 3 bad! 😜
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on 21 February 2003
Young Shasta grew up in Calormen, but always felt a drawing towards the north. When a nobleman rides up one day, and begins negotiating with Shasta's father to buy him, he learns that he is really a foundling from Narnia. Shasta wants to escape, and opportunity presents itself, when the nobleman's horse begins to talk to him! It seems that Bree was also stolen away from Narnia, so the two form an alliance and head north. But there are many adventures and surprises along the way. Plus, it seems that somebody has their eye on Shasta!
I love this book! I gather that there is some disagreement as to the order in which you should read the Chronicles of Narnia, but this one is well placed at #3, falling as it does during the later stages of the High-Kingship of Peter. This book has a wonderful Arabian Nights feel to most of it, and it is filled with adventure and suspense. I enjoyed reading this book to my children, and they enjoyed hearing it. We all recommend this book to you!
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VINE VOICEon 2 December 2004
I remember this book being the worst book of all the Narina books when I read them at the age of twelve but re reading it makes all the difference. The book was both interesting and the characters were very captivating I think that its one definitely for the older reader rather than the younger readers because the magic of Narnia is captured in a different and unique way which it is not in the others book. I would question the portrayals from the book a little bit but it's not racist rather it has a subtle dig at some non - Christians but it does not in anyway flood the book with them. It is all in all a good book which I would highly recommend it.
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on 23 February 2013
a good read, lots of suprises, links in with The Lion, the Witch & the wardrobe.. good at any age.
Printed on heavy paper so heavy to hold
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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
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on 5 March 2016
Another great trip to Narnia. My kids and me love it. Re-reading this now that I know so much more just made the story even better for me. Reading it as a boy there is so much of the story I did not get. My boys look forward to their nightly chapter. The grasp the complexities of the story a lot faster than I did at their age. That is most gratifying thing that they understand and like the story they are listening to. Full credit to C S Lewis that after the story they always eat more.

This story is sort of an in between books of the story takes place during the time Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy rule Narnia, however the story is set in the nabghouring countries to Narnia. In one of these counties a young boy called Shaster, is raised in a fishing village. Then one day his life changes when he meets a talking horse, that he has only heard of in the Legendary small country of Narnia. Escaping his village he and the horse decide to make a break for the magical land, meeting like minded allies and foiling dangerous enemies. A great story, with many Christian parallels in it. A very enjoyable read.
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on 23 March 2017
The Horse and His Boy is something of a departure from the Narnian formula. While Lewis resumes his homely, comfortable, very English style of narration, his story is a world away from the pastoral welcome of Narnia itself. Set instead in the land of Calormen, a pastiche of various Turkish, Arab and near eastern cultures, the characters driving the story are natives, not visitors from Earth. It's an ill-fitting match of tone and content and one that emphasises the stereotypes lurking in the characterisation of the Calormene people whilst depriving the reader of an easy connection to the world.

That's not all that's sub-par in the book. Whilst The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe managed to contain an epic sweep in its compact length by showing the story through children's eyes, The Horse and His Boy manages to invert that triumph. Hence monarchs talk political strategy and viziers discuss coup d'etat, with the Narnian kings adopting a Shakespeare-like dialect to little apparent effect. If the potboiling goes over children's heads, however, the story is simple enough that it remains easy to follow. With any luck, the more predictable elements, like twins separated at birth, should be new and surprising to its juvenile readers.

A disappointment then, especially considering the calibre of the tale that precedes it, but at least The Horse and His Boy helps expand the geography of Narnia and works towards building the world that accommodates some iconic characters and stories.
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