Let's Talk Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

By Friday, February 05, 2016 , , ,

Welcome back to the Narnia discussions! This is the fourth post in this series, so check out the others here, here, and here if you like! Today we’re talking about The Horse and His Boy. Ah, The Horse and His Boy. Chronologically, it’s number three in the Narnia series, but was the second to last that C.S. Lewis actually wrote. It takes place during the Golden Age of Narnia, when King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmund, and Queen Lucy reigned from Cair Paravel. Some fans claim it as their favorite of the series, but others say it’s their least favorite. I admit that I struggled with it for a while since it has so much less to do with the Pevensie children, who I had come to love so dearly after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But I’ve grown to love this story warmly in recent years, different as it is from the other Chronicles. It speaks powerfully on courage, forgiveness, and the constantly faithful presence of our divine Savior. 

Favorite Characters
Aravis: I know, I know. Part brat and part boss, Aravis evokes varied reactions from fans. She’s admirably determined, but also headstrong and pretty rude to Shasta at many points in the story. But her character journey is dramatic and fascinating, and I love both the initiative she takes in the beginning and the humility she learns from Aslan. Her accidental fall-in with her old friend in Tashbaan and her subsequent escape is one of my favorite sequences in the story. So much suspense, secrecy, and masterful eavesdropping! And her end conversation with Shasta – or rather, Cor, by then – is another favorite part. She’s learned to apologize by then, and Aslan’s gentle reproach appropriately humbles and softens her. 

The Hermit: This guy is just a breath of fresh air after the suspense and stress of Tashbaan, Shasta and Aravis’ escape, and the frightening chase afterwards. For the first time in a while, we at least are sure that most of the main characters are safe with him. Aravis’ wounds are tended and the horses can rest after their hard run. He’s just a nice, calming presence and drops a few good nuggets of wisdom. We all need that at some point in an action-packed story! And his all-seeing pool is pretty neat, I have to say. 

Aslan: How many times have I cited him as a favorite in this blog series? But really, it’s true. His role is rather unique in this one too. At first glance, we see little of him overall. But how moving and beautiful it is when we realize that he’s been there all along! He’s not always immediately visible, but he was always there – quietly guiding, comforting, strengthening, leading, and teaching. What a picture he gives in this book of the sovereign guidance and knowledge of our God! 

Favorite Scenes
Shasta Falls in with the Narnians and meets Prince Corin: The confusion and suspense of this sequence makes it really fascinating. Since the Calormens are relatively absent from the other Narnia books, they’re pretty unknown to the average reader, making the uncertainty level of the plot rise considerably. Shasta plays along admirably with the Narnians’ misconception about him, and of course it’s charming to see a small glimpse of the Pevensies and Mr. Tumnus. Susan and Edmund feature here, and I find it a very sweet exchange, especially since they had less interaction with one another in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A peek into their royal Narnian life is a treat. And of course, Shasta’s mysterious look-a-like named Corin appears, thickening the plot deliciously. 

Aravis Overhears the Tisroc and Rabadash in Tashbaan: Speaking of a thickening plot, this eavesdropping scene is fantastic. Aravis’ management of this whole separation from Shasta is just fantastic all around, but this moment is especially nerve-wracking. I love the way it’s written – the Tisroc, Rabadash, and the Grand Vizier are the focus, and it doesn’t refer to Aravis and her friend until after the men have left the room, so it’s almost like we’re hiding and overhearing with the girls. You can so clearly imagine their thought processes and fright as they listen. 

Aslan and Shasta: This is when we find out how present Aslan has been throughout the whole story. And he appears when Shasta is feeling most depressed and hopeless. It’s hard to describe this scene in many words because it’s so poignant. Shasta’s perspective and spirits are shifted in a moment, and he’s shown that at times when help seems most distant might actually be when it’s closer than he realizes. And the way he’s frightened but calmed and encouraged simultaneously are just perfect. Completely perfect. 

Favorite Quotes
“[Shasta] had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” 

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it. Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too. 

“Please,” [Hwin] said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.” 

“It is very true,” said Edmund, “But even a traitor may mend. I have known one who did.” And he looked very thoughtful.

What are your favorites from The Horse and His Boy? How do you like this one compared to the other books in the series? I’d love to hear!

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  1. This is one of my favorites as well - I love how much we see of Aslan's character in this one. So creative and I love it! Great quotes as well :)

    1. Yes, I love Aslan's role in this one! He says little but is so present at the same time :)