Re-posting this 2013 review because the Kindle Edition of The Horse and His Boy is on sale for $0.99. (Also The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is only $1.99)
After reading Alister McGrath’s very good biography of CS Lewis I decided I was going to read one CS Lewis book a week for a while. I have a number of them, some I have read, some I have not. Last week I read the Silver Chair, this week The Horse and His boy.
Like the Silver Chair, I really did not remember anything about this book except the broadest outline. A boy who has been raised as a poor fisherman’s son, escapes from his home when he overhears his ‘father’ negotiating to sell him as a slave. As he escapes, the horse of the man reveals himself to be a Narnian talking horse and they escape together. I had completely forgotten there even was a girl and another Narnian horse that they meet up with.
The Narnia books keep surprising me with their shortness. It feels like they were so much longer when I was a kid.
Lewis again is using fiction to hide teaching. In Silver Chair it was about knowing the word of God and following it. Here it seems to be more about the love of God for those that are not his normal followers. And a lot about pride and the nature of who is really the hero.
I think that is why I have such fond feelings toward this book even if I didn’t remember it all that well. I like hero stories, especially as a child. I think hero stories are important to inspire us to be something more than what we think we could be.
The main hero of this story is Bree the war horse. But he is actually a coward in areas outside of battle. And Shasta, the boy, who really knows nothing of the world is willing to sacrifice himself because he is not anyone important.
I am mixed about whether Lewis was just a man of his times that did not give women (and girls) good parts because that was the culture, or if his upbringing and life insulated him from women. His mother died when he was a boy. But he was living with Mrs Moore (at least caring for her if it was not a romantic relationship) while these were being written.
Pol (from the Silver Chair) and Aravis are clearly strong characters, but they are given fairly minor roles. That is my only real disappointment from reading these again. Once in this book Susan is described as being a good archer, but more interested in dresses and home than war (so she stayed home instead of riding into battle). Which is not a horrible thing to say, but in context it is very limiting. Lucy is described as being ‘almost like one of the men’ in context of going to war.
I still am left a bit troubled by gender roles (and the stereotypical roles and attitudes given to the people that were to be like Ottoman Empire Arabs), but otherwise really enjoyed the book.
Related Bookwi.se Reviews of books by or about CS Lewis
- Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy #1)
- Perelandra by CS Lewis (Space Trilogy #2)
- That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis (Space Trilogy #3)
- A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of CS Lewis by Devin Brown
- Reflections on the Psalms by CS Lewis
- CS Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath (Biography of Lewis)
- Surprised by Joy by CS Lewis (Memoir by Lewis)
- Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by CS Lewis
- Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis
- The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis (Narnia)
- The Silver Chair by CS Lewis (Narnia)
- The Magician’s Nephew (Narnia)