Monday, December 16, 2013

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
199 pages

The Horse and His Boy is the fifth published novel in The Chronicles of Narnia series. The main character named Shasta lives in the world of Narnia and his story takes place during the reign of High King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy. Chronologically the events of this book happens third in the series.

Shasta lives as a servant to his father Arsheesh in Calormen. They do not have a close relationship and bear little resemblance to each other. One day a visiting nobleman named Anradin discusses a deal to buy Shasta to be his slave from Arsheesh. Shasta overhears this conversation and learns that Arsheesh is not his father. He also discovers that Anradin's horse is a Talking Horse from the land of Narnia who calls himself Bree. They plan their escape that night.

Bree and Shasta travel for several hours until they see another horse and traveler in the night and want to take cover. When a lion appears the horses and the riders flee to safety into a forest. The other rider introduces herself as Aravis, a young aristocrat from Calormen who is running away from an arranged marriage to an old grand vizier of the court, and her horse is a Talking Horse named Hwin. The four devise a plan to go through the city of Tashbaan in Calormen to get to Narnia.

When Bree, Shasta, Aravis, and Hwin enter Tashbaan they are unexpectedly separated by a procession of visiting royals from Narnia. King Edmund sees Shasta and seizes him, believing him to be Prince Corin of Archenland. Shasta does not reveal his true identity and enters the palace of the Tisroc. While Shasta is in the palace he overhears Queen Susan and King Edmund talk about escaping Calormen to avoid a marriage with the Tisroc's son, Rabadash, who intends to marry Queen Susan despite her indifference. After the royal party leaves Shasta in a room alone, a mud streaked boy climbs through the window and introduces himself as Prince Corin. Shasta tells Corin that he's been mistaken for him and asks him if he can leave. The two boys, who look exactly alike, become friends as Corin tells Shasta how to get out of the palace unnoticed.

While Shasta spends the night in a desert near the palace, Aravis hides out with an aristocrat friend Lasaraleen. Aravis and Lasaraleen sneak into a room and overhear the Tisroc and Rabadash discussing plans to attack Archenland without warning in order to invade Narnia and capture Queen Susan who has escaped Calormen. When Aravis escapes the palace and reunites with Shasta in the desert, she warns him of Rabadash's plans and they agree to hurry to Archenland to warn King Lune. Bree, Shasta, Hwin, and Aravis travel across the desert and mountains for several days before fatigue sets in and Rabadash's army is close behind them. As they approach the forest land of Archenland a lion comes and chases them, pushing them to reach King Lune faster. Shasta runs on foot and meets King Lune to warn them of Rabadash's imminent attack.

King Lune and his court race back to the castle and prepare for battle. Shasta is unable to keep up and gets lost on another path. While Shasta feels sorrowful he hears someone walking beside him and thinks it is a ghost. The figure reveals himself as Aslan and explains that he has been helping Shasta on his journey to Narnia. He states that he was the lion that brought Aravis and him together and he was the lion that scared the Talking Horses into running faster to get to King Lune on time. Shasta ends up in Narnia and informs the Narnians of the battle at Archenland. King Edmund and Queen Lucy bring an army to assist Archenland.

When the Narnians arrive to the battle Rabadash and his army are overtaken and defeated. Rabadash refuses to surrender and is taken captive into King Lune's castle. Rabadash is offered a choice to be released under certain conditions, but he rejects it. Aslan appears and warns Rabadash to take the offer or suffer the consequences. After Rabadash refuses again Aslan turns him into a donkey. Aslan tells him that he can turn back into a human when he goes to the altar of Tash during the Autumn Feast, but he will not be able to go past ten miles of the Temple of Tash or he will turn into a donkey permanently. Rabadash is nicknamed "Rabadash the Ridiculous" from that day forward.

Shasta tells Aravis that he is actually Prince Cor, heir to the throne of Archenland. He is the long-lost identical twin of Prince Corin, who was stolen at birth to prevent the prophecy of Cor helping Archenland in their greatest danger from becoming true . The prophecy was fulfilled nevertheless, when Shasta warned King Lune of the attack on Archenland. Aravis apologizes to Cor for treating him poorly and says she realized he was a good person when he helped her after the lion chased them into Archenland. King Lune invites Aravis to live in the castle with Cor, while Bree and Hwin go to Narnia. Prince Cor and Aravis eventually become King and Queen of Archenland and become the parents of the most famous King in Archenland's history.

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