Valerie's Reviews > The Horse and His Boy

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
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May 29, 12

I own a copy

This is the first Narnian book I read.

I picked it up because I liked the title. I liked it enough that I read the other books in the series. And I read the others in the order they were published in, and not according to internal chronology.

Whether I would have gone on to the other books if I'd started with one of the the others first, I doubt.

I liked the book and its characters, but I don't quite see how it happened that none of the nonhuman intelligences of Narnia don't seem to have gone farther afield than Archenland. The Calormenes don't seem to have any relations with nonhuman peoples.

The 'hero' (the fisherboy Shasta...and out of curiosity, where does this name come from? It's not a Calormene word, from what I can tell. But it's not his birth name, either) is poorly educated. But it's odd that even his twin doesn't seem to know what an embezzler is (come to think of it, what WOULD one embezzle in a magical land? Magic itself? The Calormenes use money, and they have marketplaces and such, but though there's some money in Narnia and Archenland, there's not much evidence of what it's used for.)

I liked the storytelling skill of the Tarkheena Aravis. If she went North and didn't find anywhere else to lodge, I'd think she could set up as a professional storyteller.

As for the titular horse, I didn't care much for him. I understand that it's not a given that a human should take the lead in a relationship in lands where there are Talking animals and other nonhuman life. But I found the horse a braggart and something of a rogue. I much preferred the less aggressive mare Hwin, who doesn't try to manage people or situations. It didn't surprise me that Aravis and Bree had more to talk about than either Hwin or Shasta...after all, they had similar upbringings.

I found quite a bit of psychological realism in this story. For example, if Rabadash had been killed outright, the foreign policy of Calormen would likely not have changed. But if he was made to be an object of ridicule before his future subjects, he would have no credibility as a warlord. This is more realistic than other presentations of that sort of thing, in Lewis's work or in the works of others.

But it still is not clear WHY the Calormenes wanted to rule the Northern lands. What do they need that they can't get where they are?

Nor is it clear where the Calormenes came from. Their genesis stories are not narrated. Who IS Tash? Where did he come from? The next book is not useful for clarification.
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