C.S. Lewis: The Horse and His Boy

HorseThe Horse and His Boy: Chronicles of Narnia #5
by C.S. Lewis
narrated by Alex Jennings
(fantasy, children’s classic)

This one is hard to review. I really enjoy the story, but now that I’m older I can’t help but see the prejudice written in against the Calormens. And whether it’s prejudice because of their darker skin or their different religion, I can’t tell.

On the other hand, to me this sets up the part in “The Last Battle” with Emeth (a Calormene warrior) very nicely. For all I know, the whole prejudice in “The Horse and His Boy” could be written in such a way as to provide a contrast between Aslan and Tash in preparation for “The Last Battle.” It was published 5th of the 7 books, after all. Lewis could easily have planned the conclusion of the series before writing this book.

And lastly, this book was initially published in 1954. While that is not an excuse for bigotry, we must remember that it was a different world then. Without having grown up in the context in which this book was written, I can’t fully judge its motivations. Besides, while the prejudice is undeniable, to me it doesn’t feel malicious. (YMMV, of course.) That – along with the fact that the story is wonderfully written – allow me to still give this a 4-star rating on Goodreads. (For further reading on this aspect of the book/series, I suggest you start here.)

As I’ve mentioned, the story is great. It’s a classic adventure/escape/journey story, but with talking horses and a strong female character. (Strong girls are more common in modern books, but they’re darned hard to find in classic lit.) If you haven’t read it, I do think you should, but you should read the Narnia series in the order in which it was written. At least your first time through, that is. Once you know the stories you can read them in any order you like.

The narration was fine. I wasn’t generally partial to Jennings’ female voices, but I loved the different accents he gave people. And his animal voices were great. Definitely worth a listen.

Rating: 4 stars

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