The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia #5)
by C.S. Lewis
narrated by Alex Jennings
This has probably always been my least favorite of the Narnia books. I’ve never really been sure why, but I suspect it’s because I didn’t connect well with Shasta or Bree, and only barely with Aravis. (Hwin has always been my favorite, and she isn’t given the best representation for most of this book.) It could also be because even when I wasn’t fully aware of them, this book is where some of Lewis’ prejudices show up the most.
Interestingly, the prejudices (both racial and gender biases) that annoyed me so last time I read this book weren’t as frustrating to me this time around as last. Perhaps I was expecting them, or perhaps I was just in a better frame of mind this time. At any rate, while I’m still annoyed at the various biases I was able to set them mostly aside to enjoy the story. The biggest chunk of frustration for me came during Aravis’ time in Tashban. Her friend there seemed to be the stereotype of what women should be, and she was portrayed as silly and foolish, while Aravis, who prefers more masculine things like horses and archery, is shown as braver and somehow better. (Don’t get me wrong, I like Aravis. But I also like pretty clothes and nice foods like her friend does.)
Anyway. I love the worldbuilding C.S. Lewis did for the Calormenes, and I wish that he’d included more of that and less of the racial bias. Because frankly, there’s so much more depth of character and society in Calormen than in Narnia. The poets, and the foods, and the empire… I wish we got more of the background history of Calormen.
Rating: 4 stars