Read between: 7th-14th of February 2016
Number of pages: 175
Synopsis: “How ever did you learn to talk?” asked Shasta in amazement.
“Where I come from, nearly all the animals talk,” replied the Horse. “The happy land of Narnia.” His whinny sounded very like a sigh.
Bree, the horse, has been kidnapped from Narnia and longs to return there. Shasta, on the verge of being sold into slavery, decides to run away with him in search of the home he’s always dreamed of. But the journey is full of surprises and fraught with dangers, and when the companions uncover a treasonous plot, it also becomes a race against time…
Review: A lot of people like this book because it moves away from the typical Narnian setting of the series, however, the first time I read this book I didn’t finish it. I just wasn’t connected with the main character, Shasta as he was mildly irritating- this hasn’t changed the second time around but I’m a little more sympathetic considering his situation. I had to look up his age as it’s never truly stated but I put him down as ten or eleven due to way he spoke and acted- but he’s 14. That’s probably the reason that I originally didn’t want to finish the book back when I first read it-as a reader, I found to be a whiny ten year old. Turns out I’m wrong!
However, the more I read, the more I discovered about Shasta, and also the lands that lie beyond Narnia; Calormen, it’s capital, Tasbaan and the Archenlands. There was much more to the world that Lewis created than I thought. I will admit though, those who live in Calormen are typically Arab-like, turbans, beards, pointed shoes….now it would be a racial stereotype but the contrast between them and Shasta was much clearer this way. When Shasta runs away from a man he calls father (despite being white and blonde, and his father not), on a talking horse named Bree- he has not idea his life is about to change, but will it be for the better, or will it be worse? That decision is ultimately Shasta’s.
The twist in his true parentage was a surprise for me when I eventually came to it in the book, now having read it I can see how obvious it was but I like to be surprised so I’m thankful that I didn’t guess it before it was revealed. It wasn’t just Shasta who benefited from Narnia though, Aravis, her horse H’win (also a talking horse), amongst others that joined Shasta on his journey ended up being as equally important as he was- and honoured for it. I also liked the fact the quartet that we know from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe DO feature in this book- when I thought they didn’t. It’s only a small cameo each for Lucy, Edmund and Susan, with Peter only being mentioned by name, but it meant I was able to follow the story better knowing whereabouts in their timeline it was set.
Only one character could be disliked, Prince Rabadash of Tasbaan. He is pompous and decides to wage war on Narnia. Why? Because Queen Susan won’t marry him. What happened to him led to my favourite quote:
“Now hear me, Rabadash,” said Aslan “Justice shall be mixed with mercy. You shall not always be an Ass”– after Aslan has turned him into a donkey.
Even though it as Ass as in Donkey, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud because it honestly sounds like Aslan is describing his character BEFORE he changed. He was definitely a bit of an ass when he didn’t get what he wanted.
Finally, we see a different side of Aslan in this book, slightly different from the kind, godly, caring Aslan of Book 2. He teaches Aravis a lesson- attacking her in order to make her feel sorry for the slave she drugged, who was ultimately punished.
I enjoyed the book, despite there being a few flaws, however it seemed very underwhelming after The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Thanks for reading! Have you read any other books in the Chronicles of Narnia? What are your thoughts on this book?
As always, leave a comment! I appreciate it!