Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Travel the World: England: Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

Lewis, C.S. 1954. The Horse and His Boy.

"This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him."

Our hero is a young boy named Shasta. He meets two talking horses, Bree and Hwin, and a young girl, Aravis. Together--all for various reasons--are traveling secretly to the North, to Narnia. Shasta, for example, is running away because his 'father' wants to sell him into slavery. Bree, one of the horses, is a talking horse that has been "owned" too long for his liking by a foreign soldier. He dreams of Narnia and of freedom. Aravis is running away from an arranged marriage. And Hwin, like Bree, is a horse Narnia-bound. Their journey isn't as easy and as smooth as they'd like. There are a few bumps along the way. Unexpected detours and delays. A few scares. A few close calls. Great danger that they always seem to be one step ahead of. But they soon discover that there is a purpose--strange as it seems to them--behind everything.

One of my favorite things about The Horse and His Boy is that it illustrates Romans 8. Aslan the lion is behind everything. Though silent and unrecognized, unacknowledged, he is traveling with these four on their way. And he has a plan and a purpose.

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.
"There was only one lion," said the Voice.
"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"
"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."
"How do you know?"
"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."
"Then it was you who wounded Aravis?"
"It was I."
"But what for?"
"Child," said the Voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."
"Who are you?" asked Shasta.
"Myself," said the voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again, "Myself", loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself", whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too. (281)

So perhaps if this one has a spiritual message it is one of God's providence and sovereignty.

As a child reader, I didn't get this one at all. I didn't get the theme. It wasn't an obvious one to me then. Not even as a teen. It was only in this past reading that I saw some inkling of a spiritual message within the pages. I thought, growing up, that it was a rather dinky story about horses. And I'm not really a horse-loving person. But this time I seem to see just a bit more.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Confuzzled Shannon said...

This the one in the series I got stuck on. I didn't know it had that kind of message hmm...interesting.

Unknown said...

I loved all the Narnia books when I was a little girl (back when dirt was new!). I'm so glad people has started reading them again. I think the movies have helped the popularity.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Although I'm not a spiritual person, that's an absolutely moving quote.

Becky said...

Confuzzled, which reading order were you going by? Not that you *have* to answer. I'm just wondering if you got through three books or if you got through more--four come before this one if you go by publication order--and there are two that follow it.

As for the message, that could be a matter of personal interpretation. As I mentioned I was completely stumped on the appeal of this one for decades. But this past time, I got a glimmer of an idea that it might be about God's provision and providence. (Sort've like Joseph from the Old Testament.)

I certainly didn't *like* this one at all as a kid.

I think the movies are bringing new readers in, Bobbi, though I think the series has stayed relatively popular. They've always been in print. And they've been getting new covers every five-to-ten years for as long as I can remember. I've seen many come and go. Searching google images and seeing just what covers they've had is very interesting for me. I don't know if that makes me weird or not.

I'm glad you enjoyed the quote, Heather.

Tarie Sabido said...

The Horse and His Boy is my absolute favorite Narnia story precisely because of its spiritual message! The spiritual message hit me so hard that I wept while reading the book.

Also, I love horses. :o) Hehehe.

Anonymous said...

Becky, there is blue text here on the "Horse and His Boy" post - is this the way you wanted to be notified? L.

Becky said...

Thank you, Anonymous! I appreciate your help :)