Summary: This book is the only one in the series that does not follow the various adventures of children from England. It takes place during the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, during the reign of High King Peter and his brother and sisters. Its story centers on Shasta, a young boy who, at the beginning of the story, is about to be sold into slavery by his adopted father. Wanting to escape this fate, Shasta steals the horse of the Calormen he is about to be sold to and flees. He soon discovers that the horse is able to talk – he is a Narnian horse. The horse, whose name is Bree, tells Shasta of the wonderful country he was born into, Narnia. They determine to escape there together. Along the way, they are joined by Aravis, a young Calormen princess who is also running away. She was supposed to marry the Tisroc, a high up official in the Calormen government but he is old and she does not wish to marry him. To escape, she had planned on killing herself, but her horse, Hwin, interfered by revealing that she could talk and telling her of her home country of Narnia where she could live in peace. Since they are all headed to the same place, they join forces. At one point, they must travel through the capital of Calormen. Along the way, Shasta is mistaken for the prince of Archenland, a friendly neighboring country to Narnia, and is taken away by King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy. Eventually the real prince shows up and he is able to escape. Meanwhile, Aravis is recognized by a friend of hers who agrees to help her escape. But in the process of their escape they overhear the Tisroc’s plans to invade and conquer Archenland. They continue on their way to Narnia, this time in a hurry to reach it in time to warn the king of Archenland that they are about to be attacked.
Comments: For a long time, this book was my favorite in the series. There is nonstop action and bickering between the two main characters, which I enjoyed. I also like the serious character development that takes place. Aravis and Shasta struggle a lot with pride. Although Aravis is leaving her life as a princess, she still believes herself to be better than Shasta, a mere runaway slave. As the story progresses, the characters learn more about themselves and this teaches them much humility. I left out how the story ends, because it is supposed to be a surprise, although I think its kind of predictable. 🙂
My favorite analogy in the book is while Shasta, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin are on their way to warn the king of Archenland of the coming attack. They are setting a quick pace there, but soon realize they are being pursued by an animal. When they realize it is a lion, the horses run as fast as they are able, to escape being eaten. As they are pursued, the entire group is terrified. However, they later learn that they were not being chased by any normal lion, but by Aslan himself. The Lion knew that they would not have reached the king on time at the speed they were traveling, so he arranged it so that they would hurry. I think its a neat reminder to always keep in mind that God knows what is going on in our lives – more than knows, He has planned what is going on in our lives. So even when things look bad, when times are hard, when we don’t know what to do, we can (and should!) take comfort in the fact that we do know who our Lord is and so we don’t have to despair. Who knows? God may be teaching you something through the trial.
Have a blessed week. Next Monday we will talk about the last book “The Last Battle,” which happens to be my current favorite. It is also the book where some of Lewis’ theology that I don’t agree with comes out, so it promises to be a controversial post!