Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Horse and His Boy

Title: The Horse and His Boy
Author: C.S. Lewis
Published: 1954

Once again, I feel the need to explain that I'm reading this series in the order in which the books were originally published. That's how I roll. Even if the set I own tells me that this is supposed to be book 3 in the series. Balderdash!

I don't know what balderdash really means. I just like saying it sometimes. Sounds British. And since I'm writing about a book written by a British writer... Yeah, I don't know where I was going with that. That's what I like to call "going off on a tangent."

This installment of The Chronicles of Narnia was so much better than the last book, The Silver Chair. Even in the first chapter I knew this would be a better story. Something about it was just more exciting, more gripping. I actually got invested in these newly introduced characters and genuinely wanted to see what happened to them in their adventures.

We meet a boy named Shasta. He doesn't live in Narnia, but he's not from our world either. He's from Calormen, a country far to the south of Narnia. After eavesdropping on a conversation between his fisherman father and a Calormene nobleman, he discovers that he's not really the fisherman's son. The nobleman's horse turns out to be a talking Horse from Narnia who was kidnapped years before. So the two form an unlikely friendship and decide to escape to Narnia, where they are apparently both from.

Along the way, they meet up with another talking Horse and the daughter of another Calormene noble, Aravis. They, too, are escaping to Narnia. For a while they get separated in the Calormene capitol of Tashbaan. Separately they discover that the prince is plotting against the lands of Narnia and Archenland (a small kingdom bordering Narnia). Once they meet up again, they race across the desert separating the countries and help to save the kingdoms in a battle against the Calormene prince and his small army.

Aside from the typical children's book adventures that the main characters have, there is also the underlying theme of the book. I could be misinterpreting things, but I think a message that comes across in The Horse and His Boy is that everything happens for a reason. Aslan makes several appearances to our heroes and each time he reveals a little about himself and them as well. Each event that happened in Shasta's life happened to get him to where he was for a reason. Everything that happened to each of these characters happened by Aslan's design.

C.S. Lewis is pretty famous as a Christian apologist. And it's so easy to find the story of God's love for His children within the pages of these fictional children's books. Aslan's design for a greater purpose, I believe, parallels God's own design for us. Shasta couldn't see the big picture when he was treated so poorly living with the fisherman throughout his childhood. Bree (the Horse) couldn't see the part he would play in bringing Shasta back home to Archenland when he was kidnapped from Narnia. All these characters could see was the small piece of the puzzle that was right in front of them. They had trials and tasks that they had to face, but they couldn't understand the whole story.

It's the same way with God in our lives. And, yeah, I'm talking to myself here. We can't see the big picture. We can't even fathom it. All we can see is what's right in front of us. But God knows the beginning and the end of it all. The things that we face each day are just one tiny thread in the middle of an enormous and beautiful tapestry. God knows the design and he knows the importance of each thread that makes up that design.

Like I said, so much better than The Silver Chair.

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