The Horse and His Boy
by C. S. Lewis
I've read that The Horse and His Boy, the fifth book in The Chronicles of Narnia, is likely to be left out of the series of films produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The reason given is the racism it contains, with negative images of an Arabic-type race. The book does, certainly, contain a stereotypical picture of a certain culture, but it still surprises me that Disney has decided to leave this tale out altogether. I think that, in this day and age, there are plenty of ways around the stereotypical depiction. Adapting the story into a context that seems more appropriate in our "more enlightened day" would be doable, I would think, but that seems not to be the route the company is going to go.
It's a bit of a pity, because this story is a fun one. Shasta is a fun character, and watching his relationship with Aravis unfold is pretty amusing. Similarly, the two main characters, the horses Hwin and Bree, are fun to read. It's hilarious to watch the various relationships at work here, and to see the way they operate.
In this particular book, the Pevensie children appear again, but they are not children. Instead, they are adults, and are right in the midst of their reign in Narnia. Shasta's tale happens during that Golden Age of Narnia's history... though we don't know that until well into the story. But seeing the way that the Pevensies, and indeed Aslan himself, operate in this story is interesting because it is quite different from how they are used in the other 6 books in the series.
Overall, I think it a pity that this story won't make it to the screen. In a form modified so as not to insult viewers in this day and age, I would think it would make a very nice picture for the big screen. At the very least, it is a good read that is worth picking up.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2010