Updated: Sep 3, 2022
Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
The first time I read The Horse and His Boy, it ended up being the one I liked the least out of The Chronicles of Narnia. I've read through the whole series three times now, and The Horse and His Boy still end up in 7th place out of the whole series
I have grown to appreciate one of its messages so much more this time around. This story is my least favorite in the series, but the truth that stuck out to me the most is that Aslan Guides and this theme is one of my favorite messages shared throughout this whole series. This blog is the third entry in a series where I share deep insights from books in The Chronicles of Narnia that are focused on the Character Aslan, who is the "representation" of Jesus the Christ. The other entries in this series can be found here: https://www.wohnal.com/blog/categories/books.
The theme of Aslan being a guide is woven into The Horse and His Boy from the very beginning. Aslan has been guiding and working to put the details together in Shasta's life from his very birth so that he would one day save Narnia.
Shasta was a young boy who lived in Calormen and he lived with a fisherman, named Arsheesh, whom he called father. One day there "came a stranger who was unlike any man that Shasta had seen before. He rode upon a strong dappled horse with flowing mane and tail, and his stirrups and bridle were inlaid with silver." This strange man came to do business with Arsheesh and while he was doing so, Shasta has tiptoed away as he heard his "father" trying to sell him off.
Shasta ends up talking about wanting to be free and running away near the stranger's horse and to his surprise, the horse spoke and shared that he had the same desire. The talking horse is named Bree and he is actually from Narnia and he desires to go back home. And so, Shasta's adventures begin after he collaborates with Bree to escape.
A short time after, Shasta and Bree are traveling at night when they meet Aravis, a young aristocrat from Calormen, and her talking horse, Hwin. They are escaping to Narnia also and Aravis is running away from an arranged marriage she didn't want to be in, she didn't want to get married to an older man named Ahoshta.
As they continue on their journey, they go through Tashbaan, and a group of Narnians mistakes Shasta for Prince Corin, who looks just like him. The Prince had snuck out and went into the town without the others knowing and he came back and found Shasta in his place. Shasta leaves and ends up sleeping among tombs that night and the weirdest of things happened where he chose to lay. Throughout the night, it seemed that there were several animal noises and piercing cries that scared him greatly. He just hoped it wasn't another lion like the one he had met earlier. As the night progresses, there was a "huge animal that bounded into view," and that animal roared a roar that scared all the other animals away.
Later on, that night Aravis and Lasaraleen overhear Ahoshta, Aravis's financè, and the Tirsoc, who is the Calormen Emperor. Aravis and her friend overhear Ahoshta sharing a plan to conquer Narnia, which the Tisroc permits him to do as long as the Tisroc does not get involved if he so fails.
Arvais and Hwin later meet up with Shasta and Bree and relay the news of Ahoshta's plan to conquer Narnia within the next 24 hours. The four gallop to Narnia in hopes that they would beat the Tisroc's army and warm Narnia of the impending invasion in time for them to prepare and defend themselves. Towards the end of the journey, the four are tired and Bree and Hwin seem to have very little energy left and the Tisroc's army is not far behind them. A Lion suddenly comes out and begins to chase the four and the horses find the stamina and speed to finish the last few miles of their journey.
Narnia prepares for the invasion and they defeat the Tisroc's army and the Narnians continue as free people... all because of Shasta, Bree, Hwin, and Arvais.
Well, there was one more person who helped save Narnia and this person is really the one who gets all the credit. The other four Narnia hero's just got to share in the glory by playing their part in the story.
Chapter 11, The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler, is the one where the reader is shown the needle that has threaded this whole story together and the potent theme of the narrative raises to the top; Aslan Guides.
The Unwelcome Fellow Traveler is beside Shasta on this path and they engaged each other in dialogue. They get to a point in the conversation where Shasta is sharing with "The Voice" his past troubles and difficulties and what it took for him to get where he was now. Shasta shares with this "Voice" that he has encountered so many lions on his way to Narnia, and this is where we see the needle:
I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.
"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."
Do you see how just this paragraph changes Shasta's whole story by giving it more depth and meaning?
Do you know see why Aslan said, "I do not call you unfortunate," despite the "unfortunate" things that happened to Shasta? Yeah. Aslan was weaving the material together that would make the story of Shasta's life.
As I continue in life, I am encouraged by this truth as a Christian: Jesus the Christ Guides.
Whether I am aware of it or not, God is working out details in my life, putting things into place, "using what was meant for evil" and using it for good instead, and He is weaving all these different materials together to make the story of my life... and He can do the same for you if you let Him.
Aslan had been guiding and working in Shasta's life from the very beginning and I am encouraged that God is working out the details in everyone's life to point them closer to Jesus the Christ, and if they get saved, He continues to guide them closer to Himself.
You see, "Aslan's" guidance is always for your good, and others. Shasta is guided by Aslan, without knowing it, to save all of Narnia.
Salvation, restoration, justice, and healing are always some of the results that manifest for those who follow the guidance of Jesus the Christ.
I don't know what this year holds for me, or for you, BUT I know the one who knows, and the one who already has a plan that has been in effect since before we were even born. Christian, you can trust the guidance of Jesus the Christ, He doesn't call you "unfortunate," because you're in good care.
"The LORD will guide you always..."- Isaiah 58:11a
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ' Proverbs 3:5-6
May these words penned by Ken Bible find agreement with your soul as they did mine:
"Lead me on; I will follow.
Lead me upward; I will go,
Standing strong in the confidence
That only faith can know,
Step by step, ever trusting,
With eternity in view,
Not in fear but rejoicing,
For I'm walking, Lord, in You."
C. S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy is a great narrative that helps me see more clearly that Jesus the Christ guides.
Lewis, C. S. 1898-1963., and Pauline Baynes. The Horse and His Boy. New York, NY: HarperTrophy, 1994.
All Scripture is taken out of the NIV.