I remember making my own set of best-of lists for last year, but this year I don’t have that same gimmick, so I’ll ride on other bloggers’ gimmicks instead. Ha. Here’s my first post for the Faves of Twenty Eleven hosted by Nomes of inkcrush! :)
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 3
Number of pages: 224
My copy: paperback, bought from Scholastic Book Fair
When Shasta discovers he is not Arsheesh’s son and therefore does not belong in the cruel land of Calormen, he joins forces with Bree the talking horse and flees north towards Narnia, where freedom reigns.
And so begins their hazardous journey, fraught with mystery and danger. Calormen’s capital city of Tashbaan must be crossed, a harsh desert endured, the high mountains of Archenland climbed, their enemies overcome. For the young Shasta it is an adventure beyond his wildest dreams and one destined to change his life forever.
* * *
There was a brief mention of The Horse and His Boy in The Silver Chair, and it was known as a tale told to kids during High King Peter’s time. The recommended order of reading the Narnia series sometimes switches this book with The Silver Chair, so as I was reading this I wondered if there would be a difference if I read this first before the other one, even if they were almost completely unrelated. I did miss the Pevensie siblings in the last book, so it was nice to be back in time for a bit to read about them as minor characters in the story.
Shasta is a fisherman’s son, and he’s often treated cruelly by his father, Arsheesh. One night, he heard his father discussing with a visitor about selling Shasta. Resigned to accept his fate, he was surprised when the visitor’s horse started talking to him. It turns out that the horse, who Shasta named Bree, was a Narnian horse, and everyone knows that all animals in Narnia speak. Bree invites Shasta to escape and head to Narnia up North, and the boy agrees, even if he knew nothing of riding a horse (much less own his own pair of riding boots) or how they would get to Narnia. All he knows is that he doesn’t have anything left at Calormen, and he’s always been attracted by the North. So begins Bree and Shasta’s adventures, where they meet another escapee, get chased by lions, cross an enemy kingdom and treacherous deserts, and somewhere along the way, Shasta finds out something about himself that changes his life forever.
Of all the Narnia books I have read so far, I had a hard time writing a review for this one. I’m not sure why, except that I can’t decide if I like the book or not. As with all the other Narnia books, The Horse and His Boy is classic fantasy: a character with an unknown heritage, talking creatures, a quest and villainous plan to get a queen and destroy a kingdom. It’s a good tale and it feels like this book could really be read even with little knowledge of what Narnia was about.
I enjoyed reading this, except maybe I was looking for something similar to The Silver Chair. You know, that sense of adventure, of going on a quest for Aslan, and the fact that everyone who’s been to Narnia knows who Aslan was, so the excitement of him saving the day was anticipated. Being foreigners from Narnia, the characters in this book know Aslan as a legend, or as a spirit that comes in the form of a fearsome lion. Another thing is that I was so used to reading about Narnia ruled by Caspian the Tenth and not by the Pevensie siblings, so actually reading about Susan and Edmund being King and Queen and doing royalty stuff was a novelty.
I guess what I want to say is The Horse and His Boy was a different kind of Narnia book. Don’t get me wrong — it’s good, but I guess I needed a little time to really get it and like it. I liked how everything turned out in the end. I also liked how C.S. Lewis stressed how there was a purpose with everything that happened to the characters, that Shasta’s adoption wasn’t a mistake and that even being chased by a lion in the desert had a reason behind it and it was all for their good. This book reminds me to keep on believing that despite the bad things that happen in our lives. There is a purpose, and we might not see it now, but it will eventually be revealed in the end.
If The Silver Chair was a book that seemed to gear towards people who have been believers for a while and who need a reminder of the “instructions” from Aslan, I think The Horse and His Boy is written for those who are new in the faith, for them to find someone to relate to in the form of Shasta and his companions in discovering who Aslan is. The theology wasn’t as “blatant” (well that’s what other people call it) as the ones in the others book, which makes it perfect to share with people who are curious about Christianity and for people to re-read.
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia # 6
Number of pages: 243
My copy: paperback, from Scholastic Book Fair
Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch.
NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins.
Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face and face with the evil Watch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.
* * *
I remember talking to my friend who’s the biggest C.S. Lewis fan, asking him if there will be a next Narnia movie. I caught The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the plane on my way to Europe last August, and as usual, I shed some tears with Repicheep’s scene and whenever Aslan comes out. To my dismay, he told me it might take
a while years before the next movie will be made because the license expired. And that just made me sad.
But that doesn’t really excuse me from continuing my Narnia adventures, so when I was already feeling too full of contemporary stuff while writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I decided to pick up some simple and familiar middle grade fantasy and what better book to read than a Narnia one, right?
The Silver Chair introduces different characters from what I have been used to, save for Aslan and Caspian and Eustace, who I first got to know in the previous book. In this book, I was introduced to Jill Pole, Eustace’s school mate and a bully target. One day, while she was hiding from the bullies in their school, Eustace finds her and tells her about the magical place he had been in with his cousins that changed him. The bullies arrived, and Eustace and Jill scramble away, going to a door on a wall that led them to Narnia. Or what looked like Narnia. Jill was surprised and scared, so much that she ends up pushing Eustace off a tall cliff. But Aslan comes to the rescue and saves him, and then gave Jill a mission with specific signs. Aslan warned Jill that she must remember these instructions and repeat them and put them in her heart, especially since it was different there in the mountain where they landed and in Narnia where they have to fulfill their mission. Aslan sends her away and she finds herself in the Narnia that Eustace also knows, and off they go to follow Aslan’s instructions, not knowing the adventures and troubles that would await them.
The Silver Chair had that same vibe that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had, in the sense that it was also an adventure book where our heroes and heroines have a mission to fulfill. While it didn’t feel as magical as the first book in the series, there was still that sense of the unknown and the various charming and fearsome creatures that mean them good and bad. I liked how it feels like it’s a different Narnia from what I know from the first three books I’ve read.
Eustace is loads better in this book, even if I can’t stop imagining him the same way as how the actor who played him spoke and acted. He still had that annoying know-it-all tendencies, but it was not as annoying as it was before. On the other side, there is Jill. Oh Jill. How much you reminded me of myself! I always thought I would be an Edmund (and in a lot of ways, I still am), but Jill. I saw so much of myself in Jill Pole that it felt uncomfortable. At the start of the story, I kind of wanted to strangle Jill for being so stubborn — as a reader I could see where she would go wrong from a mile away, and I knew that it’s all going to bite her back. But then as I think about it…don’t I do the same thing, too? Aren’t I just as stupid and as shortsighted as Jill was, trading quick, temporary comforts for the things that really matter?
But I kind of have a feeling Aslan knew that Jill would mess up, hence the warning (also one of my favorite quotes in the book):
But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. (p.27)
There was more of Aslan in this book, but one of my favorite scenes in the book was actually one without Aslan. I liked how the kids and Puddleglum got through the encounter with an enemy without Aslan’s direct interference, but just plain belief in him. I wasn’t expecting to like The Silver Chair that much, really, but I’m glad to say it’s one of the books that surprised me. I think The Silver Chair is that book for people who’s already found the faith and is in need to strengthen that faith they found. I think it’s a book that teaches how it is to follow, how it is to live and keep the faith even in the face of adversity, and how Aslan is victorious even with the slightest, smallest concerns that we have.
In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via mailbox, library or store. I wasn’t expecting to write an In My Mailbox post this week, but three things happened:
And so, I ended up with these:
And being a Trese fan, I cannot pass up something like this:
It’s so pretty. :) Actually, we call it a placemat because it kinda looks like one. But this is going on my wall, once I’ve organized my room. Gotta love the detail in this one. :)
And there goes my week. Before I reward myself with anything else, I must get to 50,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel first. Onward!
And just like that, April has come and gone. WHAT. Why are the 2011 months just flying by? :o
April was a busy month but it was busy for work! Gah, I am still buried in a ton of work right now, but of course I am procrastinating by blogging. :P I thought the reading for April was quite good, though, especially since I got a long break during the Holy Week, and I was also sick almost half the month so the lack of gym time became reading time. Not bad, I guess?
So what happened for Required Reading for April?
As expected, I only got to finish reading three books:
Like what I predicted, one of them will take a bit of time to finish Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk because it’s non-fiction and it’s not really for quick reading. It’s a very good read so far, and I think when I’m done with this, I’ll hunt around for other biographies because they’re fun. I think I’ll be taking my time with this one, though.
It’s not a bad month, as I’ve actually finished the three books early on, giving me room to read other books within the month. :)
And now, we go to Required Reading for May!
Again, the rules (note to self: create a separate page for this soon):
I am truly excited for the books I chose this month. They’ve been sitting pretty on my shelf since last year and I know people have been bugging me to read them. :D I realized it’s also just right, too, especially since I’ve been reading one contemporary novel after the other in the past weeks. This month’s theme is fantasy. The books!
I don’t really know why I’ve been putting these off, but I know people have been bugging me to read these, especially the first three books (ahem, Chachic! :) ). LOL, well now I am going to read them and I am excited because as much as I enjoy contemporary, I think I need a little bit of magic in my reading now. :)
What about you? What books are you lining up to read this May? If you’re planning to participate in the challenge, leave a comment so I can link you up. :)