The fifth book written for The Chronicles of Narnia series and the third book chronologically; a midquel that takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.The Horse and His Boy is the only book in the series where no action takes place in our world. It tells the story of four runaways from the southern kingdom Calormen — the peasant boy Shasta, the Rebellious Princess Aravis, and two Narnian horses Bree and Hwin — whose quest for their own freedom soon turns into a mission to warn Narnia and Archenland of an impending invasion by the Calormene prince Rabadash. The journey will take them through the great city of Tashbaan, across the treacherous desert that borders Calormen, and over the mountains that separate Archenland from their ultimate goal — Narnia and the North!Unlike other books in the Narnia series, this one is not mythic in scope (until the ending, where certain epic deeds are done and The Reveal is...revealed.) Royalty is mentioned only in passing until the finale, there are barely any religious or magical elements, and the protagonists don't have a ready-made court of willing, loyal Narnians ready to help them through any troubles they have. The novel makes it clear that our heroes are alone in a largely hostile world, and that no one will respect them until they've earned respect. The plot focuses mainly on the four's long, long journey to Narnia, the sights they see and things they learn, and the Character Development everyone goes through in doing so.And that's why it's a good book.
Agony of the Feet: Shasta is forced to walk with his bare feet through hot sands, as he is barefoot for most of the book (Aravis is disgusted for this fact).
Always Chaotic Evil: Played straight with the Calormene rulers, though their people are frequently portrayed as being simply dull and boring (or silly and stupid) rather than evil.
Arabian Nights Days: Calormene culture is heavily inspired by the Arabian Nights version of the Middle East; notably, C. S. Lewis is on record as being a fan of the English translation and even borrowed the name "Aslan" from the footnotes to one edition. It's Turkish for "Lion."
Arranged Marriage: What Aravis is fleeing. Suggested to be the case with her friend Lasraleen. However we never see her husband, it is suggested that he spends a lot of time away from home and she rather enjoys her high life.
Automaton Horses: Defied quite resoundingly. Not only can the horses tell their humans what they need, the threat of "Rabadash and two hundred horse" drops from 'legendary' to 'big but manageable' when Bree points out how long it will take to get that many riders moving, saddled, provisioned, watered, etc.
Baleful Polymorph: Aslan turns Prince Rabadash into a donkey during his Humiliation Conga. The final part? He can only be changed back by showing up at the temple during his country's largest festival, letting the entire country see what happened to him.
Furthermore, if he ever goes too far from the palace, he'll turn back into a donkey forever. This prevents him from conducting any military campaigns against neighboring kingdoms.
A Boy and His X: A Boy and his Horse as well as A Girl and her Mare. Bree, however, finds this phrasing prejudiced and believes it's just as fair to say that the children are the horses' humans. Hence the title.
Break the Haughty: Bree, Aravis, and Rabadash, although only the first two really learn anything from the experience.
Changeling Fantasy: Shasta, a peasant orphan, turns out to be the long-lost prince of Archenland. Atypically for the trope, Shasta is kind of dismayed by the fact that this means he'll have to be king one day, and his brother is only too happy to be relieved of the responsibility. ("I shan't have to be king! It's princes that get all the fun!")
Defrosting Ice Queen: Aravis is pretty proud and cold toward Shasta for the first half of the book; she eventually warms up to him.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: In many of his non-fiction essays, Lewis argued against theologians who tried to "demythologize" Christianity by arguing that, for example, Christ wasn't literally the "son of God" and/or didn't really rise from the dead. In The Horse and His Boy, Bree explains that while Narnians call Aslan a lion, he isn't really a lion—it's just a figurative way of saying he's as brave as a lion or as fierce as a lion. (Aslan isn't offended, just amused.)
Ermine Cape Effect: Played straight with the Calormene nobility; subverted with the Narnian nobility who dress more modestly but seem more regal; averted with King Lune in everyday clothes.
The Grand Vizier, though unusually for this trope he's more of a passive-aggressive back-biter than anything else. Oddly enough the Grand Vizier seems genuinely loyal and grateful to the Tisroc, it's his son that he plots against (who, to be perfectly honest, is a really detestable person).
Lord Bar, King Lune's chancellor, is mentioned in passing as the one who kidnapped the infant Prince Cor before the story started.
Fate Worse Than Death: Bree tells Shasta that he would rather be dead tonight than be Tarkhaan Anradin's slave tomorrow.
A Friend in Need: Both Bree and Hwin reveal they can talk just when Shasta and Aravis, respectively, are in desperate need of help.
Game Face: Subverted — Rabadash rolls his eyes, sticks out his tongue, and wiggles his ears. It terrifies his underlings (who know he can have them boiled in oil at any minute), but it has no effect on the free Narnians.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: All that's said among the Narnians about Rabadash's plans for Susan is that he plans to make her his "wife — or more likely, slave."
During his rant upon learning of Susan's escape, Rabadash calls her a "false jade". To a child, and to many adults, this sounds like he is calling her a backstabbing liar; however, "false jade" is actually an old-fashioned way of calling her a whore. (And apparently he called her worse things, but the narrator omits these because they "would not look at all nice in print").
Good Old Fisticuffs: Corin is an outstanding boxer even as a boy — it takes three Calormene watchmen to subdue him — and, as an adult, punches out a grizzly bear, thus earning the name Corin Thunder-Fist.
The Grand Vizier: The Calormene Grand Vizier is too minor of a character to be a good example of the trope, but he is portrayed as ugly, grovelling and petty.
His brief appearance is an interesting deconstruction of the Evil Vizier trope, though.
Hero of Another Story: Aslan warns against being too interested in this, but the Pevensies are this to Shasta and he is this to them. It's one of the few books that are written from the Hero Of Another Story's point-of-view.
Heroic Sacrifice: In Shasta's backstory, the knight who starved himself to keep Shasta alive.
In That Order: Lasaraleen threatens to beat her servants to death, burn them alive, and keep them on bread and water for three weeks — rather ineffectual punishments if done in that order, and a display of her casual, lazy attitude.
Jerkass Has a Point: Bree could have been a bit politer about pointing out that Aravis had just as much right to say Hwin was her horse as he does of saying Aravis is Hwin's human... but even the narrator basically agrees with the point.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bree acts like this on several occasions - a combination of being a Talking Horse as well as the prize steed in an official's stable result in him feeling a bit smug at times about his abilities, and he's not at all afraid to talk down to anyone (particularly Shasta, who is effectively an escaped slave). That said, he's got a strong sense of honor, helps Shasta escape from a Fate Worse Than Death, and is an unquestionably loyal companion.
Justified Criminal: Shasta feels guilty about "raiding" food and supplies from the Calormenes, but Bree rationalizes it by explaining that they are in "enemy territory".
Laser-Guided Karma: When our heroes are chased and attacked by a lion who, it turns out, is Aslan it scratches Aravis across her back. The Hermit who tends to her wounds notes that his was unusual behavior for a lion. When Aslan reveals himself, he explains that the wounds he gave her, "tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood" were equal to the beating received by the slavegirl Aravis drugged in order to make her escape. "You needed to know what it felt like."
Made a Slave: What Shasta is fleeing, and the horses' backstory.
The Magnificent: Rabadash ultimately goes down in history as "Rabadash the Ridiculous."
Not So Similar: This is the book that introduces Tash, a figure that is theorized to be another culture's name for Aslan. (It isn't.)
The Ojou: Lasaraleen Tarkheena is the Spoiled Sweet type: ditzy, gossipy and shallow, but not half as bad as others.
Old Man Marrying A Child: Aravis is somewhere in her early teens when betrothed to Ahosta Tarkaan. Bree explains that all Calormene noblewomen marry young.
Overly-Long Name: The titular horse's full name is a neigh: Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah. He grumpily accepts that Shasta won't remember that and begrudgingly accepts being called Bree for the rest of the book. "Hwin" sounds like a shortened version of a similar name.
Phrase Catcher/Verbal Tic: The name "The Tisroc" is usually followed with "May he live forever." As a free Narnian at heart, Bree makes a point of omitting that little tidbit.
Pride: One of Bree's defining characteristics, perhaps as a result of being pampered as a prize horse for a Calormen official. It later backfires on him, as he becomes neurotic about what "proper" Narnian horses do (whereas Hwin states that she's just going to do what makes her happy).
Runaway FiancÚ: Aravis again. She was engaged to the much older Ahoshta Tarkaan aka the Grand Vizier as both a way to gain power for her nobleman father and an excuse for her Wicked Stepmother to get rid of her. We really only hear her side of the story, but it's clear that she doesn't want to marry the old man.
Samus Is a Girl: Aravis is initially mistaken for a young prince on a fine blood mare, the confusion caused mainly by her wearing her dead brother's armour.
Sapient Steed: The two Narnian horses in the story. Some additional talking horses are seen as the Narnians go to war, although it's noted that nobody rides talking horses (or centaurs) unless there is a pressing need.
Spare To The Throne: Turns out Shasta was one of two princes of Archenland and had been kidnapped as a baby. As the older twin, guess who's next for the throne? His twin brother is delighted when this is discovered, not wanting the throne anyway.
Prince Rabadash's father the Tisroc allows his eldest son to attack Archenland and Narnia specifically because the prince is hot blooded, hard to control, and easily replaceable.
Spoiled Sweet: Lasaraleen. She's never anything but kind to Aravis, despite Aravis's short temper and impatience with her, risks her life to help her, and overcomes her fear in the end, albeit with a bit of prodding.
Stealth Pun: The grand vizier describing Rabadash's familial love as a "carbuncle." (This usually means "ruby" but can also mean "festering sore.")
Sweet Polly Oliver: Aravis dresses in her brother's armour so she won't be recognised when she runs away. This is only on the first night however.
Theme Twin Naming: This is a tradition in Archenland — Cor and Corin, Dar and Darrin, and Cole and Colin are the examples we meet.
Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Aravis again. Also Queen Lucy acts a little more feminine in a private environment, since when she and Aravis meet they start talking about dresses and girly stuff.
Too Dumb to Live: Yeesh, Rabadash! First, he's captured in battle by the Narnians and, even though they treat him quite nicely, he continues to throw fits and refuse to negotiate with them and threatens them all, even though they could just as easily have his head for it. Then he continues to act like this while Aslan is in the room, even when he's told to shut up or something bad will happen to him.
Trash Landing: Shasta does one while escaping across the Tashbaan rooftops.