The Horse and His Boy is the first story which takes place entirely in the world of Narnia (and the surrounding countries) rather than in England, however it is set in the time when Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were kings and queens in Narnia so its time period is clearly set.
“Shasta thought that beyond the hill there must be some delightful secret which his father wished to hide from him. In reality, however, his father talked like this because he didn’t know what lay to the North.”
The story follows Shasta who runs away from home to avoid being sold as a slave. He finds out his horse can talk as it is a Narnian horse, so the two of them decide to go and live in Narnia. They also meet a princess who is running away from her arranged marriage.
Shasta is taken away by the kings and queens of Narnia who mistake him for a lord’s son who has gone missing, because they look exactly alike – though that is explained later. The mistaken identity only really takes up a few pages, so you don’t have endless pages about him pretending to be the lord’s son.
“‘I mean can you fall and get up again without crying and mount again and fall again and yet not be afraid of falling?'”
The book does spend a lot of time with them travelling. They travel for a certain period if time and then something happens, then they travel more and something else happens. I seem to remember being bored by this story the first time i was read it, whether because of the travelling or because of the story itself I can’t remember, but on re-reading I think I prefer this story to Prince Caspian, which I always thought one of my favourites of the Narnia books. It’s a lot clearer than Prince Caspian, less time seems to be taken up with meetings and choosing sides, which means the battle can be explained in more detail – although explained in detail from a character who isn’t there because he’s watching it in a magic pool.
“Like most days when you are alone and waiting for something this day seemed about a hundred hours long.”
The book certainly works whether you read it in chronological order with the other books (I think that would make it the second book though it was the third written) or even if you read this book before all the others, it is still a coherent enough story to be read on its own and it does not have to be preceded by the other two books to be enjoyed.