Excellent read which provides a good background to the other books in this series.
The boy Shasta, along with a Talking Horse called Bree, flees from his prospective master and heads North out of Calormen to the land of Narnia where he believes he was born. Along the way, the two companions meet up with a Calormene girl named Aravis and a talking mare named Hwin, also headed North. Their journey is difficult enough to begin with, but when they learn of the Calormene prince's plot to secretly invade the northern lands of Archenland and Narnia, the children and talking horses must race across the great desert to warn the countries of the coming attack.
Shasta and Bree both run away from their masters and also steal provisions, something which Bree calls "raiding" and Shasta "stealing." All four of the main characters do a good bit of sneaking to get out of Calormen. One character has a quick temper and a heavy fist, but his impetuosity is reprimanded; this character also disobeys his father at one point and is punished. Every character has their faults, like pride and jealousy, but Aslan brings them out and disciplines them.
The Calormenes worship an assortment of gods, Tash being the highest of these. Another goddess mentioned is the goddess of maidens. The Tisroc, ruler of the Calormenes, is venerated as a god and the phrase "may he live forever" is appended to his name by his subjects, and this is rather humorously put down by Bree. The Narnians and the Archenlanders believe in the lion Aslan, who represents Christ, and once again, this story is heavy on symbolism.
Shasta's adopted-father shakes him and boxes his ears. One character is clawed by a lion, though not graphically. A whipping is mentioned briefly. Towards the end of the story there is a battle, and Bree speaks here and there about his career as a Calormene warhorse. The Calormene prince Rabadash speaks of killing all the Narnians. A friend of Aravis threatens her servants with being imprisoned, burned at the stake, and put on bread and water for weeks.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Aravis says she drugged one of her maids, and wine is mentioned in a couple of places.
Aravis fears having to marry someone she hates. The forced marriage or enslavement of another character to Calormen's cruel prince is mentioned.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
The Calormenes say 'by Tash' and the Narnians take oaths by 'Aslan's Mane' and 'By the Lion.'
An excellent story, full of adventure, symbolism, and the unique beauty that characterizes Lewis' writings. Right and wrong are clearly shown; also, the allegorical significance of Aslan in this tale is very sweet and deep. The writing style is not hard for younger readers and C.S. Lewis writes with a light humor which is sure to please. In addition, this book creates a background to the land of Narnia, something you don't always see in the other Chronicles.