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Listening Corner

THE HORSE AND HIS BOY. Age group: 9-11. By C S Lewis. Double cassette. (2 hours). Pounds 7.99. BBC Radio Collection

A few minutes into The Horse and His Boy I was startled to hear, from the narrator, "And this is where the story really begins", a phrase which, to anyone of my generation, belongs exclusively and forever to the immortal Goons. Once that shock had worn off, however, I was rapidly drawn in.

This story, one of Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, tells of a perilous journey undertaken by the boy Shasta and the miraculous talking-horse Bree, who adopts him and teaches him to ride. Together this unlikely pair seek to escape the tyranny of the dark land of Calorman, and are obliged to cross mountains and deserts in order to reach the free kingdom of Narnia.

There are many dangers on the way the menacing city of Tashbaan awaits, and the mountains of Archenland must be climbed.

On the way, all the characters learn and mature, and emerge from the test equipped to face the future.

The story, dramatised by Brian Sibley, is as well adapted and performed as you would expect, given that it is a recording of a well-received BBC Radio 4 production. Bree, the horse, is played with studied insouciance by the ubiquitous Martin Jarvis, and the full cast list has some 20 names. This is a high-quality resource, and excellent value for money.

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