Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: The Narnia Code

I recently had the opportunity to read The Narnia Code by Michael Ward.  I had no idea what to expect.  On the one hand, the whole idea of a unifying theme to the Chronicles of Narnia is an intriguing possibility.  On the other, I'm a bit leary of the whole idea.  I've read some analysis before, and it always felt so contrived.  I expected this to be more of the same.

Maybe it felt contrived because until now, nobody had found the key.

From the publisher:
Millions of readers have been captivated by C. S. Lewis’s famed Chronicles of Narnia, but why? What is it about these seven books that makes them so appealing? For more than half a century, scholars have attempted to find the organizing key—the “secret code”—to the beloved series, but it has remained a mystery. Until now. 
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward takes the reader through each of the seven Narnia books and reveals how each story embodies and expresses the characteristics of one of the seven planets of medieval cosmology—Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Mercury, Venus and Saturn—planets which Lewis described as “spiritual symbols of permanent value.”
How does medieval cosmology relate to the Christian underpinnings of the series? How did it impact Lewis’s depiction of Aslan, the Christlike character at the heart of the books? And why did Lewis keep this planetary inspiration a secret? Originally a ground-breaking scholarly work called Planet Narnia, this more accessible adaptation will answer all the questions.
My take?  This was fascinating.  Absolutely fascinating. It was also a fairly easy book to read.  With the description of Planet Narnia, I was a little concerned that I was going to be totally lost in The Narnia Code.  Maybe it is partially due to the exposure I've had to Roman mythology in the past few years.  It certainly isn't because I knew anything about medieval cosmology.

I really think Michael Ward has hit on the key.  And it was predominantly his discussion in the first two chapters that convinced me.  He brought up a number of issues that have always niggled at me -- especially the more I've read Lewis's other works.  Lewis always seems so logical, so methodical.  But in Narnia, there are things that just seem to appear from nowhere.  Father Christmas?  Bacchus?  Father Time?

Having read The Narnia Code, I want to sit down and re-read the entire Narnia series.  Again.  I really do feel like I understand it more now than I have before.  Highly recommend. 

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.


Dawn said...

Thanks for this review. I am getting ready to review the DVD of this and had NO IDEA what to expect...your review helped a bit. Thanks!

Kara said...

You're ahead of me! I'm working on my review right now and felt pretty much the same as you. I had no idea what to expect, in fact I was pretty skeptical. Who knew?!

i cant decide said...

Very interesting. I will have to look for this book!

Debra said...

Kara -- I don't know if I really conveyed how skeptical I was going into this. And I enjoyed it enough that I'm going for the DVD too :)

I really, really did enjoy this book. :)

Unknown said...

Debra, Just curious is the DVD listed on the tyndale house publishers available list for reviewers? I couldn't find it. Thanks, (you can email me privately.)

Kristenph said...

I loved this book too! You wrote a super review.