Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Review – The Narnia Code by Michael Ward


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.

I wanted to like this book, The Narnia Code, really. I heart the Chronicles of Narnia, I think I’ve read them at least half a dozen times. And now I’ve picked them as the first chapter books to read to my four-year-old, and she loves them too. When I read the synopsis above, I was excited about the theme of the book and the subject. But I have to admit, I had a really really hard time reading it.

It wasn’t that it didn’t cover any of the things it said, but you could tell that it had been a “scholarly work” to begin with in it’s formulaic writing style. For each chapter, there was a thesis paragraph, the body broken down into reasonable subgroups, a review paragraph, and a sentence or two about the next chapter. 

The content was interesting enough, including background about why our days of the week are called what they are (based on the Roman names for the planets) and in-depth information about each planet as it related to one of the Narnia chronicles.

I think what I really didn’t like about was the overall conspiracy theory about CS Lewis and the Narnia books. I’ll leave them as what they are, excellent allegorical children’s fiction, and be satisfied with that.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishing as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

Katie said...

I'm glad I actually read your review. I heart C. S. Lewis and all his works. I even took a Lewis class in college, one of my best learning experiences, so I thought this book would be great (like you). After reading your review though I think I will pass on this.

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