review: Narnia Code

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The Narnia Code:
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.

So, that’s what the back says.  And I have to admit I approached this book with a lot of skepticism, but also some enthusiasm because it’s Narnia.

Why was I skeptical, well let’s look at books that claim to have a secret code.  There’s the Bible Code, and that to my mind was a little silly, that you can get secret messages from the Bible using special numbers that only a few people know did not make sense to me, especially when it’s presented that you can get these secret messages from an English Bible using the chapter and verse notation added in some 1000 years after Christ.  I don’t think so.

Da Vinci Code, ummm, I predicted the ending in the first 50 pages, and it annoyed me to find as many plotholes and problems as I did in this hugely hyped book.

Left Behind series, which I’ll admit I got caught up in the hype when it first came out, but I have a valid excuse, I was in high school and college.  We’re all a little stupid then.  It was too drawn out, and the series was poorly written.

So, that’s my experience with books with secret meanings, but this one was different.  First, it did a good job of presenting it’s case, and actually has me pretty convinced of it’s veracity.  It also got me wanting to go back and reread the series to think about it some more.

Would I have bought this if I didn’t get a review copy?  I don’t know, because I tend to buy mainly fiction, but it would have been on my Christmas wish list.  But, I do have two friends in mind who this book would be perfect for.

Overall: two thumbs up.

Disclosure: Tyndale gave me a copy to review in exchange for this post. 

AND PS:  I know I will make people angry by saying I didn’t like DaVinci Code, but really it was poorly written, just like the Left Behind series was poorly written.  Oh, and I think the list published by some magazine or other with that book on their list is a ridiculous list.  Come on, you’ve got some books on there twice, and some of the other books on it are not great paragons of literature either (Harry Potter, really?  I love the books, but they’re not great literature) .

Edited to add: Yes, I agree Harry Potter will stand the test of time, but I do think they weren’t edited as well as they could have been towards the end in the rush to get them out before Harry Potter mania went away.  So, yes I’ll make my kids read Harry Potter, just like I’ll make my kids read Narnia.  Both are good series.  But, they’re not necessarily great works of literature, which is what that list was claiming to be.

You may proceed to write me hate mail now Smile

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9 thoughts on “review: Narnia Code

  1. Will it upset you if I say that I didn't care for Narnia at all (I read the books as an adult). I still want Anna to read them one day, but I thought that they were very predictable as well. I do agree with you on Dan Brown books – it was “in today gone tomorrow” for me. However, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, and I think that these series will stand the test of time just as well as Narnia did.

  2. This book does sound interesting. I don't know if I would read it, but I am a bit curious. I don't buy into any code books either.

    Also, I have always thought people tend to try too hard to figure out what is behind literary works. Maybe, they are just what they appear to be and there is no secret within!

    I agree with you about the Dan Brown books too.

    I agree with Natalie about Harry Potter.

  3. I probably wouldn't have looked twice at this book – I'm not a big fan of Bible code books, either. And, biblical fiction is dangerous ground.

    I liked the Narnia series, as a child. And, I loved The Screwtape Letters, when I was a teen. Now, I tend to look at them as bording on sacrilegious.

  4. Interesting perspectives! I was skeptical of Da Vinci Code because of the way it was publicized…like it was a secret code to the Bible when it's really a fun beach read. I read the book, thought it was a fun fictional book but can't understand the big deal about it being a code and all.

    As for Harry Potter, I read the first two. I was expecting more but the story line seemed to remind me too much of other children's stories that I read (they were much better). I don't consider neither Dan Brown books nor Harry Potter series to be quality literature. I think they were meant for the mass public and if it gets people to read, it's good!

    I LOVED the Narnia series. Don't want to mess with nostalgia by reading any code books. I actually read the books again as an adult and for some reason, it wasn't as good. It was magical when I read them as a kid. The Screwtapes Letters made me laugh. It was a good read and I definitely consider myself a C.S. Lewis fan. Mere Christianity was my favorite.

  5. My daughter Michelle likes the Narnia series. I didn/t know about this book. What age audience do you recommend this book for? She is reading at college level. To be specific, is it appropiate for a 12 year old? Thank you for sharing,

  6. Oooh, that makes way more sense! I actually saw this when we came over for the Pony Birthday Party, and it struck me as odd. It didn't seem your type of read. But it looked really interesting.

    I thought the Davinci Code was a good book to read only because everyone and their dog was talking about it when it came out, and I didn't want to be left in the dark. But, I'm with you. While I didn't guess the ending 50 pages in, I was wanting to throttle the characters toward the end for not figuring it out faster.

    Thanks for the review! I'm curious as to what the “code” is, or what it “reveals” about the Narnia books. Maybe I'll read it myself 🙂

  7. I'm with you on Da Vinci code. Harry Potter is in my mind far superior to the Da Vinci Code (and other books by the same author), but I agree not on par with Chronicles of Narnia. I never read the Left Behind series.

    This book sounds interesting, and I have a few family members who might really enjoy it.

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