Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Narnia Code

When Tyndale e-mailed me offering to send me a complimentary copy of Michael Ward’s book The Narnia Code, I was wary. Was this going to be a conspiracy theory book claiming that CS Lewis wasn’t really a Christian? I had no need for a book like that. However, after doing a little research I found out that Ward is a big fan of CS Lewis and even lived at the Kilns, Lewis’ old home. He wasn’t going to slander Lewis’ name. I gave Tyndale the go ahead.

In The Narnia Code, Ward explains his theory that CS Lewis based each of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia on one of the pre-Copernican planets—the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Lewis was extremely familiar with the medieval views of the heavens, in which the Earth was the center of the universe and everything else circled around it. Each planet had certain characteristics attributed to it, which Ward claims go along with the Narnian Chronicles. For example, Prince Caspian has the spirit of Mars, the war planet. In most of the books the greatest evidence of the spirit of the planet is found in how Aslan is portrayed.

I have to admit, Ward makes a good case. His theory explains some of the random things Lewis put in the Narnia books, like Father Christmas appearing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Bacchus appearing in Prince Caspian. I wouldn’t go to my death defending his ideas, but I do think what he said is possible. The evidence he gives makes sense.

The Narnia Code is a good read for any Lewis fan (and you’ll want to be familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia before reading The Narnia Code). As someone who is quite familiar with Lewis, I learned quite a bit, not only about the Chronicles of Narnia, but also about his science fiction trilogy (of which I’m a huge fan), and Lewis himself. Ward also touches on history and science. Really, it’s quite the informative book. It is, however, a bit on the academic side. It reads a little like a very long research paper, but an interesting research paper. Interesting, but not intriguing—it was easy to put down, and sometimes I would forget to pick it back up for a while. Once I did pick it back, however, I almost always found something interesting in it.

If you’re like me and have a wall hanging made from the pages of The Magicians’ Nephew, give this book a try. Okay, even if you don’t have Narnian themed d├ęcor I think you’ll still enjoy it.