by Michael Ward
Tyndale House Publishers
Millions of people have been captivated by C.S. Lewis's classic Chronicles of Narnia - but some questions have never been successfully answered. Why are there seven books? Why are only three of them obvious Biblical allegories? Does the series lack coherence, as Lewis's critics (and even some of his friends) claimed? Many have attempted to discover the organizing key - the "secret code" - of the series, but the structure of Narnia's symbolism has remained a mystery.
In The Narnia Code, Michael Ward presents an astonishing literary discovery. Drawing on the whole range of Lewis's writings, Ward reveals the single subject that provides the link between all seven novels. He explains how Lewis structured the series, why he kept the code secret, and what it shows about his understanding of the universe and the Christian faith.
Admittedly, I have never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, my only experience with C.S. Lewis' iconic tale has been through Disney's adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian. Sadly, I have yet to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, though I hope to remedy that situation soon. However, that handicap did not prevent me from fully enjoying Ward's exegeses of Lewis' works.
When I first got this book, I was concerned that this was going to be nothing but a witch hunt. Something akin to finding that Lewis wasn't really modeling Aslan as the Christ figure and that the entire collection of novels was simply a ruse for Lewis' secret astrological machinations. I was delightfully wrong. Ward pulls from various works of C.S. Lewis to build a solid foundation for the uniting factor between all seven books: Lewis' day job. You see, C.S. Lewis was a professor at Oxford University for thirty years, and he spent nearly ten more years at Cambridge University. His principal field of academic interest was the literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I won't give away the crux of the argument, but the uniting factor has to do with pre-Copernican astronomy. Seven planets. Seven novels. Mystery revealed!
Ward moves effortlessly through all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia, exposing certain attributes in each novel as he goes, to build a solid case for his argument. It is an argument that I think is absolutely spot on and it adds a wonderful dimension to Lewis' series. So much so that I actually plan on tackling the entire series as soon as I can and, with Ward's discoveries solidly in mind, I think it will create a deeper experience for me as well.
If you are a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend you get this book. It will open your eyes to a whole new world within Lewis' work.
I received this book as a free review copy from Tyndale House Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review, therefore the views expressed in this review are obviously my own.