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Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  1,741 ratings  ·  244 reviews
For over half a century, scholars have laboured to show that C. S. Lewis's famed but apparently disorganised Chronicles of Narnia have an underlying symbolic coherence, pointing to such possible unifying themes as the seven sacraments, the seven deadly sins, and the seven books of Spenser's Faerie Queene. None of these explanations has won general acceptance and the struct ...more
Hardcover, First edition, 347 pages
Published January 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Trade Winds Ward deals with Lewis's detractors throughout Planet Narnia as much implicitly as explicitly. If you want his point of view on Pullman read his…moreWard deals with Lewis's detractors throughout Planet Narnia as much implicitly as explicitly. If you want his point of view on Pullman read his article here:

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Sarah Clarkson
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There is a verse in Proverbs that says it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out. Well, since all creators of books are made in the image of a creative God, I think its safe to say that sometimes it is the glory of an author to weave a mystery in the symbols of his story. There is in some books, a unity, a power of image, a spiritual atmosphere that cannot easily be described, yet drives the wonder of the story. I believe it is the glory of a thoughtful, ...more
Brittany Petruzzi
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’ve often wondered what it is that makes me love the Chronicles of Narnia so much. Objectively speaking, the writing and structure are not as put together as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And yet, I’ve read the Narniad more times than I can count, while Lord of the Rings only thrice. Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia gives me that reason.

While it’s true that some of what he says is far-fetched—“reaching” might be a better term—I think the gist of it is correct. Lewis may have been a speedy author, but he
Douglas Wilson
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-study
This one is right at the top.
Ben De Bono
Planet Narnia is quite an interesting failure, but a failure nonetheless. Michael Ward makes the fatal error of becoming far too enamored with his conclusions and, as a result, misses the far more interesting things his research points to.

The premise of the book is that C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia with the intention of having each volume take on the character of one of the seven spheres of medieval cosmology. Thus The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe reflects the medieval understa
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing

If you love CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia (deeply, not just casually, but DEEPLY), then you'll find this book very wonderful. Michael Ward, the author, brings in many of Lewis' other works and poetry, to explain his discovery (he says) of the underlying and unifying "theme" or "kappa element" in the Chronicles of Narnia -- the medieval cosmology of the planets. This cosmological theme in each book is the "kappa element" according to Lewis, which explains the
Ryan Reeves
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cs-lewis
I will say from the start a bit about my history with this book's author. Michael Ward (Spud to his friends) was a friend and colleague at Cambridge University. In fact, he was more than a friend; he was a scotch-drinking friend, and those are the best sorts of friends to have. I say this not to give my review any particular weight, but merely to say that I am prejudiced towards seeing all good and light and truth in Michael's work.

But the reader of "Planet Narnia" will, I think, find that I am
Matt Bianco
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I finished this book having read it as part of my vacation in Narnia. I read through the entire Chronicles of Narnia septet in seven days, followed by a few days for Douglas Wilson's What I Learned in Narnia, then this.

This book took my a couple of weeks to read. It was much more scholarly than I expected. I understand that author Michael Ward has another version of the book, Narnia Code, that is intended to be more accessible popularly. I probably should have read that book.

I really did enjoy
Anne Hamilton
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
I've read both the Narnia Code and Planet Narnia by Michael Ward and my comments on them are basically the same:

Despite the fact I think Michael Ward caught the ball and then dropped it on this one, I'm still giving it five stars. I think he's almost right. That for a fleeting sentence, he discovered the real code and then forgot that Lewis was self-admittedly 'crazed with Northern-ness'.

The premise - that Lewis deliberately encoded each both in the Narnia series with attributes of the s
Carol Bakker
How is it that seven such stories, authored by an unlikely novice and possessing little apparent coherence in design, should have become some of the best-selling and most influential fables in the world?

Planet Narnia is Michael Ward's answer to three questions:
of occasion (Why were they written?),
of composition (Why is the series not uniformly allegorical?) and
of reception (Why have they become so successful?)

Each Chronicle is associated by plot and ornamental detail with a planet (pre-Coper/>Planet
Doug TenNapel
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I first set down to read G.K. Chesterton, I decided to study his quotes. His many quotes and influence on C.S. Lewis and Tolkien lead me to Planet Narnia, a book that makes one of the bolder claims about the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. As Dr. Michael Ward unfolded his premise, I was doubtful. He claimed that C.S. Lewis didn't write Lion-Witch-Wardrobe as a mere Christian allegory, but that each book was based on the seven planets of the medieval heavens. More like Holst's The Planets.< ...more
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm nearly always skeptical of literary critics who find hidden meanings in classic works, but I have to say that by the end of this book, I was pretty well on board with Ward's thesis. But even if I hadn't bought into the thesis, I still would have enjoyed Planet Narnia for the writing alone. This is a scholarly treatment, yes, but it's very readable.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys C.S. Lewis, literary criticism, theology, and big words. (It's recommended, of course, that the reader first have wor
Diana Glyer
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
There are so many things to appreciate about "Planet Narnia." For me, the biggest gift of this book is to call our attention back to the essential medievalism of C. S. Lewis's mind. In that way, Ward gives us more than a cohesive model of Narnia; he offers a unified field theory for making sense of all 39 of Lewis's books. There may be no more important idea for scholars and writers to really grab hold of than Lewis's medieval worldview AND how that worldview is manifest in symbols, colors, them ...more
Katherine Reay
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! It's more enjoyable, I suspect, if you've read Lewis's Silent Planet books too -- especially That Hideous Strength. The title doesn't imply that, but it pulls a lot from those books too. If you have both series covered, dive into this. It's remarkable.
Joseph Fountain
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Were The Chronicles of Narnia 'composed in a hasty and slapdash manner' as Lewis’ friend J. R. R. Tolkien stated, or 'products of a mind in psychological shock' as Lewis critic Wilson described?

Or – is there meaning more profound hidden in plain sight?

Why would a childless academic, theologian, poet, and writer suddenly decide to write a children’s story? How could the result, if it be so simple as some decried, stand the test of time and have such widespread appeal?
Wonderful. Inspiring and delectable on several levels.
Anyone interested in CS Lewis and / or in Narnia should explore the wonderful discoveries Michael Ward has made about the ideas permeating the Narnia books. Michael Ward was asked in the course of his research... Well if this is all true... Why didn't Lewis himself produce the evidence.... Or talk about it ? What is forgotten is that following Lewis' untimely death his brother Warnie burnt nearly all his brother's papers, a random bundle being saved from the flames by the unexpected arrival of a ...more
G.M. Burrow
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Reading Michael Ward’s book Planet Narnia is like reading Jim Jordan's Through New Eyes for C. S. Lewis. Ward shows how the planets, which, as conceived by medieval astrology, had for Lewis “a permanent value as spiritual symbols," are a major driving force behind The Chronicles of Narnia. We have the complete set: Jupiter (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Mars (Prince Caspian), the sun (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), the moon (The Silver Chair), Mercury (The Horse and His Boy), Venus (The Magician’s Nephew), Saturn (The Last Battle).

But the symbolism isn’t true for Narnia alone. Ward dem(The(The(The(The(The(Prince(The
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This was a mind-blowing book. Being more of a fiction/poetry girl, it's rare for me to come across a scholarly, non-fiction work that falls into my "can't-put-it-down" category, but this one sure did. I've always loved the Narnia Chronicles, and the Ransom Trilogy, and Till We Have Faces, and Great Divorce, and Screwtape and have read a significant amount of Lewis' nonfiction as well (though not all), multiple times for most of them. So, while not technically a scholar of Lewis, I have steeped m ...more
A stunning achievement of literary criticism! Though much beloved, Lewis' Narnia chronicles have long been criticized (beginning with his friend JRR Tolkien) for inconsistencies in tone and theme, as well as for "mish-mashing" images like earth's Father Christmas randomly showing up in the otherworldly Narnia. The Christian allegory, though obvious, is not actually the bedrock layer of meaning across the series.

Michael Ward convincingly argues for a larger narrative coherence built u
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inklings
This book is exceptional. When I first heard about its premise, I was very skeptical, but after having read it, I found its argument extremely persuasive. In essence, Ward argues that the organizing principle of the Chronicles of Narnia is the influence and notion of the 7 planets of medieval astrology. Ward shows Jack's interest in these planets, both in his academic work and in his other fiction (especially the Space trilogy).

This explains why, for example, in The Lion, the Witch, and the War
Lisa Nicholas
Michael Ward has achieved what many critics have sought to do and failed: he has discovered the hermeneutic key that unlocks a whole level of significance in the seven Narnia novels hitherto undetected by Lewis critics. Ward's is the first theory I've heard that (a) takes seriously into account Lewis's long career as a medievalist, (b) looks at the Narnia stories as an integrated part of L's overall opus (i.e., showed that he did not, by some weird aberration, suddenly turn to writing "children' ...more
Michael Ward signed a copy on September 20, 2013, at Houston Baptist University, where he gave the keynote address for a CCL. I also heard him at Baylor on April 4, 2016.

Eric Metaxas interviews Ward on the book here, and it appears on Plodcast, Episode #5. More information about Lewis's "Planets" poem here.

The Narnia Code is the popular-level version.
Jason Farley
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
C.S. Lewis sure was cool. I hope to pretend to be as cool as all get out some day.
Matthew Hudson
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An astounding book that has managed to deepen my respect and graditude for C. S. Lewis (two things which I thought could go no deeper.)

Quite readable, even when dealing with scholarly subjects, but with enough footnotes and refrences to make this bookworm's heart sing.

Even if you disagree with Ward's conclusion, the book is a wonderful read, and you will gain an education and respect for medieval cosmology in the process. But his case is quite compelling, and I suspect you will find your eyes
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
Many interesting things but I believe that Ward is going little overboard and streching things. Still, I support his research because he is one of few who went into the medieval elements in Chronicles which really needs to be looked into more.
Matt Pitts
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, literary
Stunning and brilliant.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was brilliant
Laurel Hicks
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this book, especially about the space trilogy. There’s a lot of good scholarship here, but I didn’t think it led to Ward’s conclusion that Lewis planned for each of the Narnia books to be ruled by a particular medieval planet. I’ll read it again in a year or so and see if I come nearer to agreeing with the author. It’s well worth reading!
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Stellar! Supernal!
Bradley Dowell
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Genius and provides a 150,000 references to cite if desired!
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