Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis
by Michael Ward
(Oxford University Press, 2008, 384 pages)
This book is a landmark in Lewis scholarship. Ward argues that the symbolism and imagery of the seven planets of medieval cosmology provide the key to discerning the themes, characters, and atmospheres of the seven volumes of the Chronicles of Narnia. He makes the case that Lewis kept this key to the series a secret. Lewis was a scholar of medieval and renaissance literature as well as an author of children’s books, and the diverse canon of his work forms a unified whole. His scholarly thoroughness and accuracy permeated his fiction, and his creative imagination characterized his scholarship. Ward’s ambitious claim is carefully (and to my mind effectively) supported. It draws out the literary and theological subtlety, creativity, and consistency of a series that has been accused by some of being a hodgepodge and carelessly written. Any fan of this popular series will benefit from following Ward’s argument and learning from his vast knowledge of every aspect of Lewis’ life and writings.