Review: ‘The Celestine Prophecy’, by James Redfield

Cover of 'The Celestine Prophecy'The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield
published 1997 by Warner Books, Inc.
IBSN 9780446671002
246 pages
Author information here
Buy at Amazon
Copy is borrowed
Rating: 1 out of 5
________________________________________________________ About the Book: (from Amazon) In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are 9 key insights into life itself — insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with a new energy and optimism as you head into tomorrow.

My Thoughts: While I found some parts of the book interesting, and some kernels of truth in its pages, I can’t say I would recommend this as a book for spiritual learning or as a book with great literary merit.  The plot is contrived at times, and while I have no trouble believing that the Church would go to extremes to protect its power (hello, look at history), or that a government would attempt to suppress empowering knowledge, I still find it hard to believe that a manuscript with spiritual wisdom could be so threatening to both.  Perhaps that is my own naivete, but I struggled with the premise that the Peruvian government would really care all that much about a manuscript.  The Church, I could believe would be that threatened.

Much of the plot is based on coincidence–which, as many authors knows, is a very wrong move when structuring a story.  Even though Redfield sets it up at the very beginning that coincidences are significant moments (this isn’t a spoiler or anything, I promise, it comes up very early on) meant to guide a person on their path and present opportunities; these coincidences are also the result, in part, of getting what you’ve asked for.  Redfield uses this premise to move the story along throughout the book.

I understand that the plot isn’t necessarily the main point of the novel, but you also can’t get away from the fact that it is a novel.  It’s a work of fiction interlaced with spiritual ideas.  It’s compelling because it presents compelling ideas, not because its plot or its characters are unusual or different or intriguing.

The main character (I don’t think he’s ever named) proceeds to learn about and unearth nine insights via various people, including scientists, priests/monks, beautiful women, and explorers.  All of this builds up to a stunning ninth insight that is so revolutionary it scared the church and the government into action.

I don’t want to tell you what the insights are–if you decide to read it, then telling that much would basically give you the entire book.  If you’re interested in finding out, there are other reviews that detail the entire book.  All I’ll say about the insights and the ninth insight is that while I do find some of these insights applicable and even sensible or wise, I very much doubt the ninth insight Redfield reports.  It describes the next stage of human evolution, but in such a way that I am highly skeptical and, frankly, it was something of a let-down.

The book depends on the reader buying into the insights and the adventure to find them all.  Aside from one or two kernels of truth and actual insight, such as being aware of one’s own actions and realizing we are all connected, the book has no literary value.  It is entertaining, but beyond that, I don’t find much value in it.  The insights presented are the kind of insights we would all be aware of if we stopped to actually think rather than just exist–the insights aren’t really revolutionary insights at all.

Overall, I give it a rating of 2 stars out of 5–it was entertaining, after all.


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