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The Rule of Four Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (September 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743540298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743540292
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 5.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,192,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Caldwell and Thomason's intriguing intellectual suspense novel stars four brainy roommates at Princeton, two of whom have links to a mysterious 15th-century manuscript, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. This rare text (a real book) contains embedded codes revealing the location of a buried Roman treasure. Comparisons to The Da Vinci Code are inevitable, but Caldwell and Thomason's book is the more cerebral-and better written-of the two: think Dan Brown by way of Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco. The four seniors are Tom Sullivan, Paul Harris, Charlie Freeman and Gil Rankin. Tom, the narrator, is the son of a Renaissance scholar who spent his life studying the ancient book, "an encyclopedia masquerading as a novel, a dissertation on everything from architecture to zoology." The manuscript is also an endless source of fascination for Paul, who sees it as "a siren, a fetching song on a distant shore, all claws and clutches in person. You court her at your risk." This debut novel's range of topics almost rivals the Hypnerotomachia's itself, including etymology, Renaissance art and architecture, Princeton eating clubs, friendship, steganography (riddles) and self-interpreting manuscripts. It's a complicated, intricate and sometimes difficult read, but that's the point and the pleasure. There are murders, romances, dangers and detection, and by the end the heroes are in a race not only to solve the puzzle, but also to stay alive. Readers might be tempted to buy their own copy of the Hypnerotomachia and have a go at the puzzle. After all, Caldwell and Thomason have done most of the heavy deciphering-all that's left is to solve the final riddle, head for Rome and start digging.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–A compelling modern thriller that cleverly combines history and mystery. When four Princeton seniors begin the Easter weekend, they are more concerned with their plans for the next year and an upcoming dance than with a 500-year-old literary mystery. But by the end of the holiday, two people are dead, two of the students are injured, and one has disappeared. These events, blended with Renaissance history, code breaking, acrostics, sleuthing, and personal discovery, move the story along at a rapid pace. Tom Sullivan, the narrator, tells of his late father's and then a roommate's obsession with the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a 15th-century "novel" that has long puzzled scholars. Paul has built his senior thesis on an unpopular theory posited by Tom's father–that the author was an upper-class Roman rather than a monk–and has come close to proving it. While much of the material on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is arcane and specialized, it is clearly explained and its puzzles are truly puzzling, while the present-day action is compelling enough to keep teens reading. There is a love interest for Tom and a lively portrayal of Princeton life. This novel will appeal to readers of Dan Brown's TheDa Vinci Code (Doubleday, 2003) but it supplies a lot more food for thought, even including some salacious woodcuts from the original book as well as coded excerpts and their solutions.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

It is no Da Vinci Code.
"mysterymum"
There were WAY too many flashbacks developing the main character that seemed very unecessary to the plot.
Julie A. Kramer
You just want the book to end.
Barbara Lee Ridgway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Minna Minocha on February 22, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Compared to other academic thrillers like Rabid: A Novel, The Dante Club: A Novel, or Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Rule of Four doesn't measure up.

The Rule of Four is set at Princeton, very obviously at Princeton, at look-at-me-I'm-a-Princetonian Princeton. There's a part in this book where the authors (and the characters are obviously the authors,) sneer at someone who is too obsequious, too flashy, not Ivy League subtle enough, and yet that's exactly what they're doing throughout this whole book.

Plotwise, the major turning points were oddly pulled out from under the major characters, much like a duel that happens off-stage and then someone staggers onto stage and tells you about it, and in a boring manner.

It's a first novel, and these two writers are very young. Some of the passages have merit. It will be interesting to watch them mature as writers.

Minna
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76 of 89 people found the following review helpful By M. Detlefsen on April 20, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The premise was interesting, but the characters were lifeless for me. I didn't care about any of them. There was way too much about college life and not enough about the so-called mystery, although if they had stuck to the mystery the book would have been a fraction of the length. If the mystery/suspense aspect hadn't been hyped so much, I wouldn't have bought this in the first place. I have many books that I read and re-read mainly because I enjoy the quality of writing and the characterizations, but this certainly isn't one of them.

The choice of writing in the first person present tense was curious. This works for short stories, but I think this book shows why it doesn't work for novels, at least for me. It made it very difficult to get past the reading process and into the story. I can generally get lost in a story and forget I'm reading, but not with this one.

I rarely get rid of books (I have 3700+ around the house), but this one is headed for Goodwill or Half Price.
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58 of 67 people found the following review helpful By K. Olson on September 9, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is possible the worst written book I have every read. I am not even sure why I read the whole book. Its kind of like a train wreck, you just can't look away. Do yourself a favor and save your time and money. If you do own a copy send it back to the publisher.
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89 of 105 people found the following review helpful By D. Meyers on March 16, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to admit - after two thirds of the book, I could go no further. I put it aside never to return. The plot was a little cliche, riding the tails of other books about mysterious discoveries that shed truth on cultural history. That would be OK. The plot, however, got lost in the personal and sophmoric antics of college students that were frankly uninspiring. However, if all the padding about Princeton were taken out, there would be little left. The pace was too sloooow and the writing not tight enough to make it interesting. The discoveries of protagonist were too infrequent and the impact was lost. I also heard some of this book on tape. The reader was excellent, but it was clear that he was even straining to generate some interest in the listener.
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71 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Smarm E. Caterpillar on November 15, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book started out with promise, but quickly begand a spiraling descent into a mish mash of history lessons, bad writing, perspective on life, and cardboard cutout characters.

The insight into Princeton, academia, and the Renaissance was interesting...but thats about it. The story was too involved, the 'quest' for knowledge not intriguing enough, and at the end it devolved into a shadow of a man, the main character, pontificating over his life, which meant absolutely nothing to me.

Beyond a few history lessons, this book doesn't have much to offer. The Da Vinci Code at least swept you along in a fast pace of mystry and puzzles, but this one was more like slogging through an end of the year term paper. As opposed to hard to put down, it was hard to pick up.

I'd recommend this one to readers who aren't too selective and who just need a book to kill time...if there's nothing else at the bookstore.
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84 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Alex B Keaton on January 25, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was painful to read.
Pompus and pitiful.
I would not recommend this book to anyone; not even my enemies because that would be too cruel to make them suffer through this terrible book.
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97 of 115 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Weyts on February 24, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition
I love books.
Many different kinds of books.
I have over 600 of them & they are all my friends that I sometimes revisit when the mood strikes me.
Some I was not thrilled with, but I could at least see what the author was going for.
For me to give away a book is unheard of.
I gave away "The Rule Of Four" as soon as I finished reading it, which took me longer than usual because it was so BORING & INANE!

My mother has a great word to describe this book: "Discombobulated"!
The premise of the book sounds intriguing, but the delivery is choppy,
sophmoric, & greatly lacking!
Just when I thought it was heating up, it went off in a completely different direction, bringing any hope of excitement or consistency to a grinding halt!
Example: One of their friends takes a swan dive from a building-Was he pushed or did he kill himself?--
"My God! He's DEAD!"
Takes a breath..."So....What are YOU wearing to the party?"
(Well, maybe not EXACTLY like that but very close!)
Reading this book gave me that feeling you get when you have to sneeze but CAN'T!

If they wanted to write a book about life at Princeton & their socialistic "eating clubs" they should have just gone ahead & written it!
Then maybe all these peeps who say that they recalled fond memories of their own college years would have been happy. The End. Bye-Bye, now.
Instead, they attempted to promote it as a thriller (THEIR word, not MINE!)& threw in a murder or 2 in order to lure many of us into buying it!

I greatly disagree with those that call it "intellectual", "cerebral", "thrilling"...It is NONE of these!
It is pompous, self-serving, & boring!
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