The Rule of Four: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Discs have some wear but guaranteed to play perfectly or your money back. Average handling wear. Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Good readable copy. Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Rule of Four Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

See all 42 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
Audio CD, Audiobook, Unabridged
$7.59 $1.96

Constant Fear
Constant Fear
Constant Fear "firmly places [author] Palmer alongside the likes of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner." — The Providence Journal

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (September 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743540298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743540292
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By maemurphy on September 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Comparisons between this book and The DaVinci Code were as inevitable as they were unfair. It's *not* another DaVinci Code. It's not a fast-paced thriller or mystery. While ancient secrets, old paintings, and mysterious codes drive TDC they are simply plot devices in The Rule of Four.

This is a classic coming-of-age tale. Perhaps it would be more fair to compare it to A Separate Peace. It is far more cerebral than TDC or any of Dan Brown's work. It contains more emotion in one chapter than in all of the Dan Brown mysteries put together.

I loved this book. Parts of it are absolutely brilliant. But to appreciate that, you must read this book for what it is. I'm certain that calling it the next DaVinci Code has helped sales. I'm equally certain it hasn't helped readers to appreciate this novel and has probably left many of them confused and disappointed.

Don't read it because someone said it's the next flash-in-the-pan mystery, the next big thing.

Read it for it's exploration of human relationships, the complexity and changes of growing up, the difficulties of integrating our pasts with our futures.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
89 of 102 people found the following review helpful By C. Bell on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I went to Princeton, and the only aspects of this book that I found worthwhile were its oft-evocative descriptions of my alma mater. (Though, for the record, I'd like to state that it's not very accurate in its depiction of the undergraduate experience.) I can't imagine what anyone without fond memories of the university would see in this poorly-written and poorly-plotted novel.

My main complaint, I think, is with the self-consciousness and artificiality of the prose. The book reads as if its authors are trying to show off their creativity and intellectual prowess. Unfortunately, the resulting text contains awkwardly-structured sentences and laughable similes (a book "spread open on the floor with its spine broken, like a butterfly somebody stepped on"; "a good graduate program can smell indecision like a dog can smell fear"). The writing is such that you can't get lost in the story, for you always feel the authors' presence.

It doesn't help that the characters are flat and not even remotely believable, and that it is utterly lacking in suspense--odd, that, in a novel billed as a thriller. Both problems are largely a result of the structure of the book, which relies on frequent flashbacks to develop the psychology of the characters and explain the strangely powerful hold a Renaissance-era manuscript, the Hypnerotomachia, has over them. The technique of revealing details about the personalities of characters through flashbacks can be a very useful one, but here it falls flat, simply because nothing important is ever revealed.

Still, I might have forgiven _The Rule of Four_'s vapid prose, poor pacing, and undeveloped characters if there had been a compelling case made for the seemingly-supernatural significance of the Hypnerotomachia. Alas, nothing ever comes of it. It isn't often that I regret having read a book, but this one really was a waste of time.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
89 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Cat_herder 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.
6 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
97 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Christine K. Potter on February 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
According to the press reviews, this looked like my kind of book: a scholarly, erudite, well-written thriller. At the moment, I'm trying desperately to make it to page 150, constantly irritated by inconsistencies and downright idiocies. Here are a few examples.
1. The opening scenes take place during an April snowfall. While this is not improbable, it's described as the first snowfall of the year. Give me a break, no snow in New Jersey during January, February, or March?
2. Arcangelo Corelli is referred to as "a slightly obscure Italian composer". As a musician, I found this a strange statement coming from the mouth of a character supposedly named after Corelli, who is not obscure in the least.
3. Another character is portrayed simultaneously as suffering from a heart murmur and as being an athlete and football player. Not impossible, but a potential contradiction which demands some explanation, such as "Despite his heart condition . . . "
4. In one of the events taking place in the 15th century, an "illiterate pickpocket" is hired to break into a residence and copy some documents. How someone illiterate could copy anything written is beyond belief.
And these are just a few. Even without such inanities, the book is poorly written. It sounds just like what it is, the product of a couple of pretentious Ivy League undergrads. What I don't get is the enthusiastic reception it got from the critics. Did they actually read this nonsense?
7 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?