411 of 477 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2003
An excellent read, but it's truly SAD to think that some readers assume that Dan Brown's contrived history is factual and would even base their spiritual beliefs on a book of fiction. Just read some of the other reviews to see what I'm talking about. It reminds of the guy who watched too many episodes of Highlander and decided he was an immortal! (I'm not making this up.)
One reader compared Da Vinci Code to James BeauSeigneur's Christ Clone Trilogy and suggested that like BeauSeigneur, Brown should footnote all the factual material. While BeauSeigneur and Brown have a similar style and both deal with controversial religious topics, BeauSeigneur can footnote the facts in his fiction BECAUSE THEY ARE FACTS. Brown's "facts" cannot be footnoted because they are a fictitious as the rest of the book.
371 of 436 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2004
I've never been in Paris. I wasn't a DaVinci's fan and didn't know much about his works & paintings except Mona Lisa. When I picked up Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code to read, I did have a hard time to follow the Da Vinci's works and some sightseeings in Paris described in the book. Thus, I had my computer connected to Internet besides me to dig out different paintings and photos of what the book mentioned like Louvre, Pentacle, The Last Supper, Opus Dei Headquarters, etc. Luckily, The Da Vinci Code Special Illustrated Edition is just out.
I couldn't wait and purchased immediately regardless I have the regular hardcover edition of Da Vinci Code, which I plan to give it to one of my friends. This Special Illustrated Edition is not a cartoon or comic edition of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, nor it is an abridged version. It's a full original version embedded with over 126 colorful pictures & photos besides the text. It saves you lots of time & effort to search from Internet if you don't know how Château de Villette looks like, the overview map of the Louvre, and many other scenes, buildings, paintings mentioned in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. Overall, it's LOVELY!
Undoubtfully Dan Brown has done amazing jobs to his book "The Da Vinci Code". The story is powerful and magnificent. Mixing with a lot of traceable truth and facts, he made his novel sound extremely convincing and inevitably deluded you from what's real and what's fictional. However, please don't take it too serious, it's just a novel, not a research paper trying to make a breakthrough statement. Overall, the book has quite a lot of twists shocking you. Even the ending has double meanings. Make sure you read the Epilogue chapter, or you won't know where the Holy Grail rests that Dan Brown suggested as the poem below:
"The Holy Grail 'neath ancient Roslin waits.
The blade and chalice guarding o'er Her gates.
Adorned in masters' loving art, She lies.
She rests at last beneath the starry skies."
For people who love deciphering codes, Dan Brown wisely placed some codings on the regular hardcover edition's paper cover. If you pay attention you may find some bold fonts seemed appearing randomly. Link them up and you should see a hint to read.
(Reviewed by Otto Yuen, 21-Nov-2004)
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2003
After giving in to the hype and reading this book, I frankly don't understand what all the fuss was about. The allegations about the Catholic Church aren't shocking to anyone who's read _Holy Blood, Holy Grail_, or the better follow-up _The Woman with the Alabaster Jar_; what *is* shocking is that Brown presents this interesting if flawed speculative history as if it were verified fact. There's enough actual evidence of the Church's ugly political machinations and lethal intolerance and misogyny to power any number of thrillers without having to resort to invention, but I digress. Brown seeds the story with just enough facts that the half-truths, misleading statements, and pure fictions go down in the same gulp, and while that's certainly no crime -- this is a suspense novel, after all -- he then tries to endow it all with the odor of historical sanctity, but there's another aroma overpowering.
As for the story itself... eh. It clipped along at a decent pace, but again, knowing the conspiracy theory in advance rendered the plot utterly predictable. Then there's Brown's gifts as a prose stylist, which are, to be charitable, crushingly mediocre. But by far the most irritating aspect of the book, for me, was Brown's treatment of Sophie. After a promising entrance (springing Langdon from a trap in the Louvre), she becomes no more than a listening post and token love interest. The scenes where she sits around, silent, while a bunch of *men* lecture her about The Suppression of the Divine Feminine were unintentionally hilarious. In fact, were there any other women in this novel? Liberate the Mother, indeed.
242 of 301 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2003
I have read most of the reviews on this book, and I am glad I did so AFTER reading the book myself. I found this book EXTREMELY interesting and entertaining. It is fun to read a book that gets the ole juices flowing in the brain again. Like other reviews have said, I found myself putting down the book and running to the computer constantly to do research. It made me WANT to learn more about art, Christianity, history, etc. So what if a few of the facts are not 100% correct? I looked up on the computer what was important to me, and am enjoying all the new information and theories. It will be a fun topic of discussion and debate with my friends who are Christians, Buddists, Athiests, Agnostic, etc.
It is a novel, not a faith deciding textbook. If you don't agree with facts, go look it up yourself and find what YOU think is true! If that bothers you, then go read in the non-fiction department.
Don't get me wrong, I am a Christain, and am very comfortable in my faith. I think reading The Bible cover to cover can be more disturbing! Talk about contradictions...To all the people who gave it a one star vote, thanks for your reading suggestions of "The Purpose-Driven Life","Gospel", etc. I look forward to reading those too. An open mind is a happy mind.
81 of 99 people found the following review helpful
Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is one of those books that come along every once in a while and cause such a flap that even people like myself who wouldn't normally be interested in a book of its genre feel compelled to read it, if for no other reason than to hold an opinion on this cultural phenomenon. The story concerns a frantic race over the course of several days by one American symbologist, Robert Langdon, and a French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, to unravel the motives behind the bizarre murder of the curator of the Louvre museum, a M. Jacques Saurniere, whose body has been found in a most unusual condition accompanied by a mysterious inscription. There is essentially no character development. Our detectives are drawn only superficially. Perhaps that's common in modern mystery novels. I wouldn't know. But "The Da Vinci Code" isn't a mystery in the conventional sense. It is more akin to a treasure hunt or jigsaw puzzle. The reader knows the identity of the murderer immediately. The mystery is the meaning of the encoded message found near the victim's body. "The Da Vinci Code" is a fast-paced, edge of your seat, quest to comprehend the seemingly interminable layers of a complex cipher.
The meaning of the cipher is where the author Dan Brown treads on very controversial ground. "The Da Vinci Code" owes its intrigue to a provocative combination of religious history and pure fabrication. You may recognize the book's allusions to Gnostic Christian theology and the machinations of the nascent 4th century Roman Catholic Church as being largely accurate. But you may wonder how much of the further politico-religious mythology that our cipher reveals was simply concocted by the author. Dan Brown didn't make any of it up. But some others before him did. Yes, Gnosticism certainly views Mary Magdalene and the quality of Christ's divinity differently than Pauline Christianity. But all of the stuff about goddess worship and the French Merovignian dynasty being descended from Christ is a 20th century concoction. The Priory of Sion, which the author claims is and was a real organization, has actually been a lot of different organizations that have existed over the course of the past millennium. Its 20th century incarnations have no connection to the Medieval Catholic Order of Sion, which was absorbed by the Jesuit order in the 17th century, or to any other organizations that may have used these names in the interim timeframe. "The Priory Documents", a product of the modern Priory of Sion, are the source for the mythology presented in "The Da Vinci Code". And they are universally considered to be a hoax of entirely modern origins.
"The Da Vinci Code" is often accused of being anti-Catholic. It asserts that the Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicea, which was convened to establish Roman Catholic orthodoxy in 325 AD, picked and chose from among contemporary Christian theology those texts which served its own interests. No kidding. No history book on the subject says differently, so I'm not sure why the outcry. Perhaps it is the book's portrayal of the modern Catholic Church that has angered people. Truthfully, "The Da Vinci Code" is not so much critical of the Church as it is critical of fanaticism, both Catholic and anti-Catholic. The author is claiming that religious fanaticism, such as that espoused by Opus Dei, makes people susceptible to manipulation by those with unscrupulous agendas.
I have to give Dan Brown credit for being able to create the constant sense of forward motion that makes "The Da Vinci Code" a real page-turner. On the other hand, there is very little actual mystery or story in the book, even less character development, and thoroughly mundane dialogue. The characters, like everything else, exist to showcase the bizarre and controversial conglomeration of fact and fiction that have made this novel a bestseller. I have to admire a book that gets people to read other books, though. It has inspired me to learn more about the life, times and work of Leonardo Da Vinci. Maybe it will move other readers to investigate the reality of Opus Dei, the Order of Sion, the Knights Templar, Gnosticism, the origins of modern Christianity, and what little is known of alternative early Christian theologies. I hope so. "The Da Vinci Code"'s strengths are its edge-of-your-seat pace and its references, in amongst the fiction, to some history of modern thought that readers might not have considered before. The author gets points for writing a book that introduces the reader to a world of subjects that encourage further reading. On the other hand, he loses points for using the "Priory documents" as source material, since they are widely considered to be fraudulent. Dan Brown isn't claiming that they are authentic; his characters are. But perpetuating a hoax isn't a good idea in my view. I give the novel 3 1/2 stars, bumped up to 4 to accommodate Amazon's ratings system because if you don't read it, you'll be culturally illiterate for a year ;-)
169 of 210 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2004
Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is an interesting book for a number of reasons. It is entertaining yet essentially light reading. It is also filled with tantalizing bits of information about the history of Christianity and a miriad of other related topics including paganism, Gnosticism, The Knights Templar, art history, and the Holy Grail.
The most fascinating aspect of this novel is the overwhelming public interest and controversy surrounding many of the assertions Brown makes in this book. It may be safe to assume that most people have little or no previous exposure to these topics and it certainly has generated extreme controversy in Christian circles. There are no less than 20 books in print that attempt to support or refute the information found in "The Da Vinci Code". I have never seen such polarization over a work of fiction before. That said, this illustrated edition is just the kind of thing to not only make the reading experience more enjoyable and interesting, but to continue to stir things up by providing visual references for the works of art, architecture, and religious symbology discussed in the text. Here it is pretty hard to dispute some of the things Brown talks about when it is staring at you in living color. This would seem to give the book's many detractors more work to do also.
"The Da Vinci Code" is not great literature by any means, but it is entertaining nonetheless. I would recommend it especially for the simple fact that it presents ideas that make people think. This was obviously not the original intent of this work of fiction, but has turned out to be one of its strongest selling points.
42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2004
Da Vinci Code proves to be a great story, cleverly written and quite a yarn. The Special Illustrated edition really advanced the story since the book shows prints of many of the arts, photos of buildings and European locations as mentioned in the story. It really does helped to have the print of the Last Supper in front of you as the mystery unfold in the book. For many of us who never been Europe, such illustrations proves to be very helpful and I was more then happy to pay a little more if that enchane the story further.
But after reading the book, I can understand why some of the people wrote negative reviews and picked at it. The main theme of the story would offend many who take their Christian faith very strongly and don't tolerate much lee way on the subject. Just look at that Martin Scorsese's film on Christ as a prime example of why this book got slam-dunked by many reviewers! If you are such a person who is dogmatic regarding your Christian faith, it may be that this book may not find your favor regardless of its fictional nature.
The book combined elements of history, art and religion into the story. Some of the information are true, some are not and others stretch the fabic of truth and fiction for story's sakes. But the combination of all of the above is the primary reason why this book proves to be so entertaining, that the reader cannot tell fact from fiction, generating interest, debates and research among the readers.
This book is a definite page-turner. Like it or not, you would feel compelled to read on, perhaps in pleasure, perhaps in anger but it will keep most readers glue to the end. While no great literature as some reviewers would write, its still a great story.
57 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2005
(...)I know many are offended by the knocks against Christianity, but I don't know if anyone's pointed out that the book is asking us to believe contradictory things. Maybe there was a Goddess religion that Judeo-Christianity forcibly stamped out, maybe Mary Magdalene married Jesus and bore his child, and maybe their descendants today are protected by a secret organization that could destroy the Church by revealing the truth. But how could these all be true at the same time? If Jesus was just an ordinary mortal, then there's nothing special either about his "bloodline" or about a woman whose fame comes from her association with him. So why would a pro-Goddess group venerate Mary Magdalene any more than of any other first-century woman? And if Mary M's relationship to Jesus is part of this group's proof that Christianity is false, how will revealing that Christianity is false increase people's reverence for Mary M? She'd go down with the ship, wouldn't she? This secret "Priory of Sion" has had 2,000 years to think about it, has been led by some of history's greatest minds, and they haven't figured this out?
Also, how is the Priory's picture of Jesus an improvement over the one that the traditional Church has allegedly foisted on us? Which is more inspiring -- the humble preacher who cared for the poor, said "the last shall be first" and promised the meek they'd inherit the earth, or someone whose "royal blood" helped carry forward an ancient dynasty? How is Jesus the Aristocrat better than Jesus the Peasant? If the Priory goes up against the Church on that one, the Church is going to win easily. For all its faults, organized Christianity did help spread the idea that a person's value has nothing to with the family, class, nation or race he or she was born into. Do the protagonists of this novel support an effort to undo that, to go back to the age of royalty? If they don't, the book fails to make that clear.
There are other problems too -- like the notion that a serious scholar would embrace historical-critical analysis of the canonical gospels (the effort to find the legends and theological purposes behind them), then turn around and uncritically accept the non-canonical and Gnostic writings as if they were reports of historical fact. Or that he believes that the Dead Sea Scrolls discuss Jesus, which they don't. Sloppiness like this affects the story insofar as it makes our professor/hero look like an idiot, which is plainly not the author's intention. Still, despite its weaknesses and in view of the generally low standards for thrillers, I give the book three stars because it does at least play with ideas to some degree, and because the last 50 pages turned out to be better than I'd expected.
317 of 398 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2003
I was introduced to the books of author Dan Brown only three weeks ago, but have quickly absorbed all four of his published works. It is easy to see why some are comparing the work of Dan Brown and James BeauSeigneur (THE CHRIST CLONE TRILOGY). Both Brown and BeauSeigneur deal masterfully with the more mysterious features of religion, politics, and science. Both bring to light amazing bits of information, which they weave into the intricate patterns of their stories. Both are highly imaginative and write with a ring of authenticity that makes for a compelling read. While Brown compresses labyrinthine plots into brief time periods to provide page-turning suspense, BeauSeigneur trilogy is of epic proportion, covering several decades. While Brown applies the mysteries of history to the drama of "today," BeauSeigneur uses both history and prophecy (from perhaps a dozen major world religions) to transport the reader from the world of today, to the very dawning of a new age in a story reminiscent of the scope of Asimov's classic, FOUNDATION.
One other difference is that BeauSeigneur has taken the novel (pun intended and forgiveness is asked) approach of including footnotes in his books of fiction. By doing so, he all but eliminates the necessity of suspending disbelief. Few authors employ such strong factual grounding as to make footnotes useful, but I believe Brown's work (and his readers) would benefit from BeauSeigneur's innovation.
42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2004
Suspiciously so in fact. That this book is *still* on the top of the heap after this long speaks of a publishing industry that preplans its successes as well as American literary culture. As an earlier reviewer stated, it's a shame they decided to make this book a "bestseller."
I found The Da Vinci Code's so called plot boring, the "astounding" revelations preposterous, and the writing amaturish. Mr. Brown presents a veritable smorgasbord of conspiracies and labors mightily to connect them all together. What results though is a mishmash of convolutions with which Sherlock Holmes would have a problem.
As far as his awesome research, I knew we were in trouble when he mentioned the "ancient" religion of Wicca. Had Mr. Brown troubled to ask, any follower of Wicca could have told him that it was pretty much invented in 1950 by Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders. That hardly makes it ancient.
I read this (from the library, thankfully) based on the tantalizing synopsis. I'm just glad I didn't waste money on it.