387 of 445 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Read It, DON'T Base Your Life On It!
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...
Published on October 18, 2003 by Janet
51 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK story, confusing philosophy
(...)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...
Published on July 16, 2005 by Iago the Critic
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387 of 445 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Read It, DON'T Base Your Life On It!,
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.
362 of 420 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVELY!!! No More Read & Internet Search for Pictures,
This review is from: The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition (Hardcover)
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)
315 of 389 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual, Fast, and Fun,
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.
167 of 205 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Stirring Things Up...,
This review is from: The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition (Hardcover)
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.
230 of 285 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybod Relax!,
By A Customer
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.
51 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK story, confusing philosophy,
(...)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.
79 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial Conglomeration of History and Fiction,
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 ;-)
189 of 237 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Serviceable Thriller, Atrocious History,
This is a pretty formulaic page turner, a fun quick read. Written at about the level of the average Nancy Drew mystery, it is best appreciated at that level. As far as the content, there are howlers on virtually every page (starting with the hero who looks like "Harrison Ford in Harris tweed" and is a "Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard" -- good work if you can find it). You have to ignore very pulpy, cheesy writing to enjoy this romantic thriller.
Intended as a book that a dedicated reader could finish in a day, or something you take to the beach and casually finish in a weekend, "The Da Vinci Code" makes for a reasonable airline novel, so much so that it is often a bit clunky in its desire to ensure that no intellectual effort on the reader's part will be required. Here's a recurring example in this novel: a bit of unfamiliar terminology, say "crux gemmata" (jeweled cross) will will be explained on page N, then on page N+1, a character will finger his jeweled cross and explain, "Oh, yes -- this is a crux gemmata." I've read dinner menus that were more demanding on the reader. My wife and I both read about a third of it in a day, sharing the same copy, and that's a full work day plus taking care of kids, bedtime, etc. That's also a kind of virtue, I guess -- it's fast and peppy.
As far as history goes, Dan Brown apparently thinks that "most historians" give credence to the forgeries and frauds promoted in hoary best-sellers like "Holy Blood, Holy Grail." This author gets the best of both worlds: simultaneously claiming that "it's just fiction," while introducing the novel with claims that the historical record contained within is "fact." That claim is ridiculous. To pluck a random example, he spends some time talking about the Council of Nicaea, and incorrectly summarizes it as the origin of the doctrine of Christ's divinity by Constantine. He ignores the Arian controversy out of which it arose, which is like trying to explain the Treaty of Versailles without mentioning World War I. He ignores the documented fact, agreed upon even by the cheerleaders of the gnostics that he is sympathetic to, that the earliest gnostic doctrines held that Christ was *purely* God, and not really man -- the very reverse of the doctrine that serves as the lynchpin of his novel's intellectual base (such as it is). This is a bad novel for weak or misinformed Christians, but anyone familiar with history should spot the train wreck of Brown's ideas a mile off.
Oh yes, and in Brown's world, Opus Dei has shadowy assassin "monks" (in real life, Opus Dei is not a monastic order -- there are no Opus Dei monks, let alone trained assassins), and the Catholic Church has been promulgating known lies as its central dogmas, promotes violence throughout the world, and has been retarding the progress of science and knowledge for 2 millennia. Brown leaves the reader with the impression that this, too, is a matter of settled historical record. Oh, but then again, it's just fiction. Except when it's not.
In general, if you're looking for a heady thriller wrapped around Christian arcana, I'd recommend Umberto Eco's excellent "Name of the Rose," not this dumbed down, by-the-numbers novel.
82 of 101 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, decent plot, abysmal writing!,
Before you part with any cold hard cash, think back to your first creative writing class... now, remember the clunky prose and paper-thin characterizations of the least talented class members. This will give you an idea of how The DaVinci Code reads.
Don't get me wrong: I'm no literary snob, and I love a good Michael Crichton or Stephen King as much as the next person, but The DaVinci Code was no Firestarter. Many of the theories it hints at are never developed; the editor (if there was one) was clearly asleep at the wheel; and the characters themselves are so clichéd and unbelievable that you will soon find you are only reading to find out how it all ends. In short, Dan Brown makes John Grisham look like Shakespeare.
However, despite its flaws, this novel is not without merit:
BONUS #1: Dialogue so stilted you will laugh out loud.
BONUS #2: Possibly the lamest, least imaginative, most one-dimensional rendering ever of an uptight Brit by an American author... found myself wondering less where the holy grail was and more why on earth Brown chose to revive such a dull, DOA stereotype for one of his main characters.
BONUS #3: You DO have a chance in hell of getting published after all!
For a somewhat better read on the same subject, I recommend The Prophetess by Barbara Wood.
For author Dan Brown, I recommend Creative Writing 101 and a seasoned editor!
1,116 of 1,419 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The post-literate novel,
Seventy pages into Dan Brown's surprisingly putdownable potboiler, the inevitably green-eyed, French-accented code cracker Sophie Neveu sighs, "This is not American television, Mr Langdon." Oh, Sophie, if only that were true. You know a book owes too much to the screen when an albino assassin appears on the very first page, and rather than taking the time to construct an original variant on the intelligent-action-man hero you're simply instructed to think of Harrison Ford - in tweed. This is a movie, pure and simple: a thinly plotted, strongly visual, mildly entertaining Hollywood chase movie about cardboard characters (replete with sappy childhood flashbacks) and with enough Opus Dei-bashing to make it a fast-acting antidote to "The Passion of the Christ." Crammed full of supposedly arcane revelations about mathematics, religion, symbolism and art - most of which read like verbatim downloads from Google - the "intellectual" content won't be dazzling or new (forget accurate) to anyone even slightly inquisitive about these topics. Worse, it's presented with a juvenile fascination for "connections" that would embarrass the most seasoned New Age charlatan. It all moves at a cracking pace, of course, and has enough scope and colour to hold your rapt attention for a few winter nights, and enough Catholic conspiracy theory to warm the heart of an atheist. But it's so devoid of literary merit, so apparently committed to the squandering of every opportunity to do anything interesting with the material - rather than just ape the narrative grammar of cinema - that it truly beggars belief. The characters are just names on the page, huge swathes of deadpan "I'm glad you asked"-style exposition pad out the clunky plot shifts, and because it's all so closely modeled on the rhythms of Hollywood nothing ever comes as a surprise - not a word, not an image, not a moment. This is post-literate prose at its direst, plugging directly into pre-fabricated scenarios, characters and images, absolving the reader of the need to imagine anything - which is why it's such a famously easy read. This is reality as a simulacrum of television, a copy of a copy, and about as convincing. It's an odd stylistic choice in a novel which takes as its theme the notion that great art depicts truths which evil empires would suppress. My advice? Save your time, and wait for the movie, i.e. wait until this story is presented in its natural form. I'm actually really looking forward to it. Seriously. I quite like the story, I just dislike the way it's presented here. It's fundamentally a puerile novel, but as a Hollywood movie I'm sure I'll be tickled by it. In the mean time, if you want to read the kind of novel this purports to be, get yourself a copy of Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose" or, better yet, "Foucault's Pendulum". If those don't grab you, at the very least try Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" - nothing to do with the Grail, but it's certainly more deserving of the "intelligent thriller" label than this. Is there really nothing better to be said for "The Da Vinci Code", as novel? Sadly, I'm with Harrison - I mean Robert: "Langdon considered it a moment, then groaned." (p.93)
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The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Mass Market Paperback - March 31, 2009)