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on December 31, 2014
I love this story of the Last Supper and the hidden message in the painting. In the midst of religious Italy
Leonardo da Vinci is completing his painting on a wall at the Santa Maria Monastery in Milan, so it can't be moved or changed, while the Church is trying to decode his "blasphemous" message, which introduces the spiritual church replacing the
temporal church and all its controls. The interesting history and practices of the Cathars is woven into
the story. Also, after reading this book you will want to have the painting to study. I ordered mine,
a 30x40 of the original painting from Great Big Canvas as a decal, so I could attach it to my wall for the
proper effect, making sure to have the one with the knot on the tablecloth. After reading this story,
and listening to the DVD (my favorite version) you will never look at this painting in the same way.
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on November 21, 2015
A good read, I could hardly put this book down. I want to read more from this author. His theory of Da Vinci's "Last Supper" is most convincing, as is his sympathetic treatment of the Cathars. I highly recommend this book!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 17, 2006
I am a fan of the recent spate of historical mysteries. Put the words Templar or Grail in the title, and I'm going to take a look.

Saying that, I was disappointed in this book.

Brief summary, no spoiler:

This is the story of Agostino Leyre, a Papal Inquisitor who is telling the story of his assignment to investigate Leonardo DaVinci, and his painting of The Last Supper (the Cenacolo).

This was a time of religious intrigue and violence, and anyone who opposed the Catholic Church was deemed a heretic and subject to horrible punishment. In order to express their beliefs, many artists used symbols in their works, both as messages to their followers and future audiences.

This book does a good job of explaining some of the mysteries surrounding the Last Supper. You learn a lot about the Cathars, and about what life was like in the time of DaVinci.

However, perhaps partly because this is a translation, I found this book slow-going. I had to push myself to finish, even though I was curious how Sierra was going to resolve his "puzzle".

I ended up thinking that Sierra gives an interesting and enlightening interpretation of what he believes DaVinci was trying to say in his masterpiece; but the puzzle was very convoluted and there is no way the reader could've figured it out on his own.

Overall, I am glad I read this book. I learned a lot. But I was often bored, and thought the hype surrounding this book didn't serve it well.

Recommended for those who enjoyed the DaVinci Code. This book's denouement is just as clever, if not more so - but the ride getting there isn't nearly as much fun.
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on October 14, 2015
The central idea for the story (we don't need a church to worship God) is not new, and the subplot ( the little contessa being a direct descendant of Mary Magdalene - is not developed, and goes nowhere).The narrative is convoluted, confusing, with characters that showed toward the end, and do not add anything to the development of the story. There is nothing special about the writing technique. It could have been entertaining if the book were 50 pages (OK, 80).
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on December 1, 2006
There is a lot of comparison with the Da Vinci Code but in reality, after reading both books, there is really nothing similar: different times periods, different mentality, different genre, different ideas, etc. This novel is about the artistic interpretations of the Last Supper. It really isn't a thriller but more of an historical murder mystery (like the Name of the Rose, rather than the De Vinci Code). The murder mystery is really a cover for an attempt to explain why Leonardo did this or that to the Last Supper. For example, the knot, or the order and position of the Disciples. It's not really complex since most art history buffs already know how important symbolism was. Or maybe the author suggests that it is not a big deal. It is more about an artist expressing himself against the conventions of the time. So in a sense, Da Vinci was heretical. But then again, so were many of his fellow artists! And scientists like Galileo. Look at what Michangelo did in the Sistine Chapel or Bernini did with his statues that were more about sexual arousal than religion. The explanation of Da Vinci as being "secret" is not much of a thought, but rather obviously plain he was against convention. But to us, it is not as obvious as we are not very conscientious of a time when symbolism meant so much. In the end, it was a fair murder mystery with some interesting historical notes.
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on October 7, 2015
An award winning, hugely popular book in Europe, masterfully translated into English. A really fine take on Da Vinci's last supper, weaving a variety of age-old religious controversies into a fast moving (how can it be fast moving when it is populated by monks, but it is) and cleverly laid out plot.
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on June 16, 2006
... but perhaps an extention of the same line of thinking. This novel is more realistic and probably better grounded than Dan Brown's opus. It takes us through a bit of a thrill ride with murders, suspense and puzzles in a now familiar path.

The first few chapters are not the smoothest stylistically, and I kept wondering what it would been like in the original Spanish, but somewhere around the third chapter, things start to kick in and the plot takes over.

While I always thought that Brown was taking me for a joy-ride, I became convinced that Sierra actually was drawing on some historical foundation for his interpretation of the Last Supper. His depiction of Leonardo was particularly persuasive.

A good summer read.
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on April 10, 2011
Well told back-story about Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Javier Sierra capitalizes on the 20-year restoration of the painting (1976-96) as well as the widely published translations of Leonardo's notebooks. For the first time, we know which disciples are sitting where, and why. How light was used from Right-to-Left, and who served as models. Then, there is the message that Leonardo put into plain view for all to see. Or as Leonardo is attributed as saying, the best way to hide a secret is to put it in plain view. The story moves quickly and engulfs the reader into being on the scene as events unfold.
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on October 25, 2015
It was intriguing and gave a new twist to a visit to one of my favorite Italian cities. It would have been much more engaging if the Nook version could have included more of Leonardo's painting when it was talking about it.
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on March 14, 2016
probably-not of interest - for persons who would not take kindly to [some of] the Universal Christian Religion's history -
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