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The Da Vinci Code Paperback – March 31, 2009
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"Read the book and be enlightened."
—The Washington Post Book World
“A pulse-quickening, brain-teasing adventure.”
“Thriller writing doesn't get any better than this.”
—The Denver Post
—The New York Times
About the Author
Dan Brown is the bestselling author of Digital Fortress, Angels & Demons, and Deception Point. He lives in New England.
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The plot can be summed up quickly. Robert Langdon, a Harvard Professor of Religious Symbology, is summoned from his Paris hotel room to the Louvre, where curator Jacques Sauniere has been strangely murdered. Sauniere left behind cryptic clues as to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail, long protected by a secret brotherhood called the Priory Of Sion. Its up to Langdon, accused of the murder, and Agent Sophie Neveu from the French police cryptology division to unravel the secrets of Sauniere's code before the Opus Dei religious sect steals the secret of the Grail; and they will stop at nothing.
Though I found it easy to guess who The Teacher was, and found the ending to be almost an apology, the story was fast paced and entertaining in a vanilla sort of way. What made this book rise from three to four stars was the beauty of the Illustrated Edition.
The Illustrated Edition is packed with full color photos of items mentioned in the book, such as a 'cilice belt' and the nautilus of a shell, but also the pieces of art mentioned and photos of places such as the Louvre, Westminster Abbey, and the many cathedrals mentioned. I believe I would have been lost at times without the visual references, or spending a lot of time googling images. The Illustrated Edition made the story faster, more colorful, and easier to read.
The book is very beautiful. You get the feeling you are holding an art book and reading a fantastical history, but must remind yourself this is simply a work of fiction no matter how many references were used. Fiction twists fact even while it exposes it. Overall, I would say this is a good story made much better by spending a few extra dollars for the Illustrated Edition. Enjoy!
And what of Brown's claim to historical accuracy? That is, after all, what the fuss is about. So he takes a theory about Jesus' alleged bloodline from a long discredited book (Holy Blood, Holy Grail) whose major evidence rested on the fake documents whose "discoverer" admitted the hoax ages ago and he combines that with Gnostic texts (that do not even state what he claims) written centuries after the canonical gospels in his attempt to rewrite Church history. In the process, he displays such blatant ignorance of the period of Constantine and the Council of Nicea one is left to wonder wonders whether in his "research" he ever managed to get anything right. The sources he cites as "proof" are largely a collection of crackpot conspiracy theorists no serious scholar gives credence along with some peripheral evidence from more reputable sources that has no bearing on his thesis. It's a fairly telling verdict when the source of your evidence undermines your own credibility.
While Brown may be completely ignorant of history, the same cannot be said for his skill at manipulating the media. While I do so enjoy watching the fourth estate make total fools of themselves, I would enjoy it even more if he would confess the whole thing to be a practical joke engineered to demonstate how gullible our culture has become. Alas, thus far he still claims to believe the hogwash he is promoting.
Of course, his backers often counter that it's only fiction. Excuses are the last refuge of the duped. Since when has fiction become culturally neutral? This book was written to promote a particular version of the Christian story more to the liking of someone who wishes Jesus was other than who the New Testament texts claim. Fiction often has an ulterior motive. Would one deny that The Grapes of Wrath, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Atlas Shrugged were written with the idea of promoting a particular view of an issue? Or were they "just fiction" too?
Twenty years from now, the same folks who are mesmerized by The Da Vinci Code will likely sincker at them as we all do now at Chariots of the Gods?, and The Bermuda Triangle. By then, they will have moved on to a different brand of snakeoil. It is rather sad when real scholars have to waste books debunking such nonsense, but it was the same with the others. Their efforts are certainly more than it deserves.