The Rule of Four
ISBN: 1594130779

“A son is a promise that time makes to a man, the guarantee every father receives that whatever he holds dearly will someday be considered foolish, and that the person he loves best in the world will misunderstand him.” p1.

The whole book is a deliberate misunderstanding, in a sense.

Four friends at Princeton: Tom, Paul, Charlie, Gil.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a book published in 1499 during the Renaissance.

Paul and Tom attempt to read between the lines of the seemingly nonsensical book.

WARNING – Plot-giveaway:
The HP was written in code, where the cipher lies in cracking the code that reveals the riddles. Each riddle led to further hidden sequence that when uncovered, told the story written by the person who commissioned the HP. The story wa this: a religious fanatic who burned literature and art, and a group of men, including the person behind the HP, managed to save the artistic works. They hid them in a secret location and this book contained the key to finding the secret vault.

* (published on the book cover) The Independent calls this “The Da Vinci Code for people with intelligence”. Which I thought was unfair to both books. I happen to like The Da Vinci Code and think it’s a compact and gripping story than The Rule Of Four. I found the revelation/ cracking of the cryptic code was too convenient (Paul relating to Tom how he discovered it). And the long-drawn hidden message revealed a story that wasn’t that scandalous. But on the other hand, I admired the thread and thinking behind the book. Considering the plot devices (love interest between Tom and his beau; academic jealousies, the murder), it was an interesting study of how the original idea could be expanded to become a novel.

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