Monday, July 17, 2006

The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

This book is often mentioned as a well-written version of The Da Vinci Code, so I've been wanting to read it for a while in order to (in good conscience) recommend it to library patrons. It is similar to DVC in that it deals with a mystery hidden in an ancient manuscript, and even gets into religion a little bit, and it is fairly well-written. I suspect it's not quite as quick-paced as Dan Brown's thriller, though, as Caldwell and Thomason actually take time for things like character development. What I found most interesting about the book was a recurring theme of prioritizing one's loyalties: the main character is struggling throughout the book to not repeat his father's mistake of becoming so entrenched in the mystery of the Hypnorata Machia that he neglects the woman he loves, and this gets complicated when his commitment to solving the mystery becomes intertwined with his commitment to help his best friend. The choice, then, is not between his girlfriend and a book, but between his girlfriend and his best friend. There's an added tension in the narrative because despite the fact that the narrator is trying to convince the reader and himself that his girlfriend is what's most important, the mystery of the ancient manuscript is really what's most important to the narrative. I'm not sure whether the authors intended this or if it's just that they didn't succeed in making me care enough about the girlfriend. While I enjoyed the book overall, the end disappointed me because this conflict of loyalties was never satisfactorily resolved even though the authors seem to want me to believe it was. That, and the fact that the book ends with a twist that could have been explained if the story had gone on for just one more chapter, but unfortunately was left unexplained.

Overall I give Rule of Four three out of five Fobs:

1 comment:

Melyngoch said...

No, no, no, no, no. Focault's Pendulum is the well-written Da Vinci Code. Or, rather, DVC is the plebian hack Focault's Pendulum.