August 18, 2004

The Da Vinci Code

The only real problem with this book is its claim that it portrays fact.

There were some minor things too, but if it weren't for the big page at the front that is headed "FACT:" and lists a bunch of the stuff that makes up the premise of the book, they'd be fine. It doesn't have to be true to make it a good novel; that's why it's a novel. As several characters point out, "everybody loves a good conspiracy".

As a mystery novel, it is pretty decent. The writing is a bit heavy-handed at times, and there are a bunch of places where one character explains to another what that character should already know; this serves an expository purpose for the reader, of course, but it's a problem if the reader keeps noticing it. A little more worrisome were the times when this reader was immediately able to interpret a symbol, and the symbologist and cryptologist "experts" bang their heads for about four pages before they get it. But, whatever.

The word play was also fun, sometimes. Pretty much whenever Brown stuck to English, he was on solid ground; but when he starts doing the cross-linguistic anagramming (as evidence of a connection!) he really starts to sound like the crank many have accused him of being.

Somehow I had thought that the action of this book would take place over a great deal of time, so I was surprised when I realised it was all in the course of about twenty-four hours. A lot happens in this time, of course, and even as the end approaches, and you think you have things figured out, he manages to pack a few nice punches.

Did anyone else notice in the list of Prieuré Grand Masters the name of Nicolas Flamel? For a brief moment I thought this was a nod to the Harry Potter books before it dawned on me that both books drew him from the same source (i.e. real life). In fact, he was (surprise!) an alchemist tied strongly into the search for the Philosopher's Stone. All of which makes me even more irritated that the American publishers of the HP series decided to change the title; but that's a whole other rant, of course.

In any case, The Da Vinci Code isn't exactly a masterpiece for the ages, but it's a decent read. The people that get all worked up about it not being true are correct, but really shouldn't be getting their panties all in a bunch over denying specific points---this evokes a methinks-the-queen air, which of course is rather counterproductive. Just point out that it's a novel. That should be sufficient.

So, anyone want this copy? I got it from Lee and I believe I'm expected to pass it on to someone else, so as not to give any more royalties to Dan Brown. :)

"If you removed every reference to poverty in the New Testament, the Good Book would be reduced to little more than a Not Bad Pamphlet." --Arianna Huffington

Posted by blahedo at 5:18am on 18 Aug 2004
The worst part for me was that it had this air of build up, and never delivered. She was so shocked by what she saw when she walked in on her grandfather, that when I found out what it was, I felt "so?" The pay off was so tame! For that she did not speak to him for 10 years? Posted by lee at 6:36am on 18 Aug 2004
*waves hand in the air* I'll take it. If for no other reason than that I've got a general need for ideas and a Jesuit's taken up residence in my head. Posted by Larathia at 6:36am on 18 Aug 2004
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