Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown

I very recently read this book.

If you are among the one or two that haven't yet read the book, the story revolves around Robert Langdon, a symbologist from Harvard and Sophie Neveu, a French Cryptographer. Robert Langdon is woken up in the middle of the night while on a trip to Paris to be told that the curator of the Louvre museum has been killed and the police need his help to solve the crime.
There, he meets with a beautiful French cryptographer, Sophie Neveu. I wonder if there will ever be a female heroine in a novel who is not beautiful. You know, why couldn't have Sophie Neveu been a plain looking French cryptographer? Makes no difference to the story. But, I digress..

Anyway, the dying curator has left enough clues that Sophie and Robert alone can crack because a. Robert Langdon knows a lot of historic symbology b. Sophie knows a lot of cryptography. The novel then develops into a rollicking adventure involving a lot of history about The Holy Grail, early Christianity, shadowy secret societies like the Priory of Sion, extreme religious groups like The Opus Dei and a mysterious villain known only as The Teacher.

The author, through his characters, takes a lot of shots at the catholic church and present-day Christian religious dogma. He feels that the history of Jesus of Nazareth has been thoroughly distorted by the church to further its own patriarchical agenda.

This book caused a flurry of reactions in the popular press, at least in the US. Refutations, refutations of the refutations etc. Lots of dust :-)

Without going into the facts behind the book, I felt that it was a good book, with taut storytelling, remniscent of Ludlum at his best. I really liked the way that history was woven into the story through the means of the symbologist and the historian. Quite cool and interesting history too!


A bit predictable, I could figure out who The Teacher was and that Sophie was of the Merovingian line.

I also felt that the book copped out in a big way. So he knows where the grail is, but he wont do anything about it. YEAH RIGHT!. If the author (and Langdon) feel so strongly about the Church putting down the feminine side, why not release the docs and make the church pay for its transgressions? This whole bit about 'The Grail is attractive only because it is hidden' was, in my opinion, a major cop-out.

Also,that bit about 'But the feminine is being slowly given prominence as we realised what damage has been wrought by the masculine so why bother releasing the grail documents' is also wishy washy crap.

If a religion is subverting the teachings of its founder, and you have the means to expose it, you certainly should. To me, that's a no-brainer.Let us say that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed followers of ahimsa and the whole of the bible and quran had been written by their followers who were grinding their own axes and you could prove this incontrovertibly, wouldn't you do it?Just think how much it will change life.


Mudra Rakshasa said...

I thought the book started with a lot of promise, and yes, I think it has the makings of an excellent screenplay, but about three quarters of the way, it all began to unravel. There are interesting bits about the Knight Templars, but after a tantalizing bit about their history, it bubbles into tosh! Can’t really blame the writer though, it is a novel.

sambar42 said...

> Can’t really blame the writer though, it is a novel.
It is his novel. Indeed, who else would you blame :)?

sambar42 said...
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Many books which try to make crypto as a part of it tries to glorify cryptanalysis (some whizkid hacker breaks a code) but this book handles it well. Reminds me the story of Edgar Alan Poe where they do frequency analysis to break a substitution cypher.

sambar42 said...

True. It's a little like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. In the sense that, the history, symbology and cryptographical concepts used are explained. So, the reader feels involved in the story.