My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Book Review: The DaVinci Code

I know, I know--where have I been for the last two years? Well, sorry. . . I had a few other books to read that were a higher priority.

At any rate. . .

The DaVinci Code, for those of you who pay no attention to such things, or who only rarely walk into a book store, or turn on the Today Show, or, for that matter, come out of your cave, is a highly controversial WORK OF FICTION by Dan Brown. At the heart of the story is the idea that there is a secret society which has been guarding the Holy Grail for the last two millenia, and that no less a nefarious organization as the Roman Catholic Church is has been seeking all this time to destroy the Grail . . . because it contains documentation of the marriage and family tree of Jesus Christ, who (IN THIS FICTIONAL BOOK) married Mary Magdeline after his resurrection. The title is from the idea that Leonardo DaVinci was once the head of this secret society, and that he left many clues to the Grail in his works of art.

The central figure in the story is Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of Symbology. As such, parts of the story read like a text on Ancient Symbols and Subliminal Meanings. The story is very detailed, particularly in its descriptions of art works and places (Paris, mostly), and only every once in a while gets so bogged down in its own cleverness that you get lost. But the action is also fairly swift, and the plot convolutions are multi-faceted and entertaining, and, after making the initial suspension of disbelief regarding the Grail, the rest of the story moves along rather plausibly. Of course, that initial suspension is pretty substantial, so I suppose after that, anything is believable.

Overall, though I found the story line interesting, and had no problems reading through this book in a few nights. It is a page-turner, and fans of thrillers should be pretty happy.

On the other hand, I guessed who the shadowy figure manipulating all the players was by about midway through the book, which tells me Brown lost a little of his touch from "Angels and Demons." Also, Brown did a much poorer job disguising his contempt for the Catholic Church in this book--at times, I would've guessed Brown is a party to some of class-action settlements over the Priest sex-abuse scandals. For these reasons, I found this book not up to the level of "Angels and Demons," and, frankly, little more than a fun summer diversion.

As to the controversy, I did not think too much of it. Certainly, what Brown proposes is heresy to believers, but he also creates precious little actual evidence for it. I will admit that I don't know the art world that well, so maybe there's a lot more stuff there than I know about, but on the whole I thought the characters were having little more serious dialogue than Area 51 fanatics do. Or, to put it in more similar terms, I didn't notice a vast rush of pilgrimages to that little church in the Crescent Valley of Jordan after "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade;" the archeological evidence for that as the final resting place of the Grail was, I suppose, just as convincingly proposed in the movie. So why should we get very excited about this other work of fiction? Read it, enjoy it, put it back on the shelf with little thought afterwords. You'll be none the poorer (though you'd be better off reading "Angels and Demons").

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