Tuesday, May 14, 2019

THE RULE OF FOUR by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Princeton. Good Friday, 1999. On the eve of graduation, two friends are a hairsbreadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a Renaissance text that has baffled scholars for centuries. Famous for its hypnotic power over those who study it, the five-hundred-year-old Hypnerotomachia may finally reveal its secrets—to Tom Sullivan, whose father was obsessed with the book, and Paul Harris, whose future depends on it.

As the deadline looms, research has stalled—until a vital clue is unearthed: a long-lost diary that may prove to be the key to deciphering the ancient text. But when a longtime student of the book is murdered just hours later, a chilling cycle of deaths and revelations begins—one that will force Tom and Paul into a fiery drama, spun from a book whose power and meaning have long been misunderstood.

Four Princeton boys on their Senior year are struggling with their thesis, love life, and their future. But THE RULE OF FOUR is not exactly about them. It’s about Hypnerotomachia Poliphili -Poliphili’s Struggle for Love in a Dream- a book that is more than a book. Although it was published around 1499, it was only a decade after that the true author of the book was accidentally discovered by a Renaissance scholar. “Brother Francesco Colonna loved Polia tremendously” was revealed by stringing together the first letter of each chapter. Thus, naming the true author, Polian Frater Franciscus Columna Peramavit, a Roman scion. Yet, naming the author is barely scraping the surface, there are riddles to solve to unlock the secrets hidden in the book. Is the “Rule of Four” the key?

I don’t know which struck me more, Dr. Sullivan’s “The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong”; or Agostino Carracci’s “Love conquers all”. Both describe the story of how the main characters struggle to fight off strong influences and their deep love for uncovering the secrets of the book. This one was a (very) slow read for me, like the Hypnerotomachia itself is slower than a tortoise crawl. Those who don’t have the patience might already drop the book in the first chapter, which is a mistake. You’ll learn from it, more than you’ll learn from the Da Vinci Code.

A book more than a book…
I have to say I like it more than I expected.

Book Details:
Author: Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Publication: The Dial Press; May 11, 2004
Genre: Mystery
Rating: ★★★


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