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3.5 out of 5 stars
The Da Vinci Code: A Novel
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My Review: This is my second time reading this book except that this time around I decided to listen to the e-audio version as I went on walks or drove back and forth to work. I had first read the book several years ago and only remembered that I really enjoyed it.

This time around I enjoyed it just as much. Brown doesn't waste any time getting into the action. It was narrated wonderfully by the very talented Paul Michael who truly brought the characters to life and did great French and British accents in both genders. His vocal talent really added to the experience. So much so that I'm going to find other audiobooks that he has worked on.

As with his other books, Brown weaves some historical facts with art history and his own fictional tale and in the end left me with quite a bit to think about. Whether or not his suggestions are true is irrelevant to me. I enjoyed the book and liked getting a different view of some very popular beliefs.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

** This book review, as well as hundreds more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca) where I also share my favourite recipes. **
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on November 18, 2014
The Da Vinci Code is set in modern day Europe, namely France and England. It follows the exploits of Robert Langdon, a professor of symbology, and Sofie Neveu, the granddaughter of Jacques Saunière, who himself is The Louvre's currator. Langdon and Sofie find themselves in the middle of a very deadly game where anything suspicious probably is and nothing is as it seems.

Dan Brown has a certain way of keeping just enough mystery in the novel to keep the reader intrigued, but the balance is just so, so that one never loses interest for a moment either. Sofie Neveu, the novel's protagonist, was arguably the crowd favorite. Without a doubt, Sofie, and all the other well crafted characters for that matter, felt like they were jumping off the page and running about in the real world.

I personally enjoyed this book immensly, however, many would disagree with the portrayls of Jesus Christ and the Holy Grail that are introduced throughout the book. Definitely a novel for more mature readers, as it deals with subjects and concepts that might be quite difficult for younger people to grasp.

I'd recommend this masterpiece to to any readers who love a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster ride set in the present but with a lot of history delicately sewed in. There's not quite any genre I'd class this in, Dan Brown very powefully creates his own, and it blows you away.
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The presentation of DaVinci Code in this format makes a difference (illustrated version!). While I love the high concept and the absolute cleverness of the puzzles, when I originally read DaVinci Code in paperback, I was inclined to give a three stars. Why? The main character to me is too flat, even for a thriller, no real depth or convincing characteristics. Dialogue really bothered me. Where some novelists stop a novel to write mini-essays (Crichton comes to mind, but I enjoy those), long speeches from characters is less effective to me than narrative intrusion. But I still can't dismiss DaVinci code because it's just plain clever. I'm thinking more of the great puzzles than the outcome (the fictional outcome that seems to outrage everyone). I'm delighted (as a novelist) when a novelist breaks through in such a substantive way. Kudos to Dan Brown all the way. I'm a fan. But, frankly, I enjoyed his earlier novels far more (especially Deception Point and even Angels and Demons).

But this illustrated edition is magnificent. Clues I "missed" were readily apparent. Things I thought were just "narrative license" became feasible enough for suspended disbelief when the prose is juxtopositioned against these lush illustrations. The Last Supper rendering is better than reproductions in non fiction books in my library. It was really nice to see a novel in this format, even at this price tag.

And, again, I do think Dan Brown is high concept and successful for a reason. This just isn't my favorite of his novels. I read, recently, where he plans on sticking to this main character in all future novels. That's a shame, to me. His characters in Deception Point were far more engaging!

Overall, a good investment for your library. For a good read, yes, it's still a good read in spite of my quibbles on character and dialogue. Why? Because you can't beat those delightful puzzles and the high concept pitch. But I see DaVinci Code as fun, not controversial.
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on May 25, 2004
Whether Dan Brown intends to educate or entertain lies in the minds of each reader. I picked up this book to be entertained. I went in knowing it was a work of fiction. A good author can blend fact and fiction to present a plausible story. This story was compelling enough to keep my interest without wanting to put the book down. Others have commented on the one-dimensional nature of the characters and that is pretty accurate, however, it does not detract from the story. Religious zealots will hate this book because it presents a thoughtful alternative to the mindless following that is all faith. There is nothing wrong with faith. Just don't disagree with those who will not believe anything other than their own. These are some of the people that hated this book. Others who hated it are critics who aim to discredit the character development. I'm simply a guy who doesn't get a chance to read much because I lack the free time others might have. This book consumed most of my free time and kept my attention until I was finished. If you want a good story that entertains and sometimes amuses but clearly lacks some factual basis (and you recognize that as being OK), then read this book. It's not for the dimwitted or close-minded.
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on May 20, 2004
It is one a.m. You just got into bed a few hours ago. Suddenly the phone rings, and the hotel worker tells you that someone's on their way to your room. When the visitor gets to your hotel room, you discover that he is with the police. But what would they want with you? You've done nothing wrong. You're a college teacher for crying out loud! You teach art and symbolism, and have been writing books on your research. Jacques Sauniere, the head curator at the Louvre in France, had arranged for you to meet up with him somewhere, but he never showed. The policeman shows you a picture from a crime scene. The photo is of a body. Jacques Sauniere's body. He then invites you to the Louvre to help with the crime scene. But helping isn't really what you're there for. You are being questioned without even knowing it! The head of the police, Fache, is in charge of this case. He is determined to find you guilty in order to help support his job, being as he's currently in low esteem with French and American law keepers. Sophie Neveu , a cryptologist, meets up with you and Fache. She says she has a message from the U.S. Embassy for you, but when you listen to the message, you find that it is something much more important. It is up to you, Mr. Robert Langdon, to team up with Sophie Neveu and investigate Jacques Sauniere's death, find the keystone to the Holy Grail, while at the same time protecting the keystone, avoiding arrest by Fache, and keeping the evil Opus Dei from power.
"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown is a wonderfully written book. It is very relaxing, even in the fast sections. Although the book takes place in a 24 hour period, it seems to be much longer. Mr. Brown has a great knowledge of symbolism and history. As the little reviews on the flaps of the book say, the book is "pure genius!" Most of the clues in the story revolve around Leonardo Da Vinci, thus the name "The Da Vinci Code." In the book, the murdered curator Jacques Sauniere was part of a group called "The Priory of Sion," or P.S. The group is revolved around the "sacred feminine," worship female goddesses of fertility, and are the keepers of the Holy Grail. Opus Dei is one of the groups after the Holy Grail. Bishop Aringarosa is in charge of Opus Dei, and has been trying to get his hands on the Holy Grail in order to use it to boost his power. His assistant, Silas, does all the dirty work. ... This book refers to a lot of history and paintings, along with the Bible; although a lot of it is made up. Don't take it seriously, it's just amusing. This 454 book was worth the read, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it too. If the books you read need to be fast-paced, then I do not recommend "The Da Vinci Code."rtistic than Fabergé' ! than 'assorted cloissoné artisans' ! Did you know that ? I didn't know that ! I still don't know that ! There's lots more 'wisdom' on this victim, be warned.
Not only does he relentlessly bungle his facts and couple them with unfounded and preposterous social commentary, he has the nerve to insert this comment, about a film : "Sadly the filmmakers had gotten most of the specifics wrong..." And if the reader is not sufficiently impressed with Mr. Brown yet, they get one more clue, by including this esteemed opinion on the supposed creator of the mystery: "...he was a frighteningly clever man." Where does it end ! On page 484, directly before the blessedly blank flyleaf, where I breathe a sigh of relief of not only being done with this bestselling drivel, but that my name is not defiled by being included in the acknowledgments.
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on April 12, 2004
Something about symbols in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, that's what I heard about this book. It was said to be an erudite mystery. That alone was not enough to keep it at the top of the bestselling lists for over a year, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
My first, and a lasting, impression of THE DA VINCI CODE is of utterly graceless, styleless writing. Sentences, though mostly grammatical, clunked about like a bag of rusty old plumbing parts. Here is the author's idea of character development: our hero looks like Harrison Ford. Back stories are inserted regularly, like someone heaving rocks off a moving truck. And we begin with the death of a contemporary curator at the Louvre, who, shot in the stomach, has the presence of mind to realize that while loss of blood won't kill him, leaking stomach acids will in about 15 minutes, so in the time left to him he strips, uses his own blood to leave several lines of an encoded message devised on the spot, draws a circle and lies in it, and voila, becomes a facsimile of Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.
After a while, say after the first 200 pages or so, that death scene no longer seems so very incredible. Things finally begin to take off as the symbology and codes that had been variously meted out begin to come together in a cannily connected vision of an alternative Christian history, one that has antecedents in generations of historical research. Dan Brown did his homework.
It's that part that makes this book matter; otherwise it is a thriller that reads more like the description of an action movie than an actual novel. It's like riding in an old Jeep off road at 80 MPH without seatbelts or shock absorbers. As for the denouement: it is a lot better, more credible than that in THE INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST, another "erudite" entertainment that had a lot of good writing going for it but cheated big time with a climax that gave new meaning to deus ex machina. Brown gets himself out of his box in one piece, without stepping on too many sensitive toes and without entirely selling out his research and its premises. His puzzles are fun, if not a little obvious at times, and it is no doubt for those that this book continues to bob at the top of the bestselling lists.
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on April 9, 2004
(...)Unusual book in many ways: The beginning was not that great. Some of the writing made me roll my eyes. The dialogue is embarrassing at first. The ending is a bit weak too. It's almost like Mr. Brown couldn't resist a nice tight Hollywood ending. By the way, contrary to what the 'reader' said, there is absolutely no sex in this book at all, which is a clear indication that Mr. 'As a Christian" didn't even read the book he claimed to read.
So why do I still give this best seller four stars?
The middle of the book is absolutely awesome. I couldn't put the darned thing down. Brown interlaces a lot of cool ideas together. His articulation about the significance of Mary Magdalene is incredible. And the bottom line is that a lot of it rings truer than what the Catholic Church has doled out for the past two millenia, I am sorry to say.
And the book also makes you want to go and rent two movies:
The Last Temptation of Christ (which was an excellent film, by the way, and much much better than the current Mel Gibson fiasco) and
Eyes Wide Shut (the last film by Stanley Kubrick, a real moviemaker, unlike, you guessed it, Mel the Smell-as in, I smell MONEY).(...) Enjoy. Review to your hearts content.
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on April 9, 2004
Dan Brown has done a great job with this novel. Although many premises on which the foundation of this story builds itself, and to which he alludes within his novel are still today of a controversial nature he does a great job of rattling the cage of Christian History. From the birth of Christianity to its modern day state, Brown grips the reader with suspense, mystery and a great deal of enlightenment throughout this history-unveiling book.
Although the premises of the story may not be fully founded, and the facts of history are spread thin with controversy, the overall appeal is good because of the authors ability to continuously affect the reader in a way that most other books cannot. Dan Brown went out on a limb to write a book that challenges the history of a popular faith and taking this book for what it is, a fiction novelists latest attempt to write a bestseller, it's a very dynamic book that you won't be able to put down.
Without getting into any details of the book (as this is a mystery novel that must be experienced without such give-aways) i'll say that the only thing that i did not like about the book was that, as it went on, the chapters seemed to get too short, and scenes jumped around too much. I would prefer a 10 to 20 page chapter that tags you along a story line more than the 2-4 page chapters Brown has opted for.
Historically, no matter what faith you believe in, this book is going to make your head turn with his connection of Da Vinci's life and work to the blood line of Jesus Christ Himself. I would recommend this book to those novel-seekers interested in History, Mystery and Suspense.
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on April 8, 2004
I recommend this book for anyone - it suitable for all ages.
Dan Brown has done a great job. As the grandson of a Mason and whose family members have been in other secret societies, I am glad Brown has brought them to light in a serious, but educating way. Brown uses a hybrid socratic method to keep the reader thinking ahead, while mixing puns, puzzles, and trivia to keep the reader focused on the current story. Brown uses many literary devices well and weaves many biblical allegories into the story itself. I commend the publisher for taking the chance on printing a thriller that has both a serious intellectual investigation and which has a more challenging style than is usual.
The story is tightly written and the author does not stray from the plot or the main characters at all. Wondering who is bad and not bad keeps one guessing until the end. The book does not have a bibliography, but the author alludes to critical works on the subject he writes about. The reader can then go read the scholarly works.
One thing missing from the book is the political ramifications for the Romans in allowing the unification of the Jews ( and thus Palestine ) such a marriage of Jesus and Mary could have brought about. Another angle would be the economic unification brought about by such a union - and the other economic interests that would have opposed this. Jesus was no ordinary leader and his death at a young age before he could become established and solidify his base no doubt was welcomed by many who preferred the status quo.
I am constantly amazed at the number of Christians I meet who evangelize, but who are not familiar with the Masons or the Knights Templar or their role in preserving Western Civilization.
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on April 8, 2004
The "Da Vinci Code." Brown bases his story around the history of the Holy Grail and the Priory of Sion. Since there has been much controversy with "Brown's history", I decided to find out what some of the greatest thinkers of our time thought about this thing we call "history":
"History, history! We fools, what do we know or care." -William Carlos Williams
"Imagination plays too important a role in the writing of history, and what is imagination but the projection of the author's personality." -Pieter Geyl
"The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts."-Henry Adams
"History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten." -George Santayana
"Very deep, very deep is the well of the past. Should we not call it bottomless?" -Thomas Mann
"[History is] a graveyard of aristocracies." -Vilfredo Pareto
"In analyzing history do not be too profound, for often the causes are quite superficial." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
"History is, indeed, an argument without end."-A.M. Schlesinger, Jr.
I hope this makes you think about what it is you call "history."
I can summarize the wake the "Da Vinci Code" has created in one word: ridiculous. Like many others with a strong opinion of this book, I should mention that I am not Christian. Why people feel they have to include that they are a Christian when giving their view on this book is obvious, and it made me think about my beliefs when it comes to religion. Among them, what I'm not religiously is an individual with the illusion that someone is making a direct attack on my beliefs when he says something that contradicts it. That is, being as blunt as I can, what the radical Christian does not realize. A radical Christian believes anything that questions his sacred Bible is slander and an attack on his "code of life." He, like many others, has an antisocial illusion that people with different beliefs are only out to ruin them when one raises a question on his religion; he is the one who turns a deaf ear to something he will not take the time to think about--simply because he is horrified to realize a truth in what before he had not realized. A radical Christian does not realize, or will not listen to, contradicting history. Even his Christian history, is not fact, but only fiction. For what is fact? Fact is only based on perception. Does that not make it uncertain? But yet some people are not capable of understanding what I have just said, and those, I feel, are the same people who shun this book off when they call it anti-Christian, or anti-History. Those who cry "anti, anti, anti" are the same one's who do not think about the quote Brown included in his book: "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon." That's what this book makes you think about after you've finished. That's a reason why I enjoyed it....That may even be Brown's thesis!
And as for the "history" in this book, what Brown stated as "fact" (used in its everyday sense) is true. The Priory of Sion and Opus Dei do exist, and the "descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals" in the novel are, quote, "accurate". Everything else, past the first page, was never called "fact, or accurate" by Brown. Those who said Brown is biased on some of the history in his story are not mistaken. They are right only in some cases. But I will never understand why some think Brown tried to trick readers into making non-history, history. But I do know that those who make that argument are very wrong, and need to re-read what it is they are criticizing. The first page in the "Da Vinci Code" was written for a purpose, one of those being to rid the book of the criticism with its "history." Again, Brown uses the word "FACT" in bold face, in large font, on the very first page, for a reason. It is quite obvious.
We call some books "thrillers." And the "Da Vinci Code" is a thriller. It is a great beach book, entertaining and easy to read. There is a reason for all the good reviews this book has been given, and it's one of the best thrillers I have read in the past year. If you enjoy a good lay-read book, I recommend picking this one up before starting another.
...One thing "stood" out at me while I was reading some reviews, it was--to wit: "There was no way I could just sit by quietly while so many people are making all sorts of judgements [sic] and opinions about my God and what He stood for." This was a long review, very criticizing, and the reviewer claims to be a devoted Christian. But how devoted is he? Do you not see the problem with what he said...."My God and what He stood for." The key phrase is "stood for", and I highly doubt that this is a typo since his entire review is grammatically correct. The problem with "stood," is that it's past tense, meaning God is dead. A true Christians knows he is not. And if he meant Jesus, who is not God (another problem), still he should not use the word "stood." Again, a Christian knows Jesus rose from his grave on the third day! Is there "no way" that he has not heard of Easter? This is what I am taking about! Ridiculous. What's more, there are many others just like it! This is the sort of garbage ignorant mongers create. Makes me wonder if he himself might actually be "anti-Christian"?
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