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Red as Blood by Tanith Lee
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The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
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The Rule of Four: 07/31/08

I am a voracious reader but not one who will stay up past my bedtime to finish a book. It is a very rare book that will keep up to the wee hours. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason is one of those rare books.

The first half of this decade seems to have inspired a number of mystery books set around books and art. I don't think it's a Dan Brown phenomena even though his Angeles & Demons comes at the head of this trend in 2000. I think his novels are part of something bigger which includes The Rule of Four, and the mysteries by Matthew Pearl among others.

The Rule of Four centers around a Princeton undergraduate's project to decode the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). The story could have just as easily been about a fictional tome. The four main characters: Thomas (the narrator), Paul (the protagonist), Charlie and Gil drive the story more than this enigmatic book does. Knowing that the book does exist and their discussions of its history is based on fact does add an extra layer of interest to this mystery but it's really just icing.

The novel reminds me most of A Separate Peace by John Knowles (1959). Tom's friendship with Paul parallel's Gene's devotion to Finny. Where Tom has long since given up on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (his father having tried and failed to crack the book's secrets), Paul has that something extra that's needed to understand the hidden truth. It is Paul's connection to Finny that made me go from liking the book to loving it.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Friday, August, 1, 2008 at 02:29:51


Thanks for the review. I am going to go out and get the book. It sounds like a great read. I loved Angels & Deamons.


Comment #2: Friday, August, 1, 2008 at 19:18:15


"Enjoy the book!"

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