The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

The book revolves around four friends pursuing their graduation at Princeton University. Thomas, is the narrator of this book, whose father was fascinated with the Renaissance book Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and the secret it possesses. Paul is writing his thesis on this book and is bent on solving the puzzle revolving around it. Thomas is pulled into this as he struggles to maintain a balance between his personal life and his obsession with the book.

This book gives us a glimpse into the Renaissance period and the authors, architects and artists from that period. The book, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, is written cleverly by an author who wants to remain anonymous. He has hidden a message in the book which will be revealed only after solving many puzzles. Paul and Thomas set out to do exactly that and this journey is interesting. The reader is presented with the puzzle and how it eventually gets solved. An intelligent and interested reader can go ahead and try to solve these himself. This is the best part of the book – read the puzzle and read ahead eagerly to see what is the solution to it.

We get to see Thomas’ dilemma of whether to work on the book at the cost of losing his girlfriend. He is drawn into solving puzzles to satisfy his intellectual quest, but he wants to maintain a healthy relationship with his girlfriend. This gets a bit tedious at times. The reader is all excited with the puzzles and the solutions and the author introduces these emotional scenes and honestly, it was a bit cheesy for me.

There are some good characters in the book. Paul is a very interesting character. Someone who lost his parents early in life and his passion for the book and his extreme intelligence comes across as a well etched character. Thomas, in contrast, pales a bit. Taft is another interesting character. Charlie adds a bit of variety to the book.

If you have read and enjoyed ‘The Da Vinci Code’, then you should give this book a try. It is far more intriguing. If you enjoyed reading ‘The Name of the Rose’, then you will not be disappointed with this one.

I read this book long back. I started this post soon after and completely forgot about it for months.  Hence, the review looks unfinished, but I don’t remember enough of the book to finish it, so am publishing it as is.


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