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The Da Vinci Code (spoiler-ish) (1 Viewer)

Shoujoka

Member
Title: The Da Vinci Code
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Fiction; Suspense?

Description: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to The Louvre late one night to answer a question that will change his life. Louvre curator Jacques Sauniere, suspected Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, has been murdered by a member of Opus Dei - a pious Catholic group. He leaves behind a clever riddle, a riddle that Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu team up to solve.

It becomes a race to the finish, whoever can find the Key to the Holy Grail first - Scholars or The Church. The Holy Grail is thought to hold secrets about Christianity that the church has been trying to suppress throughout the years - through the Crusades, extermination of the Knights Templar, and many more. The secret that Jesus had actually taken a wife, Mary Magdalene, and had a bloodline still existing today.

Langdon and Sophie set out to find the key and tomb before the church finds it and destroys it.


Review: I'm not sure if I liked this book very much. I must admit in ways it was fascinating, and the pace the writer moved was remarkable. Not too fast not too slow. However the writer tried to pass off a lot of religious opinion as fact, his only evidence basically being Leonardo Da Vinci's painting. It seems he compared Da Vinci to God and Da Vinci won. He also passed off a bunch of other random facts, most of them complete bull. From a literary standpoint, it was a good read and it drew you in. From a scholarly standpoint, I was left second guessing it. I recommend reading it yourself, and formulating your own opinion.

<3 Shoujoka
 

Julian_Gallo

Senior Member
I actually didn't really like this book at all. I was intrigued...fascinated even, with the whole theory presented in it and the ideas surrounding it, but the book itself felt to me as if Dan Brown had a movie screen in front of him and wrote it with a movie in mind---even down to describing the main character, Langdon, as "looking something like Harrison Ford..." which I thought was cheap. (Hint hint...movie people). Although I did read the book in one sitting, I found myself rolling my eyes more than once over the coincidences that occur that were used to push the story foward. Then the car chase scene and the plane chase....I mean...this would have made a better screenplay than a novel.

But to be fair, I assume Dan Brown approached this novel with a mass audience in mind in order to present this very old theory to people who would have normally never known about it. I really don't think he was intending to write "literature" in a sense (forgive me if I sound like a snob.) He was deliberately trying to reach the mass audience, and he most certainly did---and the subject matter caused so much controversey...believe me, he knew this when he sat down and wrote his first sentence.

I liked the premise of the book but I just didn't like how he approached writing it. It seemed more like a movie than a novel to me.

I began to read "Angels and Demons" soon after....and stopped because it was exactly the same book. I found out later that this was out before "The DaVinci Code" which tells me that since this one didn't work, he would try again with the same exact formula with this new idea.

Anyone disagree?
 

Stewart

Senior Member
The Da Vinci Code

The success of The Da Vinci Code is certainly a literary anomaly. Both unexpected and unexplainable, the sheer volume of sales is surprising as the book is not, in my opinion, well written, intelligent, or original.

It begins in Le Louvre, Paris, with some of the clumsiest writing I've ever seen. Classics such as describing the eyes and hair colour of a silhouette are par for the course here as a museum curator of considerable renown (and how many curators have ‘you‘ heard of?) is murdered. From there, enter our cardboard hero, Robert Langdon, who will solve the mystery armed only with a similarly cardboard French girl and the author's help. Off he goes solving puzzles you and I solved pages ago (sometimes even chapters) despite us laymen not being schooled in his esoteric field. Throw in a couple of lame baddies, a historical secret, and the 'thrill' of the chase and you have The Da Vinci Code - a children's novel marketed at adults.

The book is fast paced, its 500 plus pages are quickly digested, although this is because the author writes such short chapters that there's a lot of blank space when one chapter ends a few lines into the page. Throughout, it uses one plot device: the cliffhanger. Fair enough, it gets you reading through the book but the author could have used more literary tactics in order to develop his story.

There are a number of places, however, where the book falls down: the writing, the characters, and the history. At times, it seems, Brown has raided a factbook of dubious authenticity and tried to cram as much of its content into his book without even deliberating over its relevance to the story at hand.

Firstly, the writing: It's simple and unemotional. There are many clumsy instances where the author says something which is simply not possible (see the silhouette comments above) or jars i.e. 'Silas prayed for a miracle and little did he know that in two hours he would get one'. You are left wondering if the author is, in parallel to the dubious facts, trying to squeeze in as much content as possible from his Little Book of Bad Cliches.

The characters, despite travelling with them for the duration of the book, never developed. They 'ooh-ed and ah-ed' their way through the startling revelations and that's about it. Their dialogue was intolerable, at times, and there were occasions when you just couldn't believe what was coming out of their mouths: Englishman saying 'soccer', French girl saying 'spring break'. It's Americanism after Americanism with these people despite only one character being American; surely, if you do as much research as Dan Brown claims to have done, you would find out how your characters speak. Another ‘joy’ is the utter shock on one character's face - who has just been told a stream of pseudo-history wher she hardly flinched- as she learns that 'rose' is an anagram of 'Eros'.

It's the facts, however, that really let this book down. It claims from the start that a number of things (such as art, documents, locations) are accurate which, with the author's supposed research, you hope to believe. And then you are inundated with Paris the wrong way around, the wrong police forces running about, French cops commanding the British cops, England being the only country in Europe where they drive on the left (conveniently forgetting Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cyprus, and Malta), and other such nonsense as British knights carrying ID cards which pronounce them above the law.

That's the errors but, as I've said before, there are times when you feel the author is just including stuff to pad the book. Common sentences are 'Robert Langdon was surprised how many people didn't actually know...this or that' or 'Robert Langdon often smiled when he thought about how few people knew...this or that'. Place descriptions don't fare much better, unfortunately, as they are out of the story's context and read like 'copy and pastes' from tourist websites.

All in all, I've found the book to be like marmite; there are those that love it and those that hate it. I proudly place myself in the latter camp.

The pace, I enjoyed. The book, I didn't. Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco covered this topic back in the 1980s - it's nothing new. Brown is just recycling the poor The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail as fiction. Bad history meets bad fiction - it's a marriage made in Heaven.

If you want some no-brain beach reading - and haven't read this yet - then give it a try; it's airport tat! Don't, however, believe a word of it, as it is, for the most part, nonsense. If, however, you are looking for a great novel that deals with similar topics, and has a great reread potential, then read the aforementioned Foucault's Pendulum - it's superior in every way.
 

Julian_Gallo

Senior Member
I've been meaning to read "Foucault's Pendulum" for some time now. Had no idea it dealt with the same subject. Now I'm really curious about it.

Overall, I agree with your opinion on "The Da Vinci Code". I wasn't all that impressed with the writing but as I said before, to be fair to Dan Brown, I don't believe he was trying to write "literature" as he was using popular fiction as a vehicle for this theory. The "mythology" of the book I enjoyed very much. I just didn't like the vehicle he used to get it across. To me, the book was poorly written, very close to, if not, a supermarket paperback. But I'm sure he wasn't thinking of writing the Great American Novel. Nevertheless. It made him a considerable fortune, no? The amount of books he sold is positively mind bending. But I agree that it's not well written at all. But I don't think that was the point.

Thanks for the tip on Eco. Will definitely read that at some point.
 

Londongrey

Senior Member
I agree Julian, hence it is being made into a film. However, Westminster Abbey isn't allowing filming as the book describes things which they simply wouldn't let happen. Which is shame, the crypt in the Abbey is one of the most beautiful sites in London, and one most people miss.

I could kick Dan Brown for some of his descriptions of Paris and London, or lack of. It might have made the narrative more interesting. Perhaps he meant it to be a screenplay?
 

duende

Senior Member
Having read "Angels & Demons" but not this one, I was looking forward to it as mind candy. I like this style of tale, but Brown's writing is very pedestrian. Still Angels is a page turner. Brown can pull together the most amazing of disparate facts (or fictions - I'm not always sure!) into a climax that really grips the reader.

Makes me think of Robert Ludlum books to a degree.
 

Supergeek

Senior Member
I enjoyed "The Da Vinci Code" for what it was; a fast-paced thriller intended to pique curiosity and push religious buttons. For many people, the subject matter would be questionable, if not sacreligious.

Being a non-religious person, I thought the ideas presented were intriguing. What if there really were evidence of a bloodline descended from Jesus of Nazareth? That would be pretty cool. And funny to see a lot of dogma come crashing down. But anyway.

I read to enjoy myself. Sometimes I want something a bit more literary, sometimes I want something scifi with a lot of technical what-if's and not a lot of character development, and sometimes I just want some mind candy. TDVC was definitely in the last category.

As Julian_Gallo implied above, it was as if Dan Brown wrote a screenplay instead of a novel. If you plan to read more Dan Brown novels, get used to the same techniques he used in TDVC; "Angels and Demons" and "Digital Fortress" use the exact same beginning attention grabber; someone dies, taking with him important information that only HE knows! OMG!

They were enjoyable, quick reads that I could have just as easily replaced with an episode of CSI or Doctor Who.
 

blademasterzzz

Senior Member
For me it wasn't enjoyable. The characters were absolutely laughable, the plot lame and very predictable. Anyone with some measure of education should disregard the book, not because he mixes facts with fiction, but because the plot progresses on things that are simply idiotic and not believable.
 

tagos

Member
God - there's so much sour grapes over this book. Instead of griping about the facts he got wrong (obligatory pointing out that this is a fiction book) or complaining about the quality of writing we should be learning from this novel.

It's a decent enough thriller that keeps you turning pages and despite the pedestrian writing it sold a bloody bomb. Us amateur wannabees should be so lucky.

Okay, it's not literature but it's certainly not the worst book ever written. It enjoyably passed an afternoon. I don't have to be a writer all the time, nitpicking at this and that.

Learn from it how to pluck a good idea from the zeitgeist and shape it according to story not fact, learn from it how to keep readers reading and then do it better if we're all so 'hot-damn let's look down our noses at Brown' great writers.

Personally, I take heart that a pedestrian writer can get published just by looking at the world and pitching shots at the sub-X-Files market until he strikes lucky.

And good on him. He put in the work and he's reaping his rewards.
 

Penelope

Senior Member
In Birmingham, I bought two books for the price of one and read The Da Vinci Code first. I was surprised the book got such raves considering the calibre of the writing and the throw away ending that infuriated me due to being so juevinile. It is mind candy reading. The second one reminded me what good writing is all about. Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear'. I chose the second book because I know the author is good. I won't be reading any more books by Dan Brown. I believe Da Vinci did play with Christian ideals and have heard the rumour about 'The Last Supper' before. What Christianity did to the essence of women is outrageous but no more so than what it did to many other threats to its power.
 

tagos

Member
Penelope said:
In Birmingham, I bought two books for the price of one and read The Da Vinci Code first. I was surprised the book got such raves considering the calibre of the writing and the throw away ending that infuriated me due to being so juevinile. It is mind candy reading. The second one reminded me what good writing is all about. Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear'. I chose the second book because I know the author is good. I won't be reading any more books by Dan Brown. I believe Da Vinci did play with Christian ideals and have heard the rumour about 'The Last Supper' before. What Christianity did to the essence of women is outrageous but no more so than what it did to many other threats to its power.

State of Fear is a farrago of deliberate lies about the environment and the environmental movement. I'd rather read a poor author trying to tell a story than a good writer prostituting his skills as a corporate shill.

I'm not reading another book by either guy.
 

teflon

Senior Member
Besides the stilted writing, imagery and mediocre message, the philosophy of the premise is a naive and primitive. I think one must be a person totally unaware of Judeo-Christian history to appreciate the book and to want to see the movie.

As Dallo said:

I wasn't all that impressed with the writing but as I said before, to be fair to Dan Brown, I don't believe he was trying to write "literature"

Literature - isn't it about producing intelligent, polished, infectious reading?
 

tagos

Member
teflon said:
Besides the stilted writing, imagery and mediocre message, the philosophy of the premise is a naive and primitive. I think one must be a person totally unaware of Judeo-Christian history to appreciate the book and to want to see the movie.

As Dallo said:

I wasn't all that impressed with the writing but as I said before, to be fair to Dan Brown, I don't believe he was trying to write "literature"

Literature - isn't it about producing intelligent, polished, infectious reading?

I'm very aware of that history and the accompanying theology, unofficial as well as official, and the official is less accurate than the Da Vinci Code, particularly regarding the role of women.

And no, writing is not only about 'producing intelligent, polished, infectious reading', it's also about entertaining people and Brown has done that in spades.

Not that the two need to be exclusive but for passing an afternoon on the beach give me the DVC over the well written but tediously hard work Foucault's Pendulum any day. At least the former has an ending that doesn't contempuously slap the long-suffering reader round the face with a wet fish.

If people spent less time griping about his success and more time learning why people want to read his books despite his short-comings as a writer they might learn something useful.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
If people spent less time griping about his success and more time learning why people want to read his books despite his short-comings as a writer they might learn something useful.

Do you think the fact it's taking him a number of years to provide a new book, apart from sales, is that because he has decided to set The Solomon Key in America he has to actually get his facts straight lest he be found out for being full of crap?
 

Julian_Gallo

Senior Member
What sour grapes? Good for Dan Brown that he was able to tap into an extremely large audience with his book. The topic is controversial, provocative, etc. It's almost a no-brainer. There were aspects of the book I enjoyed very much. But my own personal tastes affected how I felt he wrote the book. As writing, I wasn't all that impressed with it, that's all. I found it to be a typical, mainstream thriller---a run of the mill type thriller that you see out there all the time.

I defended Brown by saying that I was sure that he didn't set out to make "art" so to speak; his intentions were clearly NOT to write a book that was experimental or literature in the sense that say Milan Kundera would write. He set out to write something that would reach a mass audience. Fine. He wanted to say something and wanted to reach a mass audience---like Stephen King would. Brown is writing Popular Fiction.

This is what disappointed me about the book personally. My tastes tend to run towards writers like Kundera not Stephen King. This was the only point I was trying to make regarding that book. I found the vehicle he used to be hokey and cliched, that's all.

As to the reason why he was able to tap into such a large audience, as I said, it's almost a no brainer. It deals with a topic that is very controversial and it is written in a style that would appeal to a mass audience. If it were more of a polemic, then very few people would have bothered to read it. It seems obvious to me his initial intention was to reach that mass audience.

The other good thing about the book is that it got people talking about it for better or for worse. It seems for every pro-Davinci Code book there is one to counter it in some way. It, at the very least, gets people discussing something other than Paris Hilton or Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt for once. And this is a great thing.

But as a novel; as writing; I found it to be very ordinary and uninteresting but this is only because of my personal prefrence for the novels and writers I enjoy reading.

I don't think there's any sour grapes here. All because a book is wildly popular doesn't neccessarily mean it was written well.
 

tagos

Member
Connor Wolf said:
If people spent less time griping about his success and more time learning why people want to read his books despite his short-comings as a writer they might learn something useful.

Do you think the fact it's taking him a number of years to provide a new book, apart from sales, is that because he has decided to set The Solomon Key in America he has to actually get his facts straight lest he be found out for being full of crap?

Haven't read that one but he doesn't strike me as a writer who lets facts get in the way of a good story. Personally I don't really care if he bends the truth for story-telling sake. If some geographical changes are needed, make 'em I'd say. Who among his readership, cares. James Bond books are full of ludicrous holes, I still enjoyed them though.

IMO the only obligation regarding facts an author has is to make them plausibly fit his story. Whatever works, works. If he wants to invent historical documents, put words into people's mouths or whatever that's fine by me so long as i enjoy the story. If he moved NYC to Alaska I'd probably raise an eyebrow or two though.

But the Gospels were written by people with no knowledge of Palestine geography, misplacing whole cities and mountains and no-one seemed to mind.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
tagos said:
Haven't read that one

It's not out until, supposedly, late next year.

Personally I don't really care if he bends the truth for story-telling sake. If some geographical changes are needed, make 'em I'd say.

It's not about making changes for storytelling's sake. The geography of France error appears when it states, near the end, that Langdon walked north to a certain building that, if you were to take that same walk, you'd see that he would actually have had to walk south. In passing conversation he states that I, in Scotland, drive on the right side of the road (in addition to the Cypriots, Maltese, Northern Irish, Irish, and Welsh) which is just not true. Dan Brown, at the start of the book, states that all descriptions of locations are accurate. If he's going to make such a claim then he should get it right.

Who among his readership, cares.
The French, the Brits, and anyone with an ounce of sense in their head.

If he wants to invent historical documents, put words into people's mouths or whatever that's fine by me so long as i enjoy the story. If he moved NYC to Alaska I'd probably raise an eyebrow or two though.

Documents is fine. But, your NYC to Alaska is effectively what he has done with Europe.

the Gospels were written by people with no knowledge of Palestine geography, misplacing whole cities and mountains and no-one seemed to mind.

People still mind today. Are you shrouded from what goes on in Palestine?
 

tagos

Member
Well, as a Brit I don't care (and you're just inferring the Scottish road thing from his typical foreigner equating of England with all the UK If i remember correctly, does he actually state you drive on the right in Scotland?).

And no - I really don't care about the details of French geography in the slightest, so long as it serves the story. Just like the fact that in 24 Jack can't possibly get from A to B without a flying rocket car or teleport in the time it takes in the story doesn't mean I turn it off in disgust.

And i don't mind peter jackson's liberties with middle earth geography either.

And I assume any 'this is true' thing in a fiction novel is part of the fiction.

None of these details spoil my enjoyment of the novel and as I have no idea whether the geography of Paris is correct or not it doesn't affect me.

Nor did the long list of 'we made these bits up about Princeton for the sake of the story' disclaimer at the end of the Rule of Four (?) have me reaching for my revolver.

It's fiction, it's the illusion that's important.

In the reaction of writers and commentators in general to the huge success of Brown there really is a nit-picking and petty minded spirit as if there's never been a mediocre novel with some details wrong, written before.

I say, good luck to him.
 

Penelope

Senior Member
I've been thinking a lot about this book and why I should immediately forget about it. It's schlock and isn't the first best seller I've not found to be intelligent reading. Good for him for finding the formula of success and more power to him. I have a substantial list of best selling authors that I enjoy and only read this because of the raves. I'm happy that I got one well written book out of the bargain. Michael Crichton's book doesn't make me change my mind about global warming but it's well crafted.
 

epone

Senior Member
Finished it while I was in Paris over the summer - I liked the way it showed modern religion for what it is - bullshit: a money making scam designed to control life, not save it. However, I felt the author backed off with his commitment to the truth halfway through the story, probably so he didn't offend too many people (pious people can be so annoying, especially when something or someone contradicts their blinkered view of the world).

As far as the story itself - I enjoyed it. It wasn't amazing; the light linear plot had little depth but it was an easy-to-read novel that was great to read on the road. I did think the last chapter ruined the book though - why tell us where the Grail is (and in such an unlikely place to) instead of leaving it to our imagination and wonder.

Like a lot of books - great beginning, shit ending.
 
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