‘ The ultimate code back into the history of religion.’
Religion, murder, a quest, a code, mystery and the race against time. This book has it all. A perfect recipe for mystery and thriller, at their best. Published in the year 2003, it has been written by one of the most knowledgeable and acclaimed writers -Dan Brown. It sold 80 million copies and has been translated into 44 languages till date. Digital fortress, angels and demons, deception point and the lost symbol are few other major bestsellers written by him that have time and again roused controversies in many fields but always succeeded to engrave their point.
Beautifully scripted, the story is set in Paris. The main protagonists are Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Both of them have their own sets of specializations, definitely not accidental, which helps them to extricate themselves from all the puzzles presented before them.
Robert Langdon is a professor on religious symbology, visiting Paris for his lecture. While Sophie Neveu works as a cryptologist with the French police.
The story unfolds with a gross murder of Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the Louvre museum in Paris. He is shot in the stomach by an albino monk named Silas and left behind to slowly bleed to death. However, he is shown to be the possessor of some great secret which he must pass on to someone worthy of it before he dies. Else, the secret would be buried along with his grave forever.
On the other side of Paris, Robert Langdon is awoken from his slumber by the French police. They show him a photograph of the scene of death of Jacques Sauniere, eagled out on the floor in a déjà vu fashion of the Vitruvian man painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. On the side of the man, there was a code and a few lines, assumed to have been written by Jacques Sauniere himself, prior to his death. Robert being a master in the field of symbology is asked to help the police and accompany them, unaware of the fact that he himself is the main suspect in the murder case according to captain Bezu Fache of the French police.
In the Louvre, while examining the dead body, enters Sophie Neveu, who claims to have deciphered the code. She tells Langdon of the police suspicion and offers to help him. She also reveals that she was the granddaughter of Jacques Sauniere and the message was actually for her and Langdon was meant to help her. Little did he know that he was soon going to descend into a swirl of thrilling events, full of excitement and puzzles which would eventually lead him to the Holy Grail and the truth behind it. And adventurous journey though, but a lot was at stake.
The plot then surges into the depths of religious history, revealing about the Priory of Sion and Knight Templars. They were the secret keepers of the Holy Grail. The grail being not a chalice, but rather, referring to the womb of Mary Magdalene, the wife of Jesus Christ, representing the bloodline of the royal family.
On the other a hand, a contract is being formulated between the Opus Dei and the church to find and destroy the Holy Grail. If the truth is revealed, it would ultimately question the authority of the church.
Robert Langdon and Sophie, on their quest for the Holy Grail, seek shelter at Sir Leigh Teabing, a great historian. Here Sophie learns about the Priory of Sion, which is a secret society that has existed for centuries. Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, Isaac Newton had all been the members of the Priory of Sion. And as chance or the author would have it, Jacques Sauniere turns out to be the grand master of this society, baffling us about the fact whether Sophie might be the descendant of Jesus Christ and the royal family. After all, in this world, nothing is impossible.
Descending through many twists and turns, revealing facts and puzzles, the author always seems to leave every part of the book at the edge of the cliffhanger which would catapult us into the next chapter. There is always the element of mystery and uncertainty. The chapters are short and fast paced. The plot is well linked and spread evenly throughout. The book also appeals to the hungry mind. It gives a lot of information in general like the importance of pie, and also about the history of the Holy Grail. It makes a great read, exploring the roots of faith.