The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Dan Brown is the author of bestsellers such as ‘Digital Fortress’, ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘Deception Point’. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy where he has taught English and Creative writing. ‘The Da Vinci Code’, written by Dan Brown has a computer game feel to it. The protagonists are dropped almost immediately into a situation of peril and must extricate themselves by solving a series of puzzles, with one puzzle’s solution granting the privilege of looking at another puzzle which also requires a solution.

There are two protagonists, Robert Langdon- an expert on religious symbology and a Harvard professor and Sophie Nevue- a cryptologist and a Parisian police agent. Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the Louvre museum is shot by an albino monk named Silas and left to bleed slowly to death. Jacques Sauniere is the grandfather of Sophie Nevue. The time it takes Jacques to die is time enough for him to set up the first set of puzzles to be solved. His body is found naked, arms and legs splayed with writings, which are meant to be secret coded messages for his granddaughter, Sophie. Robert Langdon is drawn into the murder as the inspector on the case, Bezu fache, captain in the French criminal investigation police believes that Langdon is the killer. Sophie knowing that Robert is innocent, helps him escape from the museum and the chase (puzzle solving) is on.

The plot turns are suspenseful, the mysteries and their solutions clever, even ingenious in some cases. The plot revolves around an intellectual belief that Jesus had a love affair and was married to Mary Magdalene, who was in fact pregnant with Jesus’ child at the time of crucifiation- a fact supposedly known by the church and covered up. The “thing” everyone is after and being killed for is the secret of the location of the Holy Grail, a location known to many who belonged to a secret society known as the Priory of Sion, throughout history, including Leonardo Da Vinci and Jacques Sauniere. The Holy Grail is not, under this theory, the cup Jesus drank wine from during ‘The Last Supper’ but rather a metaphor for Mary Magdalene. She is the “cup” that held Jesus’s child: she is the true Holy Grail.

Sir Leigh Teabing is a grail researcher and a friend of Robert Langdon. He explains ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci to Robert and Sophie. In the painting, the figure at the right hand of Jesus is Mary Magdalene. The absence of the chalice in the painting supposedly indicates that Leonardo knew that Mary was actually the Holy Grail (the bearer of Jesus’ child). This is said to be reinforced by the letter “v” that is created with the bodily positions of Jesus and Mary. “v” is the symbol of sacred feminine. The color scheme of their garments is inverted: Jesus wears a red blouse with a royal blue cape; Mary wears a royal blue blouse with a red cape- perhaps symbolizing two bonded halves of marriage. Also if you move Mary to the left of Jesus, you will see that her head fits perfectly into Jesus’ shoulder.
Leigh Teabing helps Robert and Sophie to escape from Bezu Fache and his forces that are after them. But as the story unfolds, one gets to know that Leigh Teabing is also after the precious “Holy Grail”.

The book generated criticism when it was first published due to speculations and misrepresentations of core aspects of Christianity, the history of the Catholic Church and descriptions of European art, history and architecture. The book has received mostly negative reviews from Catholic and other Christian communities as well as historians. Nonetheless, the book has been a bestseller all over the world.

I think the book is a heart-racing thriller! The story has so many twists- all satisfying, most unexpected. It would be a sin to reveal too much of the plot in advance. This novel will definitely get your pulse racing. This masterpiece should be a mandatory reading. Brown solidifies his position as one of the most skilled thriller writers. The book is a gripping mix of murder and myth. It is highly recommended.

Sanya Kansal

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