The Rule of Four

Caldwell, Ian

Book - 2004
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Rule of Four
An ivy league murder, a mysterious coded manuscript, and the secrets of a Renaissance prince collide memorably in THE RULE OF FOUR -- a brilliant work of fiction that weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery. It's Easter at Princeton. Seniors are scrambling to finish their theses. And two students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, are a hair's breadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili--a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman, a work that has baffled scholars since its publication in 1499. For Tom, their research has been a link to his family's past -- and an obstacle to the woman he loves. For Paul, it has become an obsession, the very reason for living. But as their deadline looms, research has stalled -- until a long-lost diary surfaces with a vital clue. And when a fellow researcher is murdered just hours later, Tom and Paul realize that they are not the first to glimpse the Hypnerotomachia 's secrets. Suddenly the stakes are raised, and as the two friends sift through the codes and riddles at the heart of the text, they are beginnning to see the manuscript in a new light--not simply as a story of faith, eroticism and pedantry, but as a bizarre, coded mathematical maze. And as they come closer and closer to deciphering the final puzzle of a book that has shattered careers, friendships and families, they know that their own lives are in mortal danger. Because at least one person has been killed for knowing too much. And they know even more. From the streets of fifteenth-century Rome to the rarified realm of the Ivy League, from a shocking 500 year-old murder scene to the drama of a young man's coming of age, THE RULE OF FOUR takes us on an entertaining, illuminating tour of history--as it builds to a pinnacle of nearly unbearable suspense. From the Hardcover edition.

Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2004.
ISBN: 0385337116
Characteristics: 372 p. ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Thomason, Dustin


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Mar 05, 2015

Could not get into this book.

Feb 01, 2014
  • Lucchesa rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I got to page 115, where one character says, "What do the Italians say? There's no worse thief than a bad book." Yep. If I'm not captivated after 115 pages of Renaissance setup & Princeton traditions, I have better books to spend my time on. This one goes back to the library.

Dec 17, 2012
  • susarrey rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Decent suspense/mystery story, definitely better than The Da Vinci Code, but reeks of Ivy League snobbishness and entitlement. Some parts were so overwritten and flowery they felt like a creative writing assignment in need of editing. What really turned me off though was that a major event towards the end of the book felt like a rip-off of Eco's masterpiece The Name of the Rose. Read that instead if you haven't already!

Apr 27, 2012
  • PeterWMC rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book describes the serious academic and personal rivalry among researchers examining the medieval text, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. It is set at Princeton. It is worth reading if only for the description of the discovery and analysis of enciphered hidden meaning in that text.

Unfortunately it spends too much time on the undergraduate pranks and lifestyle which are, frankly, tedious.

Please do not compare it with Dan Brown's Da Vinci books: this book is in a different class.


Mar 16, 2011

This has been called a "thinking man's" Da Vinci code---that is an understatement. You won't put this book down.
I got a historian who never reads novels or watches TV/movies to read it---he did over a weekend and started translating the [real] manuscript the book is about.

Sep 03, 2009
  • cbarr rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book contains one of my favorite passages illustrating the pleasures of reading: "In a dream once, I visited Firestone [Library] in the middle of the night and found it full of insects, thousands of bookworms wearing tiny glasses and sleeping caps, magically feeding themselves by reading stories. They wriggled from page to page, journeying through the words, and as tensions grew and lovers kissed and villains met their ends, the bookworms' tails began to glow, until finally the whole library was a church of candles swaying gently from left to right."


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