#38: The Rule Of Four | Book Review


The Rule Of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

What’s it about?

The Rule Of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason follows the story of four Princeton University students on their final year of study. It’s Easter and two of the students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, scramble to finish their theses – the deciphering of the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman during the Italian Renaissance. However, when a long-lost diary surfaces and a fellow researcher is murdered, the two students find themselves in grave danger.

What I love:

In all honesty, this is the fifth time I’ve read this book and I’ve realised that each time, I find myself falling deeper in love with its mystery, wit, nostalgia and the characters who make this novel a pleasure to read.

The careful blend of fifteen-century Rome and the realm of an Ivy League University also makes this book enjoyable. Personally, I’ve always wanted to go to an Ivy League school and so following the story through Tom’s point of view, it made me feel as if I was there with him, trying to solve one of the most mysterious and valuable books of early Western printing. Also, having been to Rome and Florence last year, I was able to relate and identify more with the descriptions of the these two places rich with history.

Throughout the novel, Tom develops an obsession with the book, causing conflicts between him, his family, friends and most importantly, with his college sweetheart, Katy. In the process, he learns that there are dangers to loving something that cannot love you back.

What I didn’t love much:

When I first read the synopsis, I expected the whole book to be almost like a treasure hunt as the two major characters try to decipher a mysterious book. However, only 20% of the story is devoted to this « treasure hunt » aspect. The book is relatively long and contained some too extensive backstories on each character.

Favourite quotes:

  1. Never invest yourself in anything so deeply that its failure could cost you your happiness.

  2. I’d begun to realize that there was an unspoken prejudice among book-learned people, a secret conviction they all seemed to share, that life as we know it is an imperfect vision of reality, and that only art, like a pair of reading glasses can correct it.

Final thoughts:

If you loved The Da Vinci Code, you will love this, too!

[Source of Featured Images: Penguin Random House]

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