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The Rule of Four

rule of fourThe Rule of Four is a novel written by two authors; Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. The back cover has a comment from Nelson DeMille; "If Scott Fitzgerald, Umberto Eco, and Dan Brown teamed up to write a novel, the result would be The Rule of Four." Having read Dan Brown's books, I was intrigue by the comment. Also, I saw this book was featured in a couple of bookstores. I decided to buy the book. It took me a while to read and finish it.

The story in the book is about a mysterious Renaissance text called Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. This text has seduced many people. Marriage went cold. Friendship was broken. Even murder!

Messages were coded in the text by using steganography and cryptography at the same time. To get the actual message(s) you have to solve some riddles. A student took this text as his thesis at Princeton. Needless to say, there were problems and fiasco. Can he finished his thesis and solve the mystery behind the text?

I love reading books with code and hidden messages, but this book is dancing around it. It doesn't give the actual text to see how difficult it is to write (and break) the riddles. The rule of four itself is only introduced at the end and is only used a little. Why the title bears it, I don't know. Why four? It could be the rule of five for all I care. They should explore more into the rule of four. I've got the feeling that the end of the book was written in a hurry. But, what do I know? I am not a writer.

For some reasons, I found the book difficult to read. Maybe it's because the book uses many references to the Renaissance era which I am not familiar with. It's just difficult for me to memorize the names and events. It goes fast forward dan flashback creating a jumpy flow, in my opinion. Because of that, I'll give 4 stars out of 5.


Ujang said…
Umberto Eco must be rolling in his grave whenever his works are compared to Dan Brown's. Of course, the problem with my statement above is that Umberto Eco is still very much alive.

Having said that, I might check out this book by Caldwell and Thomason. Thanks for the review.
enda said…
is not so much as another da vinci code but a novel about life in an american ivy league that interest me with the rule of four.

so it is wise to avoid this one, if you are expecting another hidden message-treasure hunt story.

the other thing that is interesting about the book is that, the two authors is a bestfriend since they were kids, one went to princeton and one to harvard, and they finish the book just after they graduated
budi said…
enda wrote:
... but a novel about life in an american ivy league that interest me

well, having went through a north american university i can tell you that i went through some of the things that were told in the novel. different, of course, but the gist is similar. those were the days indeed.

maybe one of these days i'll write a novel about that :p
Ujang said…
Enda: then I would recommend you to read "Joe College", a novel Tom Perotta, a surprisingly enjoyable novel I got when I first came to New Haven.

If anything , these kind of novels tell you which places are best to hang out in town. That is if the places still exist which unfortunately not true most of the times.

Budi: yes, why don't you write one..Of course, there's a strong competition out there..
Reggie Devanna said…
Hello Pak Budi,

I came to your seminar just today at Aryaduta. Cool stuff :) I just wonder why information security in Indonesia is more socialized by people from Electrical Engineering than Informatics Engineering. Not that I'm dissapointed or anything. But anyhow, it was quite inspiring. Looking forward to hear more good things from you (including the presentation materials :)).
budi said…
Reggie, I don't know, but from my experience abroad it was similar. I have my own theory, but CS/IF people won't like it so I keep it to myself. ha ha ha. I'll explain it some other time.

(I am still tired from the trip back to Bandung. Just got home less than an hour ago.)
enda said…
Thank you kang ujang for the tips, another novel i like about american ivy league is The Class by Erich Segal, the author of Love Story

Pak Budi, what about the life on that campus in Bandung hehe, I found so many interesting events, characters and stories to tell there. :D
Ujang said…
Enda, I've never read The Class - I'll add it to my summer reading list. Thanks!! And I only saw the movie version of The Love Story although I did follow the Segal-Al Gore-Tommy Lee Jones controversy in 2000.

Campus life in Bandung sounds like novels waiting to be written. I know ITB has produced some great literary figures, but I'd like to see quality pop novels (oxymoron?) with ITB settings. With fictional characters based on real students and lecturers (ehm) or even alumni, maybe. It'll be fun also to hear what the characters say about my campus. On second thought, maybe not ;-)

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