Book Review: The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four is a puzzle novel, in the same vein of the Da Vinci Code or the National Treasure movies.  The book is set in the final semester of Princeton senior' Tom Sullivan.  The plot of the book centers around a real text from the late 15th century called the Hypnerotomachia PoliphiliTom's father spent his academic career studying the book and looking for a deeper message.  In fact, he spent so much time in the book that he alienated himself from his family, until his death several years before.  Paul Harris is Tom's roomate, who has spent the past four years studying the Hypernotomachia, and has discovered a series of clues and riddles hidden within the text.

The book's strengths are the intriguing puzzle hidden within an age old text and the plausible answers based on Rennaisance-era knowledge that reveals a number of clues the author attempted to hide from contemporaries.  There is also the intrigue of murder and theft all caused by the book.  The scenes that display life at Princeton are also very interesting.  Unfortunately it devolves in to a treasure hunt at the tail end, and the tired relationship between Tom and Katie (a paralell of Tom's mother and father) and his struggle to extricate himself from the Hypernotomachia's pull is a bit of a snoozer.  The ending of the book is quite eventful and leaves open the possibility of a sequel, although the mystery is mostly solved, thus creating less interesting story lines for the future.

My overall verdict is a solid B.  This was definitely a page turner and the excellent portrayal if Princeton as well as the main puzzle were very redeeming.

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