I never did read this book when it first came out. Don’t know why. It became an instant best seller and everyone was reading it at the time. But after all these years I finally decided to buy a secondhand copy nearby. I have to say … I’m so glad I didn’t buy it new. I feel like my brain has useless stored information in it now that can’t be destroyed. More on that in the review, though. For now I will simply summarize the book.
The story revolves around a professor named Robert Langdon. He receives a call at his hotel to come to a museum, where he finds the dead body of a curator he was supposed to meet earlier that night. The police are trying to prove that Langdon is guilty of this crime, while Langdon is trying to uncover the mystery behind the curator’s death. His path leads him down a road full of clues linking to the ‘holy grail’ and a secret society, evading the police every step of the way.
That is basically what the book is about. A fun thriller that keeps you on your toes, forcing you to guess what may happen next in the adventure. Every chapter either reveals a clue or solves a puzzle, so it’s intriguing. So what’s wrong?
This is what’s wrong. At the very beginning of the book, on the page before the story starts, is written:
“The Priory of Sion is a real organization.”
“It was founded in 1099.”
“All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
So what the author, Dan Brown, is saying is that his novel is not fiction. It is the truth.
Okay, that’s fair. You pile together historical facts and put them in a book. Great. Only … when I arrived at certain “facts” in the story (facts I knew about) I began to feel that Brown was very confused about his information. For example, Brown writes that: “Over five million women were killed during the witch hunt.” Honestly, that is highly impossible. It was more like 30, 000 and about 20% of the victims were male.
But that isn’t the only fact that was wildly wrong. There are dozens of “facts” written in the book that Brown claims to be completely true. In fact, he has been interviewed several times about it, each time claiming to believe fully in what he wrote. Yet every scrap of information concerning artwork, rituals, and documents talked about in this novel is completely wrong.
The Priory of Scion was actually a group founded in the 1950’s and dealt with concerns regarding public housing. Its leader (or at least the one who named the group) decided that he wanted more attention, so he created false documents claiming that the group was more than it led on to be. He later testified that he made the whole thing up to become more important in society.
So basically, Dan Brown’s “factual research” is nothing more than lies, found in various conspiracy books, such as “Holy Blood Holy Grail” (the authors of which, by the way, tried to sue Brown for copying all their ideas).
Honestly, I would have been completely okay with this book if that page at the very beginning was not there. I would have even given it 4/5 stars. But sadly, that page exists. After reading that this book would contain actual historical information and then realizing that it didn’t, I became quite disappointed with it.
So, 2/5 stars. It’s a good adventure, but a horrible account of history. If you haven’t read this book – and plan on reading it – please just read it as a fictional novel. Skip the page saying that everything is true. Also, if you have read this book and you changed your entire life and beliefs because of it (people have!) just go back to the way you were before.
I have to say, I lost faith in this author. I really wanted it to be a good history book, and it wasn’t.
Anyway, I’m going back to writing my own completely fictional and not in any way factual novel.