The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four

Book - 2004
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Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
Endeavoring to decipher a five-hundred-year old text that weaves a mathematical labyrinth within a love story, researchers Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris obtain a diary that may contain the key to the code, but when a fellow researcher is killed, they realize that the book contains a dangerous secret. 100,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
Princeton. Good Friday, 1999. On the eve of graduation, two students are a hairsbreadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a Renaissance text that has baffled scholars for centuries. Famous for its hypnotic power over those who study it, the five-hundred-year-old Hypnerotomachia may finally reveal its secrets - to Tom Sullivan, whose father was obsessed with the book, and Paul Harris, whose future depends on it. As the deadline looms, research has stalled - until an ancient diary surfaces. What Tom and Paul discover inside shocks even them: proof that the location of a hidden crypt has been ciphered within the pages of the obscure Renaissance text.
Armed with this final clue, the two friends delve into the bizarre world of the Hypnerotomachia - a world of forgotten erudition, strange sexual appetites, and terrible violence. But just as they begin to realize the magnitude of their discovery, Princeton's snowy campus is rocked: a longtime student of the book is murdered, shot dead in the hushed halls of the history department.

& Taylor

Trying to decipher an ancient text that weaves a mathematical labyrinth within a love story, two researchers obtain a diary that may contain the key to the code, but when a fellow researcher is killed, they realize that the book contains a dangerous secret.

Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2004
ISBN: 9780385337113
Branch Call Number: Fiction Cal
Characteristics: 372 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Thomason, Dustin


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ArapahoeKati Oct 07, 2016

I had such high hopes--the Renaissance and riddles!--for this and was ultimately disappointed. You could probably skip this.

Jun 27, 2016

I'll reflect a quote from the book itself. "There is no worse thief, than a bad book"

Mar 05, 2015

Could not get into this book.

Feb 01, 2014

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.

Apr 27, 2012

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.


Oct 14, 2011

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!

johnf108 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.

cbarr Sep 03, 2009

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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