Skip to main content

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Two college students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, attempt to solve the mystery about an old allegorical Renaissance manuscript, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Poliphilo's Struggle of Love in a Dream), which had eluded historians for generations. Each has his own deep connection to the coded text and it is this to which they threw their passions and also could lead to their ruin. Set in an Ivy League school, the scholarly atmosphere and ruminations of post-graduation life served as a background for treachery, murder and suspense.

The Rule of Four is bit scholarly than most historical fiction with the premise quite promising, drawing out the nostalgic school life, literary pursuits and intellectual squabbling so to speak. It also displays the human psyche by delving more on character background and the seduction of passion (in this case the devotion to study the text) which could either soar one so high or make one a slave for life.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is a total enigma to me and curiosity mostly drove me to read the book. Just as well it's a story that was least likely related to government investigation. It dampens the romanticism for me sometimes when utilitarian institutions arrive on the scene.

Historical fiction seeped with mysterious ancient relic or scripts often is an intriguing draw to readers however there is a narrow line which must convince and hold its audience at least on a suspended belief for it to work. This book toed that line before it slid a little off mark. I must say the two authors might have been carried away, not unlike two friends on a cafe whose conversations wind in and out of the top topic of the day.

Nevertheless, it was enjoyable to read the theories made regarding it albeit it lost its academic momentum somewhere halfway. After all the edgy anticipation to break the ancient allegorical texts, it somewhat left me wanting as if the last half of a rich tapestry got done rushed. It is, shall we say, more of a character driven piece than plot wise, not much about the allegorical text but more of how the enchantment of past mysteries shape one's dreams, one's future.

In a way, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili reflects that as well. It presents philosophies about life, pain, desire and most of all, love. There is a curious section in the book about the explanation of a particular drawing of Caracci, Love Conquers All, which may answer the following questions. Who wins against it all? Who is the master and who is the slave?

Book Summary:

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 beginning 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.

Title: The Rule of Four
Author: Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Published: 2005
Publisher: Dell
Rating:  ( 4 cups - A very interesting historical take, a bit unique with its subject though a little drawn out and winded. It encompasses many emotions of life leaving us with deep thoughts and more captivated with Renaissance works. A treat for history lovers.)


Popular posts from this blog

Review Post: Fool Me Once by Catherine Bybee

Rating/Review: ☕☕☕☕ 1/2 (4.5 cups, this romantic suspense will give new meaning to The First Wives Club)
You never know what you really would be getting when reading a Catherine Bybee book.  On the outside, each book can definitely hold its own as a great contemporary romance novel.  Read a little bit further, you get well-defined, multilayered characters and a romantic suspense in the making. Pretty soon you will be amazed on the intricate storyline balanced well with the main characters developing romance.  Fool Me Once is definitely a Catherine Bybee book.  The first in her new series, First Wives,  Fool Me Once is also a spinoff from her popular Weekday Bride series.  And yet again, Ms. Bybee delivers in her great characters, well thought out plot and melding her two series together without one overpowering the other.
The story starts out as the head of Alliance and their legal go to person, Lori try to help one of their client who unexpectedly lost her husband.  To get her away …

Spotlight Tour: A Sky Full of Stars by Samantha Chase

The stars are about to align in the newest Shaughnessy brothers romance!
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE Brilliant astrophysicist Dr. Owen Shaughnessy feels more connected to the cosmos than to people. He’s great with calculations, but when he leads a team of scientists to study a famous meteor shower, he doesn’t factor in his free-spirited artist assistant Brooke Matthews.
LOVE CAN DAZZLE YOU Polar opposites in personality, the friction between them threatens to derail the project. But the beauty and mystery of the night sky draw Owen and Brooke together—and she’s going to surprise him in ways the stars never could.

Amazon: B&N: iBooks:


“That was…interesting.” “I never thought I’d see those two mediums used together.” “I may have to stab my own eyes out to make sure I never see it again,” Brooke said and then shuddered. They had just left the art gallery, and she waited until they were at the corner before looking at Owen. “I…

Review & Excerpt Tour: My Fair Duchess:Dukes Behaving Badly by Megan Frampton

An unexpected duchess proves that behaving  badly isn't exclusive to the Dukedom.

MY FAIR DUCHESS Dukes Behaving Badly #5 Megan Frampton Releasing Feb 28, 2017 Avon Books

In Megan Frampton's most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn't exclusive to the Dukedom.
The Unexpected Duchess
Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?
It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of …