The Rule of Four

  • by Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason
  • Narrated by Jeff Woodman
  • 12 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Princeton. Good Friday, 1999. On the eve of graduation, two students are a hairsbreadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Famous for its hypnotic power over those who study it, the 500-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.
A tale of timeless intrigue, dazzling scholarship, and great imaginative power, The Rule of Four is the story of a young man divided between the future's promise and the past's allure, guided only by friendship and love.

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What the Critics Say

"The authors, best friends since childhood, have made an impressive debut, a coming-of-age novel in the guise of a thriller, packed with history (real and invented) and intellectual excitement." (Booklist)
"A smart, swift, multitextured tale that both entertains and informs." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"[An] intriguing intellectual suspense novel." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Dull, simply dull

An exercise in ego for the authors, this book dragged from the beginning. I finally gave up after the first 1/2. This is a yawner that drags on and on barely advancing the story while delving into details that stiffled the plot. Save your credit.
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- James

Mental chewing gum that loses its flavor

While some of the characters' discussions of Renaissance history are fun and the theme of obsession with a strange book is promising, this novel never decides what it wants to be and so never becomes anything. There is a 'coming of age' plot (lost son seeks reconciliation with late lost father) that everything hangs onto and if that had been more carefully developed, this might have been a very good novel. It has a very neatly observed setting and the authors are intelligent but they lack the power to sustain tension and suspense. The mysterious book subplot (Hypnerotomachia Poliphili) wanders around until it seems to just lie down and nap. Worst of all, the people in the book are very flat (no pun intended). I never felt like I was listening to more than one character speaking, although the narrator tried his best. Definitely mental chewing gum that doesn't retain its flavor to the end.
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- Shelley

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-10-2004
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio