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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.
©2004 Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason; (P)2004 Simon & Schuster Inc. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"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

By Shelley on 09-30-04

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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41 of 43 people found this review helpful


By Lucas on 08-31-05

Definitely A Great Book

This is one of those books where one must actually think in order to enjoy it. That said, one doesn't have to analyze it line-by-line, or anything, either. If anyone is interested in this book, I recommend that he make sure he has the patience to read the book all the way through. Intertwining the thrill of discovery, the intrigue of murder, and the excitement of love, The Rule of Four is an exciting (yes, exciting) book for those willing to read (or listen to) it. Believe me, it's not as wordy or as hard to read as some have tried to make it seem - I'm only 16 years old, and it suits me just fine.

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19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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