The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is a fast paced thriller where the main characters have to decipher clues in artwork, architecture and riddles to get to the bottom of a murder and save themselves. As a thriller, it is an O.K. pick, but not as good as Brown’s Angels and Demons. The main characters discuss unsubstantiated religious ideas as if they are facts (and Brown’s “Fact” page implies that they are). This may offend or annoy some readers.
I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown years after its initial release, so my reaction is probably different than those who discovered it before the hype. To them, perhaps, the ideas were novel and the story exciting. For me, however, the story was so similar to Brown’s Angel’s and Demonsthat I found it predictable and was able to guess some of the twists early on. As a thriller, it definitely kept me reading at points, but I never got as lost in the story as I would have liked. I would only rate the mystery as O.K. and the ending as somewhat disappointing.
The Da Vinci Code is a thriller, and should be taken as such; however, the premise of the story undermines the tenets of Christianity, thus the novel has stirred up a lot of controversy and spawned several nonfiction works debunking the theories discussed by characters. Does Dan Brown have an agenda other than entertainment? I don’t know. He certainly set the stage for controversy with the “Fact” page at the beginning of the novel, which implies that the ideas discussed in the novel are true. (Brown has since backed off the implications of the Fact page on his official Web site. Click here for more on what the Fact page means). There are also several points where the tone of the novel is sort of condescending in the presentation of its religious and supposedly feminist ideas.
According to the novel, the secrets of the Holy Grail, as kept by the Priory of Sion, are as follows:
- The Holy Grail is not a physical chalice, but a woman, namely Mary Magdalene, who helped to carry the bloodline of Christ into the following ages.
- Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David. That she was a prostitute was a slander invented by the Catholic Church to obscure their true relationship. At the time of the Crucifixion, she was pregnant. After the Crucifixion, she fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseilles. She gave birth to a daughter, named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France.
- The French expression for the Holy Grail, San gréal, actually is a play on Sang réal, which literally means “royal blood”.
- The Grail relics consist of the documents that testify to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.
- Sophie Neveu and her brother are descendants of the original bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (their last name was changed to hide their ancestry).
- The existence of the bloodline was the secret that was contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099. The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep the secret.
The Da Vinci Code has been criticised by many scholars but it has undoubtedly helped to spur widespread popular interest in certain theories concerning the legend of the Holy Grail and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity.
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