“Published over 500 years ago, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is one of the most treasured and least understood books of early Western printing. Coded in seven languages, it is an intricate mathematical mystery and a tale of love and arcane brutality that has baffled scholars since 1499.”
The first time I read about it was when I came across an article about a novel that was based on interpreting the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. Probably around 3-4 years ago. And, obviously, I found it interesting. I had read all of Dan Brown‘s books and was impressed by the writing style, the suspense, pretty much everything, in fact. And when I read about this book which seemed to be in the same genre – a perfect blend of suspense, mystery, secret codes, history and much more – I
The book, basically, revolves around how two friends, about to graduate from Princeton, are on the verge of of solving the codes in the Hypnerotomachia and the sudden murder of a fellow researcher makes them realize they are in danger.
Well, I got to read the book recently. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was worth the wait. Most reviews compare it positively to the Da Vinci Code, some say it is a mixture of Dan Brown and Umberto Eco. Personally, if you ask me, I’d say: a Dan Brown fan would like the book, definitely. But the Rule of Four is no Da Vinci Code. The latter was about secret codes, symbology, secret societies, religion with elements like suspense, murder, fast-paced action…you know what I’m talking about. If you notice, the Da Vinci Code does not dwell too much on emotional aspects, relationships and the like.
What I felt after reading the Rule of Four is that it is predominantly about friendship, love, family, emotions; about how the Hypnerotomachia affects the relationships of the protagonist. What the Da Vinci Code lacks in emotional aspects, the Rule of Four more than makes up for it. And I loved the book, especially because of that! The best part, I think, is that amidst all the emotions, the
suspense never takes a backseat. Which is kind of difficult to maintain when you’re trying to juggle quite a few genres in a single novel. Even though some reviews I found online criticized this ‘juggling of genres’ as ineffective, I found it interesting and, to be honest, distinct for a novel that is basically categorized as suspense/thriller. Or maybe, it’s just me and my perspective. I expected to find a pure mystery and got something with more depth and emotions than a mere thriller. So, while some might think it was overrated, I’d say: I LOVED it!
Here’s a passage from it that I absolutely loved:
“…that the present is simply a reflection of the future. Imagine that we spend our whole lives staring into a mirror with the future at our backs, seeing it only in the reflection of what is here and now. Some of us would begin to believe that we could see tomorrow better by turning around to look at it directly. But, those who did, without even realizing it, would’ve lost the key to the perspective they once had. For the one thing they would never be able to see in it was themselves. By turning their backs on the mirror, they would become the one element of the future their eyes could never find.”
If you’ve read the book, do let me know what you think. Did you like it?