Review: The Rule of Four

Blurb: An ivy league murder, a mysterious coded manuscript, and the secrets of a Renaissance prince collide memorably in The Rule of Four—a brilliant work of fiction that weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery.
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.
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | GoodReads

Book: The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason
Publisher: Dell Press, 2004
Genre: Literature
Rating: HeartHearthalfheart
Source + Date Read: Purchased + Jan. 2012
Recommend: I’d recommend this for those that enjoy an academic twist or thriller. It has some history as well!
Book Pro’s: The mystery of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is fascinating.
Book Con’s: The book doesn’t delve as deeply into the mystery and forgoes some action and fun for the sake of laying down history for the characters. If you like this, then chalk this up to a Pro.
Favourite Line: “Never invest yourself in anything so deeply that its failure could cost you your happiness.”

Cover: HeartHeart
I can’t blame the book for its cover. It was 2004 and it was a mass-produced paperback. Those books never have promising covers.

Setting: HeartHeartHeart
Set in the final year of 4 Ivy League students, readers get a healthy dose of European history, American drama and intellectual intrigue.

I wanted to like this book, you have no idea how much I really did. It seems like the perfect Claire-book, in that it contains a healthy dose of academic mystery, intellectual dilemmas with high stakes drama, a smattering of romance and cut-throat action. Excellent right?

I was very disappointed, however, when the action started to slowly peter off in the book, to the point where it was almost non-existent. So lets say the book is done like this: 1/3 of the book is a sort of introduction. It sets the stage, introduces us to characters, the drama, the intellectual intrigue and so on. The second part of the book is set after the drama and chaos has already ensued. Rather it charters the demise of the protagonist and focuses on characters, their past relationships and how the sins they constantly recommit. The sins of the father are born unto the son as they say (and man, you think this kid would learn from his dad right?). The last part of the book is a bit more action focused as some light-bulbs go off and a search ensues with a seriously crazy and yet totally easy ending. Seriously. I was a bit upset, because I was rooting for this book so hard, and it just let me fall flat on my face.

If you want a search with some serious bonding with the characters, then go ahead. It’s well written, and a treat in certain parts to read but it was just… lacking.

Total Score: HeartHeartHearthalfheart
Eh… maybe?



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Literature, SFF. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Review: The Rule of Four

  1. Pingback: 2012 Reads | Bitches With Books

  2. Hmmm… Yeah. Lousy cover and not-so-great title. But it sounds kind of interesting. Probably because I’m really into characterization. I love getting to know a character deeply and intimately. But not through backstory. Through actionnnnn! And stuff. I’ll see if I can find a sample of this book somewhere.

  3. Good to know. I was also turned off by the cover. It looks really old.

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