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The Rule of Four

by Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason

The Rule of Four
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    May 2004, 384 pages
    Jun 2005, 464 pages

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There are currently 26 reader reviews for The Rule of Four
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richie (09/09/10)

i dislike this book
This book has to much going on in it............... I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO ANYONE
mdp (11/13/06)

Shadow of the Wind meets the DaVinci Code
If you're in between books, and want a nice, light read, The Rule of Four is it. Well written, not too deep, it's a nice story of love between friends, love between parents/children, and what connects them. I enjoyed it because it didn't demand too much of me and I didn't expect much of it.
Elle Mac (11/10/06)

Lacks Four= plot, character, pace and writing.
This book was compared on the jacket to The Da Vinci Code , The Name of the Rose and The Secret History. All I can say is; Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco must be furious: and I never thought I'd say this, but come back, Dan Brown, all is forgiven.
At least Dan Brown understands pace.

Tartt and Eco wear their erudition lightly, but their craft lies in the flow of the story, relatively unencumbered by detail which detracts from the events unfolding.

Caldwell and Thomason bombard you with detail: arcane too-clever-by-half detail: obsessive detail about life at Princeton: constant repetitions of poverty-stricken phraseology and unintentionally-grating use of colloquialisms.

I cannot remember how many times I cringed at the term "figure out" to explain how they variously computed something mathematically, understood an argument, recognised a reference or simply pondered deeply upon the meaning of life until they had come to some simple conclusion.

The word "okay" is similarly over-used considering the desire of the authors to demonstrate the scholarly erudition of their characters.
I laughed out loud when one of the major incidents of the book occurred- the murder of a student who is shot, and explodes backwards out of an office window to fall to the hard surface of the quadrangle on a freezing night- and Gil, one of the four main protagonists, comments, "I hope he's okay".

The paucity of the language used in the book really upset me considering the high-falutin' tone.

Very well, it has ciphers, Renaissance mysteries, undergraduates, murders, theses, characters. All good ingredients for a book- but these ingredients don't cook up to a good repast, more of a stodgy pudding that requires a good lie-down afterwards to recover from the indigestion.
liezle (01/12/06)

waste of time
I hate those misleading critics! I had a neighbor who kept nagging me to finish this book because it was supposed to be the greatest book he ever read. Novels that get me hooked takes me about two or three days to read. I had been reading this novel for 2 months. I kept at it just to please my neighbor! It was soooooo boooooring! I just don't get why this book is in the bestseller list! Hey, wait I know! It was those stupid reviews at the jacket! I wished I never bought this book at the retail price! It was so not worth it!
Vance (11/10/05)

Don't believe the Hype
This is absolutely one of the most boring, ham-handed, pretentious books I've ever read. While some praise the authors' attention to detail, I call it a fascination with trivia. Yes, this is written by TWO people. When was the last time you read a great novel by TWO people? It reads like it was written by a committee.....of robots. If you want a real historical thriller, check out Name of the Rose or anything by David Liss. These guys make Dan Brown's work read like Proust.
Justin (09/07/05)

A decent read, with a misleading book jacket.
This book could best be summarized as the result of Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) attempting to write a guide to college life at Princeton, while occasionally mentioning a mysterious ancient encoded document just enough to serve as the proverbial dangling carrot for the reader lured in by comparisons to Dan Brown.

The Rule of Four is first a book about four young men at college, and their trials and tribulations and interpersonal relationships. It is second a book about the fond remembrance of time spent at Princeton, and only third a book about an ancient encoded document, which seems a subplot at best.

First the good, then the bad. This is a well-written book, with rich almost tactile descriptions, intense character depth and development, intelligent references to historical events, fantastic similies and metaphors, and warm nostalgia for anyone who enjoyed college life. Unfortunately, this list excludes what most paperback readers look for first- an exciting plot. It appears that the list of compliments presented above seems to have taken the authors' attention away from crafting a thrilling plot. Only a handful of chapters can be called "page-turners"- the rest of the book plods along slowly and sometimes seemingly aimlessly, spending many chapters on tangents developing the characters to a level only a psychologist could appreciate, and describing locations, traditions and events at Princeton only an alumnus could appreciate. Clearly it takes a skillful writer to do these things so well as the authors, but when the effort takes away from an involving plot, it leaves the reader wanting more.

Perhaps if the jacket had not made comparisons to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code (which I found enthralling), my comments would be different. Then again, if the jacket had more accurately compared the story to Nicholas Sparks, I would not have read it.
Tim O. (07/22/05)

My sentiments exactly...
I echo many of the review on this website...the beginning of the story has potential, then dies on the vine. I was extremely disappointed with the book.

Although I'm not a huge Dan Brown fan, at least his books have good pacing to them. "Rule of Four" just meanders around most of the time without any real purpose. For all the authors wordiness trying to establish and build-up the characters, I never really cared for any of them. I felt little if any emotion for the characters or story itself. Very disappointing.
Simon (01/27/05)

I read this book following an almost obsessive plunge into the Da Vinci code and Angels and Demons. There was a great idea flowing through this story, and the 'hypnerotomachia' plot was fascinating. But it was far too diluted and distracted I felt by everything else that was going on. It seemed very weighted by it's nostalgia for student life and Princeton, which I'm sure was great for the authors but when you live in London is really not that riveting. I wanted the story to pick me up and keep me reading, but i really felt that I was perservering just to get to the end and a conclusion, rather than because I was absorbed by it. Wereas Dan Brown delivered a 3 course meal, this really felt a bit more like a starter.
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