I started this book with a great recommendation from a friend, “it’s wonderful, a really great book, and it mentions Rosslyn say’s he.
For those of you who don’t know, Rosslyn is home to the Rosslyn Chapel mentioned towards the end of the book. It is steeped in history and folklore, not only as one of the many Knights Templar locations, but also for containing carvings that elude to a journey to the United States way before Columbus.
So with the excitement of that, and the previous reading of Angels and Demons, I started reading.
I remember reading the Guardian recently and it talked of this novel in the vein of a computer game. You are presented with a puzzle on each level, and as you solve the puzzle you move onto the next level, each level taking the form of a chapter, and I actually understood what she meant.
The action is page by page, and it leaps ahead with very unsubtle plot delays dropped in to attempt to build the tension until the next stage is revealed. The worst example of this is at the end of each chapter, and this just grew almost too infuriating for me, where the author builds up the tension to the point where the character can say “I know what the answer is.”, and then Bam!, you’re reading about the history of one of the characters or why a pillar is carved a certain way.
This kind of deliberate plot manipulation is terrible when it’s staring you in the face and screaming at you like a US TV announcer after advert breaks.
There’s also little characterisation, and you almost feel that this is second to the revelations and intricate connecting details between each fantastic discovery, in fact if the characters were taken away you would be left with a much sanatised version of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail which is an investigation into the many claims that are made into this book and was first published in 1982.
Since I read that the main impact of the book was lost for me and I had to rely on the plot and characters, shame since there is next to no characterisation, and had it not been for Angels and Demons I wouldn’t be able to feel anything for the main character. Indeed the other characters are flat and hard to visualise.
All in all what makes this book is the accessibility of the ideas written in Holy Blood Holy Grail, and a simple repeating device to build tension. Saying that the ending is very well balanced, and I could say that for reading it the ending turns out to be perfect for the book.