Englischsprachige Literatur

Caldwell Ian & Thomason Dustin

The Rule of the Four

Dell/Random House, New York 2005


Marisha Pessl and Donna Tart set the example for this novel, not Dan Brown, as the cover promises. Again we meet four students, who get involved in a Renaissance text, the “Hypnerotomachis Poliphili”, a conveniently unpronouncable title, probably pure fiction, I thought first, but later learnt, that a document of that name really exists.

They yearn to discover the secret text that is written into it by means of a very complicated code system, which they have to crack. Then there are two elderly professors, who use the students to get to the secret of the text. And, of course, there is the scholarly - and very worldly - atmosphere of Princeton, where all this takes place. Two murders occur, the friendship of the four is tested to the limits and breaks. Tom, the first-person-narrator, finally follows his friend Paul to Florence, where the latter has unearthed the wealth promised in the ancient text.

Caldwell and Thomason had the idea for the story while studying History a Princeton, but it took them 6 years after graduating to finish the book. And it shows: You experience all the endeavour they put into it, but none of the pleasure they might have had when writing it. And it doesn´t really help, that they have been best friends since they were eight years old.