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The Da Vinci Code

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The Da Vinci Code
US 1st edition cover
Author Dan Brown
Country United States
Language English language
Genre(s) Thriller, Crime, Mystery fiction
Publisher Doubleday (USA) & Bantam Books
Released 18 March 2003 (USA) & 1 July 2003 (UK)
Media Type Print (Hardcover
Pages 454 p. (US hardback edition) & 359 p. (UK hardback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-385-50420-9 (US hardback edition), ISBN 0-593-05244-7 (UK hardback edition) & ISBN 1-4000-7917-9 (US paperback edition)
Preceded by Angels and Demons
Followed by The Solomon Key

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The Da Vinci Code is a fictionalized account of the search for the Holy Grail. Although the events outlined in the novel are the product of the author’s imagination, many of the claims and clues included in the novel have long been advanced by art historians, symbologists, and conspiracy theorists.

Harvard professor Robert Langdon is in Paris presenting a lecture. He is awakened in the middle of the night by a call from Paris police, who inform him that Jacques Saunière, the famous curator of the Louvre, has been found murdered. Langdon is asked to assist the investigation, beginning with the cryptic messages and bizarre placement of the body, much of which the victim appears to have arranged himself in the moments before his death.

Saunière’s granddaughter, police cryptographer Sophie Neveu, arrives on the scene and clandestinely lures Langdon into a secret meeting, in which she reveals that he is the prime suspect and that her grandfather identified him by name in another cryptic message. Sophie and Langdon pretend to have escaped the museum by throwing a GPS tracking device planted on Langdon out a window. They continue their search, eventually finding a golden key that they use to open a safety deposit box at a Swiss bank. The box yields a strange device called a cryptex, which is used to store secret documents.

The bank is soon surrounded by police, and the bank president agrees to help the two escape in an armored car in order to minimize media coverage of the institution’s involvement. The pair eventually leave the bank president on the roadside and travel to the country estate of a renowned British Grail historian, Sir Leigh Teabing, who offers them more information about the history of the Grail. He claims that the Grail is not an object, but rather, a long-suppressed secret: Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and had at least one child with her. Jacques Saunière is revealed as the leader of the secretive group charged with the responsibility of protecting this knowledge, the Priory of Sion.

The albino lay monk responsible for Saunière’s death has followed them to the estate, and he attacks them, only to be ambushed by the disabled Teabing. The group escapes from the police who have descended on the estate, eventually making their way to London on Teabing’s private jet. They follow a sequential series of clues found in the cryptex, all of which lead to more clues. They are again attacked by the lay monk, who works in tandem with Teabing’s manservant to kidnap Teabing, along with the cryptex.

Sophie and Langdon research the remaining clues, eventually arriving at Westminster Abbey to seek the answer to one of the final puzzles stored in the cryptex. It is revealed that the mastermind behind the plot to kill Saunière was actually Teabing, who faked his own kidnapping in order to complete the subterfuge. After a tense stand-off, the police arrive and Teabing is arrested.

The remaining clues lead Sophie and Langdon to an ancient church in Scotland, where they find the grandmother and brother that she had long believed to be dead. Sophie is, in fact, the heir to Christ’s royal bloodline, and her family was divided and denied knowledge of one another in order to protect and conceal their true identities.

At the conclusion of the novel, Langdon finally recognizes that the Grail is buried beneath the glass pyramids at the entrance of the Louvre. He allows the secret to remain hidden.

The Da Vinci Code Characters

  • Robert Langdon -- Harvard professor of Religious Symbology, art historian
  • Sophie Neveu -- Paris police cryptologist, granddaughter of Jacques Saunière
  • Jacques Saunière -- world renowned curator of the Louvre museum in Paris, later determined to be the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, a secretive group involved in the protection of the Holy Grail
  • Silas -- an albino devotee of Catholic conservative sect Opus Dei
  • Bishop Manuel Aringarosa -- leader of Opus Dei
  • Sir Leigh Teabing/The Teacher -- Teabing is a wealthy historian who invested much of his life in a search for the Grail. He assumes a secret identity as “the Teacher” in order to have Opus Dei identify and kill the leaders of the Priory of Sion.
  • Rèmy -- Teabing’s manservant and accomplice
  • Vernet -- President of the Swiss bank where the Priory of Sion’s coded key device has long been held for safekeeping.
  • Captain Fache -- top-ranking Paris police official
  • Detective Collet -- Paris police detective under Captain Fache

The Da Vinci Code Chapter Summaries

Prologue

Famous Louvre curator Jacques Saunière is ambushed in the darkened halls of the museum by an armed albino man who demands to know the location of an unidentified object. In the minutes before he dies, Saunière sets into motion the central mystery of the book in the form of a coded message.


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