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Picknett and Prince Defend Dan Brown

Clive Prince and Lynn Picknett, authors of one of Dan Brown's prime sources for The Da Vinci Code (The Templar Revelation), have weighed in on the recent wave of critical comment against DB. They think he's getting a raw deal:

A lot of people try to put him down critically and say the book's bad and the ideas are bad. And a lot of the critical reaction has been very kind of snobby, that he can't write and that people shouldn't be introduced to these kinds of ideas in a thriller. Well, they weren't going to learn about them any other way.

I'm sure DB would be the first to acknowledge that he's not writing high literature. What has been interesting though, is to watch the number of people who originally were enthusiastic about the book, who now look down their noses at it.

Mason Bad Guys in the Solomon Key?

The Denver Post has an article on Freemasonry which discusses the predicted Solomon Key emphasis on the Craft. Apparently Masons are worried that they might be portrayed as the 'Opus Dei' equivalent from The Da Vinci Code. According to Stephen Munsinger, chief executive officer of the Scottish Rite Masons of Colorado:

It could be very negative...we're concerned that it will say we're against traditional Christianity or established religions, or that (we're) some type of right-wing, left-wing, or off-the-wall religious sect, or that we're pushing some secret agenda for religious purposes.

Always a chance that Brown could do this, but as I've said I think it would be difficult to make Masonry out to be a bad influence in American life, when luminaries such as Ben Franklin and George Washington were 'brothers'. More likely that a sect of Masonry or a pseudo-Masonic group (Skull and Bones?) would be the bad guys, or in Brown's previous style someone pretending to be a Mason (the Jesuits?).

Brown vs Perdue - the Sequel?

Just when you thought it was safe to read Dan Brown again - Vanity Fair is running a cover story in their latest issue on the strange happenings in the legal dispute between Dan Brown/Random House and author Lewis Perdue. Among them, the bizarre communications of one 'Ahamedd Saaddodeen' who is said to have the same social security number as Dan Brown's wife Blythe. Random House responded to the copyright infringement story with:

The verdicts in favor of Dan Brown, in two United States Federal Courts and the British High Court of Justice, speak for themselves.

Meanwhile, Lewis Perdue said:

...the things that "speak for themselves" are the Random House legal shenanigans and their successful exploitation of loopholes that have subverted any measure of justice.

...The Vanity Fair piece could only begin to scratch the surface, but it shows what can happen when a reporter does some independent research rather than being spoon-fed by the Random House PR machine.

So, the saga begins (yet again!)...

Solomon Key and Mormonism

Here's an interesting story from Salt Lake City news provider KSL.com which supports the idea that Dan Brown will cover Mormonism in his next book. The report says that Dan Brown has spent serious time in Salt Lake City investigating both the Masonic landmarks in the area as well as the Mormon history.

Aaron Wilhelm, Dan Brown's host 2004: "He was, of course, very interested in the symbology on the Mormon temple...he was interested in the pentacles and the suns and the moons and the stars and all that. So, I gather his primary interest was to sort of see the Mormon embellishment of masonry as it exists, in his mind, of course..."

...Dan Brown, no doubt, has found fascinating examples of Masonic symbolism laced with early Mormon history. He returned to Salt Lake City this year and church leaders allowed him access to the historic archives.

I had already predicted a possible Mormon angle in the new novel, due to a hint on his website about the phrase 'Is there no help for the widow's son' - which is a Masonic distress call, and was allegedly the last thing that Mormon founder Joseph Smith said before his murder by a mob.

Panoramic DaVinci Views

This is one I really enjoyed. Check out this panoramic photography website which gives you a 3-D virtual look inside some of the 'sacred' locations associated with The Da Vinci Code. You can stand at the doorway of the church at Rennes-le-Chateau or survey the view from the Tour Magdala, look around Rosslyn Chapel from multiple vantage points and visit the interior of St Sulpice. If you enjoy some of those, browse through the whole collection from various places around the world at the main website. Thanks to David for the tip.

Da Vinci 2nd Biggest Opening

Sony Pictures is reporting that The Da Vinci Code recorded the second biggest movie opening in history. The film took a staggering $US231.8 million worldwide opening from May 19-21: $154.7 million international, $77.1 million in the U.S. Sony is also saying it was #1 in every territory it opened. So much for the criticism.

Da Vinci Movie First Reviews

The first reviews of The Da Vinci Code movie are in from Cannes, and first impressions aren't too good (though should we trust snobbish critics on a press junket in Cannes?):

I'll have my own verdict in 24 hours or so, as I'm heading off to see it tomorrow night.

The Cryptex

Over the past few months I've had a lot of people suggesting that this site is very handy for all types of Dan Brown news, not just news about his next book The Solomon Key. As such, I'm redirecting the theme of the site to anything related to Dan Brown and his books. From next week, the site will have a new look, and also a new name: The Cryptex. Please feel free to stop in regularly to find out the latest from Brown, and all manner of related topics.

Google Quest Cryptex

The U.S. version of the Da Vinci Code Google Quest is coming to its conclusion, with the 10,000 finalists currently receiving their cryptexes in the mail, soon to be followed by emails pointing them at the final challenge (see here for an image of one of the cryptexes). This concluding challenge will be based completely on the time taken to complete the final puzzles (that is, not the time of day you finish), which can be done at any time in the allotted 48 hour period. Quite simply, the fastest of the 10,000 wins the major prize.

Obviously, it's unlikely that you'll find the answers to the final challenge on our Da Vinci Quest on Google - Solutions page (which has had over 150,000 hits during the past month, and also has had slmost 500 comments). But please do let us know if you're one of the finalists, and it would be awesome to see a winner out of one of the crew (I'm in Australia, and therefore ineligible to even get one of those little cryptexes, let alone the major prize).

Rosslyn Chapel Video Podcasts

In the lead-up to this week's release of The Da Vinci Code movie, The Scotsman is offering a series of video podcasts on Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, as well as a collection of links and news stories related to the enigmatic structure. Each day this week will feature a new podcast, so either check back regularly, or do the whole experience on Friday. One of the experts consulted is Mark Oxbrow, whose excellent book Rosslyn and the Grail (Amazon UK) was featured (article and review) in Issue 3 of our free online mag Sub Rosa.

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