Cover image for Book Club kit : The Da Vinci code
Title:
Book Club kit : The Da Vinci code
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 2003.
ISBN:
9780385504201
Physical Description:
6 bks. (454 p.) ; 25 cm. + 1 discussion guide
Target Audience:
850 L
Language:
English
Added Title:
DaVinci code
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader Grades 9-12 6.4 23 Quiz 72765 English fiction, vocabulary quiz available.
Lexile Measure:
850
Holds:

Available:*

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Book Club Kit BOOK CLUB 1 .CIRCNOTE. *****6 BOOKS, 1 DISCUSSION GUIDE*****
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Summary

Summary

While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. Near the body, police have found a baffling cipher. While working to solve the enigmatic riddle, Langdon is stunned to discover it leads to a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci -- clues visible for all to see -- yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.

Langdon joins forces with a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and learns the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion -- an actual secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others.

In a breathless race through Paris, London, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu match wits with a faceless powerbroker who seems to anticipate their every move. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle in time, the Priory's ancient secret -- and an explosive historical truth -- will be lost forever.

THE DA VINCI CODE heralds the arrival of a new breed of lightning-paced, intelligent thriller...utterly unpredictable right up to its stunning conclusion.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Brown's latest thriller (after Angels and Demons)is an exhaustively researched page-turner about secret religious societies, ancient coverups and savage vengeance. The action kicks off in modern-day Paris with the murder of the Louvre's chief curator, whose body is found laid out in symbolic repose at the foot of the Mona Lisa. Seizing control of the case are Sophie Neveu, a lovely French police cryptologist, and Harvard symbol expert Robert Langdon, reprising his role from Brown's last book. The two find several puzzling codes at the murder scene, all of which form a treasure map to the fabled Holy Grail. As their search moves from France to England, Neveu and Langdon are confounded by two mysterious groups-the legendary Priory of Sion, a nearly 1,000-year-old secret society whose members have included Botticelli and Isaac Newton, and the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei. Both have their own reasons for wanting to ensure that the Grail isn't found. Brown sometimes ladles out too much religious history at the expense of pacing, and Langdon is a hero in desperate need of more chutzpah. Still, Brown has assembled a whopper of a plot that will please both conspiracy buffs and thriller addicts. (Mar. 18) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Guardian Review

As he sets out to spill his secrets in an online masterclass, Brown talks about bad reviews, his habit of hanging upside down and the challenge of writing fiction in the age of Trump The piano music is insistent, melodramatic. The scene begins under a vaulted ceiling and medieval candelabra reminiscent of the Great Hall in Game of Thrones. The camera pans across a vintage typewriter, intricately sculpted animals, antique bowl, statuette of a monk and relief carvings of knights. It roves around a dimly lit, dark wood library. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a bookshelf swivels on its axis to reveal a secret passage. Out steps the master of the page turner in blue shirt and jeans, his sleeves rolled up. He settles into a chair, leans against a red cushion, crosses his legs and smiles. A screen caption says: " Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers." Brown, who has shifted 250m copies of his novels and seen them translated into 56 languages, is the latest big name to join MasterClass, the online celebrity tutorial company (he is donating his fee to charity). Despite the distinctly old-fashioned format - middle-aged white man dispensing wisdom direct to camera - this is Brown's love letter to the creative process. The 54-year-old can't tell you what idea to have, he says, but hopes to provide a roadmap on how to turn it into a story. His class includes chapters on finding that idea, choosing a location, creating heroes and villains, doing research (but not so much that it's an excuse to procrastinate), creating suspense, writing dialogue and editing and rewriting. The good news, Brown assures writers staring at a blank page, is that your idea does not have to be startlingly original. Ian Fleming's James Bond, for example, always defuses the bomb and gets the girl. The key question is how he does it. "Every single idea has been done over and over and over," Brown explains in the film. "You don't need a big idea. You need big hows." Like parts of a car engine, the key elements of a thriller include a hero, a goal, obstacles that seem to make it impossible and, of course, a moment when the hero conquers the villain. Don't get overcomplicated, Brown urges. "Build the foundation of your novel with a single brick: make it simple, make it easy to follow. Will Robert Langdon find the virus and save the world? Will Ahab catch the whale? Will the Jackal shoot his target?" Among his first lessons are the three Cs: the contract, the clock, the crucible. "These are the elements that not just thrillers have but all stories have," he explains at his publisher's offices in New York. The contract is the promises made to the reader that have to be kept, so earn readers' trust. "The idea of a ticking clock: you go back to even something as gentle as The Bridges of Madison County. Her husband's coming back in a few days and these two people have got to figure out if they're going to be together. If they met in a town and there's no husband coming back, and there's no ticking clock, it's not an interesting book." And the crucible? "That's one of my favourites: this idea of constraining your characters and forcing them to act. If you look at the end of Jaws, you've got these people sinking on a boat and a shark's coming toward them. The ocean's their crucible: they can't go anywhere, they have to deal with the problem. If they had a perfectly healthy boat and some big engines, they could just outrun the shark and the book's over. But they've got the crucible." Teaching is in the Brown DNA. His parents were both in education: his father even went to the White House to pick up an award from George HW Bush. Teaching was one of Brown's first jobs; he still looks the part in blue jacket, sweater and open-collared shirt. Writing fiction was a hobby and a hinterland. He found that the classic lessons for budding authors - write with passion, keep your focus, show don't tell - are all true but not especially helpful. A teacher told him: "Write what you know" when he was 16 and didn't know much. So he came up with a solution: "Write what I want to know. I wrote a book called Deception Point about glaciology and Nasa. I didn't know anything. I took a year and educated myself, which was part of the fun." His early books made little impact and he began to question whether he could make a career of it. But then he came up with The Da Vinci Code - in which Harvard code specialist Robert Langdon discovers a series of cryptic clues in the works of Leonardo - and thought it the exact book he would like to read; millions agreed. Published in 2003, it became one of the bestselling novels of all time and was turned into a film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks. Does success like that become a burden? "I definitely had a number of weeks when I became self-aware. You type a sentence and say: 'Wait a minute, how many millions of people are going to read that?' And you read it again and see the word 'there'. You suddenly say: 'I didn't even spell that right.' You become the guy trying to swing the baseball bat who's thinking of how to move the muscles and you're crippled. "I think that's very common across many disciplines when you have success. I was fortunate pretty quickly to be able to say: 'Wait a minute, you just need to do what you did the last four times, which is to write the book that you'd want to read and if you read this paragraph and you'd like to read it, you're done.' I was able to move on from that and write The Lost Symbol, which I was thrilled with and did great and a lot of people like it better than Da Vinci Code." Brown cites Joseph Campbell as a literary influence and adores Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. He hopes his class will help not only aspiring thriller writers but all storytellers. That is likely to produce a sceptical scoff from literary critics who regard him as a low-to-middle-brow merchant of the ludicrous. In a Guardian review, Mark Lawson described The Da Vinci Code as "450 pages of irritatingly gripping tosh" that is "preposterous and sloppy" but succeeds because it "offers terrified and vengeful Americans a hidden pattern in the world's confusions". Brown is philosophical about the backlash. "Of course we're all supposed to pretend we don't read the reviews, or at least we don't care. The reality is you want everybody to love what you do and, when it doesn't happen, when you read a review - and certainly, especially, in your country there have been some pretty vicious reviews - you have to just sort of laugh and say well, OK, clearly this person doesn't share my taste. You get past it at some point and you have to put the blinders on. "I got great advice early on: if you read your reviews, the good ones will make you lazy, the bad ones will make you insecure, so just do what you do, you've proven that you know what you're doing. There's a portion of the population who will wait for my novels and say: 'Oh my god, I love that.' And there's a portion that will just go: 'Oh my god, not again, not that guy, I hate that guy.' That's OK, you write for the people who love you and the great thing about books is if you don't like mine, there's a million others published every year and you can find one you do like." It was not just its literary merits that caused controversy. Some complained that The Da Vinci Code was offensive to Christianity because of its depiction of Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and fathering a child. It is another example of Brown's tendency to run towards, rather than away from, the big questions. "The wonderful thing about controversy is that it creates dialogue and, as writers, I think that's our job to say: 'Here's one way you can think about this, but here's the other way you can think about it.' "In the class I just try to say: 'Look, you've got to write something that you're passionate about, that really excites you.' For me, personally, it's good people doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, or bad people doing good things for the wrong reason. I like that moral grey area." Last year Brown published his eighth novel, Origin, about artificial intelligence. Does he think it is going to take over the world? "The answer's yes and that's something that scientists agree on. It is going to be enormously influential and where they disagree is whether or not we can control it, whether it will be used for good or evil, whether it is going to destroy us. I tend to be an optimist and the end of the novel is very optimistic about where we're going with technology." Brown is often accused of being anti-religion, but prefers to describe himself as "definitely agnostic". As he explains: "I don't think I know enough to be an atheist. If you said: 'Right now and you can't get this wrong: is there a God?', I'd say: 'I don't think so.' But I'm also wide open to being proved wrong. "There are enormous parts of the human experience and science that make no logical sense, no rational sense, and certainly imply that something else is going on. I would not be surprised to find that there is some good big thing. I would be very surprised to find that he's a white male with a long beard who had a son named Jesus. The religions of the world have come up with some pretty interesting tales about where we came from and why we're here. I don't think any of them are true, but I'm open. "People have asked me: 'How does technology affect religion?' I say enormously because when I was a little kid and they said this is what happened with Adam and Eve, you said OK. Now kids go, actually 97% of the world said that's ridiculous. So the church has this challenge in getting its message out because there's so much counter information that is accessible to young people." But technology has its downsides and Brown has had to become an expert in blocking it out, starting his day at 4am. "I try to get from the sleep state - the dream state - to my desk as fast as possible," he explains. "The great thing about writing at 4am is really there's nobody else writing you email. "I'll sprint to the kitchen, grab a spinach smoothie and some coffee and get straight to my office and I'll work for between six to nine hours depending on how much energy I have. A lot of it is editing what I wrote the day before, to see if it's holding up. I might be outlining, I might be writing. It just sort of depends what that day requires." Brown uses an app that makes his computer screen go dark for one minute an hour, compelling him to take a break and do push-ups and sit-ups or hang upside-down, although he has had to give up wearing gravity boots. "My wife was very concerned that I would pull myself up into these gravity boots and not have the strength some day to get back and I'd just be hanging there for ever. So I now use an inversion table. I just find that it refreshes me so well: enormous amount of blood flow to the brain, spread your spine." Does he ever suffer from writer's block? "The cure to writer's block is to write. Write something bad that nobody will ever see. But that process will show you the way back to what's good. I throw out about 10 pages for every one that I keep." What constitutes good might be less certain than ever. In the era when Donald Trump is the president of the United States, it is hard for fiction to keep up with reality. Trump is arguably more outlandish than any cartoon villain and it is not only Brown's plots that are being called preposterous. He reflects: "I was at the Frankfurt book fair and somebody asked me if I'd thought about writing about Trump. I said: 'If I wrote The Trump Code, nobody would believe it.' Reality has surpassed fiction. In my masterclass, if I said: 'Hey, you know what, how's this idea for a character?', we would have to cut it out because it would make no sense. You would say: 'Nobody acts like that, certainly nobody who could reach this station.'" He insists he is not a political person but admits he is "pretty horrified" by the 45th president. He adds: " I think he's a profound threat - less of a threat to the republic than he is to the honour of the presidency. The republic will survive: there are enough smart, levelheaded people on both sides of the aisle to keep the ship afloat. But he's certainly damaged the reputation of the presidency and, to some degree, the country." Given Brown's vast following, I suggest, he must have Trump voters among his readers? " I do," he says. "It's fascinating. You realise you really can't be political. For me to say I'm not a fan of Trump to you publicly is probably professionally not that smart. But at some point you just say, 'Well, that's how I feel.'" - David Smith in New York.


Booklist Review

In a two-day span, American symbologist Robert Langdon finds himself accused of murdering the curator of the Louvre, on the run through the streets of Paris and London, and teamed up with French cryptologist Sophie Neveu to uncover nothing less than the secret location of the Holy Grail. It appears that a conservative Catholic bishop might be on the verge of destroying the Grail, which includes an alternate history of Christ that could bring down the church. Whoever is ordering the deaths of the Grail's guardians--modern-day members of an ancient society descended from the famed Knights Templar--must be stopped before the treasure is lost forever. To do so, Langdon and Neveu have to solve a series of ciphers and riddles while evading a tireless French police commander and a ruthless albino monk. Despite being hampered by clunky flashback sequences and place descriptions that read like tourist brochures, the story is full of brain-teasing puzzles and fascinating insights into religious history and art. Ultimately, Brown's intricate plot delivers more satisfying twists than a licorice factory. FrankSennett.


Library Journal Review

Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist from Brown's Angels and Demons, is back in this amazing sequel. In Paris for a lecture, Langdon is summoned in the middle of the night to meet the head of the French police at the Louvre. The museum's curator has been found dead in a secure section of the gallery, with a message by his body leading to a baffling series of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. In addition, the curator left a specific message to find Langdon. While the police think Langdon is their culprit, he teams up with a French cryptologist to uncover the truth about the hidden messages. The answers lead to discovery of a shocking historical fact, and certain people will do anything to keep it a secret. Brown solidifies his reputation as one of the most skilled thriller writers on the planet with his best book yet, a compelling blend of history and page-turning suspense. This masterpiece should be mandatory reading. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/02.]-Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 Robert Langdon awoke slowly. A telephone was ringing in the darkness--a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed. Where the hell am I? The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS. Slowly, the fog began to lift. Langdon picked up the receiver. "Hello?" "Monsieur Langdon?" a man's voice said. "I hope I have not awoken you?" Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead. "This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent." Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor? His eyes focused now on a crumpled flyer on his bedside table. THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS proudly presents An evening with Robert Langdon Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University Langdon groaned. Tonight's lecture--a slide show about pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral--had probably ruffled some conservative feathers in the audience. Most likely, some religious scholar had trailed him home to pick a fight. "I'm sorry," Langdon said, "but I'm very tired and--" "Mais monsieur," the concierge pressed, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. "Your guest is an important man." Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last year Langdon's visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had seemed never-ending. "If you would be so kind," Langdon said, doing his best to remain polite, "could you take the man's name and number, and tell him I'll try to call him before I leave Paris on Tuesday? Thank you." He hung up before the concierge could protest. Sitting up now, Langdon frowned at his bedside Guest Relations Handbook, whose cover boasted: SLEEP LIKE A BABY IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS. SLUMBER AT THE PARIS RITZ. He turned and gazed tiredly into the full-length mirror across the room. The man staring back at him was a stranger--tousled and weary. You need a vacation, Robert. The past year had taken a heavy toll on him, but he didn't appreciate seeing proof in the mirror. His usually sharp blue eyes looked hazy and drawn tonight. A dark stubble was shrouding his strong jaw and dimpled chin. Around his temples, the gray highlights were advancing, making their way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair. Although his female colleagues insisted the gray only accentuated his bookish appeal, Langdon knew better. If Boston Magazine could see me now. Last month, much to Langdon's embarrassment, Boston Magazine had listed him as one of that city's top ten most intriguing people--a dubious honor that made him the brunt of endless ribbing by his Harvard colleagues. Tonight, three thousand miles from home, the accolade had resurfaced to haunt him at the lecture he had given. "Ladies and gentlemen . . ." the hostess had announced to a full-house at The American University of Paris's Pavillon Dauphine, "Our guest tonight needs no introduction. He is the author of numerous books: The Symbology of Secret Sects, The Art of the Illuminati, The Lost Language of Ideograms, and when I say he wrote the book on Religious Iconology, I mean that quite literally. Many of you use his textbooks in class." The students in the crowd nodded enthusiastically. "I had planned to introduce him tonight by sharing his impressive curriculum vitae, however . . ." She glanced playfully at Langdon, who was seated onstage. "An audience member has just handed me a far more, shall we say . . . intriguing introduction." She held up a copy of Boston Magazine. Langdon cringed. Where the hell did she get that? The hostess began reading choice excerpts from the inane article, and Langdon felt himself sinking lower and lower in his chair. Thirty seconds later, the crowd was grinning, and the woman showed no signs of letting up. "And Mr. Langdon's refusal to speak publicly about his unusual role in last year's Vatican conclave certainly wins him points on our intrigue-o-meter." The hostess goaded the crowd. "Would you like to hear more?" The crowd applauded. Somebody stop her, Langdon pleaded as she dove into the article again. "Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe as 'chocolate for the ears.'' The hall erupted in laughter. Langdon forced an awkward smile. He knew what came next--some ridiculous line about "Harrison Ford in Harris tweed"--and because this evening he had figured it was finally safe again to wear his Harris tweed and Burberry turtleneck, he decided to take action. "Thank you, Monique," Langdon said, standing prematurely and edging her away from the podium. "Boston Magazine clearly has a gift for fiction." He turned to the audience with an embarrassed sigh. "And if I find which one of you provided that article, I'll have the consulate deport you." The crowd laughed. "Well, folks, as you all know, I'm here tonight to talk about the power of symbols . . ." * * * The ringing of Langdon's hotel phone once again broke the silence. Groaning in disbelief, he picked up. "Yes?" As expected, it was the concierge. "Mr. Langdon, again my apologies. I am calling to inform you that your guest is now en route to your room. I thought I should alert you." Langdon was wide awake now. "You sent someone to my room?" "I apologize, monsieur, but a man like this . . . I cannot presume the authority to stop him." "Who exactly is he?" But the concierge was gone. Almost immediately, a heavy fist pounded on Langdon's door. Uncertain, Langdon slid off the bed, feeling his toes sink deep into the savonniere carpet. He donned the hotel bathrobe and moved toward the door. "Who is it?" "Mr. Langdon? I need to speak with you." The man's English was accented--a sharp, authoritative bark. "My name is Lieutenant Jerome Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire." Langdon paused. The Judicial Police? The DCPJ were the rough equivalent of the U.S. FBI. Leaving the security chain in place, Langdon opened the door a few inches. The face staring back at him was thin and washed out. The man was exceptionally lean, dressed in an official-looking blue uniform. "May I come in?" the agent asked. Langdon hesitated, feeling uncertain as the stranger's sallow eyes studied him. "What is this is all about?" "My capitaine requires your expertise in a private matter." "Now?" Langdon managed. "It's after midnight." "Am I correct that you were scheduled to meet with curator of the Louvre this evening? " Langdon felt a sudden surge of uneasiness. He and the revered curator Jacques Saunière had been slated to meet for drinks after Langdon's lecture tonight, but Saunière had never shown up. "Yes. How did you know that?" "We found your name in his daily planner." "I trust nothing is wrong?" The agent gave a dire sigh and slid a Polaroid snapshot through the narrow opening in the door. When Langdon saw the photo, his entire body went rigid. "This photo was taken less than an hour ago. Inside the Louvre." As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden upwelling of anger. "Who would do this!" "We had hoped that you might help us answer that very question. Considering your knowledge in symbology and your plans to meet with him." Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image was gruesome and profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense of deja vu. A little over a year ago, Langdon had received a photograph of a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly familiar. The agent checked his watch. "My captain is waiting, sir." Langdon barely heard him. His eyes were still riveted on the picture. "This symbol here, and the way his body is so oddly . . ." "Positioned?" the agent offered. Langdon nodded, feeling a chill as he looked up. "I can't imagine who would do this to someone." The agent looked grim. "You don't understand, Mr. Langdon. What you see in this photograph . . ." He paused. "Monsieur Saunière did that to himself." 2 One mile away, the hulking albino named Silas limped through the front gate of the luxurious brownstone residence on Rue la Bruyere. The spiked cilice belt that he wore around his thigh cut into his flesh, and yet his soul sang with satisfaction of service to the Lord. Pain is good. His red eyes scanned the lobby as he entered the residence. Empty. He climbed the stairs quietly, not wanting to awaken any of his fellow numeraries. His bedroom door was open; locks were forbidden here. He entered, closing the door behind him. The room was spartan--hardwood floors, a pine dresser, a canvas mat in the corner that served as his bed. He was a visitor here this week, and yet for many years he had been blessed with a similar sanctuary in New York City. The Lord has provided me shelter and purpose in my life. Tonight, at last, Silas felt he had begun to repay his debt. Hurrying to the dresser, he found the cell phone hidden in his bottom drawer and placed a call to a private extension. "Yes?" a male voice answered. "Teacher, I have returned." "Speak," the voice commanded, sounding pleased to hear from him. "All four are gone. The three sénéchaux . . . and the Grand Master himself." There was a momentary pause, as if for prayer. "Then I assume you have the information?" "All four concurred. Independently." "And you believed them?" "Their agreement was too great for coincidence." An excited breath. "Excellent. I had feared the brotherhood's reputation for secrecy might prevail." "The prospect of death is strong motivation." "So, my pupil, tell me what I must know." Silas knew the information he had gleaned from his victims would come as a shock. "Teacher, all four confirmed the existence of the clef de voûte . . . the legendary keystone." He heard a quick intake of breath over the phone and could feel the Teacher's excitement. "The keystone. Exactly as we suspected." According to lore, the brotherhood had created a map of stone--a clef de voûte . . . or keystone--an engraved tablet that revealed the final resting place of the brotherhood's greatest secret...information so powerful that its protection was the reason for the brotherhood's very existence. "When we possess the keystone," the Teacher said, "we will be only one step away." "We are closer than you think. The keystone is here in Paris." "Paris? Incredible. It is almost too easy." Silas relayed the earlier events of the evening . . . how all four of his victims, moments before death, had desperately tried to buy back their godless lives by telling their secret. Each had told Silas the exact same thing--that the keystone was ingeniously hidden at a precise location inside one of Paris's ancient churches--the Eglise de Saint-Sulpice. "Inside a House of the Lord," the Teacher exclaimed. "How they mock us!" "As they have for centuries." The Teacher fell silent, as if letting the triumph of this moment settle over him. Finally, he spoke. "You have done a great service to God. We have waited centuries for this. You must retrieve the stone for me. Immediately. Tonight. You understand the stakes." Silas knew the stakes were incalculable, and yet what the Teacher was now commanding seemed impossible. "But the cathedral, it is a fortress. Especially at night. How will I enter?" With the confident tone of man of enormous influence, the Teacher explained what was to be done. * * * When Silas hung up the phone, his skin tingled with anticipation. One hour, he told himself, grateful that the Teacher had given him time to carry out the necessary penance before entering a house of God. I must purge my soul of today's sins. The sins committed today had been Holy in purpose. Acts of war against the enemies of God had been committed for centuries. Forgiveness was assured. Even so, Silas knew, absolution required sacrifice. Pulling his shades, he stripped naked and knelt in the center of his room. Looking down, he examined the spiked cilice belt clamped around his thigh. All true followers of The Way wore this device--a leather strap, studded with sharp metal barbs that cut into the flesh as a perpetual reminder of Christ's suffering. The pain caused by the device also helped counteract the desires of the flesh. Although Silas already had worn his cilice today longer than the requisite two hours, he knew today was no ordinary day. Grasping the buckle, he cinched it one notch tighter, wincing as the barbs dug deeper into his flesh. Exhaling slowly, he savored the cleansing ritual of his pain. Pain is good, Silas whispered, repeating the sacred mantra of Father Josemaria Escriva--the Teacher of all Teachers. Although Escriva had died in 1975, his wisdom lived on, his words still whispered by thousands of faithful servants around the globe as they knelt on the floor and performed the sacred practice known as "corporal mortification." Silas turned his attention now to a heavy knotted rope coiled neatly on the floor beside him. The Discipline. The knots were caked with dried blood. Eager for the purifying effects of his own agony, Silas said a quick prayer. Then, gripping one end of the rope, he closed his eyes and swung it hard over his shoulder, feeling the knots slap against his back. He whipped it over his shoulder again, slashing at his flesh. Again and again, he lashed. Castigo corpus meum. Finally, he felt the blood begin to flow. Excerpted from The Da Vinci Code: A Novel by Dan Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.