Previously on The Da Vinci Code, Sophie and Robert found themselves driving through the porno woods, Bob droned on a lot about the Knights Templar, and a multiple choice involving buttocks turned out to have ‘buttocks’ as one of the least ridiculous options. And Bob didn’t go for the buttocks. He’s no fun.
But never mind, because look who’s back.
Chapter Thirty Nine…
…sees the return of Silas the Crap Assassin, who has wandered back to his place on Rue La Bruyere in order to wallow in angst about how he recently bludgeoned a nun. This is the second time Silas has done this; like Sophie – with her LOOK I’M GOING OVER THERE NOW – routine, Silas appears to be stuck in a terrible, senseless holding pattern: he kills someone, then he goes back to Rue La Bryuere to feel bad and beat himself with a cat-o-nine tails.
Silas had been tricked. The brothers had lied, choosing death instead of revealing their true secret.
Two words, Silas. Knights. Templar.
In this version of events the Knights Templar, aka the military wing of the Priory of Sion, were treated to the kind of prolonged and savage torture that would make even Torquemada be all “Hmm, too much?” And yet not a single, solitary bean was spilled as regards the Templar’s/Priory’s huge and mindblowing secret.
What were you expecting them to do, Silas?
Not only had Silas killed the only four people who knew where the keystone was hidden, he had killed a nun inside Saint-Sulpice.
Yeah, my theology is somewhat rusty, but I’m pretty sure that’s a Go Straight To Hell Do Not Collect £200 kind of offence. Maybe it’s not quite on the level of braining a sitting Archbishop in his own cathedral, but even if we let the four other stiffs slide, you did just beat a nun to death on sanctified ground. There’s no way around it, Silas; I hope you like it hot, because your afterlife just got super fucking toasty, son.
…what would the abbe think when he discovered the nun was dead?
I think he’ll probably think there’s been a murder. Dear God, did Silas give himself a few penance whacks to the noggin with the votive holder after he’d finished caving in Sister Sandrine’s head? He’s never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but his IQ is dropping by the paragraph.
Although Silas had placed her back in her bed, the wound in her head was obvious.
See what I mean? Yes, Silas – they’re going to find her in bed with half her skull a pulpy mess of blood and brain and conclude that she tucked herself up like that. Or maybe she had a heart attack in her sleep. Who knows?
Silas had attempted to replace the broken tiles in the floor, but that damage was too obvious. They would know someone had been there.
I love you, Silas. Every time I think this book can’t get any more ridiculous you turn up and deliver the kind of belly laugh I remember from the first time I saw the ‘His head fell off!’ bit in Dumb and Dumber.
Silas sits around for half a page thinking about how much he loves Bish Bling and that Bish Bling is good because he told him that Noah was an albino.
No, really. Please stop looking at me like that; I’m doing my best to explain this endless blast hose of nonsense but at this point it’s like trying to keep pace with Donald Trump’s scandals. Look.
Aringarosa was smiling. “Indeed, Noah of the Ark. An albino. Like you he had skin white like an angel. Consider this. Noah saved all of life on the planet. You are destined for great things, Silas. The Lord has freed you for a reason. You have your calling. The Lord needs your help to do his work.”
Anyway, because this is a Silas chapter, it ends with him taking off his clothes and flogging himself some more. You’re welcome.
Struggling with the gear shift, Langdon managed to manoeuvre the hijacked taxi to the far side of the Bois de Boulogne while only stalling twice. Unfortunately the inherent humour in the situation was overshadowed by the taxi dispatcher repeatedly hailing their cab over the radio.
You know how I speculated that this lol-I-can’t-drive-shift bit was Dan Brown’s idea of a rip roaring giggle? Yeah. This is one of those times where I hate being right.
When Langdon reached the edge of the park, he swallowed his machismo and jammed on the brakes. “You’d better drive.”
Bob, how big is your dick? Come on – we’ve spent all this time together now, and I think it’s time we got to the root of the problem, don’t you? What’s the damage here? What are we talking? Cocktail sausage? Peanut?
Also how fucking big is the Bois de Boulogne? They’ve been in there forever and as far as I can tell it’s only about eight square kilometres. I mean, it’s big but it’s not that big. Were they driving at cruising speeds in order to better take in the ladydicks and well-oiled bottoms?
Langdon pulled the heavy key from his pocket again, feeling the weight in his palm. He sensed it was an object of enormous consequence. Quite possibly the key to his own freedom.
I like how even the mcguffins in this book are weighed down with the lazy-ass writing.
Bob looks at the key and thinks – again, because we didn’t deal with that bullshit thoroughly enough before – that equal armed crosses are a symbol of balance and oh wait, wasn’t the Templar cross equal armed?
Granted, the arms of the Templar cross were slightly flared at the ends, but they were still of equal length.
In heraldry they call that a cross pattee, or footed cross. You would think a symbolololgist would know a thing like that, but then you’d think a cryptographer would spot an obvious anagram, or an assassin would get in and out without a) smashing up the floor b) covering everything in blood, both his and the victims and b) expecting people to believe that the victim died peacefully in bed of a blunt traumatic head wound.
Everyone in this book is terrible at their jobs. Even the hotel concierge sucks. I think the only character who has so far successfully fulfilled their role was the late, lamented Bar of Soap, who was meant to be a distraction and was, until he was cruelly drowned in the Seine before his exquisitely realised character had a chance to develop further.
And no, since you ask – I’m still not over it.
Langdon has some more thoughts, although by this point in the book it feels like someone’s just mashed a button in his weird little head too many times and all he can think is HolyGrailHolyGrailHolyGrailHolyGrail. Every mental perambulation not only leads to the HolyGrailHolyGrailHolyGrailHolyGrail but somehow never lands on “Wait, I’m jetlagged as hell, I’m a murder suspect on the run from the police, I think that’s a scrotal sac that lady is pressing up against my windshield and now I’m looking for the actual Holy Grail. Would this be a good time to ask what the fuck they slipped in my coffee at that symbology shindig?”
But no. Instead he sits there thinking about how Leonardo Da Vinci – who was Grand Master of the Priory of Sion – definitely knew the location of the Holy Grail and probably left a clue as to its whereabouts in one of his paintings.
Seriously. There was something in the coffee. He’s wandering around like Tony Soprano that time he did peyote with Christopher’s old side-piece in Vegas.
Oh, and he’s having one of his windy mental digressions again, although thankfully this isn’t a full-blown flashback. It’s just some boring conspiracy shit about Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi which is partly true and partly complete and utter bullshit.
Once again Sophie’s voice shakes Robert out of his musings and drags him back to the plot. This happens a lot, by the way. He slips in and out of these strange trances in a way that – if I were him – would send me scurrying back to the neurologist in case I’d started having absence seizures. Fortunately for Bob it’s probably not a brain tumour; it’s just really bad writing.
Like Langdon, Sophie has apparently leapt on board with the plot to the point where she straight up asks him if the key she found behind the painting is the key to the hiding place of the Holy Grail.
Langdon’s laugh sounded forced, even to him. “I really can’t imagine. Besides, the Grail is believed to be hidden in the United Kingdom somewhere, not France.” He gave her the quick history.
Did you get that? HE GAVE HER THE QUICK HISTORY.
Six words. He did that in six words. There I was thinking we were going to have to sit through Bob droning his way through the Grail history again, after he’d failed to explain it to the character who was sitting right next to him, and instead had Bob explain it to a character we’d never even met before and has nothing to do with the plot.
But no. He made the right call. Dan, I’m proud of you. You should get a sticker and a lollipop.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes – we’re still in the back of this taxi talking about the Holy Grail.
“But the Grail seems the only rational conclusion,” [Sophie] insisted. “We have an extremely secure key, stamped with the Priory of Sion seal, delivered to us by a member of the Priory of Sion – brotherhood which, you just told me, are guardians of the Holy Grail.”
Langdon knew her contention was logical, and yet intuitively he could not possibly accept it.
I’m sorry, but ‘logical’ and ‘rational’ do not belong in the same sentences as the words Holy Grail. You are chasing a medieval fairytale; try to act a little surprised by this fact.
Instead Langdon thinks Sophie is wrong because the Grail is supposed to be in Britain, not France. He’s absolutely right, of course. What Sophie is suggesting is like trying to catch leprechauns in Germany, when everyone with half a brain knows that leprechauns are only found in Ireland.
I don’t know how much more of this madness I can take, and I’m not even halfway through the bloody book yet.
Langdon explains that there were four senechaux who protected the Grail’s whereabouts and says that Sauniere was probably not one of them, because Langdon is quite thick. Sophie, who is also quite thick but currently has the mental edge, thinks that her grandfather definitely was one of the senechaux on account of the Awful Unspecified Thing she found him doing in the mid-nineties. Also I’m sure this chapter started from Langdon’s point of view and has now shifted to Sophie’s with no break.
It’s one step forward and two steps back with this book, I swear. I was so fucking happy that Dan Brown had resisted the urge to rehash an infodump, but then he goes and blows the limited third person POV, which I think I’ve mentioned before – and no shade here – is an excellent choice for this kind of airport thriller.
Finally, we lumber to the point of this chapter as we reach 24 Rue Haxo, which turns out to be the Depository Bank of Zurich.
Bob is surprised, because he thinks the cross on the key was a Templar cross and was looking for a lost Templar church. I’ve basically given up trying to fathom his thought processes at this point.
A career hazard of symbologists was a tendency to extract hidden meanings from situations that had none. In this case Langdon had entirely forgotten that peaceful, equal-armed cross had been adopted as the perfect symbol for the flag of neutral Switzerland.
At least the mystery was solved.
Oh honey, no. The mystery is just beginning. The biggest one being how this tit even manages to eat a fucking Toblerone without bouncing off the walls with theories about pyramids and the Illuminati. There are shapes everywhere, Bob. Everywhere. They don’t all mean something. Sometimes they are just shapes.
What the hell happened to young Robert Langdon to make him like this?
…returns us to the diamond studded company of Bish Bling, who is still at Castel Gandolfo doing…uh…whatever he was supposed to be doing at Castel Gandolfo in the previous chapter but instead decided to have a flashback about the time he was also at Castel Gandolfo some six months ago.
And the flashback told us precisely nothing.
This book is the popular fiction equivalent of edging; it’s fun the first few times but after about the fourth or fifth go it starts to hurt a bit and you reluctantly wish that it could be over.
So, there are some cardinals there and they’re all being very mysterious about something. Hurrah.
Aringarosa tried to see who had spoken, but the lights were ridiculously low – much lower than they had been on his first visit, when everything was ablaze. The night of stark awakening.
Bish, I’m warning you. If you go into another pointless flashback I will not be responsible for my actions. There may well be rending of garments. There will definitely be screaming. Lots and lots of angry screaming.
After all this long build up as to the purpose of this meeting, the first thing this shady cabal of cardinals does is offer Bish Bling a cup of coffee. Inside my head the screaming has already begun.
Finally I think we get to the point, which is that Bish Bling is picking up twenty million dollars in Vatican Bank bonds – on behalf of Opus Dei – to pay the mysterious Teacher for the information as to the names and whereabouts of the four senechaux.
This information was first presented in chapter eleven. This is chapter forty-one. And this is my face right now.
Anyway, at the end of this chapter Bish Bling announces that he’s on his way to Paris, so presumably we’ll see him again quite soon. Won’t that be nice for everyone? (No)