The Da Vinci Code Summary

Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code

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The Da Vinci Code Summary

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The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, combines mystery, action, and thrills. This novel is the second in the Robert Langdon series, and begins with the murder of Jacques Saunière. Saunière led a double life. Professionally, he was a curator at the Louvre in Paris, France, but he guarded a powerful secret. Before he perishes, he leaves clues designed to lead one man to the truth. That man is Robert Langdon, a professor who teaches symbology at Harvard University. The two met only briefly, but Langdon’s book convinced Saunière that Langdon could solve the puzzle. Among the police at the crime scene is Sophie Neveu, who not only works as a cryptologist for the police, but is also Saunière’s granddaughter. She teams up with Langdon to solve the mystery of The Da Vinci Code.

Shortly before his murder, Saunière called Sophie and suggested there was something about her family she didn’t know. She is convinced that the clues he’s left for Langdon will help her discover this secret. Meanwhile, Fache is convinced that Langdon is the murderer, and is trying to bend the evidence in favor of framing him. Langdon and Sophie must gather what clues they can and then flee, since Langdon would not be able to follow Saunière’s trail if he were to be arrested.

They learn that Saunière wasn’t only a curator; he also led a group called the Priory of Sion as the Grand Master. The main teachings of this group are that the Holy Grail was not a literal cup, but rather the tomb—and womb—of Mary Magdalene. They believe that she was married to Jesus Christ, and that together they had children. Saunière’s clues, Langdon and Sophie hope, will lead them the proof of Christ’s marriage to Mary Magdalene, which has supposedly been under wraps, hidden by the Vatican in order to protect the Catholic Church’s power, patriarchy, and assertion that Jesus was divine. Additionally, Langdon and Sophie hope that uncovering this evidence will lead them to Saunière’s true killer.

By following Saunière’s clues, they discover what is known as the keystone, which is supposed to contain instructions for finding the Holy Grail—in this case, Mary Magdalene’s tomb. But it also brings to light that not only are the police after them, so too is a group called Opus Dei. Opus Dei is a secret group within the Catholic Church that was working against the Priory of Scion. In The Da Vinci Code, there are three main characters in Opus Dei: a bishop, a man known only as “the Teacher,” and an albino monk known as Silas. Silas is willing to do whatever it takes to recover the keystone, even killing innocent passersby.

After Sophie and Langdon manage to get the keystone from a Swiss depository bank, they escape by hijacking an armored truck. They manage to get to Versailles, where Langdon’s friend Sir Leigh Teabing lives. Teabing is a famous Grail historian. Langdon chose Teabing’s home as a destination not only because they are friends but also because he hopes to learn more about the keystone and the Grail. However, Sophie and Langdon are not the only characters to visit Teabing. Silas finds his way there, too, and breaks in, but is no match for the whole group. They overpower him, gag him, and flee France in a private jet that flies them to London.

Sophie, Langdon, and Teabing think they’re safe in London, and discuss the keystone and the Grail while Teabing’s butler, Remy, sets Silas free. Remy and Silas attack the other three and escape with both the keystone and Teabing, thinking that Teabing’s knowledge will carry them to the Grail. Sophie and Langdon are left behind. They continue to work on clues, which lead them to the Teacher—who turns out to be Teabing. They outsmart Teabing and manage to open the keystone just as Fache arrives. He has been following the Teacher, and arrests Teabing for Saunière’s murder.

The keystone does not lead them directly to the Holy Grail. Instead, they follow its instructions to the Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland. There, Sophie is reunited with her grandmother and brother. She has spent most of her life thinking they were dead, and is overjoyed to be with them again. Her grandmother works with Langdon to figure out more clues, and together they determine that Mary Magdalene is buried beneath the Louvre. Langdon promises not to reveal this secret.

Despite its success, sequels, and film adaptations, The Da Vinci Code has been mired in criticism almost from the start. Dan Brown writes that the Priory of Sion is a real organization, and herein lies the problem, as it is widely recognized as a hoax established in 1956 by a man named Pierre Plantard. Brown also claims that his descriptions of works of art and architecture, documents, and rituals are accurate, which has been disputed. Yet, since its publication in 2003, the book has enjoyed success.