Grade: A & Ω — Great book, must read regardless of what Genres you enjoy. Makes you think of things beyond the scope of the book, BUT ALSO breaks rules and/or may appeal more to people who do not normally read the genre than those who are aficionados of it.
Foucault’s Pendulum is the thinking man’s answer to the Da Vinci Code. It is theultimate conspiracy/mystery novel. It is one of my favorite books of all time, but one must be aware that many people find it is a very dense and difficult read. It is crammed with history and well crafted pseudo-history that many readers find it impenetrable, but if one lets some of the admittedly byzantine labyrinth of slide by, the end is well worth it.
Modern Day Earth, Europe.
Take one part cabalism, add a good quantity of Templar conspiracy, six parts Illuminati, a liberal dose of occultism, and a dash of densely packed history and what do you get? Foucault’s Pendulum: the ultimate conspiracy novel.
I won’t lie. I know of relatively few people who have made it through this book. The history and twisted history that fills each page is tremendous. Eco, the award-winning author of The Name of the Rose and numerous other books, has never been known to spare the details. In this book, however, the vast number of details and the characters’ ever-changing re-interpretations of a thousand years worth of historic occult conspiracy theories often proves too much for the reader. Having studied some of this stuff professionally, I had an unfair advantage but personally, I think that if one does not worry too much about getting bogged down in the details, it makes for a fantastic read.
The narrator and central character, Casaubon, is a historian with expertise in the medieval Knights Templar, who takes a post in a morally dubious publishing company. When he and the other editors decide to engage in a literary joke, they are drawn into the world’s greatest conspiracy. Soon they are searching through a labyrinth of occult mysteries and trying to untangle a history spanning series of clues, some of which are dead ends, others of which lead them to the final truth: a great mystery that answers the world’s greatest conspiracies.
Due to the nature of the tale, one cannot help but compare this novel to Dan Brown‘s better known works: Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol and of course The Da Vinci Code. Yet in truth, there is no comparison. While Brown tries to set up conspiracies using half-baked historic research, Eco, a well respected academic whose expertise focuses on semiotics, literary criticism and philosophy, expertly weaves real history into his tale. This does make for a sometime difficult read, but personally, I think if one just reads it without thinking one needs to completely understand or remember every detail he presents, one will find it an amazingly well crafted thriller.
Having said that, one is left to think that if you could somehow combine Brown’s pace with Eco’s intelligence, knowledge and skillful writing, you would have the ultimate novel. Indeed, one suspects that this has already been done, but is being suppressed by the Rosicrucians…. oh no! I’ve said too much already….
- When a writer’s words have unintended consequences | Roz Kaveney (guardian.co.uk)
- Character Development and and the Influential Novels of my Life Pt 2 (jonathandallen.com)
- A Dance with Dragons: Page 419 and no end in sight (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)