Adventure + history + conspiracy
I first read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code when I was thirteen. The teenage reader in me was blown away by the twists and turns the plot took. The way so much history and conspiracy was weaved into the story acted as another reason to keep my nose glued to the book until the last page was turned.
I was so mesmerised, I devoured all of Dan Brown’s books in quick succession. Before I knew it, I was an ardent fan of the Robert Langdon series.
As I grew older, I discovered some more books that were equally as enthralling, if not more so. Most of these are so underrated, that when you ask a reader what is their favourite book that combines history and adventure, they wouldn’t be able to go beyond The Da Vinci Code.
In this article, I am listing three books you would surely love if you enjoyed Dan Brown’s books. All of them combine history, linguistics, and metaphysics with brilliant storytelling, leading to page-turners that will keep you hooked till the end.
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Foucault’s Pendulum By Umberto Eco
After hearing of a Knights Templars conspiracy theory, three Milanese editors invent their own conspiracy with an accompanying fake history for fun. They call this satirical intellectual game “The Plan,” a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. Their “Plan” eventually captures the attention of the mysterious “They” — a real-life cult who believes the “Plan” is real — turning the harmless joke into a world of deadly peril.
Like in The Da Vinci Code, the characters must use their knowledge of physics, philosophy, mathematical puzzles, religious and cultural mythology, rituals, and theology to escape the deadly game of life-and-death they are sucked into.
Why you should read it
This is a complex piece of writing that requires hard work from the reader. There are moments of brilliant writing, often challenging the reader to take a break and try to work out the clues on their own. You would find yourself looking up facts frequently, an exercise that only makes the reading experience more enjoyable. You will become a fan of Eco’s mischievous sense of humour cleverly infused with this amazing plot, drawing so many threads of history, epistemology, semiotics and characterisation together in a fascinating tapestry.
The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury
This fast-paced historical thriller follows two parallel storylines: one set in the present day and the other in the 13th century. Four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights appear in present-day Manhattan and rush into the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. FBI’s anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly and archaeologist Tess Chaykin are called in to investigate what turns out to be a cat-and-mouse pursuit across three continents, hunting for answers and a treasure that could alter the future of the human race.
Why you should read it
This book is excellent and the pacing will keep you enthralled throughout. The plot twists and characters are laid out brilliantly. There is action, suspense, romance and an absurdly amazing story. One factor that majorly works in the book’s favour is that the author is a screenwriter and the novel reads like a movie. Once you start, you would have a hard time keeping the book down.
Comparisons with Dan Brown would inevitably arise. However, while Brown uses thrills, twists, and shock factor to carry the book forward, Khoury lays out a rich, layered and complex plot of epic proportions.
The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw
A thrill-seeking Harvard linguistics professor and an ultrasecret branch of the Catholic Church go head-to-head in a race to uncover the secrets of the lost city of Atlantis. The ruins of the technologically-advanced, eerily-enigmatic ancient civilization promise their discoverer fame, fortune, and power, but hold earth-shattering secrets about the origin of man. This book brings together anthropology and linguistics, to yield a fast-paced thriller sure to set your heart racing.
Why you should read it
Read it for the brilliant story-telling and the fast-paced action. Filled with mystery, intrigue and interesting, albeit somewhat one-dimensional characters, this book is an absolute page-turner. Right from the opening scene, you will be dragged into the lost world of Atlantis and won’t be able to put it down until the last page is turned.
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