Dan Brown has plenty of enemies.  From plagiarism to historical inaccuracy to terrible sentence structure, there are any number of reasons to be dismayed.  Personally, I was affronted by his assumption that he is not only more clever than all of his readers, but also more than his characters.

The Da Vinci Code, unsurprisingly, is full of what Dan Brown considers codes.  Around page 394, we readers see a message written in one of these so-called codes.  In fact, the message is written a somewhat stylized script, in English, printed backwards. Immediately, I thought, “Oh, I see, it’s backwards.  This will be as obvious to the protagonists as it is to me, a lay reader.”  However, our three code-breaking heroes, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, French National Police cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and crazy old man Leigh Teabing pronounce it gibberish!  illegible!  mind-boggling! Luckily, Sophie comes through in a pinch: she tells the other two that her grandfather taught her this language (ie, English) when she was young, and she retains fluency in it.   She holds it up to the light to see the message through the other side:

From The Da Vinci Code: a hidden message in plain view

When Brown uses real codes in order to lend authenticity to his brand of historical fiction, he fares no better.  Jim Sanborn, creator of the sculpture Kryptos, which stands outside of CIA headquarters, said, “I don’t want my work manipulated in such a way that its meaning is somehow transformed.”  Brown had appropriated the code that Sanborn implanted within the sculpture to support his own theory of Mary Magadelene as axis mundi in the Christian faith.

It must be spelling out...Mary Magdalene!

Who does Dan Brown think he is, to get away with any of this?  Luckily, The New Yorker, has an answer to that.

The clues lie within the name itself. Brown is a color. What colors combine to make brown? Red, blue, and yellow—the primary colors. Brown is the color of the world, so we can assume Dan Brown is an international organization.

But is Dan Brown right about any of the conspiracies he’s created and fueled?  If only we could go straight to the historical source…