on a descending scale
eader be warned that this book delivers much less than it promises. The story begins strongly with the creation of a puzzle myth and the juxtaposition of modern and antique heroines on a common treasure hunt reminiscent of Raider of the Lost Ark. The author weaves in a variety of arcane mathematical ideas and creates an expectation that they will build to a solution as the mysterious chess pieces and clues are discovered. The references to mystical mathematics (Fibonacci sequence, harmonic balance, etc.) are very similar to The DaVinci Code; one suspects that Dan Brown may have lifted this theme from this older novel.
Unfortunately, the story degrades steadily from its strong beginning. The historical story-line turns into name-dropping with cameo appearances from every 18th century figure you've ever heard of: Robespierre, Ben Franklin, Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Napoleone, and on and on. The modern story-line deteriorates into an insipid romance. The plot that starts out as fantastic and a bit edgy becomes finally boring, predictable, and heavily frayed. And the puzzle fades away, morphing into a chemical formula for the elixer of life.