Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra

Tightly paced and atmospheric, The Secret Supper is a dazzling historical thriller with a unique vision of both Leonardo da Vinci's genius and his masterpiece -- which you will never look at in the same way again.

Milan, 1497: Leonardo is completing The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message that he is driven to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table, and the apostles, shockingly, are portraits of well-known heretics -- and none of them are depicted with halos. And why has the artist painted himself into the scene with his back turned toward Jesus? The clues to Leonardo's greatest puzzle are right before your eyes....

Given the subject matter there will inevitably be comparisons made to the Da Vinci Code. Whilst there are some shared themes that are touched on there are significant differences as well. Whereas Da Vinci is a cultural touchstone in The Da Vinci Code, here he is a central character, with mentions of his other works, but focusing predominantly on the messages contained in the painting of The Last Supper. Whilst DVC has a modern setting looking back through time, in The Secret Supper the setting is 1497. Da Vinci is part way through working on the painting that will become The Last Supper.

The main character, Father Agostino Leyre, is an Inquisitor who is sent to Milan to investigate the stories that are emerging about the painting, that it contains secret messages which are contradictory to the central beliefs of the Church. Leyre's speciality is the deciphering of codes. When he is sent a coded message by The Soothsayer he needs to figure out what the message is to try and prevent the further killings that have been taking place in recent days. The Soothsayer appears to be someone from the inside of Da Vinci's inner circle who has become disillusioned and is now determined to unveil the secrets held in his works. As Leyre works through the various puzzles, things around him become more dangerous, and more life changing.

Originally written in Spanish, and then translated into English, there are occasional patches where you wonder if something hasn't been lost in the translation, but overall this was a very interesting read that takes the well known fact that Da Vinci was considered to not be a "good Christian", takes one of his most famous works and wonders what could his beliefs have been and did he hide messages in his works.

Rating 4/5


  1. I have this out from the library but I think it's too soon for me to read it after reading Labyrinth. But I will definitely check it out again, you piqued my interest!

  2. I have Labyrinth on request at the library. Hopefully I don't find them too similar!

  3. I have The Da Vinci Legacy to read, sort of in this same theme, but it's a thriller. I want to read both Laybrinth and The Secret Supper, I just don't want to buy them new hardcover!

  4. Excellent Commentary. I read this one this month as well and although I didn't enjoy it as much as you, I found it just as intriguing.



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