Summary: Chapter 68

Langdon calls Jonas Faukman, his editor, who admits that he sent a copy of Langdon’s recent manuscript to Saunière in order to get a blurb for the back of the novel from him. Teabing asks whether the novel was critical of the Priory, and Langdon says it takes a neutral stance. Teabing thinks the Priory should have revealed where the documents were hidden. When they reach the airfield, the pilot does not want to transport Sophie and Langdon, but Teabing threatens him with the gun and offers him a bribe.

Summary: Chapter 69

In the jet, Teabing asks Sophie if she understands the gravity of her own position. If she can find the Holy Grail, Teabing says, she will have the power to reveal the great secret to the world. He wants to know what she plans to do with that power. Sophie says that when she finds the Grail, she will know what to do.

Summary: Chapter 70

At Château Villette, Fache is furious with Collet. André Vernet calls the police and tells them that contrary to what he said, Sophie and Langdon were at the bank that night. He says they took something from Saunière’s account. At the same time, another agent has gone through Teabing’s speed dial numbers and spoken with the airfield. He has discovered that Teabing spoke with them that night.

Summary: Chapter 71

On the plane, Langdon and Teabing try and fail to decipher the text on the back of the rose. Sophie takes the text from them and says it is simply written backwards, the way Da Vinci used to write in his notebooks. One can read it in a mirror.

Summary: Chapter 72

Langdon, Sophie, and Teabing copy down the four-line poem inscribed in the box. It includes references to Mary Magdalene’s family, the Knights Templar, and the Grail. It is written in iambic pentameter and in English, which the Brotherhood considered the only language uncorrupted by the church. The poem instructs them to find a headstone “praised by Templars” and then use another code, the Atbash Cipher, to decode the password. They feel a bit daunted about the prospect of tracking all this down.

Summary: Chapter 73

At the airfield, Fache cannot find out who is on Teabing’s plane with him, but he does manage to determine where the plane will land. He tells his police to have the Kent local police, not the British intelligence service, to surround the plane.

Summary: Chapter 74

Langdon guesses that Sophie witnessed her grandfather participating in a sex ritual. Sophie confirms this. Langdon tells her it was the ancient ritual of Hieros Gamos. Before the Church controlled societal norms, he says, sex was viewed as a sacred union between male and female. Sophie tells him she saw men and women in the basement of her grandfather’s house, where her grandfather was having sex with a woman.

Summary: Chapter 75

On his charter flight to Paris, Aringarosa speaks with Fache and is horrified to learn that the plan is collapsing so quickly. He offers the pilot all of the Vatican bonds to go to London instead of Paris. The pilot asks for his ring instead. Aringarosa gives it to him, feeling sick.

Analysis: Chapters 68–75

Teabing thinks the Priory could be making a play for power, just as the Church is. Teabing’s expression of his doubts is one of the only times the Priory is presented as anything other than a wholly positive group. Teabing’s theory is an interesting one and, if true, would make the last third of the novel much more complex. It is hard, however, to imagine the kindly Saunière involved in anything bad.

Sophie is now filling the familiar thriller role of the ordinary person put in a position of great importance. This typical, almost stereotypical, construction allows the reader to imagine herself as the protagonist. Readers can imagine that, given the chance, they would show the same kind of resolve and strength that Sophie does.

The mystery of Vernet’s continued treachery continues to puzzle. It isn’t clear why Vernet would decide to help Sophie and Langdon and then suddenly change his mind and stop helping them. Vernet is one of the only characters whose motivations haven’t been closely examined. His sudden decision to tell the truth about what happened at the bank is highly suspect. Perhaps Opus Dei has gotten to him.

Once again, Saunière has hidden a message in a very simple way. Like the anagrams of famous paintings, the mirror writing is a level of code that even the very young can understand and decipher. Although this simple cryptography allows Sophie to again show up the men, it seems a bit unbelievable that such an important secret would be hidden almost in plain sight. On the other hand, the mirror writing reinforces Langdon’s theory that the most important answers are always self-evident.

Brown attempts to shock his readers out of their usual assumptions by describing iambic pentameter as the meter scheme of the divine feminine. Most people probably learn about iambic pentameter in English class and never think about any relationship to gender. Brown wants the process of reading this novel to be a discovery, a series of new understandings about things that seem like unremarkable fixtures in the cultural landscape. In the same way Brown challenges the reader’s way of thinking about iambic pentameter and the Little Mermaid, he also challenges assumptions about sex, suggesting it is a divine act that has been demonized by the church.

Brown has yet to reveal the full extent of the plan to which Aringarosa refers. It must be a crucial endgame if Aringarosa is willing to sacrifice his diamond ring for it. Aringarosa is extremely materialistic, and the pilot’s comment—“What kind of priest carries that much money around with him?”—reveals how far Aringarosa has fallen from priestly ideals.