The novel is based on the controversial premise that there is a conspiracy
within the Roman Catholic Church
to cover up the true story of Jesus
. According to this premise, the Vatican
knows it is living a lie, but continues to do so to keep itself in power.
The novel has helped generate popular interest in speculation concerning the Holy Grail
legend and the role of Mary Magdalene
in the history of Christianity
. Fans have lauded the book as a creative, action-packed and thought-provoking work. Critics, whilst often praising the quality of the storytelling, have described the book as being inaccurate on a number of points, both large and small, and claim that most of the information on the "Fact" page at the front of the book is in fact completely untrue and creates confusion between speculation
and fact. From a religious point of view, many critics, citing Dan Brown's own comments in various media interviews, claim that the book is a deliberate attempt to undermine Christianity in favour of a feminist/pagan agenda, and decry the many negative implications about the Roman Catholic Church
and Opus Dei
It is a worldwide bestseller
with more than 60.5 million copies in print (as of May 2006) and has been translated into 44 languages. It is thought to be the eighth best-selling
book of all time.