The Secret Supper
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The Secret Supper

3.6 40
by Javier Sierra

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Milan, 1497: Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message, which he is determined to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the


Milan, 1497: Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message, which he is determined to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the apostles are portraits of well-known heretics -- none of them 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....

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sierra's narrative moves smoothly, fluidly...[and makes] art history palatable and exciting." -- Los Angeles Times

"A fascinating yarn and very well told.... Speaks volumes about Leonardo's mastery with a brush." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"For fans of religious conspiracy and reinterpretations of religious history." -- The Washington Post

"Offers a new way of interpreting The Last Supper...[and] a fresh contribution to the da Vinci industry." -- Publishers Weekly

"A most satisfying entertainment....The monastic life has not been depicted as vividly by any novelist since Umberto Eco's bestselling Name of the Rose." -- Daily News (New York)

In this clever fiction, the hidden codes of Leonardo da Vinci raise temperatures among his contemporaries. Late in the 15th century, a series of cryptic, anonymous missives alert church officials to the possibility that subversive messages might be concealed in the artistry of The Last Supper. Dispatched to Milan to investigate, Father Agostino Leyre begins an act of aesthetic and historic decoding that takes us to the final line of the last page.
Publishers Weekly
Set in the late 15th century, Sierra's first book translated into English revolves around a papal inquisitor's investigation into Leonardo da Vinci's alleged heresies and offers a new way of interpreting The Last Supper. After receiving a series of cryptic messages from "the Soothsayer," who warns the 15th century church that "art can be employed as a weapon," the Secretariat of Keys of the Papal States dispatches Father Agostino Leyre on a twofold mission to Milan: identify the Soothsayer and discover what, if any, messages da Vinci is hiding in the painting. Leyre, who narrates, views the in-progress Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie and becomes fascinated. He makes a series of sometimes muddled discoveries about the painting, leading up to his interpretation of the painting's true meaning (not revealed until the last line of the last page). Those not well versed in Catholic history may have trouble following the many subplots involving factionalism and dissent within the church. The combination of code breaking, secrecy, chicanery within the Catholic Church and a certain artist is by now a familiar one, but Sierra's book, already a bestseller in Europe, is a fresh contribution to the da Vinci industry. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Spanish historian, author, and television host and producer Sierra (Rosewell: Secreto del Estado) uncovers the secret hidden in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper in a novel set in 1497 Milan. Friar Agostino Leyre, a Dominican inquisitor, has been sent from Rome to determine the identity of the Soothsayer, an informant who has been sending messages to the Pope implicating Leonardo in spreading heresy, particularly through his latest masterpiece. Leyre takes up residence at the monastery where The Last Supper is being painted and discovers secrets on many levels, in both the monastery and Leonardo's fresco. This novel will inevitably be compared with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and though on the surface it is similar, with messages hidden in art and conspiracies within the Church, Sierra finds an alternate (but equally convincing) message in Leonardo's masterpiece. The language of the two novels is also very different, Sierra's being more detailed, written in the first person, and set firmly in the 15th century. Secret Supper is also possibly more confusing than The Da Vinci Code, but it is a good read in its own right. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/05.]-Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnepeg Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
No mere Da Vinci Code redux, this Spanish bestseller fuses an ecclesiastical whodunit with an A-Z guide to Neoplatonist philosophy and Renaissance symbology. Leonardo's masterwork The Last Supper has become the 15th century's Zapruder film, obsessively scrutinized for clues to conspiracies. Now Sierra (La Dama Azul, 2005, etc.) produces a corker: His Da Vinci is a Cathar, member of a heretical sect espousing a mystical Christianity. And, as Father Agostino, Sierra's clerical super-sleuth, detects, the world's most famous fresco drips with cryptic Cathar propaganda. Isn't that Leonardo himself, after all, at the left of the Passover table, chatting up Plato? Don't the 12 apostles resonate with astrological and numerological significance? And isn't there a secret message their gestures and names spell out? Maybe this "discovery" is balderdash, but it's fascinating fun. We meet Marsilio Ficino, rescuer of esoteric Egyptian wisdom, Savonarola, so shocked by Botticelli's paganism that he convinces that fine painter to trash his brush, Lorenzo the Magnificent, ultra-Renaissance Man-all real-life titans portrayed with a storyteller's zest for anecdote. Sierra's breakneck plotting provides the novel's juice, but its satisfying aftertaste comes from its erudite explaining of the art of the symbol: The last thing the quattrocento masters intended was to paint just "pretty pictures." Instead, they aimed at allegory, constructing visual narratives rich in coded signs and wonders, an achievement long celebrated by historians and Jungians alike. In ushering general readers into that numinous realm, the author ensures that they'll never again rush through a museum. Sierra is a more sophisticated writerthan Dan Brown, and he offers fresh perspective on the Renaissance mind.

Product Details

Washington Square Press
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Javier Sierra, whose works have been translated into forty languages, is the author of The Lost Angel, The Lady in Blue, and the New York Times bestselling novel The Secret Supper. One of the most accomplished authors on the Spanish literary scene, Sierra studied journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid. El Maestro del Prado spent a year on the bestseller list in Spain, gaining the admiration of art experts, aficionados, and critics. A native of Teruel, Spain, he currently lives in Madrid with his wife and two children.

Brief Biography

Málaga, Spain
Date of Birth:
August 11, 1971
Place of Birth:
Teruel, Spain
Journalism studies at the Complutense University, Madrid, 1989-1995

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The Secret Supper 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1497 the ¿Soothsayer¿ warns the Papacy that art is the center of heresy and needs to be carefully monitored and if necessary censored. Taking the warning seriously with the Renaissance flourishing at the Vatican¿s doorsteps, the Secretariat of Keys of the Papal States Pope Alexander VI sends Inquisitor Father Agostino Leyre to Milan to investigate the works of the growing popular da Vinci for any heretic secret missives and to uncover the identity of the Soothsayer.------ Leyre quickly becomes enthralled with da Vinci¿s current work in progress, the Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie. The priest sees the beauty in the not finished masterpiece, but also becomes somewhat alarmed as he also believes the Soothsayer is right that da Vinci has slipped in some secret codes with what he leaves out as much as he puts in though the artist claims he had divine inspiration. To reveal what Leyre assumes is treacherous unorthodoxy means death of the artist as a heretic and destruction of the painting, but to not do so will place the Father at risk of abetting dissent towards the Church especially if the Soothsayer sends messages.------ THE SECRET SUPPER is a terrific thriller that uses the famous painting to tell the story behind the so-called Da Vinci code. The tale grips the audience as the Inquisitor begins to interpret what he assumes are heresies though he can see the beauty in the masterpiece. Adding depth to the fabulous Papacy vs. Leonardo plot is Javier Sierra¿s intriguing interpretation of The Last Supper. This novel is a tense historical masterpiece.----- Harriet Klausner
kk0 More than 1 year ago
 I'am reading this on my Nook I have to look up a lot of words, but I got to say I am enjoying the book. It took quite a few pages to get my mind to except first person reading, but it has worked out. It reads like a  book left to be found by someone in the future.I believe it is the intention.However in the middle of the book it does begin to tell the story on the here and now.As it is being seen by the story teller.All in all it is good. I  think it is full of  interesting people all who seem to have something to hide.Corruption and  lies ,power and wealth, all in the name of the Church.
TimRo More than 1 year ago
The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra is a book with wonderful array of coded mystery. Sometimes you may just feel that you are the one to be uncovering all of Davincis secrets, rather then the characters themselves. Taking place in the late 1400¿s where as Pope Alexander VI wishes to have Leonardo Davinci executed for hiding a blasphemous message into his latest masterpiece; The Secret Supper.

The story is very well written and keeps you nearly at the edge of your seat. It is not entirely a cliffhanger since the hidden messages are solved too quickly for any mystery. Javier Sierra should have left a bit more room in between his puzzles so that the reader could work with them for a bit longer. What went wrong was that a secret was put out just as fast as it was solved. Overall there were many points of the main story¿s mystery, by the end of the story it is noticed how they are which makes the book sum up with wonder. It seems that if someone wanted a good story they could go with this, but not so much with a good mystery. One other issue that was noticed was in one of the characters. All were wonderful with the exception of the main character. There was no explanation to whom he may be, only but a pawn on wheels to keep the story moving along. Overall, the book needs a little more suspense leading up to the whole finale.

Throughout the book there were many points of interest, but those mainly were kept up in the midst of every thing and towards the end of the book. So the beginning was a little slow, but needless to say it did pick up to be a great story. The end of the book put everything together to make sense and finish up everything perfectly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must say that I enjoyed this book, though not as climatic as say Angels and Demons(Dan Brown) it definitely as its moments. The names of the characters are at times hard to pronounce, this dose not take away from a very interesting plot. Once the secret of what Di Vinci was painting into the supper was discovered, I found myself doing my own research. 'keep dictionary close by'
Guest More than 1 year ago
During my minute college vacation, I took it upon myself to catch-up with some reading. I bought about six books and I was really excited about reading the Secret Supper. That excitement quickly ran out of the door, waiving a red flag. The Secret Supper starts out slow like most books, and fails to gain any momentum as the story progresses. Even though the novel deals with a very intriguing topic, having an intriguing topic isn¿t the only thing you need to make a great novel. If you look at novels like the Da Vinci Code and the Historian, you¿ll see that they both speak of great topic, but they also have a story line that you can¿t help but pay attention to. If you wanted to get this book, I wouldn¿t try to dissuade you in any way, but you buy this book at your own risk. I¿m afraid that only a few authors have been able to capitalize on this whole ¿Jesus and Mary Magdalene¿ saga.
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enmarqu More than 1 year ago
Despues de 'El Codigo Da vinci' de Dan Brown las propuestas de esta novela ya no son tan sorprendentes, sin embargo la historia es entretenida y el ritmo aceptable. Me atrap? lo suficiente para acabar de leerla en un par de semanas. Definitivmente recomendada a quienes gustan de ficci?n historica.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read many books in this vain. I find historical fiction very interesting. This was a very novel take on a story that has been told time and time again in recent history. Rather than focusing on medieval knights or modern day adventurers trying to interpret clues from long ago, it perpetrates being inside Leonardo's own head. I particularly enjoyed the glossary of characters in the back of the book. It not only helped in reading the fictional story but also illuminated the truth of the historical figure versus the story of the historical figure. It is a very quick and enjoyable read and a unique take on a much written format. I would highly recommend this to anyone that enjoys novels based in the Renaissance era.
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An excellent example of historical fiction hybrid, this time with a religious topic. If you liked the movie "Stigmata", you will possibly like this novel, especially if you don't mind gruesome serial murders in addition to the rich descriptions of religious symbolism and philosophy.
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