Book Reviews


Delphine Alsop-Parsons

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Beautifully written and absolutely fascinating!

Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 22 November 2022

Simon Miles’ writing is wonderful to read, and all of his detailed research is so exciting to dive into, whether or not you are already familiar with the themes and topics. Definitely a book I didn’t want to put down as I was gripped on every page, absolutely loved it!!

Kate Cassidy

5.0 out of 5 stars 

A Fascinating Read

Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 7 August 2022

Everyone loves a mystery and the Mystery of Rennes-Le-Chateau and its surrounding landscape, once home to the Cathars and Templars, is one of the most enduring.
‘The Map and the Manuscript’, contains everything I love: secrets, cryptography, puzzles, riddles, geometry, wordplay and more. I felt I was taken on a journey which managed to inject fascinating new information and insights that I had never encountered in previous books or films on the subject.
It is thoroughly researched with great attention to detail, and I valued the fact that it is not written by someone who has visited a handful of times, or indeed never, but from someone who, through a series of synchronicities, came to reside there and speaks French.
I have never visited this part of France but Simon Miles’ powerfully evocative descriptions transported me to the location to the degree that I felt I could touch the landscapes he was describing. This is a book which will keep even those familiar with the various theories hooked to the end and it delivers a new and satisfying ‘hidden in plain sight’ solution to one the most intriguing mysteries of our time.

Top reviews from other countries

Christina G. Waldman5.0 out of 5 stars An Author's Literary QuestReviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 2 November 2022

"There are two villages bearing the name of Rennes in the foothills of the northern slopes of the Pyrenees, in the Languedoc, southern France. Though they are twinned by name, the pair could not be more different in aspect."

So the author, Simon M. Miles, begins his introduction to this book. And, while it is a book about a deep and ancient mystery involving these two villages, it is also the story of how an intelligent researcher goes about solving a riddle of grand scope. It took him twenty years. His tools included scientific knowledge, maps and books, intuition, and, of course, good sleuthing. His bio tells us he is an "independent author, researcher, and speaker" who "became a full-time writer in 2007," "after a successful business career in the field of scientific lasers." He is from Australia, now living in the U.K.

I knew nothing about the book’s subject matter when I first started reading it. I had heard of "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco and Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," two popular books which I understand touch on these mysteries, but had not read them. Nor had I heard of the French writers the author discusses whose works provided clues and context (whose names I will omit, so as not to give away any "spoilers"); but now, my curiosity is piqued. Miles discusses the prior literature, claiming that his book goes deeper into the topic than other writers have done to date, providing new information and solutions to some of its more mystifying aspects.

The author demonstrates a strong grasp of his book's subject matter. He manages to convey its detailed and sometimes complicated information in an engaging style. Matters of a technical nature, such as those discussed in chapter 15, must be dealt with (like showing your work in math class), but they will probably mean more to those with a scientific background than those such as myself. I confess, I skimmed a few pages here and there of this more-technical material. More to my liking was chapter 16 in which the author delved into Jung's ideas on the "artist as alchemist," metaphorically speaking. These later chapters helped me to understand why this topic mattered to the author and to relate to it more personally, as a person interested in literature, history, mythology, and puzzle-solving.

The author has provided abundant full-color diagrams and illustrations, and additional relevant material in five appendices (including a bibliography and expanded table of contents). I bought both the Kindle edition and the paperback (496 pages, of excellent quality). I had learned of the book in a forum discussion of an online group in which I participate. Some years ago, Miles wrote the foreword to a book I wrote. I enjoyed learning more about this ancient riddle whose secrets lay buried for so long, waiting to be discovered in the landscape, books, and maps.