Summary: Langdon continues to tell Sophie about the connection between the Priory of Sion and the Holy Grail. The Grail is not, he claims, the cup used at the Last Supper, or any other physical cup. Rather, the image of the cup symbolizes the Grail’s true nature. The Grail’s true nature is the secret spelled out in the documents found by the Templars. Before Langdon can explain further, however, Sophie stops their cab driver from communicating over his radio in response to an alert broadcast regarding she and Langdon. Sophie grabs Langdon’s gun and orders the driver out of the cab. Langdon drives them away (struggling with the fact that the cab has a manual transmission rather than an automatic).
Analysis: This chapter again showcases Brown’s talent at building suspense by bringing readers to the brink of important information and then withholding it. Rather than having Langdon straightforwardly tell Sophie the true nature of the Grail, Brown chooses that moment to introduce a flashback sequence in which Langdon remembers the reaction of his editor in New York when Langdon told him the same secret. We do not learn the nature of the secret in that flashback sequence, either, but we do see its explosive potential: as Langdon’s editor tells him, “[I]f I agree to publish an idea like this, I’ll have people picketing outside my office for months” (p. 176). Brown also uses this chapter to introduce Sir Leigh Teabing, one of the novel’s important characters: we do not meet Teabing himself yet, but learn of his reputation: an eminently respected Royal Historian who believes in the true nature of the Grail as Langdon has presented it.