Reading Group Guide
1. This novel carries the epigraph "Hidden in his papal ring, there lives a demon." What does this mean in relation to the novel?
2. Cristina wears two rings. Compare and contrast these pieces of jewelry. What do they each represent? How are they at odds?
3. Cristina sees herself as someone for whom catastrophic events cause a kind of impulsiveness, even arousal. What significant events in the novel have this effect on Cristina, and what does she do as a result? Objects, scents, and sounds often trigger memories. What triggers memories for Cristina, and what does she remember?
4. Were your suspicions aroused when Artur Boix first appeared sitting next to Cristina on the plane? Why or why not? What did you think he was up to?
5. Cristina says that, as a lawyer, she is well trained to pay close attention to detail. Do you agree with this assessment of her? Why or why not?
6. As Alicia examines the Templar ring, she explains that rubies come as male and female, Mars and Venus, and that the temperament of each is different accordingly. Discuss the many ways in which male and female roles and sexism come into play in this novel.
7. Alicia Núñez is one of the most complicated, mysterious characters in the book. Luis calls her a witch, Cristina's mother doesn't trust her, but the neo-Templars follow her, and Oriol encourages Cristina to share her visions with her. What do you think of Alicia? Did your opinion of her change at various points in the story? Why or why not?
8. When Maria, Cristina's mother, finally reveals her secret, are you surprised? Did you sympathize with her? Explain your opinion. What would you have done in her shoes?
9. The history of celebrating the solstice is an ancient one on the European continent, rich with symbolism and meaning. What effect does the seaside, almost-pagan celebration have on Cristina? How does it change her?
10. What does Brother Arnau mean on page 333 when he tells Cristina that the danger is in Barcelona and that "the Saracens are coming back"?
11. Why do you think Cristina tells her mother that she plans to break off her engagement to Mike, even though she is returning to New York? What, ultimately, was she looking for in Barcelona? Did she find it?
12. There are several serious issues and themes just touched upon in this fast-paced thriller, such as loyalty, marital roles, AIDS and homosexuality, promiscuity, religious devotion, and violence in the name of God. Why do you think the author wove these kinds of questions into the background? What effect do they have on your reading experience?
13. What do you make of the ending? Were you satisfied by the first and final outcomes of the treasure hunt? What has changed for Cristina by the time her grand adventure in Barcelona is over?
Enhance Your Book Club Experience
The city of Barcelona and islands along the coast of Spain provide a rich backdrop to this historical, romantic, and suspenseful story. Read through a traveler's guide or visit www.spain.info in order to map out the locations visited by Cristina and her companions.
Much has been written about the Poor Knights of Christ, popularly known as the Knights Templar. Do a little research on the members of the Order and see how the historical information available lends credence to (or contradicts) the fictional accounts given in The Ring. You can start with The Templar Revelation, by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, or visit www.templar history.com.
Gothic and medieval artwork plays an important role in the novel and in the treasure hunt. Using the internet or art books, choose a selection of religious works from the 13th and 14th centuries portraying Jesus and Mary or the saints, particularly those with relationships to the Templars -- Saint George and Saint John the Baptist -- and bring copies to share with the members of your book club.