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It takes guts to write a novel that combines an ancient secret brotherhood, the Swiss Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, a papal conclave, mysterious ambigrams, a plot against the Vatican, a mad scientist in a wheelchair, particles of antimatter, jets that can travel 15,000 miles per hour, crafty assassins, a beautiful Italian physicist, and a Harvard professor of religious iconology. It takes talent to make that novel anything but ridiculous. Kudos to Dan Brown (Digital Fortress) for achieving the nearly impossible. Angels & Demons is a no-holds-barred, pull-out-all-the-stops, breathless tangle of a thriller--think Katherine Neville's The Eight (but cleverer) or Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (but more accessible). Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is shocked to find proof that the legendary secret society, the Illuminati--dedicated since the time of Galileo to promoting the interests of science and condemning the blind faith of Catholicism--is alive, well, and murderously active. Brilliant physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, his eyes plucked out, and the society's ancient symbol branded upon his chest. His final discovery, antimatter, the most powerful and dangerous energy source known to man, has disappeared--only to be hidden somewhere beneath Vatican City on the eve of the election of a new pope. Langdon and Vittoria, Vetra's daughter and colleague, embark on a frantic hunt through the streets, churches, and catacombs of Rome, following a 400-year-old trail to the lair of the Illuminati, to prevent the incineration of civilization. Brown seems as much juggler as author--there are lots and lots of balls in the air in this novel, yet Brown manages to hurl the reader headlong into an almost surreal suspension of disbelief. While the reader might wish for a little more sardonic humor from Langdon, and a little less bombastic philosophizing on the eternal conflict between religion and science, these are less fatal flaws than niggling annoyances--readers should have no trouble skimming past them and immersing themselves in a heck of a good read. "Brain candy" it may be, but my! It's tasty. --Kelly Flynn
Look Inside the Motion Picture Angels & Demons (Sony Pictures, 2009) Click on each image below to see a larger view
Ewan MacGregor as Carlo Ventresca with College of Cardinals
Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon
Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra
Armin Mueller-Stahl as Straus and Ewan MacGregor as Carlo Ventresca
Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra, and Ewan MacGregor as Carlo Ventresca
Ewan MacGregor as Carlo Ventresca
From Publishers Weekly
Pitting scientific terrorists against the cardinals of Vatican City, this well-plotted if over-the-top thriller is crammed with Vatican intrigue and high-tech drama. Robert Langdon, a Harvard specialist on religious symbolism, is called in by a Swiss research lab when Dr. Vetra, the scientist who discovered antimatter, is found murdered with the cryptic word "Illuminati" branded on his chest. These Iluminati were a group of Renaissance scientists, including Galileo, who met secretly in Rome to discuss new ideas in safety from papal threat; what the long-defunct association has to do with Dr. Vetra's death is far from clear. Vetra's daughter, Vittoria, makes a frightening discovery: a lethal amount of antimatter, sealed in a vacuum flask that will explode in six hours unless its batteries are recharged, is missing. Almost immediately, the Swiss Guard discover that the flask is hidden beneath Vatican City, where the conclave to elect a new pope has just begun. Vittoria and Langdon rush to recover the canister, but they aren't allowed into the Vatican until it is discovered that the four principal papal candidates are missing. The terrorists who are holding the cardinals call in regarding their pending murders, offering clues tied to ancient Illuminati meeting sites and runes. Meanwhile, it becomes clear that a sinister Vatican entity with messianic delusions is in league with the terrorists. Packing the novel with sinister figures worthy of a Medici, Brown (Digital Fortress) sets an explosive pace as Langdon and Vittoria race through a Michelin-perfect Rome to try to save the cardinals and find the antimatter before it explodes. Though its premises strain credulity, Brown's tale is laced with twists and shocks that keep the reader wired right up to the last revelation. (May) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Harvard professor Robert Langdon and CERN scientist Vittoria Vetra have just one night to prevent the Vatican from being destroyed by an antimatter bomb. Can they do it? Of course. But the fun lies in how and why. A sample of antimatter has been stolen from physics center CERN by the Illuminati -- the all-powerful group made so famous by Robert A. Wilson's books. Here, they are represented as being an ancient order of scientists upset with the way the Church has treated science and scientists. (Me, I always liked the bankers-as-secret-force or blood-relatives-of-Jesus explanation of the Illuminati, but this will do.) This provides for plenty of science vs. religion conversations, and Brown does a good job with them. ANGELS AND DEMONS is a fast, but satisfying read. It rolls along unstoppably, not the least of which because the action takes place over a 24-hour span. Even if -- as I did -- you guess what's really happening half-way through the book, you'll never guess what happens in the last 40 pages. The book is laced with fun facts about electing a pope and the Vatican, like that St. Peter's bones are not in the golden casket in St. Peter's Basilica, but two stories under it. Brown knows the layout. And that the artist Raphael's last name was Santi. He also knows how marble statues were carved. Brown's no Irving Stone (THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY), but he does manage to inform without being pedantic. As Vittoria and Langdon race around Rome, we get quite a tour, with great descriptions. (Pick up a paperback copy next summer and bring it to Rome. Take the Brown tour.) What's interesting is that all the places and pieces of art in this book really exist.Read more ›
Next to Britt Gillette's "Conquest of Paradise", this is the best book I've read in a long time. I'm a first time Dan Brown reader but I'm hooked! I stayed up all night and didn't quit until I finished, blurry eyed and sleepy. I found myself believing every word and had to stop and remember that it's just fiction! I was amazed at the inside information about the Vatican (especially the library), and I finally got out a map and books from my trip to Rome to see if I could find all the churches. Anti-matter, illuminati, choosing a pope - all of it was fascinating. When I finished, I had to laugh thinking about the fact they never ate, slept or made comfort stops and neither could I. The ending was a total surprise! Anyone who enjoys non-stop action and information shouldn't miss this one.
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I read "Angels & Demons" after reading Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," and I have to say that I do not think it matters what order you read the two books although there are clear indications this book was written first (Brown does several examples of blatant foreshadowing, including early on the idea that one square yard of drag will slow a falling body's rate of descent by twenty percent). The two books are similar in that Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon deciphers clues to try and solve one murder while trying to prevent others in a mystery that involves the secrets of the Catholic Church. In this book a physicist is murdered at CERN, the Swiss research facility, and branded will a symbol representing the Illuminati, the centuries old underground organization of scientists who have a vendetta against the Catholic Church. The ancient secret brotherhood has acquired a devastating new weapon of mass destruction and intends to bring down the Vatican (literally). Which book is better? My initial reaction would be that I liked "The Da Vinci Code" a bit more because so many of the clues were written out. When Langdon has to look over paintings, statues and other visual clues I find myself wishing Brown had supplied photographs in his book so that I could play along looking for clues (he does provide most of the requisite images at his website, but I did not know this until after the fact and I suspect most readers will not want to stop and go online to call up the photographs). Not that I had much success in my endeavors, but I did know that Leonardo Da Vinci wrote in his journals backwards so that I was ahead of Langdon for a half a page at one point.Read more ›
My first introduction to Dan Brown was through his incredible thriller, 'The Da Vinci Code' and figured that I had missed out on his previous works, so I picked up 'Angels & Demons' the day after I finished TDVC. This is in every way it's equal. Every bit as compelling. Every bit as entertaining. Every bit as FUN. If you enjoy solving puzzles -- especially REAL ones, than Dan Brown is an author you NEED to get to know and F-A-S-T. One of the things which made this book so instantly enjoyable was one of the main characters I already knew, Robert Langdon, world famous Symbologist from 'The Da Vinci Code'. Set aside some time to completely absorb this amazing tale, because once you start it, you will instantly be captured up in this highly addictive story. Robert is suddenly awakened early in the morning by the Director of the worlds leading science center, CERN located in Switzerland asking for advice. Robert is less than interested and hangs up when his fax machine spits out a picture which makes his blood run cold. Within a few hours, he is on a quick trip to Europe (heavy emphasis on the word 'Quick'). A murder has been committed. The victim, one of the most gifted scientist in the world has been brutally killed and the mysterious brand of the secret brotherhood of the Illuminati is left on his chest. NOT just ANY brand either, an Ambigram, a word which can be read the same right-side-up as well as upside-down. But Robert is convinced that the Illuminati have been disbanded for the better part of a century. Even so, his curiosity leads him on a quest which will take up the rest of the day and open up secrets long forgotten and better left buried. Somehow Dan Brown has introduced the element of Antimatter into the story in such a way as to be totally believable.Read more ›
Dan Brown is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code and, previously, Digital Fortress, Deception Point, and Angels and Demons. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent time as an English teacher before turning his efforts fully to writing. He lives in New England with his wife.