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Angels & Demons Paperback – June 26, 2001
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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)
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--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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.
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The amount of research that must have gone into this book in the locations alone must have been daunting. It turns a work of fiction into a believable, well plotted book.
Have fun with this one.
From the sci-fi POV, it's clear that Brown doesn't know much science. This is a trend, though--maybe he was responsible for starting it? I'm talking about "soft sci-fi" which nestles up to and often crosses the line into fantasy. If you're a purist, you'll stay away.
Even with his 2D characters, though, Brown spins a good yarn that lets us peek into the machinations and intrigues of the Catholic Conclave. He says all the history stuff is "true," but he said that about stuff in Da Vinci too--and was proven wrong.
You can't argue about success, though. Like with Harry Potter, readers often reward bad writing. That usually means they enjoy the novelty of the tale. I'll admit I enjoyed this one--maybe more than Da Vinci, because it has enough twists and turns to be called a mystery, or sci-fi/fantasy/mystery--a mixed bag of goodies, to be sure.
I am looking forward to beginning the da vinci code now.
Incredibly, the entire 500+ pages of action occurs over a six-hour period. As in "Da Vinci," the action takes place in and around the Catholic Church -- literally. The bulk of the book involves Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and his attractive Italian co-sleuth Vittoria Vetra racing between the Pope's office, the Vatican's secret archives, hidden Middle Age passageways, the crypt holding St. Peter's remains and various churches in Rome in an attempt beat a midnight calamity that threatens to destroy the Catholic Church at its very foundations.
The nutshell: CERN, the world's most formidable collection of physicists, has produced and contained anti-matter, that theoretical substance present at the Big Bang. Despite elaborate security, a vial of the anti-matter has been stolen by a resurgent Illuminati -- that cryptic group dating from the Middle Ages that purported to represent and defend scientific inquiry against the forces of a Church desperate to stamp out anything even remotely calling into question Rome's vision of the earth, man and their divine creation.
After waiting four centuries, the Illuminati have a chance to extract their revenge upon the Catholic Church. The vial of anti-matter will escape containment when a battery mechanism allowing its suspension turns off at midnight on the day bereaved cardinals are gathered to select a new pope. Anti-matter, when coming into contact with any matter (even air, or the sides of a container) produces an explosion so great that a pea-sized drop of the stuff could wipe out a mile square area. And, the vial has been hidden someplace in the recesses of Vatican City.
Langdon appears because his specialty -- symbology -- makes him the foremost expert in possible clues to the Illuminati plot and the hiding place of the vial. The beautiful Vetra appears because she was teamed with her father in the production of anti-matter at CERN -- her father being a catholic priest/physicist who was attempting to prove the existence of Genesis with his work (he adopted her when she was an orphan).
Breathless describes this novel. The entire story, except for Langdon's educational lectures on the Illuminati, various aspects of Vatican lore, and Middle Age Italian artists and architecture, takes place between the time most allow for dinner to follow lunch. The action never stops -- it is ceaseless.
It is also very entertaining. Anyone attracted to history, secret societies, church politics past and present and a whiff of physics as backdrop to a ripping good yarn will appreciate this book.