Saturday, December 12, 2009

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Hardcover, 569 pages
Simon & Schuster, 2000
ISBN-13: 9780743486224

From the Publisher:
When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol -- seared into the chest of a murdered physicist -- he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati...the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy -- the Catholic Church.
Langdon's worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the Vatican's holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.
Embarking on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra follow a 400-year-old trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome toward the long-forgotten Illuminati lair...a clandestine location that contains the only hope for Vatican salvation.
An explosive international thriller, Angels & Demons careens from enlightening epiphanies to dark truths as the battle between science and religion turns to war.

My Thoughts:

I'm no fan of Dan Brown and Angels and Demons confirms this fact. I can't for the life of me figure out why The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons became huge best sellers - that were then made into movies. While both are certainly entertaining thrillers, Brown's not that great of a writer. The dialogue is awkward. Brown continues to play fast and loose with historical "facts". Yet again, it's absurd how the characters zip around chasing clues and making unbelievably fast deductions based on a few a few iffy facts. There were several parts of the story that simply had me rolling my eyes. OK, I thought the ambigrams were cool, but hardly unheard of enough to be this great historical mystery. It wasn't that unputdownable thriller that so many claim it was. Now, that said, it's recommended - as an airplane book or a vacation read. This mean it's a passable mystery that also has quite a bit to complain about so you won't mind so much if it gets left behind during a trip.

Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own. He stared up in terror at the dark figure looming over him. "What do you want!"
"La chiave," the raspy voice replied. "The password." opening

"My name is Maximilian Kohler. I'm a discrete particle physicist."
"A what?" Langdon could barely focus. "Are you sure you've got the right Langdon?"
"You're a professor of religious iconology at Harvard University. You've written three books on symbology and — "
"Do you know what time it is?"
"I apologize. I have something you need to see. I can't discuss it on the phone." pg. 3-4

The incoming fax lay in the tray. Sighing, he scooped up the paper and looked at it.
Instantly, a wave of nausea hit him.
The image on the page was that of a human corpse. The body had been stripped naked, and its head had been twisted, facing completely backward. On the victim's chest was a terrible burn. The man had been branded...imprinted with a single word. It was a word Langdon knew well. Very well. He stared at the ornate lettering in disbelief.
"Illuminati," he stammered, his heart pounding. It can't be...
In slow motion, afraid of what he was about to witness, Langdon rotated the fax 180 degrees. He looked at the word upside down. pg. 6

Langdon's aversion to closed spaces was by no means debilitating, but it had always frustrated him. It manifested itself in subtle ways. pg. 11

As the killer walked, he imagined his ancestors smiling down on him. Today he was fighting their battle, he was fighting the same enemy they had fought for ages, as far back as the eleventh century... when the enemy's crusading armies had first pillaged his land, raping and killing his people, declaring them unclean, defiling their temples and gods. pg.14

"The men and women of CERN are here to find answers to the same questions man has been asking since the beginning of time. Where did we come from> What are we made of?" pg. 25

Although accounts of the illuminati emblem were legendary in modern symbology, no academic had ever actually seen it. ancient documents described the symbol as an ambigram - ambi meaning "both" - signifying that it was legible both ways. pg. 31

"But in the 1500s, a group of men in Rome fought back against the church. Some of Italy's most enlightened men - physicists, mathematicians, astronomers - began meeting secretly to share their concerns about the church's inaccurate teachings. They feared the church's monopoly on 'truth' threatened academic enlightenment around the world. They founded the world's first scientific think tank, calling themselves 'the enlightened ones.' "
"The Illuminati." pg. 32

Over the years, the Illuminati began absorbing new members. A new Illuminati emerged. A darker Illuminati. A deeply anti-Christian Illuminati. They grew very powerful, employing mysterious rites, deadly secrecy, vowing someday to rise up and take revenge on the Catholic Church. pg. 34

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