Angels and Demons is Dan Brown’s best book so far, in my opinion. Dan Brown has a knack for making sure that the reader stays on the edge of their seat throughout his books. Angels and Demons follows Robert Langdon as he searches for clues to stop a mad man from blowing up the Vatican with an antimatter bomb that will wipe out half of Rome if it goes off.

Dan Brown is able to keep you guessing until the very end who this mysterious bad guy might be. “Is Angels and Demons Worth Watching” asks movie man Scott Cooper of Miami Beach.

Angels & Demons is a thriller written by Dan Brown and published first by Pocket Books then Corgi Books. This book introduces Robert Langdon, a character who also appears as the protagonist in Brown’s later novels.  There was also a 2009 film adaptation of the novel. It is the sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

Background

There are some ambigrams created by a real typographer in the book. The cover designs, title, and inside cover are all ambigrams.

Plot

Maximilian Kohler, director of CERN, discovers the murder of Leonardo Vetra, one of the top physicists at the facility. An ambigram of the word “Illuminati” is branded on his chest.

Kohler calls Robert Langdon, a symbology expert. He confirms the authenticity of the ambigram. Vittoria, the adopted daughter of Vetra, is called home. It’s soon established that the Illuminati, an ancient order that opposed religion and was believed extinct, has stolen a canister packed with antimatter. This is believed to be as destructive as a nuclear weapon. This is located somewhere in Vatican City with a countdown timer presaging an explosion at midnight, an explosion that would wipe out the holy city.

Langdon is first convinced the Illuminati are not responsible for two reasons. Firstly, the organization is long extinct with any remnants absorbed into Freemasonry. Also, he did not feel that men standing for scientific truth would countenance the murder of a fellow scientist.

Langdon heads to Vatican City with Vittoria. The pope has recently died. The four cardinals most likely to become pope are all missing. The pair search for these cardinals with the help of Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca, the late pope’s aide. The Swiss Guard of the Vatican and Commander Olivetti also help out.

Vittoria learns from Langdon that the Illuminati made a map of the city known as the Path of Illumination. The organization used this trail to induct new members. They would be tasked with following a set of clues left around various churches. These clues point to the Illuminati’s secret meeting place.

Langdon theorizes that the Path was created by a secret Illuminati member acting as a mole within the Vatican. He gains access to the Vatican Archives and discovers the clues to the markers of the Illuminati inside a copy of Diagramma, Galileo’s famous book. He embarks on the Path of Illumination hoping to rescue the canister of antimatter.

Langdon and Vittoria follow the Path to four Roman churches, each containing works of art by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Langdon identifies Bernini as the Illuminati artist.

Langdon understands that each of the cardinals will be murdered according to one of the four primordial elements, earth, air, fire, and water. The first cardinal is suffocated with soil, the second has his lungs punctured, the third is burned alive, and the fourth dumped in a fountain in chains and left to drown.

Langdon and Vittoria become closer during the search. They find the bodies of the first two cardinals and catch an unnamed assassin as he is setting the third cardinal alight. Langdon escapes but Vittoria is kidnapped.

Langdon needs to complete the Path of Illumination to locate the assassin then rescue Vittoria. He arrives at the Church of Illumination which he identifies as the secret lair of the Illuminati. A tunnel leads to the pope’s private library. After Langdon frees Vittoria, they send the assassin to his death. They return to St. Peter’s Basilica. Kohler has arrived to confront the camerlengo. He is caught in the act of branding him by the Swiss Guards. They then open fire and kill him. Before he dies, Kohler hands a video camera to Langdon asking him to give it to the media.

The Swiss Guard evacuates the Basilica. The camerlengo claims he received a vision from God revealing the location of the canister.

The camerlengo heads into the catacombs and finds the canister on the tomb of Saint Peter. He and Langdon retrieve the antimatter and escape in a helicopter with minutes to spare.

The camerlengo parachute to safety which is viewed as a miracle. Langdon survives the explosion thanks to a window cover serving as a parachute, a trick he learned at CERN with Maximillian Kohler. He lands in the Tiber River.

Langdon regains consciousness and finds himself in hospital. He watches the video footage which shows the camerlengo branding himself then confessing that he is Janus. He admits that he tried to sabotage the Vatican and that he killed the Pope with an overdose of a powerful anticoagulant after the Pope revealed he’d fathered a child.

Langdon and Vittoria along with the cardinals then confront the camerlengo. Before learning the truth about the pope’s child – the result of artificial insemination – the camerlengo had poisoned him then recruited an assassin to kill Vetra then steal the canister before murdering the cardinals. The Illuminati involvement was nothing but a plot conjured up by the camerlengo to cover up his own involvement.

It’s discovered that the carmelengo is the late pope’s son. Ventresca is so guilt that he sets himself on fire in St. Peter’s Square.

Langdon and Vittoria meet up at the Hotel Bernini . The Illuminati Diamond, the last brand, is given to Langdon indefinitely as long as he bequeaths it to the Vatican.

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