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<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Chapter 1 High atop the steps of the Great Pyramid of Giza a young woman laughed and called down to him. "Robert, hurry up! I knew I should have married a younger man!" Her smile was magic. He struggled to keep up, but his legs felt like stone. "Wait," he begged. "Please..." As he climbed, his vision began to blur. There was a thundering in his ears. I must reach her! But when he looked up again, the woman had disappeared. In her place stood an old man with rotting teeth. The man stared down, curling his lips into a lonely grimace. Then he let out a scream of anguish that resounded across the desert. Robert Langdon awoke with a start from his nightmare. The phone beside his bed was ringing. Dazed, he picked up the receiver. "Hello?" "I'm looking for Robert Langdon," a man's voice said. Langdon sat up in his empty bed and tried to clear his mind. "This...is Robert Langdon." He squinted at his digital clock. It was 5:18 A.M. "I must see you immediately." "Who is this?" "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." A knowing groan escaped Langdon's lips. This had happened before. One of the perils of writing books about religious symbology was the calls from religious zealots who wanted him to confirm their latest sign from God. Last month a stripper from Oklahoma had promised Langdon the best sex of his life if he would fly down and verify the authenticity of a cruciform that had magically appeared on her bed sheets. The Shroud of Tulsa, Langdon had called it. "How did you get my number?" Langdon tried to be polite, despite the hour. "On the Worldwide Web. The site for your book." Langdon frowned. He was damn sure his book's site did not include his home phone number. The man was obviously lying. "I need to see you," the caller insisted. "I'll pay you well." Now Langdon was getting mad. "I'm sorry, but I really -- " "If you leave immediately, you can be here by -- " "I'm not going anywhere! It's five o'clock in the morning!" Langdon hung up and collapsed back in bed. He closed his eyes and tried to fall back asleep. It was no use. The dream was emblazoned in his mind. Reluctantly, he put on his robe and went downstairs. Robert Langdon wandered barefoot through his deserted Massachusetts Victorian home and nursed his ritual insomnia remedy -- a mug of steaming Nestlé's Quik. The April moon filtered through the bay windows and played on the oriental carpets. Langdon's colleagues often joked that his place looked more like an anthropology museum than a home. His shelves were packed with religious artifacts from around the world -- an ekuaba from Ghana, a gold cross from Spain, a cycladic idol from the Aegean, and even a rare woven boccus from Borneo, a young warrior's symbol of perpetual youth. As Langdon sat on his brass Maharishi's chest and savored the warmth of the chocolate, the bay window caught his reflection. The image was distorted and pale...like a ghost. An aging ghost, he thought, cruelly reminded that his youthful spirit was living in a mortal shell. Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an "erudite" appeal -- wisps of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete. A varsity diver in prep school and college, Langdon still had the body of a swimmer, a toned, six-foot physique that he vigilantly maintained with fifty laps a day in the university pool. Langdon's friends had always viewed him as a bit of an enigma -- a man caught between centuries. On weekends he could be seen lounging on the quad in blue jeans, discussing computer graphics or religious history with students; other times he could be spotted in his Harris tweed and paisley vest, photographed in the pages of upscale art magazines at museum openings where he had been asked to lecture. Although a tough teacher and strict disciplinarian, Langdon was the first to embrace what he hailed as the "lost art of good clean fun." He relished recreation with an infectious fanaticism that had earned him a fraternal acceptance among his students. His campus nickname -- "The Dolphin" -- was a reference both to his affable nature and his legendary ability to dive into a pool and outmaneuver the entire opposing squad in a water polo match. As Langdon sat alone, absently gazing into the darkness, the silence of his home was shattered again, this time by the ring of his fax machine. Too exhausted to be annoyed, Langdon forced a tired chuckle. God's people, he thought. Two thousand years of waiting for their Messiah, and they're still persistent as hell. Wearily, he returned his empty mug to the kitchen and walked slowly to his oak-paneled study. 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 "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. Instantly, the breath went out of him. It was like he had been hit by a truck. Barely able to believe his eyes, he rotated the fax again, reading the brand right-side up and then upside down. "Illuminati," he whispered. Stunned, Langdon collapsed in a chair. He sat a moment in utter bewilderment. Gradually, his eyes were drawn to the blinking red light on his fax machine. Whoever had sent this fax was still on the line...waiting to talk. Langdon gazed at the blinking light a long time. Then, trembling, he picked up the receiver. Copyright © 2000 by Dan Brown Excerpted from Angels and Demons by Dan Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This grand summer novel by the author of The Da Vinci Code introduces readers to famed symbologist Robert Langdon, who is attempting to stop the Illuminati, an ancient secret organization, from destroying Vatican City. VERDICT Filled with superb puzzles, a breakneck plot, and wondrous settings and descriptions of artwork, this fascinating story will feed thriller readers' appetites for riddles, conspiracies, and unlikely heroes. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
In Switzerland, at the CERN research facility, a scientist is murdered, and a word is burned into the corpse: Illuminati. Robert Langdon, an expert in religious iconology, learns from the murdered man's daughter, Vittoria Vetra, that a quantity of antimatter has been stolen. Soon the connection between the missing antimatter and the Illuminati, an ancient secret society, becomes clear, and Langdon and Vetra are en route to Rome to prevent the destruction of the Catholic Church. This is easily the best of the Langdon novels (its sequels being The Da Vinci Code, 2003, and The Lost Symbol, 2009). Its plot is intriguing without being loopy, and it is written in a clear, unadorned style that propels the reader through the story. In The Da Vinci Code, Brown turned Langdon into something of a bore, lecturing the other characters and the reader on the historical elements of the elaborate story. Here Langdon is more like an amateur sleuth armed with some very specialized knowledge, and the plot is far less elaborate, more like a typical thriller than a dialogue-laden series of history lessons. The Da Vinci Code might be the Langdon book that everybody recognizes, but this is the one that most deserves an audience.--Pitt, David Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Another near-future technothriller from the author of Digital Fortress (1998). Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon gets a call from Maximilian Kohler, director of CERN's Geneva particle-physics research complex. Physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, and a quantity of dreadfully dangerous antimatter stolen; worse, Vetra was branded with a single word: Illuminati. Langdon's an expert on the history of the Illuminati, a medieval pro-science, anti-Catholic power group, often suspected of infiltrating mighty institutions but now considered extinct. The canister of antimatter soon turns up--in Rome, hidden somewhere in Vatican City, just as the church's cardinals are gathering to select a new pope. When the canister's batteries go dead--boom. As bad, someone's kidnapped the four top cardinals, and a message from the Illuminati states that one cardinal will be killed--with lots of Illuminati symbolism--every hour until the antimatter explodes. Langdon and Vetra's scientist daughter, Vittoria, must convince the late pope's chamberlain, now in charge of the Vatican until the new pope is elected, to help them unravel the mysteries of the Illuminati and, perhaps, save the cardinals from gruesome deaths. But they'll be going up against a wily and potent Illuminati assassin, causing plenty of thrilling cat-and-mouse maneuvers and life-or-death cliffhangers. And how come the powerful head of the Illuminati knows all the Vatican's secrets, and can enter and leave at will? Romance, religion, science, murder, mysticism, architecture, action. Go! Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.