Monday, September 19, 2005

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Author: Dan Brown
ISBN # 0552150738
620 pages

Although not quite so well-known or talked-about as The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons is now being more widely publicised along with the rest of the Brown back-catalogue - & rightly so.

Angels & Demons, like Da Vinci, features Robert Langdon as the lead character – the Harvard Professor who seems to be permanently decked out in Tweed & also perpetually locking horns with the Vatican. On this outing, it’s the long-dead Illuminati – a secret society of the world’s greatest scientists - he’s pitting his wits against, as they attempt to annihilate all that is holy by attacking the very heart of Catholicism. Aiding him is Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful, Italian boffin, in the ultimate quest for redemption & enlightenment.

Brown seems to have a real knack for cryptography & although I’ve only read two of his works to date, from what I know of his other novels, he continues along the same vein in those to. He seems to thrive on mystery & enigma, but there is one drawback – the continual repetition of lines within the clues, almost as if he can’t credit the reader with the ability to retain the information for anything longer than a few pages. As a result, I found myself feeling more than a little put out as I read, feeling that his style was a little condescending, but I stuck with it simply because the plot was so intriguing!

His knowledge & understanding of science is also either incredibly vast or amazingly inventive. I even felt that I was beginning to comprehend some of the concepts myself despite having very little background in the sciences (read “zero”), the theories he described were in-depth without being too detailed.

The flip-side to this was seemingly the antithesis of science – faith & religion. Brown marries the two perfectly & even manages to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable – the theory of the Big Bang & creation as it is written in Genesis - & makes a compelling argument for their compatibility.

The only negative to this was Vittoria Vetra – she could have been Sophie Neveu, lifted straight out of Code & grafted into the narrative. I get the feeling that they were both based on the same idolised & unattainable woman in Brown’s life – now forever immortalised in these books as someone just over the line of being too good to be true. These women have it all – beauty, brains, ambition, success, & a weakness for a middle-aged Harvard professor. Something tells me this is a little bit of wish-fulfilment on Dan’s part!

One last thing – about ¼ of the way through, I got a gut feeling as to who were the bad guys, although I didn’t know why they were doing it. My instinct was right, but I was pleasantly surprised as to the reasoning behind it all.

All in all, a well-written piece which explores both the historical & modern-day Rome & takes the reader on an informed tour of the mind & the soul. Miss it at the risk of your very soul!

Rating: 9/10


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