Dan Brown’s Witness statement

The following is Dan Brown’s Witness Statement to the High Court – in which the American author speaks about his inspiration and research for the bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code








I, DAN BROWN, care of Random House, Inc., 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, United States of America, WILL SAY as follows:-

I. I am the author of four novels, Digital Fortress (1998), Angels & Demons (2000), Deception Point (2001), and The DaVinci Code (2003). In this statement I make reference to all four of my books, and I assume that the reader has some familiarity with my books but, in particular, has read The Da Vinci Code.

2. I live and work in the United States. I am a graduate of Amherst College and of Phillips Exeter Academy, where I also spent time as an English teacher before turning to writing full time.


3. My father is a teacher emeritus at Phillips Exeter Academy and also has published more than a dozen well-known academic texts used around the world. He received the Presidential Award for excellence in mathematics teaching. Both of my parents are musicians, and both have served as church choir masters. My mother has a master’s degree in sacred music and was a professional church organist. My father sings and was an actor in musical theatre. To this day, both continue to sing and are members of a Symphony Chorus that will be touring Europe this summer. This love of music, like many things my parents loved, was inherited by me. When I was at Amherst I was very interested in music composition and creative writing. I also loved languages.


4. I grew up on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy, where my father was a teacher. By chance, the school has a very strong tradition of writing and has a number of famous writers as alumni, including John Irving, Gore Vidal, Daniel Webster, and Peter Benchley. It is also known for the strictness of its regulations and code of conduct, especially with respect to plagiarism. I notice from the school’s website that plagiarism is still considered a “major offence”, exactly as it was in my day.

5. While at Phillips Exeter and Amherst College, I pursued advanced writing courses and was published in school literary magazines. At Exeter, I chose “creative writing” as my senior project. At Amherst, I applied for and was accepted to a special writing course with visiting novelist Alan Lelchuk.

6. I studied English and Spanish at school. During my high school summers, I travelled to Spain on two exchange programs and fell in love with the country. In 1985, while I was still a student at Amherst College, I spent the school year abroad in Seville, Spain, where I enrolled in a two semester art history course at University of Sevil1e. This art course covered the entire history of World Art- from the Egyptians to Jackson Pollock. The professor’s slide presentations included images ranging from the pyramids, religious icons, renaissance painting and sculpture, all the way through to the pop artists of modem times.

7. This course opened my eyes to the concept of art as “communication” between artist and viewer. The artist’s language, I learned, was often symbolism and metaphor, and the professor’s revelation of the hidden meanings of the violent images in Picasso’s “La Guemica” has stayed with me to this day, as has his passion for the absolute pain of Michelangelo’s Pieta. The course covered many other works that resonated with me as a young man, including the horror of Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and the bizarre anamorphic sexual nightmares of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. I was surprised by the unexpected “dark quality” of Leonardo daVinci’s The Last Supper. I remember the professor pointing out things I hadn’t seen before, including a disembodied hand clutching a dagger and a disciple making a threatening gesture across the throat of another.

8. The course was a chronology of art history, and I took a specific interest in the renaissance masters of Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci.

9. Both the art course and the country itself had a great influence on my writing. In fact, I was so taken with the architecture of Seville that, ten years later, when I wrote my first novel (Digital Fortress), I set much of the action in Seville. There are scenes in the Cathedral of Seville, atop the Moorish tower La Giralda, the ancient alleyways of Barrio Santa Cruz, Parque Maria Luisa, and the Alfonso XIII. I was taught early on at Phillips Exeter that “one must write what one knows”. Like many aspects of my life, scenes from my childhood, my relationship with my parents and family, my student years, and my time in Spain all later emerged in my books.

10. I took piano lessons since the age of six and wrote music throughout high school and college. Once I had finished college in May of1986, I focused my creative energies on song writing. I left home and moved to Los Angeles, the heart of the song writing industry, where I had limited success in music and paid my rent by working as an English teacher at Beverly Hills Prep School. Over the course of the ten years after college, I wrote and produced four albums of original music. I met my wife, Blythe, through the National Academy of Songwriters, where she was the Director of Artist Development. Blythe, like me, loved art. She also was a very talented painter. Despite the Academy’s best efforts to promote me, my music career never really took off.


11. In 1993, Blythe and I vacationed together to Tahiti. I remember reading a book called The Doomsday Conspiracy, by Sidney Sheldon. Up until this point, almost all of my reading had been dictated by my schooling (primarily classics like Faulkner, Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, etc.), and I’d read almost no commercial fiction at all since The Hardy Boys as a child. The Sheldon book was unlike anything I’d read as an adult. It held my attention, kept me turning pages, and reminded me how much fun it could be to read. The simplicity of the prose and efficiency of the storyline was less cumbersome than the dense novels of my schooldays, and I began to suspect that maybe I could write a “thriller” of this type one day. This inkling, combined with my musical frustrations at that time, planted the seed that perhaps I could write books for a living.

187 Men to Avoid

12. As an Easterner, I felt like a fish out of water in Los Angeles. I lived in a low- rent “artists”, apartment complex, whose hallways overflowed with unusual individuals-aspiring rock stars, male models, drama queens, and stand-up comics. Amazed by this new world, I thought it might be fun to compile a list of some of the more bizarre sightings. Over the course of a few days, I wrote a list and called it: 187 Men to Avoid. Blythe thought the list was hilarious. She quickly wrote several literary agents and included a portion of the list. To my astonishment, I immediately got calls from a number of agents, including George Wieser, who told me he had already spoken to Putnam Books and could get me $12,500 for manuscript. Having faced disappointment in the music industry, this quick success in publishing surprised and encouraged me. I agreed to sell the manuscript and chose to use a female pseudonym (albeit a pretty obvious one, Danielle Brown).

13. 187 Men to Avoid was published in August 1995 by Berkley Publishing Group. Around the time of publication of 187 Men to Avoid, my new literary agent, George Wieser, came across an article I had written for the Phillips Exeter Magazine entitled: “Goodness and Knowledge on the Sunset Strip”. The article was a humorous look about the travails of a “preppy geek from New Hampshire” who had been transplanted to Los Angeles. George told me over lunch that he had seen the article, loved my writing style and “power of observations”. He strongly encouraged me to write a novel. He told me that he had been in the business a long time and “knew a novelist when he saw one”. Although I still had aspirations of writing a mainstream novel that was as fun to read as the one I’d read in Tahiti, I was still focused on song writing and felt I should give my music career a fair chance to catch on. In addition, I had no idea what I would write about.

Digital Fortress (published 1998)

14. The “big idea” for my first book came to me by chance. In around 1995 I was on the campus of Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. At that time, the U.S. Secret Service came to campus and detained one of the students claiming he was a threat to national security. As it turned out, the student had sent a private email to a friend saying how much he hated President Clinton and how he thought the president should be shot. The Secret Service came to campus to make sure the boy wasn’t serious. After some interrogation the agents decided the student was harmless, and not much came of it. Nonetheless, the incident really stuck with me. Email was brand new on the scene, and like most people, I assumed email was private. I couldn’t figure out how the secret service knew what these students were saying in their email.

15. I began doing some research into where organizations like the Secret Service get their intelligence data, and what I found out astonished me. All roads led to a powerful intelligence agency larger than the CIA, but which few Americans knew existed – The National Security Agency (NSA) – home to the United States’ eavesdroppers and code breakers.

16. I continued researching NSA more in depth. A particularly influential book, at the time, was James Bamford’s The-Puzzle Palace (D.26), which although dated, is still one of the seminal books on the covert world of America’s premier intelligence agency, describing how the NSA pulls in intelligence data from around the globe, processing it for subversive material.

17. The more I learned about this ultra secret agency and the fascinating moral issues surrounding national security and civilian privacy, the more I realized it could be a great backdrop for a novel. I remember Blythe commenting that life seemed to be trying to tell me something. The music industry was clearly rejecting me, and the publishing industry seemed to be beckoning. The thrill of being a published author (187 Men To Avoid), combined with George Wieser’s words of encouragement, my newfound fascination with NSA, and the vacation reading of Sidney Sheldon’s The Doomsday Conspiracy, all had begun to give me confidence that I could indeed write a novel. I quite literally woke up one morning and decided to write a thriller that delved into NSA. That’s when I started writing Digital Fortress.

18. NSA is home to the world’s most potent computers as well as some of the most brilliant cryptographers, mathematicians, technicians, and analysts. Digital Fortress is about a brilliant female cryptographer (Susan Fletcher) who works for NSA and the adventures she and her partner (David Becker, a linguist and lecturer) have in parallel throughout the book.

19. So, I had my “big idea” for the book. The novel explored what I consider to be a fine line between civilian privacy and national security. My first reaction had been that the security methods used in. the U.S. were a gross invasion of  civilian privacy. When I found out, however, that the NSA helped thwart terrorist attacks, my view changed. Initially, I had been indignant that the NSA was reading emails. But subsequently I realized their work constituted a fascinating moral grey area.

Researching and Writing Digital Fortress

20. I have followed a very similar approach to researching and then writing each of my four novels. The first step is to select a theme that I find particularly intriguing, this is generally the “big idea”. Because my novels are so research intensive, they take up to two years to write, if I am going to stay focused on a two year project, it is imperative that I remain excited about the subject matter. Therefore, I choose a subject which is not black and white, but rather contains a grey area. The ideal topic has no clear right and wrong, no definite good and evil, and makes for great debate. The one aspect of writing that is by far the most difficult is staying motivated over the entire time that it takes to research and write a novel. I keep myself interested by writing about things that interest me. I have some favourite subjects, which I wove into the Digital Fortress story once I had my “big idea” in place. For me, the “must have” themes include codes, puzzles and treasure hunts, secretive organizations, and academic lectures on obscure topics.

21. For me, writing is a discipline, much like playing a musical instrument; it requires constant practice and honing of skills. For this reason, I write seven days a week. So, my routine begins at around 4:00 AM every morning, when there are no distractions. (The routine of writing early began while I was writing Digital Fortress; I had two daytime teaching jobs to pay the bills, and the early mornings were my only free time; I found I liked working at that hour, and though I no longer teach, I have remained faithful to that routine.) By making writing my first order of business every day, I am giving it enormous symbolic importance in my life, which helps keep me motivated. If I’m not at my desk by sunrise, I feel like I’m missing my most productive hours. In addition to starting early, I keep an antique hour glass on my desk and every hour break briefly to do push-ups, sit-ups, and some quick stretches. I find this helps keep the blood (and ideas) flowing.

22. I did all of the research and background reading for Digital Fortress. I found that much of the data on the NSA was unclassified and in the public domain. There are a number of intelligence sources who have written extensive white papers on NSA. For the background reading on computers, viruses, codes and cryptography, I found helpful Bruce Schneiers’s famous book Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C. (D.56)

23. After the basic reading is done and my theme or “big idea” is in place, I start researching and writing in earnest. I erect the frame on which to build the plot I try to sketch out the overall shape of the story. When I taught creative writing, I told my students they could not select the veneer for the cupboards before they’d poured the foundation for their houses.


24. Because my novels are very “location driven”, I always select a series of key settings that I want to use in the novel (e.g., NSA, the Seville Cathedral, La Giralda, etc.). The hero of Digital Fortress, David Becker, finds himself on the run through a landscape of ancient Moorish towers, Sevillian barrios, and the Cathedral of Seville. Much of the early work is to place these locations in a workable sequence such that the characters can move from one to the next in a logical manner.

25. In trying to craft a suspenseful framework, I decided to throw Becker into a world he did not understand. I also took him away from the heroine, his fiancée, Susan Fletcher. A lot of the suspense of this novel derives from wondering if these two will be reunited. In general, my plots drive my need for specifics (such as the precise vehicle a character will use to move from point A to B) rather than vice versa.


26. Although Digital Fortress was very much my first attempt at writing a compelling thriller (and there is plenty I would do differently if I were writing it today), it contains some themes that I return to in all of my books.

27. With the NSA in place, I had the right backdrop to include my favourite theme (which is in all of my books) –codes and treasure hunts. My books are all “treasure hunts” of sorts. In each of my books, the treasure is an object. In Digital Fortress it is a gold ring; in Angels & Demons, it is antimatter; in Deception Point, it is a meteorite; and in The Da Vinci Code, it is the Holy Grail. I think people enjoy this sort of quest, especially trying to stay a step ahead of the hero by deciphering the clues along the way.

28. I have always been interested in secrets and puzzles. They played a large part in my life growing up in New Hampshire. I grew up in a house of mathematics, music and language; codes and ciphers really are the fusion of all of those things. In our house there was no television, and I used to spend hours working out anagrams and crossword puzzles. My father has a passion for brain puzzles, and I have inherited this passion. My father inspired my early passion for codes by creating elaborate treasure hunts for our birthdays and Christmas. On Christmas morning when most kids would find their presents under the tree, my siblings and I might find a treasure map with codes and clues that we would follow from room to room and eventually find our presents hidden somewhere else in the house. If properly solved, these clues would lead us to a secret location in our house -or sometimes even lead us to ride around town on our bicycles from one clue to the other, before finding where the presents were hidden. It was wonderful fun – for me codes and treasure hunts have always been a passion.

29. This early love of codes means that there is a short jump to another favourite subject, namely secrets and secret organizations. All four of my books have the thread of secrecy. All deal with secretive topics – covert spy agencies, conspiracy theories, classified technologies, and secret history.

30. An example of what I mean by “secret history” appears in the opening and closing chapters of Digital Fortress I describe how David Becker, the hero, signs his messages to his lover, Susan Fletcher, the NSA cryptographer, with the words “without wax”. This vexes Susan, much to David’s delight. Only at the end of the book do I decode the words and reveal a nugget of history:

“During the Renaissance, Spanish sculptors who made mistakes while carving expensive marble often patched their flaws with cera – ‘wax’. A statue that has no flaws and required no patching was hailed as a ‘sculpture sin cera’ or a ‘sculpture without wax’. The phrase eventually came to mean anything honest or true. The English word ‘sincere’ evolved from the Spanish sin cera ‘without wax’. David’s secret code was no great mystery – he was simply signing his letters ‘Sincerely.’ Somehow he suspected Susan would not be amused.”

(Digital Fortress, Corgi, page 508)


31. I remember at the time getting a kick out of the combination of the hidden code and the “nugget” of history. As I explain below, this idea of revealing interesting pieces of information so that the novel becomes a “thriller as academic lecture” really took off in my second book, Angels & Demons. In my first book, I was still paddling around trying to work out how to write a book and also to find out what I liked to write about. In Digital Fortress there is, for example, a little history, about Galileo, but this is merely window dressing.


Editing of the manuscript of Digital Fortress


32. Once I had stitched together the whole story, I asked Blythe to read the completed manuscript. I also gave a copy to my parents. I incorporated some of their comments and then sent the manuscript to my then agent, George Wieser, in New York. To my great surprise, George called to tell me the first editor who read the manuscript had made an offer to buy it. Digital Fortress was signed to a publisher – St Martin’s Press -in only about 20 days after I finished it.

33. I am very careful about what I send to my publisher. I work a manuscript as far as possible before showing it to anyone (rather than submitting rough drafts). By the time my editor sees pages, I have rewritten and polished them many times. For this reason, the first draft normally provokes few suggestions for substantive changes. My editor will take a look at the overall structure of the book and how the whole thing hangs together. He or she might say, for example, “these three chapters in the middle are very slow, it might be a good idea to combine them”; or “this is a very good point, you should expand”.

34. Once I get the feedback from my editor, I completely re-writes and re-submit the manuscript. My editors for Digital Fortress were Thomas Dunne and Melissa Jacobs. They both described my submitted manuscript as “exceptionally clean” and requiring very little editing. One thing they did do was suggest that I change the name from “The Worm” to “Digital Fortress’, which was the name I had chosen for the unbreakable code described in the book, Once the editor is finished with the manuscript, it is sent to copy editors and fact checkers to review grammar and accuracy.

35. Once my work on the novel is finished, I may take a vacation, in the early days, funds permitting, or start thinking about the next book. Of course, at this point -Digital Fortress was published in 1998 – I was an unknown, unpublished author. I was still teaching English, and some Spanish, to make a living. Money was tight, but we had enough to travel, something Blythe and I both love, and we decided to visit Rome. I had either finished or almost finished Digital Fortress, I am not sure of the time line.

Angels & Demons (published 2000)

36. Sometime after completing Digital Fortress, I had several other ideas in development but hadn’t yet decided on a direction. I had enjoyed writing about the NSA, computers, technology and, of course, “secrets”. I had read about CERN -Conseil European pour la Recherche Nucleaire – which is the world’s largest scientific research facility. It is located in Geneva, Switzerland and employs over 3,000 of the world’s top scientists. In addition, CERN is the birthplace of the World Wide Web. Also CERN was researching antimatter, an enormously volatile substance which I found fascinating. I read that CERN was regularly producing small quantities of antimatter in their research for future energy sources. Antimatter holds tremendous promise; it creates no pollution or radiation, and a single droplet could power New York City for a ful1 day. With fossil fuels dwindling, the promise of harnessing antimatter could be an enormous leap for the future of this planet. Of course, mastering antimatter technology brings with it a dilemma: this science could be used for good or evil; to power the world or create a deadly weapon. I thought this would make a good plot element for a novel.


37. I still had not decided on the main topic for my new novel when Blythe and I visited Rome. We were beneath Vatican City touring a tunnel called il passetto -a concealed passageway used by the early Popes to escape in event of enemy attack. It runs from the Vatican to Castle Saint Angelo. According to the tour guide, one of the Vatican’s most feared ancient enemies was a group of early scientists who had vowed revenge against the Vatican for crimes against scientists like Galileo and Copernicus. History had called them many things – the enlightened ones, the Illuminati, The Cult of Galileo. I added the Illuminati to my mixing pot of ideas.

38. Upon my return home, I started looking into the Illuminati, and what I found was material for a great thriller. I read conspiracy theories on the Illuminati that included infiltration of the British Parliament and U.S. Treasury, secret involvement with the Masons, affiliation with covert satanic cults, a plan for a New World Order, and even the resurgence of their ancient pact to destroy Vatican City. However, as much as I liked the idea of the Illuminati (and using Rome as a dramatic stage), I still had all the material on CERN and antimatter, which I did not want to go to waste. The question was how to combine the two ideas.

39. Both in prep school and college, I had studied science, including that of Galileo, modem cosmology, and Darwin. I also attended church camp and was trying to reconcile science and religion in my own mind. My parents’ opposing views (my father an agnostic mathematician and my mother a religious church musician) made for an interesting childhood. I grew up surrounded by the paradoxical philosophies of science and religion, and though I wanted to believe in Christianity, as I got older and studied more science, I had a hard time reconciling the two. I once asked a priest how I could believe both the “the Big Bang” and the story of Genesis, and the “matter of faith” type response I received never answered my questions. At college, I completed a cosmology course that included a section on Copernicus, Bruno, Galileo, and the Vatican Inquisition against science. Science and religion was a very large part of my life from grade school all the way through college, and I wanted to make them harmonious on a personal level.

40. So, I began reading books on science and religion, including The God Particle (D.47), The Tao of Physics, The Physics of Immortality, The Quark and the Jaguar, and others. The recurring theme that excited me was the idea that science and religion were now dabbling in common areas. These two ancient enemies were starting to find shared ground, and CERN was at the forefront of that research.

41. This was how I ended up writing Angels & Demons – a science vs. religion thriller set within a Swiss physics laboratory and Vatican City. The grey area that interested me was the ongoing battle between science and religion, and the faint hope of reconciliation between the two. This was my “big idea” and my “grey area”. Much more so than with Digital Fortress, I thought I had hit on ‘something that really would keep my attention for the next two years.

42. Looking back at my notes and the first pages of a proposal for Angels & Demons (D.243), I see from my ‘Partial Bibliography that at the time I was reading three broad categories of books – those concerning science v. religion (The God Particle (0.47) etc.); those concerning symbology (Dictionary of Symbols, by Chevalier (D.30)); and books about The Illuminati and the Masons (e.g., The Illuminati, by McKeown; Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, by Mackey). I used the description ‘Partial Bibliography’ as a lot of my research comes from conversations, research trips, online sources, etc. – essentially sources that are hard to cite – as well as books. I found some of the science v. religion books so interesting that I mentioned them by name in Angels & Demons as a tribute, much like that I paid to several texts in The Da Vinci Code. In both novels, the books appear on a, character’s book-shelf.

Robert Langdon

43. Robert Langdon is amalgam of many people I admire. In the early 1990’s, I first saw the art work of John Langdon. John is an artist and philosopher, a close friend of my father and, I think, one of our true geniuses. He is most famous for his ability to create “ambigrams” – words that read the same both right side up and up side down (see, for example, his book Wordplay (D.46)). John’s art changed the way I think about symmetry, symbols, and art – he looks at art from different perspectives. I was so impressed by the artwork of John Langdon that I commissioned him to create an album cover for my new CD of music (called Angels & Demons), which dealt with many of the religious themes that already interested me. John did the artwork, and the CD was released in 1999 with John’s ambigram on the cover. Later, when I. published a novel of the same name, Simon & Schuster used the same ambigram on the hardcover edition.

44. John and his name as part of the inspiration for the protagonist of Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon) who also appears in The Da Vinci Code and in my next, as yet unpublished, book. John also created the ambigrams used in Angels & Demons. I commissioned him to create ambigrams for the word “illuminati”, as well s the Illuminati diamond-the fusion of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, which represents the fusion of science and religion historically, and features in Angels & Demons (Corgi, page 520).

45. As a tribute to John Langdon, I named the protagonist Robert Langdon. I thought it was a fantastic name. It sounds very “New England” and I like last names with two syllables (Becker, Langdon, Sexton, Vetra, et al). Every character has his purpose, and with Langdon I wanted to create a teacher. Many of the people I admire most are teachers –my father is the obvious figure from my own life. My father had introduced me to the artwork of M.C. Escher (he lectured worldwide on symmetry and M.C. Escher). (I mentioned the Mobius Strip -a twisted ring of paper, which technically possessed only one side – in Angels & Demons, Corgi, page 133.) John Langdon is also a teacher.

46. Another teacher I greatly admire is Joseph Campbell, a religious historian; symbologist, and partial inspiration for my character. Roughly around about this time, I watched a TV program, “The Power of Myth”, in which Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell about the deeper meanings of symbols and art from many different cultures and creeds. I recall being impressed by Campbell’s open-minded and unthreatening delivery, especially when he spoke about controversial topics like myths and untruths in religion. I recall thinking that I wanted my character Robert Langdon to have this same open-minded tone.

47. In choosing what characters to include in a novel, I select characters who have sets of skills that help move the plot along and also permit me to introduce information. Robert Langdon is a symbologist and art historian for the same reason that the heroine in Digital Fortress is a cryptologist; these characters help decipher clues and teach the reader.

48. For my heroine in Angels & Demons, I chose the name Vittoria Vetra. Vittoria is a scientist – a Marine Biologist who specializes in the new field of Entanglement Physics. I’ve spoken to physicists about this new field and the incredible experiments they are now running, some with the hope of proving’ God exists. Some experiments have been run in hopes of proving unseen communication between separate animal entities. One such experiment I read about involved a sea turtle egg. Sea turtle eggs are unique in that a nest of hundreds of eggs will all hatch at the exact same moment. In an effort to determine how this took place, scientists removed one egg and placed it in a terrarium halfway around the globe with a video camera. As soon as the eggs in the nest started hatching, the eggs on the other side of the globe started hatching simultaneously. I find these kind of experiments fascinating. I wanted a character who could credibly share this kind of information with my readers.


49. Angels & Demons is the first Robert Langdon novel – The Da Vinci Code was the second. It was a real joy for me to write, and a breakthrough in terms of finding my own style (although I can only say that with hindsight). I intend to make Robert Langdon my primary character for years to come. His expertise in symbology and iconography affords him the luxury of potentially limitless adventures in exotic locales. It was also a book in which Blythe could be more involved, as she has a great love of art and art history. In Angels & Demons I was able to really develop the “nuggets” of information idea that I had started to play with in Digital Fortress. In that book I found the history behind the phrase “without wax” fascinating, and with this new book there was a lot more to play with. I thought, with the right background, story and characters, this could make for a lot of fun for both me, in researching and writing the book, and hopefully for any readers of the book.

50. Angels & Demons, like all my books, weaves together fact and fiction. Some histories claim the Illuminati vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600’s. The early Illuminati – those of Galileo’s day- were expelled from Rome by the Vatican and hunted mercilessly. The Illuminati fled and went into hiding in Bavaria where they began mixing with other refugee groups fleeing the Catholic purges –mystics, alchemists, scientists, occultists, Muslims, Jews. From this mixing pot, a new Illuminati emerged. A darker Illuminati. A deeply anti Christian Illuminati. They grew very powerful, infiltrating power structures, employing mysterious rites, retaining deadly secrecy, and vowing someday to rise again and take revenge on the Catholic Church. Angels & Demons is a thriller about the Illuminati’s long awaited resurgence and vengeance against their oppressors. But most of all, it is a story about Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist who gets caught in the middle. Much of the novel’s story is a chase across modem Rome – through catacombs, cathedrals, piazzas, and even the Vatican’s subterranean Necropolis.

51. Although there are some similarities with my first book – the murder, the chase through a foreign location, the action taking place all in 24 hours, the codes, the ticking clock, the strong male and female characters, the love interest – I think the real advances I made in the second novel were as follows.

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