Origin (Robert Langdon #5) | Dan Brown | Thriller | Book Review

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Dan Brown Origin



Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.”

The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us. – GOODREADS

It’s been a while since I read a Robert Langdon tale. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them, and at how they were absolute page turners. Origins is the 5th book in the series (1. Angels and Demons. 2. The Da Vinci Code. 3. The Lost Symbol. 4. Inferno.) and is every bit as good as its predecessors.

Dan Brown has perfected the infusion of fact with fiction, making it impossible to see where it crosses the line. I think one of the secrets to his success is that the settings are so famous and so vividly described. His books are also rich with details that teach us some of the obscure historical stories behind the settings (but what is fact, and what is fiction?).

This book is set in Spain, more precisely, Barcelona. I suppose that having visited a number of the book’s settings during my travels over the years gives me a point of relatability. I can see the distorted steps and walls of the famous Gaudi buildings, recall the smells of the day under clear blue skies, and move through the streets and feel the pulse of the city’s life. It definitely helps to have the connection.

Add to that, the ability to flip over to the net as I read to instantly find/confirm/refresh/back-up the story with information and pictures (eg. The online video he describes for Casa Mila (below), and the incredible fluid architecture of Gaudi’s other great masterpieces, like Sagrada Familia ).

Following the tragic demise of a friend who was on the cusp of solving the age-long battle between religion and science, Robert Langdon is joined by Ambra Vidal (the future Queen of Spain), in a race to reveal his friend’s incredible news to the world. Along the way, they need to solve an obscure clue, while avoiding those who relentlessly pursue them to ensure that Edmund Kirsch’s discovery never sees the light of day.

The plot is full of multiple levels, multiple stories, and multiple possibilities. I had my suspicions for much of the book. But they were continuously challenged by unexpected twists and turns that gave me cause to reassess and review my assertions and expectations. In the end, my core suspicion was correct, but there were some twists I hadn’t predicted.

Origins is a must for Dan Brown fans. Even though it’s book 5 in the series, it’s a standalone story that doesn’t require readers to have read the previous books. If this is the first Robert Langdon book that you read, I’m confident it will whet your appetite to read the others. Although, Angels and Demons remains my favorite of the series, this one comes close to challenging that title. I’m tempted to re-read the others now (and re-watch the movies).

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