The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

So, here is the second book featuring Robert Langdon. This is the story that made Dan Brown a best selling author. Again he throws at us a number of conspiracy theories and shakes up the fate of lot of people. Just like Angels & Demons, this book is also filled with history, art, architecture.. things that became Brown’s trade mark of sorts.

The book was published in 2003 and it sold 80 million copies! Yes, that’s right, 80 million. It was translated into 44 languages.

Short summary

  This book also starts with someone’s death. This time it’s a Louvre curator named Jacques Sauniere. He is shot in the museum by an albino Catholic monk named Silas.

   When Jacques’ body is found in the pose of the Vitruvian Man, the police captain, Bezu Fache, calls no other, but Robert Langdon. His job here is to decode the cryptic message Jacques left in his final moments. The message includes a Fibonacci sequence that is out of order. 

  Later we meet Sophie Neveu, a police cryptographer. She tells Langdon that she is in fact Jacques’ granddaughter. She also tells him that Fache thinks that Langdon is the murderer because Jacques left a message for Sophie. The message said: “PS. Find Robert Langdon.” 

  Sophie has some unclear memories of her grandfather being in a pagan group, but she is sure that her grandfather intended for Langdon to decipher the message. 

  And the chasing begins.

Since this book was more popular that Angels & Demons at the time, I read this first. But in fact, the books are not connected. So, you don’t have to read them in order.

In 2006 the book got its film adaptation, featuring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, just like in Angels & Demons. Because just like my reading order, this book was filmed first, there are some slight changes in the script to adapt the story with the order of the movies.

Just like in the previous book, there are some historical inaccuracies. The fans don’t seem bothered by this, because hey, it is a work of fiction after all. But, some christian communities didn’t enjoy Brown’s conclusions about the Holy Grail and some other “mysteries” that I am not going to spoil for you.

S.S.

 

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Angels & Demons – Dan Brown

Angels & Demons is the first book starring Robert Langdon. This book, like the others where Langdon is the protagonist, has a lot of conspiracy theories, ancient history, architecture, art, secret societies… and so on. This is the stuff that makes Brown’s novels a very fun read.

The book was published in 2000 by Pocket Books, and then by Corgi Books. And, of course, it was a bestseller.

Short Summary

The story starts with one of CERN’s physicists, Leonardo Vetra, being murdered. He is found by CERN’s director, Maximilian Kohler. Vetra’s chest is branded with an ambigram of the word “Illuminati”.

  This is where Langdon comes in. He is contacted by Kohler to determine the ambigram’s authenticity. When he confirms that the ambigram is in fact authentic, they contact Vetra’s adopted daughter, Vittoria. 

  She tells them that the long forgotten, thought-to-be-extinct society, the Illuminati, had stolen a canister containing antimatter. The antimatter being as it is, could unleash power comparable to a nuclear weapon. 

  Since the canister is located in the Vatican, and is a treat to the whole city, Langdon and Vittoria make their way there.

  When they arrive, they learn that the Pope is dead, and the Preferiti, cardinals who are most likely to be elected as the next Pope, are missing.

And …I leave the rest of it for you to read.

This was a really fun book. Although it had a few inaccuracies, it was a great experience. If you like mysteries, puzzles, and learning some history along the way, you have to read this.

The book got it’s film adaptation in 2009, starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. Few days before the movie premiere, a documentary named Angels & Demons Decoded was aired on The History Chanel. The documentary analyzed the bases of the novel’s stories, as well as the inaccuracies I mentioned before.

S.S.

Digital Fortress – Dan Brown

This is an older Dan Brown novel, published in 1998, and my favorite from his work. It is a “techno” thriller and it explores the theme of government surveillance.

This is not a Robert Langdon story. Digital Fortress is in fact a few years older than the Langdon series.

Short summary

The USA’s National Security Agency possesses a code-breaking supercomputer called TRANSLTR. One day TRANSLTR encounters a new code, Digital fortress, that it cannot break. NSA’s head cryptographer is called to check on the code, and she finds out that it was written by a former NSA employee, Ensei Tankado. We learn that Ensei became displeased with NSA’s peaking into people’s private lives. 

  The agency soon realizes that this code is a threat to them.

  So, as in every classic thriller, NSA tries to stop the threat, no matter the cost. 

There is a lot of action, gun fights, and some interesting facts, which became Dan Brown’s trademark.

There are also a lot of puzzles witch require to be solved so that the day can be saved.

The book is somewhat based on the recent cryptography history. In 1976 the Data Encryption Standard was approved with a 56-bit key rather than the 64-bit key originally proposed. This was probably because the NSA wanted to crack codes before anyone else.

It’s a bit different than the other works of Dan Brown, but if you enjoyed Da Vinci’s code, or Angels and Demons, or maybe even Deception Point, you should really read this one. Also, if you think cryptography is fun, you are going to enjoy this book.

S. S.

Millennium trilogy – Stieg Larsson (part 3)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

This is the last book (written by Stieg Larsson) featuring Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blukvist. This is my favorite one, since justice is finally served.

Short summary (may contain spoilers for the previous two books)

  The story continuous where the previous book left off. Lisbeth is now in the hospital after she was shot and buried alive. She wakes up after the surgery and realizes that Zalachenko, her father, have survived and that he is in the same hospital and just two rooms away. 

  Meanwhile Niedermann is being chased by the police for the events in the previous book, but he manages to disappear. 

  These events cause panic in ‘the Section’, a secret division of Swedish Security Service. The Section is the division that is responsible for Zalachenko’s asylum and supervision. Trying to draw the attention away from them, the members of the Section are trying to silence Lisbeth, Mikael and Zalachenko.

  A man named Gullberg is hired by the Section to eliminate Lisbeth and Zalachenko in the hospital. He succeeds in killing Zalachenko, but he is stopped by Gianinni in the attempt of killing Lisbeth.

  Lisbeth is put under arrest and the whole story builds up to her trial. During this time all the secrets about her are revealed. All the pain and suffering she went through and all the damage that was done to her sees the light of day.

It’s a really intense book. All the pieces from the previous two books are coming together. This is the book that will make you realize how strong of a person Lisbeth is and this book will make you understand her, and her actions. If you read ‘the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘the Girl Who Played With Fire’, please finish the story. You won’t regret it.

S.S.

Millennium trilogy – Stieg Larsson (part 2)

The Girl Who Played With Fire

This is the second book from the Millennium trilogy. It’s just as good as the previous one. This time we can take a better look at Lisbeth Salander and her past.

Short summary

  The story follows the ending of the first book. After Lisbeth finishes the job on the Wennerstrom affair she leaves Sweden and travels through Europe. 

  After about one year she returns to Stockholm. She avoided contacting Mikael Blumkvist (the publisher of the Millennium newspaper) so he is rather surprised to see her back home. While he is walking past her apartment, he sees her being attack by someone. He helps her and they chase the attacker away. It turns out the the men who attacked her is a member of Svavelsjo, an outlaw motor club.

  A guy named Dag Svensson, and his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, ask the Millennium magazine to publish an article on sex trafficking and the abuse of underage girls. This actually is the subject of Johansson’s doctoral thesis. Although the research is almost complete, the mention of the name ‘Zala’ intrigues everyone.

  Later that night, Dag and Mia are found dead in their apartment.

  The same night, Lizbeth hacks Mikael’s computer and is surprised to see the name ‘Zala’. So, she is headed to Dag and Mia’s apartment to ask them some questions about this ‘Zala’ person.

I think this is enough to get you going and to make you interested in reading the book. Larsson once again proves that he is the master of thrillers and mysteries. You won’t regret reading this.

S.S.

 

Millennium trilogy – Stieg Larsson (part 1)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Do you like thrillers and mysteries? Do you like stories with secrets and lies and complex characters? Well, the Millennium trilogy is the right for you.

Since the tree books have somewhat different plots, I will write a separate review for every one of them.

  Short summary

  First you will meet Mikael Blomkvist. He is a publisher of the political Swedish magazine Millennium. After Millennium lost a case against the billionaire Hans Erik Wennerstorm, Mikael is sentenced to three years in prison.

  Soon after that, he is invited to meet one Henrik Vanger. Vanger is a CEO of Vanger Corporation and he has sniffed around Mikaels past before contacting him. This research on Mikael was done by Lisbeth Salander, a computer genius with troubled past (this is the girl with the dragon tattoo).

  Vanger asks Mikael to find out what happened with his niece Harriet who disappeared in 1966, and in return he promises to give Mikael evidence agains Wennerstorm.

  Mikael accepts this offer and this is where the secrets start to reveal. Seems like everyone has a secret of their own, and all of those secrets come to see the light of day.

  Later in the story you will meet Lisbeth Salander much better, but I won’t spoil any part of her story.

When you start reading this, you won’t be able to put it down. The bigger part of the story is set on the Hedeby island. It’s winter, it’s snowy, it’s cozy, while at the same time it’s shocking and with a few plot twists.

You will really enjoy this and you will even ask for more. Good thing there are two (now three) more books.

PS:The photo is fan art, but I don’t know the author.

S.S.