Angels and Demons and National Treasure

I haven’t read The DaVinci Code yet. I want to, but the last time I was book shopping it was available only in hardback, and there are only a very, very FEW authors on my Hardback List.

That said, a friend (I forget who… Richard?) handed me a water-damaged copy of Angels and Demons, which is Dan Brown’s first Langdon book. It wasn’t bad. It had Illuminati, and Freemasons, and Rome, and hidden secrets, and a dead Pope, and all that. Pretty interesting stuff, and while he clearly takes some license with history, it’s hard to see where history leaves off and Dan Brown begins. The book is very believable.

Well, except for the commercially available scramjet, and some of the ignorance necessary to facilitate “cabbaging” (the act of explaining things to the reader by explaining them to a cabbage-headed character who really SHOULD already know this stuff).

Anyway, I finished it last night… err… this morning at around 2am.

This afternoon I went to see National Treasure, starring Nicholas Cages, Boromir, And Some Other People. It was a lot of fun, and I realized that it’s set squarely in the same genre as DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and any number of other titles in which freemasons, the Illuminati, or catacombs feature prominently. Heck, that’s a good part of the hook in the Indiana Jones series, and the same could have been said for Tomb Raider if it weren’t for the fact that Angelina Jolie is much more attractive than the stupid plots of either of her game-franchise films.

So National Treasure was fun. It wasn’t especially cranial fun, but it was fun, and that’s what I go to the movies for. If I want intellectual stimulation, I’ll read a book. If I want a cathartic, cry-baby experience, I’ll surf livejournal.com. 😉 Mostly what I want right NOW, though, is a copy of The DaVinci Code. The goofy-fun movie I saw has me hungry for something in the same vein, only with more thinking and less Annoying Blond Actress Whose Accent I’m Not Believing.

–Howard

29 thoughts on “Angels and Demons and National Treasure”

  1. Oh… Angels and Demons mentions Steve Jackson Games TWICE… and comes THIS CLOSE to also mentioning the URL, but the character doing the cabbaging gets interrupted.

    Fnord.

  2. A little spoilage and some recommendations . . .

    “something in the same vein, only with more thinking”

    Then skip Da Vinci Code. (I read it in the course of business and hated it. For someone who is supposed to be an expert on religious iconology, Langdon is an idiot and doesn’t recognize basic symbolism when it slaps him in the face: one of the clues is “an ancient five-letter word for wisdom.” His partner’s name is Sophia. Clueless git.) It isn’t scheduled for paperback release until October ’05, anyway — they’ve pushed it back twice. Try Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell or Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. Of course, there is always the Illuminati trilogy by Shea and Wilson.

    Just some suggestions from your friendly bookseller. 🙂

    1. Re: A little spoilage and some recommendations . . .

      While I wholeheartedly recommend the Illuminati Trilogy to anyone…I don’t think it really qualifies in this particular vein. It’s just a bit more esoteric (pun semi-intended) than I gather these books to be.

      not to mention more subversive and drug/sex filled.

  3. I read Angels and Demons. It was okay, kind of fun for parts. Didn’t read the Da Vinci Code, but heard it was worse.

    And I HEAVILY second krlindsey. Read The Rule of Four. Absolutely outstanding.

  4. Also check out Jane Jensen who did the wonderful Dante’s Equation she’s a Philip K. Dick special citation winner and I believe she’ll do well. She’s also makes games with another game designer.

    My HC list is damn short and I’d not have even heard of her if I’d not picked up an ARC at a con. She’s published by Del Rey and it’s like finding gold in a hog lot.

    I didn’t collect books before, just got paperbacks and let them go when done with them. Now I’m buying HC when I can and used HC as well and getting them signed. I hope to see you at a con howard.

    1. Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is one of her games in the same vein. I can recommend it to anyone that likes adventure games.

    2. re: I hope to see you at a con.

      I hope to see you at a con howard.

      Well, where are you? Right now my schedule is shaping up as follows:

      February: “Life, The Universe, and Everything” at BYU, Provo, UT.
      March: BrainShare in SLC, UT
      April: Penguicon 3.0 in Novi, Michigan
      May: Conduit in SLC, UT.

      Yeah, that’s THREE Utah conventions and one in Michigan… where are YOU located, and what’s the nearest ‘con?

      –Howard

      1. Indiana near Indianapolis about all we get is Inconjunction and the Gencon. I want to go to Penguicon at least once and might make it there.

  5. > If I want a cathartic, cry-baby experience, I’ll surf livejournal.com. 😉

    Which reminds me, I haven’t made many “angsty” blog posts lately. Behind on my quota.

  6. Have you read The Illuminatus! Trilogy? It’s sort of a halfway point — intellectual enough (probably) for your tastes, but over-the-top enough for some good laughs. And long enough to keep you sated for a while.

  7. dissenting opinion

    I have to respectfully disagree, and say that I thought the DaVinci Code was a far better read than A&D. A&D was a fun thriller, but the wild plot twists at the end are not really very believable IMHO. Basically, I liked it until the ending chapters. I’d go on but I don’t want to get yelled at for spoilers.

    The situation in the DaVinci code seemed a little more toned down and also more realistic and reasonable. It read like a corny mystery, with a bunch of religious commentary thrown in. I thought that was great, you may disagree. There certainly is some food for thought there.

    Though I admit Langdon is occasionally pretty stupid, in both books.

  8. Dan Brown has a bad habit of pulling switcheroos. Basically, “This is the bad guy! But wait, no it’s not! PSYCH! It’s this other person!” He has done that in Angels and Demons, DaVinci Code, and Deception Point. It got quite irritating.

    However, I go in for the sort of thing in DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. Foucault’s Pendulum and Umberto Eco’s other book, The Name of the Rose, are both excellent but somewhat heavier than Dan Brown. A similar series is the unfinished “The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles” by Robert Anton Wilson. Same guy who did Illuminatus! but without nearly as much random sex, drugs, and weirdness.

    Glad to hear National Treasure was enjoyable, thanks for the good word on it! I’ll try to get and see it this week. ^^

    1. wish I’d read to the end of the thread

      I agree here completely. These are much more in line with what it sounds like you’re looking for.

      though harder to find.

    2. Have you tried

      The Medici Dagger by West or the Romanov Conspiracy by Stephen Berry? And Lewis Perdue has a couple, also: Daughter of God and an earlier-than-Brown Da Vinci plot, the Da Vinci Manuscript. (I think that’s the title; there were a whole slew of similar titles within a couple of months.)

  9. Tell you what, Howard…
    I have a hardback copy of The DaVinci Code which I haven’t read and will never get around to reading, because it just doesn’t grab me. I didn’t pay much for it, as it was a book club deal.
    You want it? Reply here, then I’ll e-mail you and we can figure out where you want it sent. It’s in mint, and it’s yours.

      1. Heh. I was gonna bring a copy to you on Friday. Well glad I don’t have to tote that thing along.

        I thought DaVinci Code was cute. I went in thinking it was this intellectual/political/religious thriller, and felt in the end that it was written at around 8th or 9th grade level. (How do they make those levels by the way?)

        Anyway, I went in thinking “Clancy meets religious conspiracy” and instead got “Rowling and the Illuminati’s Riddle”, and was disappointed a bit. But it was fun.

  10. Howard, don’t you have a library card? FREE BOOKS! 🙂

    I JUST got Da Vinci Code from the library this weekend and snarfed it up with dispatch. I would not recommend it as a masterpiece of literature – too many supposedly trashy sci-fi authors could write circles around this guy – but the background material kept me going.

    Which means, if he’d written a nonfiction book about the whole thing, I’d’ve been happier.

    But what ya gonna do?

    Get it from your library, read it, you too will probably be disappointed, but at least you will (a) know what all the fuss is about and (b) be able to point out how they screwed up the movie version when it comes out 🙂

    1. The Orem Public Library is nice, but it dries up on the bestsellers and Sci-Fi titles pretty quickly. Sandra does our Library run once weekly. No, I don’t have my own card.

      –Howard

  11. On a related, yet unrelated note…

    Speaking of historical fiction, Orson Scott Card wrote a combination Sci-Fi/Historical novel called Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. It takes an interesting look at the idea of time travel and the potential for correcting mistakes in history.

    Doesn’t quiet involve the same kind of intrigue as the titles being discussed, but it’s a great book anyway. One of the few time travel stories I have read or seen that doesn’t completely ignore the inherent paradox problem (one other being Lightning, by Dean Koontz).

  12. Hah!! I learned a new word…”cabbaging…” I’m glad there’s someone else out there who finds that sort of character ignorance annoying (it DOES make the book less believable, especially since we’re dealing with SCHOLARS here, and we can’t look up to the scholars if they need to have basic things like “cold fusion” explained to them. Grrr.

    1. Freemasonry

      Howard,

      have you considered joining the Freemasons? If you’d like to, I should be able to put you in touch with someone in the area.

      That goes for anyone else here. Come to my journal and leave me a post. Women have a number of options (Comasonry, OES, etc), as do men (Free and Accepted, Comasonry, Prince hall, etc.)

      Scott M. Rassbach, Master Mason
      Union #32, Columbus #75, GL of Wisconsin
      Mathematikoi, Collegium Fabrorum
      http://www.collegiumfabrorum.org
      “Remember thy creator in the days of thy youth…”
      scottrassbach@charter.net

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