The plot follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, as he tries to stop the Illuminati, a legendary secret society, from destroying Vatican City with the newly-discovered power of antimatter.
Langdon and Vittoria go to Vatican City, where the pope has recently died, and the papal conclave has convened to elect the new pontiff. Cardinal Mortati, host of the election, discovers that the four Preferiti, cardinals who are considered to be the most likely candidates in the election, are missing. After they arrive, Langdon and Vittoria begin searching for the Preferiti in hopes that they will also find the antimatter canister in the process. Their search is assisted by Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca (the late pope's closest aide) and the Vatican's Swiss Guard, including Commander Olivetti, Captain Rocher, and Lieutenant Chartrand.
Convinced that the Illuminati are in some way responsible for the disappearance of the Preferiti, Langdon attempts to retrace the steps of the so-called "Path of Illumination", an ancient and elaborate process once used by the Illuminati as a means of induction of new members; prospective candidates for the order were required to follow a series of subtle clues left in various landmarks in and around Rome. If the candidate followed the clues properly, he would be able to locate the secret meeting place of the Illuminati and be granted membership in the order. Using his extensive knowledge of religious and occult history, Langdon sets off on the Path of Illumination in hopes of uncovering clues as to the disappearance of the Preferiti and the location of the antimatter canister. The Path leads Langdon to four major locations in Rome, each associated with what the Illuminati believed to be the four primordial elements of all things in existence: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
One of the things that surprised me was the evolution of the character of Camarlengo: His kindness and determination at first became coldness, fanaticism, falseness and conspiracy at the end. I think that this character shows a bit the two-faced moral of Church.
This book isn't at all a masterpiece of literature, but It's a perfect book to spend a good time reading because of its permanent thrill and its mixture of science and religious symbology which I found quite interesting
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