Origin: A Novel (Robert Langdon)

by Dan Brown

Hardcover, 2017



Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend the unveiling of a discovery that "will change the face of science forever". The evening's host is his friend and former student, Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old tech magnate whose dazzling inventions and audacious predictions have made him a controversial figure around the world. This evening is to be no exception: he claims he will reveal an astonishing scientific breakthrough to challenge the fundamentals of human existence. But Langdon and several hundred other guests are left reeling when the meticulously orchestrated evening is blown apart before Kirsch's precious discovery can be revealed. With his life under threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape, along with the museum's director, Ambra Vidal. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch's secret.… (more)


(816 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member maneekuhi
7 Major Ingredients of a Dan Brown Thriller - Am I Missing Any?

From an Amazon book page, an excerpt of a description of Dan Brown's book: "Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science......Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust....before the world is irrevocably altered." Sounds exciting, right? But this was a blurb for "Inferno", Brown's previous book. In many ways it could also apply to 2017's "Origin"(OR).

I'm not suggesting that Brown uses a cookie cutter framework to produce his books, but having read all of the Langdon series, I am struck by some common ingredients. So, off the top of my head, I have attempted below to list familiar elements common to some, if not all, of the five books. I would imagine that most Origin readers have read one or more of the preceding books and might enjoy a quick refresher, since it is seven years since the most recent release. Perhaps you will find a few I have missed...

1) Treasure Hunt. Coded clues leading to other clues. Ultimate destination unknown. Via whatever transportation is available from private jets to a driverless Tesla (OR) - Brown does load up his books with latest technology.
2) Travelogue. The focus in OR is Barcelona but we also get to visit Bilboa, especially the Guggenheim Museum there. I'm not a museum guy but check out Bing Images of that place or YouTube videos of the suspended ferry crossing the nearby river, and perhaps like me you will add it to your list of "Places to Visit Before...." Maybe you would also like to see Budapest's Szechenyi Chain Bridge to which lovers have secured padlocks professing their love. Or Parc Guell!
3) An Attractive Woman as co-star. Young, Intelligent, Beautiful, somewhat virginal. No sex, no bad words in a Langdon. Just a few dead bodies, murders and suicides, maybe too many suicides in OR; the last was not credible for me.
4) Bad Guys. Not always clear who they are, nor whom they work for. Often not the people you were expecting.
5) Action Scenes. Especially ones that will look great on film. How about helicopters plucking surrounded heroes off the roofs of buildings? Not really great climaxes though - OR gets rather talky at the end.
6) Teaching Moments. Usually art, science and technology, in OR lots on quantum computers and software advances to improve forecasting future events. Stay with it, very interesting. But also the Palmariana Church and their popes, and statistical physics.
6) Religion/Theology. often the Catholic Church is the subject and not always kindly; sometimes clergy are suspects in the most convoluted of plots. But remember that Langdon thinks of himself first as a scientist. Toward the end of OR, Langdon is asked, "Do you believe in God?"
7) Treating Readers like Mushrooms. A whispers something to B. B gasps. Totally blown away. Can't believe it. The scene ends, the Reader has no idea what was shared. But don't worry, 200 pages later all will be made clear. It felt to this Reader that occurred at least a half dozen times, and it started to get on my nerves. The good news is that as the end approaches, the reader has several open questions awaiting explanation and making for a certain amount of fun in making "educated" guess as to what all the secrets are, including who is the Regent?

The plot of OR is fairly simple and straight forward. A former student of Langdon, a world renowned scientist, claims that he has the answer to the two basic questions that man has been searching for since the beginning of time: Where do we come from? and Where are we headed? (Given that the title of the book is "Origin", when I first heard the two basic questions I immediately assumed that Origin was the first of two books and that there would be a sequel titled "Destiny" But not to worry. Both questions are answered in "Origin". OR are they?) A worldwide presentation has been scheduled. But something happens, and the video with all the answers is not shown. Langdon and co-star must find it and share it with the World.

Did I like it? Yes, but.

Dan Brown books are always entertaining and I learn a number of new things - see numbers 2 and 6 on the list above. I look upon them though as entertainment, and I enjoyed making lots of footnotes, looking at other resources to check some of Brown's descriptions and claims. Critics love to rip him as a not very good writer but I think they miss the point. Check out recent reviews in the New York Times and Washington Post; they are very different. I feel one critic "gets" Brown and his audience and the other critic.... well, draw your own conclusions. (Hint to readers - don't waste your time going to a newspaper's website and trying to do a search. Go to Google and, for example, search for "NYT Origin review".

I don't know if there'll be another Langdon - in seven years? - but if there is I'll probably read it. I wonder though how much longer Tom Hanks will play Langdon.
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LibraryThing member TomDonaghey
ORIGIN by Dan Brown is what thrillers are meant to be. Fast paced action with the fate of the world in the balance, high stakes for several interested parties who are will to go to any extreme to secure the secrets and keep their own positions inviolate. Plus a likable hero who manages to save the woman, and allows the woman to save him, while neither lose sight of their own ideals.
Robert Langdon is back racing through another adventure, this time in Spain. Sure, you are going to have images of Tom Hanks in the eventual movie version, grimacing and being brilliant as he works through the enigmas presented, but face it, Mr. Hanks has proven to be a great actor, his Langdon, is complicated enough to carry the action, and we just plain like the guy.
Edmond Kirsch is the rich genius who is out to reveal to the world the answer to two of life's biggest religious questions: Where does mankind come from and where are we going? But just as he is about to announce his findings in a stupendous computer display at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, he is murdered. Langdon and the museum's director, Ambra Vidal must race to save themselves from the killer and his handler and to find the code that will allow them to unleash the information from the bowels of a vast, hidden, encrypted computer of Kirsch's own design. Did I mention that Ms. Vidal is both beautiful and the fiancee of Prince Julian, the heir to the Spanish throne?
Okay, you may be thinking this book is similar in structure to most of Mr. Brown's work, but so what? A Frank Lloyd Wright building is similar in structure to almost all of his other works, but it is in the details of the execution that we find the genius of the man, and the same sits here with Mr. Brown and his work. I say, bring forth another Langdon book, and another and another, and watch the readers race in to gobble them up.
I for one find the vast scope of the fate that balances on the point of Langdon's intellect enjoyable to read about, his use of real places and societies revelatory, the action first rate and the puzzles or reveals more than enough to keep me coming back.
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LibraryThing member jfe16
Computer mastermind/futurist Edmond Kirsch discovers an earth-shattering secret that “will change the face of science forever” and sets up a dazzling announcement at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. When an assassin cuts down the billionaire moments before he is to reveal this astonishing breakthrough, it falls to Harvard professor Robert Langdon and museum director Ambra Vidal to learn the cryptic password that will unlock the secret and allow them to reveal it to the world.
But there are those who would keep them from revealing the secret, no matter what the cost. Will they succeed in revealing the truth Kirsch planned to announce? And what will that revelation mean for mankind?

The fifth in the Robert Langdon series, “Origin” tackles hidden history and extreme religion in search of the answer to the two most basic questions of man:
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
With a twisty plot that ramps up the tension and suspense, this narrative grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go until the final unexpected reveal. An occasional “information dump” doesn’t detract from the overall telling of the “origin of life and future of humanity” tale and readers are likely to be left dumbfounded by the final unexpected twist they simply won’t see coming.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member readingover50
Loved reading this. I read it over two nights, which felt fast considering this is a big book. As with all the other Robert Langdon books, I love how it teaches me new things, in this case about the art world in Spain, and all the amazing architecture there. The buildings he described sound amazing, and I never new they existed. There is also his trademark religion and conspiracies. I didn't guess the ending, but I wasn't that surprised either. This book was pure fun to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member gaillamontagne
Dan Brown is the author of The Da Vinci Code. Robert Langdon is a Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology. His former student, Edmond Kirsch is a 40 year old billionaire, (kind of reminded me of Elon Musk) who wants to meet up with his old professor. Kirsch plans on letting Langdon in on his world changing discovery which Kirsch plans on announcing very soon. The setting is Spain and this announcement of Kirsch's discovery will challenge all the teachings of the Catholic Church, and Christianity as well. Kirsch has spent his life in pursuit of life's questions: How did we get here?, and Where are we going? Kirsch reveals his discovery to leaders of the 3 major religions; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam which initiates an assassination plot. .... This was a hard book for me to follow. First off, many of the character names were difficult for me to remember being in a different language. Second, it was boring in the middle. I skipped 15 chapters 45-60, and didn't miss anything important in the plot other than the introduction of one police character. The ending was intriguing I must say but since I believe in Creator God, I felt I was wasting my time.… (more)
LibraryThing member Clara53
As always with Brown - a fantastic plot. You just have to look past the usual "Langdon-and-damsel-in-distress-flight/pursuit" model and see the bigger picture which Dan Brown provides as no other. Unlike his "Inferno", this novel is much more optimistic in the end. And like all of his books, it does make you think. And of course one always learns a lot - on a host of subjects. Seemingly quite ubiquitous questions: where do we come from? where are we going? They've been posed before, numerous times; and the same goes for the friction between creationists and evolutionists. But the way Dan Brown spins it - one has to marvel.​ His description of the difference between patterns and codes - very clever. But what about DNA!? and exception?... And what about morality and ethics existing only in the realm of religion as many claim? Debatable? Yes... Makes you stop and think. Enjoyed every minute of this book!...… (more)
LibraryThing member tgraettinger
Another breathless adventure for Robert Langdon. I enjoyed the story, but perhaps even more, I enjoyed learning about some really interesting Spanish architecture and locales.
LibraryThing member voracious
Robert Langdon, the affable and all-knowing historian, is at it again in another history-based thriller. Called to Spain to witness a presentation by his billionaire futurist student, Edmond Kirsch, Langdon witnesses Kirsch's murder, just prior to the unveiling of his greatest discovery. With the world's religions attempting to hide the discovery and only a few hours to release the mystery before the stored electronic data self-destructs, Langdon and the Prince's fiance, Ambra Vidal, attempt to elude the Prince's royal guard and other armed zealots in a race against time, visiting key Spanish landmarks along the way.

Although very similar in plot to all the other Dan Brown books, I couldn't help but enjoy myself on this cultural roller coaster. A fast and fun read which explores the dangers of modern "fake news" and it's impact on the future of humanity.
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LibraryThing member LisaSHarvey
Robert Langdon #5
Dan Brown

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️▫️
PUBLISHER Random House Audio
PUBLISHED October 3, 2017

A highly entertaining race to find a cryptic password to unlock a discovery that will answer the age-old questions of human existence.

Origin begins with an presentation from billionaire computer scientist Edmond Kirsch, Robert Langdon’s former student. The presentation is being held at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and is poised to answer the controversial questions of human existence. Where did we come from? Where are we going? Kirsch believes his discovery, made possible by his advanced version of quantum computing, will put an end to the conflict between science and faith, and will change the the face of science and the world forever. But someone is trying to stop Kirsch from announcing his breakthrough discovery. The presentation is interrupted and brought to an abrupt end. Langdon is forced to go on the run with the brilliant museum director Ambra Vidal, as they try to find the key that will unravel the secrets of humanity.

In this book that pits faith against science, we are skillfully transported throughout Spain, from Bilbao, to Seville, Barcelona and Madrid. Sagrada Familia is prominently featured, and it strengthen my resolve to see Gaudi’s masterful creation. Origin is differentiated from Dan Brown’s previous books by cleverly focusing on modern technology, science, and art rather than antiquities. One of Origin’s most interesting characters is Winston an artificial intelligence avatar developed by Kirsch. The highly developed Winston steals the show and puts my little Siri to shame! Overall, Origin is typical Dan Brown: an adventure, a brilliant woman, a seemingly insurmountable puzzle, and plenty of art and religious references. While portions of the book maybe inconceivable, it’s an interesting and entertaining read.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something.
—Winston Churchill
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LibraryThing member doogald
Good story. Not great prose, but never is with Brown.
LibraryThing member labdaddy4
Fast paced but not much of a mystery. Very heavy on art, architecture, and technology. Brown writes an entertaining story but leaves out the suspense.
LibraryThing member kjensen55
Like most of Dan Brown's books you get drawn in within the first few pages. The descriptions of art and architecture make you want to travel to the locations featured in the story. I really enjoyed the pace of the novel, and the conflict developed between technology and religion. Some of the people elements such as the relationship between the prince and Ambra seemed to distract from the story rather than add to it. It also felt like symbolism to a backseat to art in this book which I am somewhat ambivalent about.… (more)
LibraryThing member kinwolf
Same recipe as all the previous books. So I don't read Dan Brown books for the surprise effect, but for the research in them, and this one doesn't disappoint. An enjoyable read, and the ending is not a fizzle like Inferno was(imo)
LibraryThing member infjsarah
You know what your are getting with Dan Brown, a not very mysterious mystery, a chase, an attractive woman, churches, lots of art and art history, a tour of a city or country and a finale of "is that it?" And Origin is no different - this time it's Spain and Barcelona and Gaudi who get the treatment - not that I think Barcelona needs any more tourists!
It's light and entertaining and as usual sends me scurrying to the Net to look up some of these places and art. But the mystery really is a major let down - if Elon Musk etc really stood up and said this, there would be a universal shrug of "yeah, tell us what we don't know". Hardly world changing.
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LibraryThing member DonnaMBrown
Once again, Robert Langdon is thrust into chaos with a female counterpart and both are on the run to discover and share the truth. Brown's story is mixed with popular landmarks and historical facts, a consistent and enjoyable trend with his books. The mystery is entertaining with some unexpected twists in the end. Always thought provoking for me. An enjoyable read that I recommend.… (more)
LibraryThing member amaryann21
I've read all of Brown's novels, and I used to love them. His use of codes, history, art, it was all tied together with intelligence and suspense and good writing. Now... it's just not the same. This book, the 5th Robert Langdon, feels written more to be a movie than the past Langdons. There's more action, which I don't object to, but the science, art and history are clunky and don't mix well. And it's the same formula- a murder, a damsel in distress, Langdon and damsel on the run, only so much time before something bad will happen again. Oh, and it's religion's fault. Let's not forget that.

The spark is gone for me and Dan. This will be the last of his I attempt, regrettably. I don't like giving up on authors I've enjoyed, but sometimes you just have to let them go.
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LibraryThing member Guide2
A well built mystery novel with an interesting topic.
LibraryThing member hobbitprincess
I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed Brown's other novels. This makes me think, and I appreciate any book that makes me think and consider the world in a different point of view. I enjoyed the thrill of the chase, so to speak, when Langdon and Ambra go in search of a password they must have. I did struggle with the method that Kirsch used to prove the origin of life - perhaps I don't understand computers enough. Still, in my mind, it didn't prove a thing. Brown leaves the issue open with several well-placed questions that indicates the reader must make up his/her own mind.… (more)
LibraryThing member damcg63
Story not as crisp as others, but entertaining enough. Seemed to end gradually rather than at a climax. This was more of a vehicle for the author to discuss religion and science....which was ok - just different.
LibraryThing member marsap
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, is back! Robert arrives at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement. The host Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist, and one of Langdon former students, plans to reveal to the world a breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence; where do we come from and where are we going?. But as the event continues, everything suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao with Ambra Vidal, the museum director (and future Queen of Spain) 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. As with any Brown book, I loved the incorporation of the setting (in the case Madrid and Barcelona—one of my favorite cities), the art of one of Spain’s most famous artist—Gaudi, the science of biology and artificial intelligence—and the symbology and the puzzle of it all. And of course we have to bring in the Catholic Church and a fringe religion. This book is quite the romp—loved it all. 5 out 5 stars.… (more)
LibraryThing member Schneider
Hmm, while I love reading about Dan Brown's Robert Langdon and the multiple precarious situations he has found himself in over the years, this I thought was not all that great. The antagonists, though threatening didn't seem that daunting and didn't leave me wanting more as Brown's stories usually do. The story was intriguing and thought provoking, but it I never had the ominous devil on his heels page turning story line like I'm used to. I sure Langdon will return and Brown's writing will remain superb, but hopefully the story lines will be cranked up a notch or two.… (more)
LibraryThing member benuathanasia
The entire time I was reading this, I was just...shocked that I can't find any "The Art of Robert Langdon" books. What an amazing coffee table book it would be to just have a book collecting all the art from the Dan Brown novels.

That being said, this was a fun addition to the series, but by no means the best. This time it's atheism versus theology.
The revelation of the real assassin was...less than interesting, but the rest of the story was great. I've heard reviewers say they feel like Brown speaks down to them, like he's lecturing them on art and history. Personally, I enjoy that. I like learning new things about the art presented in the novels. I love learning about new things - no matter what they are. I'm just bummed I can't find the TEDTalk referenced near the end of the book.
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LibraryThing member DrApple
Dan Brown has become so formulaic that it's hard to enjoy his new books. We once again have the beautiful girl who joins with Robert Langdon as they try to escape assassins and solve a mystery to bring information to the world. Te Catholic Church is involved, as always, and the mystery may change the way the world views religion. It is well written, but it becomes a trudge since the plot follows such familiar lines.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookhookgeek
Kind of dumb and not very thrilling. All the "secrets" were pretty obvious.
LibraryThing member KarenHerndon
Dan Brown books are always good, I think.
This one is no different.
A mystery page-turner with always those secret societies/clubs/ groups.
This one indeed had all that but in my opinion it wasn’t “quite” up to his past reads. If the past reads were a 10 (on 1-10 scale 10 being the best), I’d say this was a 9. Still worth the read though.… (more)



Original publication date





978-0-385-51423-1 / 9780385514231


Original language

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