Bestselling authorÂ Dan BrownÂ is back with another thrilling novel,Â Origin.Â Coming in October 2017 to National Book Store, it follows Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist. One of Robert Langdonâ€™s first students at Harvard years ago, Kirsch is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough… one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.
Langdon attends Kirsch’s monumental event, but it suddenly erupts into chaos and leaves Kirschâ€™s precious discovery teetering on the brink of being lost.Â Langdon must now head to Barcelona to navigate the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion.
We know you can’t wait to get this book in your hands, but while you’re waiting for its release, check out this excerpt from the novel’s prologue:
AsÂ the ancient cogwheel train clawed its way up the dizzying incline, Edmond Kirsch surveyed the jagged mountaintop above him. In the distance, built into the face of a sheer cliff, the massive stone monastery seemed to hang in space, as if magically fused to the vertical precipice.
This timeless sanctuary in Catalonia, Spain, had endured the relentless pull of gravity for more than four centuries, never slipping from its original purpose: to insulate its occupants from the modern world.
Ironically, they will now be the first to learn the truth, Kirsch thought, wondering how they would react. Historically, the most dangerous men on earth were men of God . . . especially when their gods became threatened.Â And I am about to hurl a flaming spear into a hornetsâ€™ nest.
When the train reached the mountaintop, Kirsch saw a solitary figure waiting for him on the platform. The wizened skeleton of a man was draped in the traditional Catholic purple cassock and white rochet, with a zucchetto on his head. Kirsch recognized his hostâ€™s rawboned features from photos and felt an unexpected surge of adrenaline.
Valdespino is greeting me personally.
Bishop Antonio Valdespino was a formidable figure in Spainâ€”not only a trusted friend and counselor to the king himself, but one of the countryâ€™s most vocal and influential advocates for the preservation of conservative Catholic values and traditional political standards.
â€œEdmond Kirsch, I assume?â€ the bishop intoned as Kirsch exited the train.
â€œGuilty as charged,â€ Kirsch said, smiling as he reached out to shake his hostâ€™s bony hand. â€œBishop Valdespino, I want to thank you for arranging this meeting.â€
â€œI appreciate yourÂ requestingÂ it.â€ The bishopâ€™s voice was stronger than Kirsch expectedâ€”clear and penetrating, like a bell. â€œIt is not often we are consulted by men of science, especially one of your prominence. This way, please.â€
As Valdespino guided Kirsch across the platform, the cold mountain air whipped at the bishopâ€™s cassock.
â€œI must confess,â€ Valdespino said, â€œyou look different than I imagined. I was expecting a scientist, but youâ€™re quite . . .â€ He eyed his guestâ€™s sleek Kiton K50 suit and Barker ostrich shoes with a hint of disdain. â€œ â€˜Hip,â€™ I believe, is the word?â€
Kirsch smiled politely.Â The word â€œhipâ€ went out of style decades ago.
â€œIn reading your list of accomplishments,â€ the bishop said, â€œI am still not entirely sure what it is you do.â€
â€œI specialize in game theory and computer modeling.â€
â€œSo you make the computer games that the children play?â€
Kirsch sensed the bishop was feigning ignorance in an attempt to be quaint. More accurately, Kirsch knew, Valdespino was a frighteningly well-informed student of technology and often warned others of its dangers. â€œNo, sir, actually game theory is a field of mathematics that studies patterns in order to make predictions about the future.â€
â€œAh yes. I believe I read that you predicted a European monetary crisis some years ago? When nobody listened, you saved the day by inventing a computer program that pulled the EU back from the dead. What was your famous quote? â€˜At thirty-three years old, I am the same age as Christ when He performed His resurrection.â€™ â€
Kirsch cringed. â€œA poor analogy, Your Grace. I was young.â€
â€œYoung?â€ The bishop chuckled. â€œAnd how old are you now . . . perhaps forty?â€
The old man smiled as the strong wind continued to billow his robe. â€œWell, the meek were supposed to inherit the earth, but instead it has gone to the youngâ€”the technically inclined, those who stare into video screens rather than into their own souls. I must admit, I never imagined I would have reason to meet the young man leading the charge. They call you aÂ prophet, you know.â€
â€œNot a very good one in your case, Your Grace,â€ Kirsch replied. â€œWhen I asked if I might meet you and your colleagues privately, I calculated only a twenty percent chance you would accept.â€
â€œAnd as I told my colleagues, the devout can always benefit from listening to nonbelievers. It is in hearing the voice of the devil that we can better appreciate the voice of God.â€ The old man smiled. â€œI am joking, of course. Please forgive my aging sense of humor. My filters fail me from time to time.â€
With that, Bishop Valdespino motioned ahead. â€œThe others are waiting. This way, please.â€
Kirsch eyed their destination, a colossal citadel of gray stone perched on the edge of a sheer cliff that plunged thousands of feet down into a lush tapestry of wooded foothills. Unnerved by the height, Kirsch averted his eyes from the chasm and followed the bishop along the uneven cliffside path, turning his thoughts to the meeting ahead.
Kirsch had requested an audience with three prominent religious leaders who had just finished attending a conference here.
The Parliament of the Worldâ€™s Religions.
Since 1893, hundreds of spiritual leaders from nearly thirty world religions had gathered in a different location every few years to spend a week engaged in interfaith dialogue. Participants included a wide array of influential Christian priests, Jewish rabbis, and Islamic mullahs from around the world, along with HinduÂ pujaris, BuddhistÂ bhikkhus, Jains, Sikhs, and others.
The parliamentâ€™s self-proclaimed objective was â€œto cultivate harmony among the worldâ€™s religions, build bridges between diverse spiritualities, and celebrate the intersections of all faith.â€
A noble quest, Kirsch thought, despite seeing it as an empty exerciseâ€” a meaningless search for random points of correspondence among a hodgepodge of ancient fictions, fables, and myths.
As Bishop Valdespino guided him along the pathway, Kirsch peered down the mountainside with a sardonic thought.Â Moses climbed a mountain to accept the Word of God . . . and I have climbed a mountain to do quite the opposite.
Kirschâ€™s motivation for climbing this mountain, he had told himself, was one of ethical obligation, but he knew there was a good dose of hubris fueling this visitâ€”he was eager to feel the gratification of sitting face-to-face with these clerics and foretelling their imminent demise.
Youâ€™ve had your run at defining our truth.
â€œI looked at your curriculum vitae,â€ the bishop said abruptly, glancing at Kirsch. â€œI see youâ€™re a product of Harvard University?â€
â€œI see. Recently, I read that for the first time in Harvardâ€™s history, the incoming student body consists of more atheists and agnostics than those who identify as followers of any religion. That is quite a telling statistic, Mr. Kirsch.â€
What can I tell you, Kirsch wanted to reply,Â our students keep getting smarter.
The wind whipped harder as they arrived at the ancient stone edifice. Inside the dim light of the buildingâ€™s entryway, the air was heavy with the thick fragrance of burning frankincense. The two men snaked through a maze of dark corridors, and Kirschâ€™s eyes fought to adjust as he followed his cloaked host. Finally, they arrived at an unusually small wooden door. The bishop knocked, ducked down, and entered, motioning for his guest to follow.
Uncertain, Kirsch stepped over the threshold.
He found himself in a rectangular chamber whose high walls burgeoned with ancient leather-bound tomes. Additional freestanding bookshelves jutted out of the walls like ribs, interspersed with cast-iron radiators that clanged and hissed, giving the room the eerie sense that it was alive. Kirsch raised his eyes to the ornately balustraded walkway that encircled the second story and knew without a doubt where he was.
The famed library of Montserrat, he realized, startled to have been admitted. This sacred room was rumored to contain uniquely rare texts accessible only to those monks who had devoted their lives to God and who were sequestered here on this mountain.
â€œYou asked for discretion,â€ the bishop said. â€œThis is our most private space. Few outsiders have ever entered.â€
â€œA generous privilege. Thank you.â€
Kirsch followed the bishop to a large wooden table where two elderly men sat waiting. The man on the left looked timeworn, with tired eyes and a matted white beard. He wore a crumpled black suit, white shirt, and fedora.
â€œThis is Rabbi Yehuda KoÌˆves,â€ the bishop said. â€œHe is a prominent Jewish philosopher who has written extensively on Kabbalistic cosmology.â€
Kirsch reached across the table and politely shook hands with Rabbi KoÌˆves. â€œA pleasure to meet you, sir,â€ Kirsch said. â€œIâ€™ve read your books on Kabbala. I canâ€™t say I understood them, but Iâ€™ve read them.â€
KoÌˆves gave an amiable nod, dabbing at his watery eyes with his handkerchief.
â€œAnd here,â€ the bishop continued, motioning to the other man, â€œyou have the respectedÂ allamah, Syed al-Fadl.â€
The revered Islamic scholar stood up and smiled broadly. He was short and squat with a jovial face that seemed a mismatch with his dark penetrating eyes. He was dressed in an unassuming whiteÂ thawb. â€œAnd, Mr. Kirsch, I have readÂ yourÂ predictions on the future of mankind. I canâ€™t say IÂ agreeÂ with them, but I have read them.â€
Kirsch gave a gracious smile and shook the manâ€™s hand.
â€œAnd our guest, Edmond Kirsch,â€ the bishop concluded, addressing his two colleagues, â€œas you know, is a highly regarded computer scientist, game theorist, inventor, and something of a prophet in the technological world. Considering his background, I was puzzled by his request to address the three of us. Therefore, I shall now leave it to Mr. Kirsch to explain why he has come.â€
With that, Bishop Valdespino took a seat between his two colleagues, folded his hands, and gazed up expectantly at Kirsch. All three men faced him like a tribunal, creating an ambience more like that of an inquisition than a friendly meeting of scholars. The bishop, Kirsch now realized, had not even set out a chair for him.
Kirsch felt more bemused than intimidated as he studied the three aging men before him.Â So this is the Holy Trinity I requested. The Three Wise Men.
Pausing a moment to assert his power, Kirsch walked over to the window and gazed out at the breathtaking panorama below. A sunlit patchwork of ancient pastoral lands stretched across a deep valley, giving way to the rugged peaks of the Collserola mountain range. Miles beyond, somewhere out over the Balearic Sea, a menacing bank of storm clouds was now gathering on the horizon.
Fitting, Kirsch thought, sensing the turbulence he would soon cause in this room, and in the world beyond.
â€œGentlemen,â€ he commenced, turning abruptly back toward them. â€œI believe Bishop Valdespino has already conveyed to you my request for secrecy. Before we continue, I just want to clarify that what I am about to share with you must be kept in the strictest confidence. Simply stated, I am asking for a vow of silence from all of you. Are we in agreement?â€
All three men gave nods of tacit acquiescence, which Kirsch knew were probably redundant anyway.Â They will want to bury this informationâ€”not broadcast it.
â€œI am here today,â€ Kirsch began, â€œbecause I have made a scientific discovery I believe you will find startling. It is something I have pursued for many years, hoping to provide answers to two of the most fundamental questions of our human experience. Now that I have succeeded, I have come to you specifically because I believe this information will affect the worldâ€™sÂ faithfulÂ in a profound way, quite possibly causing a shift that can only be described as, shall we sayâ€”disruptive. At the moment, I am the only person on earth who has the information I am about to reveal to you.â€
Kirsch reached into his suit coat and pulled out an oversized smartphoneâ€”one that he had designed and built to serve his own unique needs. The phone had a vibrantly colored mosaic case, and he propped it up before the three men like a television. In a moment, he would use the device to dial into an ultrasecure server, enter his forty-seven-character password, and live-stream a presentation for them.
â€œWhat you are about to see,â€ Kirsch said, â€œis a rough cut of an announcement I hope to share with the worldâ€”perhaps in a month or so. But before I do, I wanted to consult with a few of the worldâ€™s most influential religious thinkers, to gain insight into how this news will be received by those it affects most.â€
The bishop sighed loudly, sounding more bored than concerned. â€œAn intriguing preamble, Mr. Kirsch. You speak as if whatever you are about to show us will shake the foundations of the worldâ€™s religions.â€
Kirsch glanced around the ancient repository of sacred texts.Â It will not shake your foundations. It will shatter them.
Kirsch appraised the men before him. What they did not know was that in only three daysâ€™ time, Kirsch planned to go public with this presentation in a stunning, meticulously choreographed event. When he did, people across the world would realize that the teachings of all religions did indeed have one thing in common.
They were all dead wrong.
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