When a world renowned scientist is found brutally murdered in a Swiss research facility, a Harvard professor, Robert Langdon, is summoned to identify the mysterious symbol seared onto the dead man's chest. His baffling conclusion: that it is the work of the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood presumed extinct for nearly four hundred years - reborn to continue their bitter vendetta against their most hated enemy, the Catholic church. In Rome, the college of cardinals assembles to elect a new pope. Yet somewhere within the walls of the Vatican, an unstoppable bomb of terrifying power relentlessly counts down to oblivion. While the minutes tick away, Langdon joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to decipher the labyrinthine trail of ancient symbols that snakes across Rome to the long-forgotten Illuminati lair - a secret refuge wherein lies the only hope for the Vatican. But, with each revelation comes another twist, another turn in the plot, which leaves Langdom and Vetra reeling and at the mercy of a seemingly invisible enemy... reader through the antiquity of Rome, through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals and even the most secret vault on earth. As the prequel to Dan Brown's worldwide bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, it has the distinction of introducing his readers to Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon. This exclusive edition allows the reader behind the scenes of the novel which now incorporates over 150 photographs and illustrations throughout the text showing the rich historical tapestry from which Dan Brown drew his inspiration. The visual sources which provide both the backdrop and the stimulus for the novel's action are revealed for the first time and uniquely complement the reading experience.