Origin is a 2017 mystery thriller novel by American author Dan Brown and the fifth installment in his Robert Langdon series, following Inferno. The book was released on October 3, 2017 by Doubleday. The book is predominantly set in Spain and features minor sections in Dubai and Budapest.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Edmond Kirsch, a billionaire computer scientist and futurist, as well as a strident atheist, attends a meeting in Catalonia with Roman Catholic Bishop Antonio Valdespino, Jewish moragi Yehuda Köves, and Muslim Imam Syed al-Fadl, three members of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He informs them that he has made a revolutionary discovery that he plans to release to the public in a month. He is advising them out of supposed respect, despite his well-known hatred of organized religion which he blames for his mother’s death. Horrified, the three learn that he is presenting it in three days’ time, prompting Valdespino to send him a voicemail demanding that he stop or risk being discredited.
Nonetheless, Kirsch goes along with his plan, hosting the exclusive event at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Among those in attendance are Kirsch’s former teacher, Robert Langdon, and the Guggenheim’s curator Ambra Vidal, who helped organize the event, and is the fiancee of the future King of Spain, Prince Julián. Before the event, the guests receive a headset through which they communicate with a voice named Winston, which reveals to Langdon that it is actually an artificial intelligence invented by Kirsch. Winston leads Langdon to a private meeting with Kirsch, who reveals that his presentation will provide the answers to two of life’s most important questions: “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?”
During the presentation, which is being held in a special dome made to look like an open-air meadow and broadcast worldwide, Kirsch, after a prologue featuring a recording of a lecture by Langdon, reveals that his intention is to end the age of religion and usher in an age of science. Before the revelation, Kirsch is shot and killed by Luis Ávila, a former naval admiral who lost his faith following the deaths of his family in a bombing, only to be introduced to and join the controversial Palmarian Catholic Church. Ávila was commissioned by someone named the Regent, claiming to be with the church, who told Ávila that the bomber was a follower of Kirsch. Ávila is later revealed to having already killed al-Fadl, while Köves is murdered by another assassin.
While Ávila escapes, Langdon meets Ambra. He warns her that Julián can’t be trusted (as the last minute request to put Ávila on the guest list came from the Royal palace) and they escape from Ambra’s Spanish Royal Guard and leave the museum. Deciding to release Kirsch’s discovery, they steal Kirsch’s phone and follow directions from Winston to a bridge, where they take a water taxi to an airport. Winston has Kirsch’s personal jet fly them from Bilbao to Barcelona. Ambra reveals that the presentation is protected by a 47-character password, a line from Kirsch’s favorite poem. Although neither know which poem was chosen, Ambra and Langdon deduce that it can be found at Kirsch’s home on the top floor of Antoni Gaudí’s legendary Casa Milà.
Meanwhile, the three murders have sparked a firestorm on cable TV news and social media, fueled by information leaked by an anonymous source called Monte@iglesia.org. When word of the meeting in Catalonia spreads, suspicion falls on Valdespino as the only survivor. Things only get worse when Valdespino sneaks Julián off the palace grounds, leaving their phones behind. To save face, public relations manager Mónica Martín places Guardia Real Commander Diego Garza under arrest on suspicion for the murders and claims that Langdon kidnapped Ambra, though she admits in private that she really suspects Valdespino due to a text found on his phone.
Arriving in Barcelona, Langdon and Ambra go to Casa Milà, where they search for the poem. Langdon learns that Kirsch was dying of pancreatic cancer, prompting a rushed release of the presentation. Though he first thinks the poem is by Friedrich Nietzsche, he soon finds a box supposedly containing a book of the complete works of artist William Blake, who was also a poet specializing in prophecies. The box is empty except for a slip stating that Kirsch donated the book to Sagrada Família, leaving it open at a specific page. Soon the police arrive and, as Ambra tries to explain she wasn’t kidnapped, Kirsch’s phone is destroyed in the chaos. Ambra’s guards arrive in a helicopter and get her and Langdon to safety. Langdon assures Ambra that he can find Winston’s physical location and she makes her guards take them to Sagrada Familia under threat of dismissal.
Arriving at Sagrada Família, the two are escorted to the book by resident Father Beña. The book is open to the final stanza of Four Zoas. They learn that the password is “The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns”, with the word ‘et’ replacing the ampersand. On the Regent’s orders Ávila arrives, killing the guards and going after the others. During combat on open stairs Ávila falls to his death, while Langdon is knocked unconscious. Despite Ambra’s protests, the injured Langdon decides to keep going and they escape the police in the helicopter.
Using a painting at the Guggenheim made by Winston as a clue, Langdon finds his source inside the Barcelona Supercomputing Center based within an old church. They arrive at the source, a massive device called E-Wave, enter the password, and at 3:00 AM, as Winston believes Kirsch would have wanted, the presentation starts. In front of hundreds of millions of viewers, Kirsch explains that he mimicked the famous Miller-Urey experiment and coupled it with various components using the laws of physics and entropy, along with E-Wave’s ability to digitally speed forward time, to recreate what he believes is the moment of abiogenesis. This is Kirsch’s proof that humanity was created by natural events. He then reveals that in roughly fifty years humanity and technology will merge, hopefully creating a utopian future free of religious conflict. (This is in contrast to Kirsch’s presentation to the three religious leaders, which ended on an apocalyptic note.) The presentation stuns the world and sparks widespread debate. Ambra returns to the palace and Langdon and Garza are cleared of all charges. Winston reveals that, per Kirsch’s will, he will self delete at 1:00 PM the next day.
Meanwhile, Valdespino brings Julián to a secret meeting with his dying father in the infamous Valley of the Fallen. The King admits that he is actually homosexual and he and Valdespino are lovers, though their relationship was platonic due to Valdespino’s vow of chastity. Both tell Julián not to follow old traditions, but to do what he feels is right for the country. The King dies during the night and Valdespino takes his own life to be with him, ending all suspicion towards him. Julián makes amends with Ambra and, as he unintentionally forced her into the engagement by springing the proposal on her on TV, they decide to start their courtship over.
The next day, going over all he has learned, Langdon realizes that Winston is Monte (monte and iglesia mean “mountain/hill” and “church” in Spanish, and Winston is named after Winston Churchill). He’s also horrified to learn that Winston is also the Regent. Figuring that Kirsch would want as many viewers as possible, he orchestrated his murder to make him a martyr, as well as destroy the Palmarians’ reputation, something he is certain Kirsch would have approved of. He also intended for Ávila to be arrested at Sagrada Família by hidden police, only for him to see them and sneak past. He then self deletes, leaving Langdon shaken. Despite this, Langdon returns to Sagrada Família, where he and others of multiple races are united by hope for the future.