Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Inferno - Dan Brown


In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code,Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, 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. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.


In my own experience, I’ve noticed that Dan Brown gets a lot of flack for his pseudo-intellectual thrillers, and Inferno certainly fits this description. This is the fourth novel of his that I have read, and, in my personal opinion, his best.

This book ticks all my boxes. It’s essentially a fast paced thriller, the narrative unfolds over a 48 hour period, more or less. What sets Brown’s books apart from the rest is his use of history. Langdon, the protagonist is a symbologist (is that a real thing? who cares!) who for some reason gets roped into saving the world from another potentially catastrophic scheme because the bad guy is obsessed with Dante’s Inferno, and Langdon is the only guy who can stop him. Obviously if you’re a fan of plausible fiction then you probably shouldn’t read this book, but if, like me, you are willing to suspend disbelief as much as is needed, then it’s actually quite a good read. It also helps if you have an interest in history or have ever been to or want to go to Italy. This book is a must-read if you’re visiting Florence or Venice. I like to think that the history Brown has thrown in to prop up his plot is true, but I’m not an expert and feel free to point out the massive flaws I’m sure are there. But regardless of whether it’s accurate or not, I found this background extremely interesting.

If you’ve ever read a Dan Brown novel you’ll be aware that they tend to follow a formula. This contains a rather bizarre mystery that only a Harvard professor can solve, a beautiful, young, intelligent female assistant and a hell of a lot of religious and renaissance iconography. Brown also tends to base his plots on a mixture of two things that scare people, something that scared us in the old days , ie the plague, and something that scares us now, ie population explosion, and blends them nicely together to create something quite terrifying. The plot is heavily based on genetics and bioengineering, two subjects I don’t know enough about, so I can’t say whether or not it was plausible.

The bad guy in this story is quite interesting. He doesn’t even appear that much in the novel, and even so I was genuinely conflicted by his actions. His motives are quite complex, so complex that I may even have condoned his actions a little bit. Not to give too much away, but I’m not really sure that his plan would have worked anyway, and that kind of annoyed me, but you have to put up with these things.

Overall Inferno is a good solid , if standard, thriller with some interesting history thrown that fulfills it’s thriller purpose.

Stars: 3 1/2

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