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(May contain spoilers for the previous novels in the Robert Langdon series.)
This is a Dan Brown novel. For those of you who have read Dan Brown novels before, this is more of the same. For those who haven't - don't expect too much of it.
Don't get me wrong, it's pacy, it's entertaining, it's fairly enjoyable - but Shakespeare it ain't. As per usual, the characters lack in a certain degree of depth, and the plot twists come out of left field and smack you in the head, leaving you as bewildered as Robert Langdon himself in this novel.
That's the other thing - Robert Langdon. Given all that he's been through, you'd think he would, by now, have realised that he's one of the unluckiest men on the planet. What other professor gets caught up in conspiracies and shot at on a fairly regular basis? Yet, there is only one of the vaguest of references to the previous three novels (in which - SPOILER ALERT!! - it's not like he did anything like, oh, I don't know, become involved in the papal elections, hunt murderers, view corpses, hold dying men, and discover the last descendant of Jesus Christ.) This may just be me, but if I'd been through all that Langdon had been through, I'd mention a little more than the Vatican don't like me. I think I'd be more worried about why this sort of stuff kept happening to me - might even try to keep a low profile for a while, stop answering my messages, etc.
Oh, and as-per-usual we are given a rent-a-girl sidekick who will be disposed of and never heard about again by the next book. Her purpose is to be a mixture of groupie and damsel-in-distress, and she can be interchanged with any of the other sidekicks with little to no adaptations.
Still enjoyable, still readable - just accept it as it is, a truly enjoyable pulp thriller that has interesting moments, but not a hell of lot going on upstairs (even for all its delusions of grandeur.)
So Dan Brown is back, the author of the much 'discussed' Da Vinci Code, the most read fiction book on the planet, controversial for suggesting Jesus was just a regular bloke who slept around and liked the vino. The Church waved the Bible at such sacrilege and rallied, saying Dad Brown's book was made up and utter tosh, rather ironic. As it turned out one book was deliberate fiction and the other was written in away people actually wanted to pick up a book and read it. I will let you decide which is which, other than the literary elite sided with the Church for once. The literal snobs attacked Brown for making fiction books an unchallenging experience. How dare he give the written word to the masses! But the simpler your book , the more copies you are going to sell, perhaps a lesson to all those pretentious writers who win all the big awards, this only ever about jealously of his extreme wealth. The only thing wrong with Browns books to the literal elite is that they are readable to the common folk. Dan Brown is the world's richest living author because he writes what the people want. Dave and Tina don't want to have to buy a thesaurus along with a book in Waterstones and WH Smiths to read on the beach. This is why Brown sells twenty million every new book and 850 page Booker Prize winners barely scrape five figure sales.
Inferno is Brown sixth and latest book although unclear where it fits in the timeline of the two previous Robert Langdon adventures of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, rather convenient that Langdon has amnesia in this one. It's more of the frantic code and history stuff although this one the most written as a film script, which is saying something for Dan Brown. This is a commercially minded writer make no mistake. But again, nothing wrong with that. Because of that short and snappy style it's a page turner although this one the first time I have put the down the book with Brown rather than pick it up as the whole code chasing thing is beginning to get samey.
We begin in Florence, Italy where Professor Langdon, noted American historian and code breaker, has just come out of a coma and lies in a hospital bed suffering from amnesia, a small bio hazard canister in his pocket the only clue to his accident, appearing to have been shot in the head, so the beautiful Dr Sienna Brooks tells him. But it's not long until he is thrown into frantic panic once again when the hospital is shot up and the two manage to flea just in time. Someone is after them and trained to kill.
Fleeing to Sienna's apartment they discover the canisters use, not housing a bio contaminant as they feared but a small projector device, which displays Dante's famous 'Nine Rings of Hell' painting. This, of course, is their first clue on the chase to come as they begin to race around Florence to follow a trail they believe may lead to some kind of hidden terror and hopefully fill in the gaps for Langdon on how he got injured. On their tail are men dressed in black with guns, fast screeching sedans and sunglasses, a shadowy group called the 'Consortium'.
The letters CATROVACER are hidden on the famous painting, that leads them to Florence's finest gallery and museum, the Palazzo Vecchio, which points them to Dante's favorite church, and then on to Venice, the bad guys still in hot pursuit. They fear that whatever is at the end of the trail has the potential to change the world forever, if unleashed, the devil himself lurking below one of Europe's finest cities and monuments. But which one?
The themes of the book are not so much about religion this time but the future of the planet if those religious of the third world keep producing so many babies. Religion, like capitalism, needs fresh blood to keep going or the whole thing collapses around them if the collection plate is empty. Both do not care about the consequences of their actions. The Catholic Church, which featured so strongly in Langdon's first two adventures, are blatant in their part of inappropriate family planning and encourage Catholics to have more kids and not use contraception, regardless of the consequences of diseases like AIDS and the strain on world resources. Most of the world's problems are caused by religious mantra. Islam is self destructing like Christianity did with the Crusades back in the day as there are simply too many of them to maintain clear leadership and focus.
As far as the book goes the whole Dan Brown things is beginning to get tired, this and his last book The Lost Symbol as equally samey, punching him back to the role of run - of - the - mill thriller writer. As always the history stuff is interesting and great fun that there may well be hidden codes and stuff in the planets great works of art and locations, fiction and fact you can check out for yourself by going to these great cities to study their art and history. I loved the Da Vinci Code that way as it has some interesting if silly ideas but welded together in the classic page turner way and so a cracking read, Angels and Demons also fun. But this and the Lost Symbol are Dan Brown looking to feed his readers with more code chasing thrills, where ever he can manufacture them and it appears he is running out of ideas now. Brown has said he sees a lot of Langdon in himself and maybe the ego driving him now. I just can't see myself reading the next Brown book.
On the whole a simple read for regular readers and has no choice but to be compared to the Da Vinci Code. The problem is that the Brown/Langdon thing has become a bit of a cliché as he tries to duplicate previous success and writing the film script in his head before the book now and so all very contrived, this not that different to Angels & Demons. But the great bands only ever had two of three good albums in them so can't be too harsh. It does get increasingly silly towards the end and you can almost hear Brown popping the top of the Polyfilla and scraping out the paste to fill in the many potholes as we reach page 400 of 465, the narrative looking like Dresden by the end of it to tie up the loose ends. I let myself speed read bits and started looking forward to finishing it. This is definitely the beginning of the end for Robert Langdon, sure to be locked in the crypt soon the way Tom Clancy sidelined Jack Ryan.
Having read and enjoyed Dan Brown's previous Robert Langdon novels I was looking forward to reading this fourth installment and I was not disappointed. Inferno documents a race against time with so many twists and turns that it is hard to talk about the plot without giving something away.
The novel is mainly written from the point of view of Langdon who at the start of the novel has amnesia and has no idea where he is or why he is there. All he knows is that someone is trying to kill him and he has a strange object in his possession. The reader follows his journey of discovery, unlocking the crytic clues, as the shocking truth unravels.
This is a well written page turner with strong characters throughout. With many novels I can predict what is going to happen but this was not the case with Inferno. The storyline keeps you guessing right to the end and I found myself constantly trying to work out who could be trusted and who could not. This is a book that you will not want to put down.
After reading the 3 other fantastic Dan Brown novels I naturally eagerly anticipated the release of this 4th book in the 'Robert Langford' thrillers! If you have not read the others you should - they certainly wont let you down!
Without giving the whole story away or giving too much detail I must say this is not Dan Browns best ever book - BUT it is a fantastic page turner (as all his books have been). He has kept the traditional short chapters and witty lines - and not to mention the mind blowing twists and revelations coming! The ending is a little disappointing after the book builds up such characters and races against time - a theme in most of his books, in fact a theme in most if not all Crime Thrillers!
The book is not over priced for what it is - It is most definitely worth a purchase and a read and it allows you to make your own interpretations upon Dan Browns ever so slightly over enhanced detailings of the usual religion v science topics that his books center around.
Give it a go!
Warning: Slight spoiler, if you do not want the location of the novel revealed please stop reading now.
Robert Langdon, the accidental mystery sleuth and expert of symbology, is back once more to solve another of Dan Brown's adventures that mix both factual information with speculation, urban myths and conspiracy theories. Langdon, a Harvard professor of religious iconology and symbology, has happened upon quite a few modern day treasure hunts in recent years, taking on religious extremists, French police and Washington politics, to fight the good fight on the side of the righteous. Not surprising then, Langdon (Who is interlinked with Tom Hanks in my head now due to the previous film adaptations) needs a break but waking up in a foreign hospital with little memory of how he got there. He quickly realises that he needs to discover his memory quickly when it becomes apparent that the injuries that resulted in his hospital admission may not have been accidental. He therefore must try to retrace his steps in order to figure out what he knows that someone would want to kill him for.
As always, Langdon gains a female sidekick (There's always a new woman, quite a womanizer is Langdon). who has secrets and a history all of her own. For this outing it's Sienna Brooks, who has secrets and a history all of her own. Together Robert and Sienna must dash around, evading the authorities and mysterious bad guys in order to discover the secrets that Florence holds in order to prevent a major disaster that could have huge consequences.
The story, in true Dan Brown brilliance, has a lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing and wanting more.
Dan Brown is the author of six novels, including four books that feature the character of Robert Langdon; Angles & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and now Inferno. If you haven't already, I would recommend reading these novels first. Inferno will still make sense without reading the first three novels but you will lose some of the context. The Da Vinci Code, deemed to be Brown's most successful book, has been estimated to have made more than $250 million and has sold more than 81 million copies sold worldwide. The Lost Symbol sold over one million copies on its first day. Both Angles & Demons and The Da Vinci Code have been adapted into films (With the timeline switched placing The Da Vinci Code first) starring Tom Hanks.
Brown has a very distinctive style of writing and utilises the same plot mechanisms throughout all of his novels which are not for everyone. He is also not a character writer, the characters are often two dimensional and unrealistic as a result on his focus on educating the reader and prompting thought and debate into wider issues. This is very evident with the different women he throws at Langdon. I think he tends to write the 'bad' guys better, providing a richer and fuller characterization of Langdon's current nemesis. He can get a little too preachy at times but I think he is still an amazing writer.
What I love about Dan Brown's books is the level of detail regarding the places that the characters visit and the art and objects that they interact with. In essence, for me Brown writes truly amazing travel guides with a bit of fiction and plot as an added bonus (Or sub plot if you will). He has a way of bringing places to life on a page like no other I've read and his unique vision of the world changes your perspective. Dan Brown's previous books have all revealed less know facts about their location. For example, I have been to Rome three times but never read about the Passetto (a secret passage on top of the Vatican wall) in any guide book. After reading Angels and Demons I spent a nice afternoon at the Vatican following the passage from below and 're-seeing' the place through Brown's eyes. I went to Florence in 2011 but now I need go back and view it again. The same applies to art, if Brown was my tour guide and art critic I'd be a very happy girl. Yes, I could probably find out this information if I spent enough time on google and had an inkling of what I was looking for but it wouldn't come alive in the same way, feeding inspiration and curiosity. I this sense, I do believe that Dan Brown is an amazing artist.
There is a downside through; each book location is now riddled with 'Dan Brown Tours' thereby increasing crowds and cost to visit the locations. I think it also helps if you have visited the location before you read the book too. I've been lucky as I've been to most except Washington DC, the location for The Lost Symbol, Brown's last book. I didn't really ruin my enjoyment of the book and it made me really want to visit Washington DC but I didn't have the same connection than I have with other novels.
~Ease of Reading~
The book is very easy to read, due to Brown's great writing style.I did have to google a lot whilst I was reading but that's just because I like to know have factual the information is and want to know more. You may find it difficult to put it down, I read it in two days even though I had an essay due.
This review is for the Kindle version of the novel, currently available from Amazon for £7.20.
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
Another global hit on the Dan Brown weighing scales. If you haven't read any of Dan Brown's books then you are surely missing out on his excellent stylish compelling thrillers. Be part of the journey discover the mixture of quests, clues, and revelations. Inferno is inspired by the work of Dante's Divine Comedy, and it is a fitting scene to base the latest book on, and its current world problems. His famous style of short chapters and snappy sentences give detail and insight to the simplest of minds, making places you've never visited emerge in your minds eye.
The story is similar to all of his other stories, A race against time to prevent the deeds of men from destroying everything around them, a lot of his books are based upon religious and science pitted against each other, but don't like his ability to put the two together dishearten the believers, it gives due where its needed.
Robert Langdon has become a impressionable character upon me over the past 3 books, and this new forth book still holds his values and his mannerisms that keep me entertained from page to page, the only annoying thing I can start about the book, as many other books I find do it too, is the way a chapter ends on one scene incomplete, and jumps to another scene altogether in the next chapter forcing you to wait till you have read it to continue the gripping cliff hanger.
If you're not a prose reader, i'd tell you to avoid this book altogether. If Dante could have read this book i'm sure he'd be amused that his words could be captured in such a way to cause the reader to seek him out. I confess I used Google to look up the painting depicting Dante's levels of hell, and to be honest way disappointed by it, because the detail Dan Brown put into the description of it make what was before me dull, to what he envisioned. So in a way he enhances things, that in reality ain't as impressive as the words state.
Their is always a character, or villain, or someone in the book that does wrong and you are meant to feel sorry for them in some emotional sense. Am I implying Inferno achieves this? Seriously, I'd take Angels and Demons as the best book I've read by Dan Brown, but I wouldn't say this way his worst to date. I won't spoil anything, all I will say is the beginning and middle were taking my mind places, but the end wasn't what I expected of it, it left me feeling disappointed.
But for the current price, I wouldn't complain.
Inferno (also known as Robert Langdon Book Four) is the latest offering from bestselling author Dan Brown. It follows on from Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. I really like Dan Brown's books and after a somewhat dismal and disappointing outing for his star character, Robert Langdon, in The Lost Symbol, I think it is fair to say that Inferno is a return to form for Brown.
Robert Langdon is a Harvard professor who specialises in symbology. His expertise has seen him investigating some pretty intricate and high profile things in his time and this is no different. At the start of Inferno, Langdon wakes up in a hospital, having suffered a head injury, with no idea of where is and no memory of the last two days. He finds something in his pocket that causes him great concern and, along with Sienna Brooks, the doctor who is treating him, sets out to find out what exactly it is and how it got there. Along the way he his chased by people who seem to want to stop him at all costs and his journey of discovery takes him across Europe searching for clues.
-Is It Any Good?-
As I said, I am a big fan of Dan Brown and have so far read all of his books. I wouldn't say that Inferno is his best, but it is certainly amongst his best work and far better than the previous book in the series, The Lost Symbol. I was actually surprised to read that this book had advanced sales that were up 24% on his previous book since I certainly wasn't the only one that was disappointed by its predecessor. Perhaps, like me, others were hoping for a return to grace in this one. Well, we certainly got it in my humble opinion. The novel is full of twists and turns and is absolutely what you would call a page turner.
Robert Langdon is a great central character and a perfect fit for the kind of stories that Dan Brown tells. He is a somewhat stereotypical professor type who wears tweed jackets and is perfectly happy in his own company, but Brown has given him little quirks and twists that make him seem more real - his somewhat bizarre trade mark Mickey Mouse watch appears in this book as it has all the others, serving no purpose other than to give us a little more insight into the character. I think it is this attention to detail that has made Langdon such a likeable and believable character and Dan Brown has done a good job in this respect.
In general, Dan Brown's characters are very well written and there are some in this book that are particularly good - both the goodies and the baddies. Sienna Brooks makes a really good side kick for Langdon in Inferno. She is feisty and quite brave, but has a mysterious side that adds to the twists in the plot as you get to know more about her. There aren't a massive number of characters in Inferno, which is good because it makes them easier to follow. I also found that this meant that there were a lot of sub-stories to get confused by. Everyone involved seemed to have a specific purpose and link to the main story and Brown made sure that they interact well.
I did find that sometimes the characters were a little too convenient and stereotypical, which makes them less believable. A prime example of this is one called Provost who is basically the leader of a private firm, called 'The Consortium', that rich people employ to help them achieve their oftentimes illegal aims. He is a powerful and private man who has built up a career in looking the other way. I found him OK but I think that Brown went a bit too far in making him cold and calculating and the end result for me was that he almost became a caricature of himself.
The fact that Langdon wakes up with a case of amnesia might seem a little far-fetched on face value, but I thought it was a great way of starting the book. It meant that the action kicked in straight away and there was no time wasted in giving a back story. The book kind of reads back to front in this respect and I loved it. That said there was still a climatic ending and it was, for the most part, not predictable. There were enough twists and turns that it wasn't immediately obvious what the ending was going to be but not too many that it you just give up caring. The use of symbols throughout the book makes it a bit like a puzzle and it feels like you are trying to work out the clues alongside the characters, which I really liked.
The main theme of the story is Inferno, which is the underworld as described in Dante Alighieri's poem The Divine Comedy. I thought it worked really well and was a good theme for Brown's type of story. There is lots of symbolism involved and it seemed like a perfectly natural thing for his main character to be involved with. Since The Divine Comedy is a poem that describes the levels of hell that is populated by souls trapped between life and death, it is also a great subject matter for creating atmosphere and tension in Brown's Inferno and he does this well, describing things with an often alarming, although sometimes unreal, attention to detail. There are lots of death masks and horrifying descriptions of the repercussions of succumbing to one of the seven deadly sins. OK, he borrows a lot of this from Dante's epic masterpiece but I think he does a good job of making it accessible to the mass audience.
In this respect, I think Dan Brown used his characters to great effect. Some of the stuff he talks about is a little complicated for the average Joe (me, for example) but he uses the relationship between Sienna Brooks (who has no prior knowledge of the subject) and Langdon to explain some of the more specific things to the reader without being preachy. As a teacher, Langdon is adept at explaining things simply and he does this throughout the book, which made things much more readable for me.
Dan Brown is an excellent story teller when it comes to locations as well and it is one of the things I like most about his style and it is one of the things that I also liked most about this book. Previously his books have been set in Paris and Rome, both places I have been to and both places I loved reading about. Inferno is set mainly in Florence and, having never been, I thought that his descriptions of buildings and locales in the city were fabulous. I felt like I was actually there because he goes beyond simply saying where things are, he almost makes a map of the city for you to see in your mind's eye. Certainly after finishing the book, my immediate thought was that I'd love to go to Florence. In fact I am off to search for flights after this!
As with many highly anticipated books, the critics have had their say and I think a lot of what they say is a little unfair. Jake Kerridge in the Daily Telegraph wrote that "As a stylist, Brown gets better and better: where once he was abysmal, he is now just very poor." I think this is very unfair and a bit pretentious to be honest. Alright, the book is never going to win literary awards but it is a very good version of what it is. I'd say Dan Brown is in the James Patterson category of writers; tells a good story for the masses.
I know that a lot of people take issue with Dan Brown because he tries to claim things to be fact when they are perhaps not. He did it with the 'Illuminati' before and he does it here again with 'The Consortium'. At the start of Inferno there are a list of 'facts' which relate to things and people in the book, one of which is that 'The Consortium' is a real organisation whose name he has changed to protect identity. I don't doubt that they do exist, but I do doubt that Brown has taken some artistic licence in describing them and their activities to make an interesting story. I think that if you take a more general stance on what he says is fact rather than taking it all as gospel, then you can't go far wrong. Perhaps he is misleading people slightly, but then perhaps he isn't this is what gives his books - certainly this one - an intriguing truth.
Yes. It isn't his best story, but I really enjoyed reading Inferno and would definitely recommend it. It isn't a deep and meaningful book that will give you a sense of well-being, but I think Brown is an excellent teller of page turning stories and he has returned to his previous good form with Inferno. It is a good read, not too taxing and won't take much time (I read it in two days), but is enjoyable none the less. Four stars from me simply because it is great, but isn't quite his best.
Inferno is available on amazon.co.uk in the following formats for the mentioned prices, at the time of writing:
Kindle Download - £7.20
Hardback - £9 (from £8 used)
Audio book - £11
Delivery charges may increase the price obviously.
The hardback copy is 480 pages.
It was published initially on 14th may 2013 by Bantam Press