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.
Review: (Video review here)
Again we get to follow the Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon, in his chase to resolve a mystery based on religious historic culture that emphasises its connection to a current socialist problem. In this book he deals with the tipping balance of overpopulation and the threat of terrorists who want to unleash a new plague to haunt and destroy humans and hence deal with the issue of rapid population growth. The book starts off with a suicide and the Italian Government has found out there is a virus meant to wipe out half of the population. As symbolistic maps have been found, Robert Langdon is called in to help. The next thing he knows he awakes with amnesia in a hospital in Florence, accused of having stolen Dante’s Death Mask. With a little help from Sienna Brooks, he now has to run from the ones who want to catch him at the same time as he needs to figure out who is trying to frame him. This is a book in the same style as the two prior in the series and follows the same intriguing pattern of ancient symbolism blended in with a crime where a riddle needs to be solved to be cleared from the police. I really like this type of story and find the action as well as the facts very appealing. Unlike the two first books, though, I have to say that Dan Brown has dipped into a little too many facts in Inferno, where it almost makes it feel as if you are on a guided art tour rather than in an action thriller. Although the environment is important, it takes it slightly overboard.
Message & Moral
The issue about overpopulation is highly debated as humankind is growing at a rapid rate. The question is just what we can do about it. In China a birth control policy exists, and I’m wondering how many other countries will follow with this policy? I guess the ethics around it involves whether or not any government has the right to restrict individuals from reproduction and what valid punishment could be justified for those who don’t follow the law. Maybe humans and the world will be fine and just develop into another type of environment if we let the population grow? Who can say that is any worse than the society we live in today? Whatever the solution may be, I don’t believe killing is ever the right solution.
Creatures & Environment
The environment was well described and it really appeared as if Dan Brown had traced Robert Langdon’s steps as he explicitly described every single piece of art Robert saw. This is obviously going to be a detriment to a thriller whilst Robert is being chased around Italy. I don’t think he really has the time to stop and admire the culture as his killers are closing in on him. Nevertheless, the facts are interesting and add some sort of atmosphere to the culture and historically based thriller theme. That the characters in the book are experts in their filed adds to the feel of how important they are in relation to their advantage of getting to the next clue before the police catches them.
Captivation & Continuity
I found it interesting how Robert Langdon had blacked out and woken up with amnesia, not remembering what had happened. It left me wondering if he truly had stolen Dante’s Death Mask himself for a particular reason, or if he was being framed so that the bad guys could get their hands on it and escape being caught. On video footage Robert Langdon is caught having taken the mask out of its glass protection. He has obtained an image of an ‘Inferno map’, where all the layers have been rearranged, and this is the mystery he needs to solve. I found this part very interesting. Although, as mentioned, I felt the story suffered from the heavy load of factual information.
Language & Flow
The book felt long and it could have easily been edited down to a smaller size and still delivered the same message and intrigue. Saying that, I do like the theme of following biblical topics around museums and churches, hence liked the story regardless.
T.M. Caruana’s The Spell Wand Award