By Dan Brown. Grade: A
After writing five successful novels, Dan Brown returns with Inferno, where Robert Langdon is tasked with saving the sanctity of the world. The clues only lie in an ancient poem written by Dante. Scurrying through the labyrinths of Florence, Professor Robert Langdon and his serendipitous accomplice, Dr. Sienna Brooks race against time to protect the world from an impending crisis. And the question as always remains – will they be able to pull it off?
‘Seek and ye shall find.’
With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is f
ound hidden in his belongings.
A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.
With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…
Set against an extraordinary landscape inspired by one of history’s most ominous literary classics, Inferno is Dan Brown’s most compelling and thought-provoking novel yet, a breathless race-against-time thriller that will grab you from page one and not let you go until you close the book.
At the risk of sounding fruity, it really warms my heart when I read a good fiction novel. A good fiction novel is so effective in creating an impression on the reader – there are no limits to what characters can do, there is no boundary on the situational variability, and there is a high degree of connection between the reader and the characters. But there is a flip side to this coin – the author has a great responsibility to satiate the reader’s desires. Inferno scores on all such fundamental counts.
The writing is like an exotic dish – enticing on the outset, luring the reader to keep on reading. The plot is constructed like a symphony – rising and taking the reader with it and when the tone starts falling, the pitch is raised and finally a crescendo arrives. The plot in itself is a reflection of human tendency – the battle between reality and something of greater magnitude. Let’s get into specifics.
The characterization is very strong as each of the character almost jumps out of the pages. The female lead is a change from the other three of the Langdon series – it was slightly and very dangerously edging towards the Bond pattern a la the Adventures of Robert Langdon. But the different hues that the relationship between Prof. Robert Langdon and Dr. Sienna Brooks acquires is worth a special mention.
“Within seconds, Langdon and Sienna were moving east, swallowed up by the crowd”
This expression, although ordinary, is so powerful and replete with meaning. The crowd like an organism with a mouth, swallows or engulfs the characters in concern. A common, simplistic yet powerful example of personification – every single time this line is properly used, it adds something to the scene. As a writer, such lines are powerful weapons at a writer’s disposal – if used well, they hit the target bang-on; if not, then they are just like those useless firecrackers which don’t fire.
Dan Brown the writer has a special quality – a subtle way of depicting a larger-than-life scheme of things. He uses it well, time and again, and the trend continues in Inferno. The ease with which the magnitude of the scheme of things is impressed upon the reader is something which can be termed as a craft.
Dan Brown, as he so often says for his characters, has a flair for the dramatic best illustrated by the following two instances:
- The lines “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” make a return after the first RL novel, Angels and Demons.
- The writer writes a cracker of a chapter – a completely unexpected twist. The beauty of the twist is that it’s not just the addition of a change in the content but the use of pre-existing content in two different places at two different ways.
To conclude, it would be unfair to not mention the one great, underlying character in Inferno – Dante. The great literary master very playfully yet secretly makes appearances, providing clues to point to the destination. All-in-all, Inferno is another treat from the pen of Dan Brown.