As regular visitors know this website mostly focuses on Science-fiction, but sometimes I will review other popular media. Dan Brown’s Inferno that was released about a week and half ago kind of falls into that class despite the fact it has sci-fi elements. Ever since the novel The Lost Symbol from 2009 have I been waiting for a another book. You might say that I got hooked on Dan Brown through The Lost Symbol. As for his earlier works such as The Da Vinci Code, I was already familiar with theories about the holy grail being an allegoric reference to a possible bloodline of Jesus Christ. As such I didn’t understand the commotion. Dan Brown’s stories only work if you’re not familiar with the back-ground of the story. The Lost Symbol was such a success when it pulled the curtains open on the Masonic Lodge.
For Inferno Dan Brown has chosen as the background setting Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and the city Dante was expelled from, Florence. The story will also take antagonist Robert Langdon to Venice and Istanbul as he follows clues to try and stop a world plague pandemic from spreading. Now as for spoilers, I will try and not delve into the story too much but instead attempt to critique in a spoiler free way.
The novel as stated focuses on the Divine Comedy for clues about what the villain of the story is up to. All this in a very accurate depiction of Florence. However, sometimes Dan Brown has to explain too much from The Divine Comedy for the story to work and those parts do drag a bit. Our antagonist Robert Langdon is once again accompanied by an attractive, smart and independent women who through her wit does more to further the plot than Robert. A number of secondary characters such as those connected to the World Health Organization and a secretive ‘fixer’ organization run by a man known only as ‘the provost’ also each get considerable content of their own. These secondary characters round-up the character list well enough and they are all quite likable, though also somewhat familiar from previous Dan Brown novels.
At one point about two-thirds into the novel you can somewhat guess what the ending will be. You’re expecting some major twists as the world we read about is turned upside down. Thankfully Dan Brown has managed to keep readers guessing about what the twists are at the cost of their being too many story twists and character changes. One flashback that didn’t elaborate through whose eyes we were reading was done very cleverly but some of the others were clumsy. As such the last third of the book which is set in Venice and Istanbul of often confusing and then suddenly too conventional. In my opinion the story should never have left Florence.
For the most part I can forgive the confusing last section of the novel. It is still a good read. Some characters do not get a clear ending as we don’t really know what happens to them. I expect to see them back in future Dan Brown novels otherwise I would feel cheated.
As mentioned by other reviewers the style of the book is very visual. You can almost see Tom Hanks running through Florence looking for clues. I personally like this style of writing as it almost makes you forget you are reading. I cannot give higher praise to Dan Brown than that. Inferno does start with a few chapter in which the author sometimes exaggerates. It is a bit distracting but it doesn’t happen again later. If you’re a history buff and can appreciate great works from artists such as Dante, Vasari and others than reading this novel will fuel that passion even more.
Score; 7.5 / 10. Too many unforgivable twists near the end but otherwise a solid Dan Brown outing.
As for the next Robert Langdon film. Supposedly The Lost Symbol has finally moved into pre-production after being in development hell since 2009. Ron Howard won’t be back to direct, I fear Tom Hanks won’t be either. This was Dan Brown’s Inferno review!