Renowned Harvard Symbologist, Robert Langdon is thrown headlong into a maze built by elements of Dante’s Inferno. Suffering from retrograde amnesia, Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence with no recollection of how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object found hidden in his belongings. He struggles to make sense of the situation he is in, there are so many unanswered questions starting with why is someone trying to kill him?
Accompanied by a doctor, Sienna Brooks, he begins on a race to save himself. Halfway through the race he realizes that the danger is to mankind as a whole. He follows the trail of breadcrumbs left by a sinister adversary into his familiar land of codes,and history. His race takes him to Venice, and from there to Istanbul.
Langdon grapples with time to avert a catastrophe that will change mankind forever. The answer to the question “Does he reach the finish line on time?” forms the climax.
This is the quintessential Dan Brown novel. As the Robert Langdon series goes, this novel follows a set pattern of a highly gifted protagonist following the trail of breadcrumbs left by a psychotic adversary. The novel is a fine melange of paintings, codes, ancient architecture, and even science (which is the perfect Robert Langdon formula).
The prologue is written in the first person, the rest of the story is told by an omniscient narrator.
The book focuses on certain aspects of the first part of Dante’s Divine Comedy- Inferno like death masks, ten-tiered system of hell,etc.
Langdon is a character that people easily warm up to: compassionate genius, and a great teacher. He is a perfect character without any faults (which is difficult to believe in the case of a real person) but with stark characteristics : suffering from claustrophobia, and gifted with an eidetic memory.
Sienna Brooks is a bold female character who accompanies Langdon in his quest to save the world. She is completely full of surprises that I would have named her “Surprise” than “Sienna”.
In Brown’s books, the characters are not important the plot is. So the two main characters aren’t profound.
The historical references made in this book are not as jaw-dropping as the ones in Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. The landmarks mentioned in the book are alien to me, the recurrence of the names are annoying in a way that readers who aren’t familiar with the places in the book wish the whole plot was set in a more familiar place. But one can’t help overlook the relevance of the places in the plot.
Brown’s books are always well researched, the descriptions of paintings, and architecture are impeccable. Brown usually includes powerful organizations that existed or exists, here the organization is “The Consortium”.
The name of the organization has been changed on account of security reasons.
A quote from Dante’s Inferno is the epigraph.
“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”
The meaning of this quote becomes clear only after you turn the last page of the novel. The novel ends with the same quote, the words sinking into your mind and preparing you to take a stand in times of moral crisis.
This book does not reach the standards of the Da Vinci Code or the Angels and Demons, but is a lot better than The lost symbol. it is a gripping piece of fiction that bombards the reader with surprises at every turn. So go ahead, pick this book up.