I am a huge fan of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series and when I saw he had a new one coming out in May I simply HAD to have it. So, after ordering it from Amazon and it coming 2 days later, I didn’t even start reading it until July. (I have this really weird thing where I only FEEL like reading when it’s sunny outside. What the hell?!)
SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS YET THEN DON’T READ THIS SUMMARY/REVIEW IF YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BE RUINED!!
I LOVE the fact that Dan Brown’s last novel, The Lost Symbol, was basically based on a conspiracy theory. The Lost Symbol focused on the conspiracy theory about the Freemasons. Inferno was based loosely on the conspiracy theory that world leaders have contacts who can deceive the entire world. It was mostly based on the facts surrounding world population increases though. To be perfectly honest, I love a good book that can get you thinking “Hey, what if this was actually happening? Right now. Somewhere in the world. How would we know?” The very fact that the entire story uses clues from Dante’s Inferno, a section of Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, was awesome in itself.
So, to summarise the book, Langdon wakes up in Florence with no memory of the past 2 days and a thumping headache. He soon meets the illustrious and mysterious Sienna Brooks who tells him he was shot at a couple of nights prior before apparently saving him from death again. When he gets to Sienna’s flat he finds a biohazard test tube container in the lining of his jacket. They soon discover the secret illumination of an altered version of Vasari’s Map of Hell, which was inspired by Dante’s Inferno, hidden inside the test tube container. Langdon soon works out the first clue, written in the illumination, “Cerca Trova” (seek and find) which leads him to believe the next clue is in the Palazzo Vecchio as he remembers that cerca trova is also written on another Vasari masterpiece, The Battle of Marciano, which is located at the Palazzo. They don’t have an easy time getting to the Palazzon though as the Florentine police and soldiers are looking for them so they must take the path through the Boboli Gardens and out through the Vasari Corridor.
When they arrive at the Palazzo Vecchio they eventually meet Marta Alvarez, the director, who tells Langdon she showed him and Ignazio Busoni, the director of Il Duomo, Dante’s death mask the night before. When Langdon requests to see it again, the mask is missing and video footage shows him and Busoni taking it from the display stand when Marta wasn’t looking. Langdon calls Busoni’s office to see where he may have hidden the mask, only to be told that he died from a heart attack but had left one last message for Langdon which mentions Paradise 25, another section from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which sends them to the Florence Baptistry where they find the death mask and discover the message, written in the style of Dante himself but not a part of the original mask, on the back of it. Sienna and Robert follow the passage to Venice with the help of Jonathan Ferris who claims to be working with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Once they arrive in Venice, Ferris falls unconscious and Sienna escapes while Robert is captured by the soldiers who have been following them since Florence.
Langdon is taken to meet Dr Elizabeth Sinskey, the director-general of the WHO, and is told of Betrand Zobrist and his intentions to lower world populations to fight the battle of the greater good as he saw it. Langdon discovers that the canister with the illumination in it had been stolen from Zobrist’s safe deposit box and given to Langdon. Robert also learns that an organisation, known only as the Consortium, had helped hide Zobrist from Dr Sinskey so he could complete his work, creating a biological “plague” to deal with overpopulation. Robert is able to identify, from a video, roughly where Zobrist had hidden his “plague” and so they are soon travelling off to Istanbul, Turkey after following more of the riddle from the Dante death mask. Sienna has gone completely rogue at this point and we find out that she was Zobrist’s lover and follower.
Upon arrival in Istanbul, Robert believes they should go to the Hagia Sophia only to find out when they arrive that they have taken the wrong connotation of the riddle and should, in fact, be looking in the Basilica cistern. When the plastic bag carrying the “plague” has been found in pieces, Sienna is hiding in plain sight right down the corridor from the remnants. As she runs off Robert pursues her and finally catches up to her at the dock where she steals a boat before turning around to explain herself. We discover that what Zobrist has created is not in fact a plague but a vector virus which can change the DNA of a person to make them sterile and that the plastic bag had been broken for about a week already. Dr Sinskey and Sienna fly to Geneva for a meeting with all the most important contacts the WHO has while Robert flies back to America.
I love this book so much because not only does it get you thinking about if that were to really happen but also because at the start of the book Dan Brown says all organisation mentioned within the book do exist and the Consortium’s name has been changed. When you read that it opens up a whole load of new questions. What if something like this has already happened? What if this does actually happen and Dan Brown has taken the idea from someone already planning it? Such a great brain teaser and such a visual book for me. (There are certain books that I can just read and see what is being described right in front of my eyes. Dan Brown’s and J.K. Rowling’s books are just 2 examples.) If you haven’t read this yet I definitely recommend that you do. 9/10 for me. If you do buy it, try getting it at a charity shop or something because I know it’s £20 in WHSmith since you can only get it in hardback.
Enjoy your Monday folks!