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Inferno

( 1970 )

Overview

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 ...

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Inferno

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

We were first introduced to Harvard professor/independent investigator Robert Langdon in Angels & Demons in 2000. Three years later, he totally ensnared our attention in the international mega-bestseller The Da Vinci Code. Since then, he was materialized only once, in 2009's The Lost Symbol. Now he returns to race to uncover hidden messages deeply concealed in Dante Alighieri's masterpiece Inferno. This is no mere scholarly romp or pedant exercise: The fate of the world lies in the balance. Born to be a number one bestseller in simultaneous English and Spanish hardcover editions and matching NOOK Books.

The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Inferno puts the idea of a plague front and center, invoking the black plague, its casualty count and its culling effect on mankind. Mr. Brown is more serious than usual when he invokes Dante's dire warning: "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis"…But the main emphasis here is hardly on gloom. It is on the prodigious research and love of trivia that inform Mr. Brown's stories…the ease with which he sets them in motion, the nifty tricks…and the cliffhangers…the gamesmanship…And finally there is the sense of play that saves Mr. Brown's books from ponderousness, even when he is waxing wise about some ancient mystery or architectural wonder.
Publishers Weekly
The threat of world overpopulation is the latest assignment for Brown's art historian and accidental sleuth Robert Langdon. Awakening in a Florence hospital with no memory of the preceding 36 hours, Langdon and an attractive attending physician with an oversized intellect are immediately pursued by an ominous underground organization and the Italian police. Detailed tours of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul mean to establish setting, but instead bog down the story and border on showoffmanship. Relying on a deceased villain's trail of clues threaded through the text of Dante's The Divine Comedy, the duo attempt to unravel the events leading up to Langdon's amnesia and thwart a global genocide scheme. Suspension of disbelief is required as miraculous coincidences pile upon pure luck. Near the three-quarters point everything established gets upended and Brown, hoping to draw us in deeper, nearly drives us out. Though the prose is fast-paced and sharp, the burdensome dialogue only serves plot and back story, and is interspersed with unfortunate attempts at folksy humor. It's hard not to appreciate a present day mega-selling thriller that attempts a refresher course in Italian literature and European history. But the real mystery is in the book's denouement and how Brown can possibly bring his hero back for more. Agent: Heide Lange, Sanford J. Greenberger Associates. (May)
USA Today
AS CLOSE AS A BOOK CAN COME TO A SUMMERTIME CINEMATIC BLOCKBUSTER...Brown builds up Langdon's supporting cast, which is the strongest yet.
The Wall Street Journal
FAST, CLEVER, WELL-INFORMED...DAN BROWN IS THE MASTER OF THE INTELLECTUAL CLIFFHANGER.
The Washington Post
BROWN IS AT HIS BEST when he makes readers believe that dusty books and musty passageways are just covers for ancient global conspiracies.
EW.com
A DIVERTING THRILLER...Brown stocks his latest book with all the familiar elements: puzzles, a beautiful female companion, and hints of secret conspiratorial agendas.
Library Journal
Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Angels and Demons; The Da Vinci Code; The Lost Symbol) returns in another thriller that invokes history, architecture, science, and conspiracy. Langdon wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of the last two days. He’s surprised to find himself in Florence, Italy, and even more shocked to disomeone is out to kill him for something he knows. The doctor treating him helps him to escape from an assassin, and the chase is on. Can Langdon follow clues that tie d the chase is on. Can Langdon follow clues that tie in to Dante’s epic masterpiece, The Divine Comedy, and stop a plot destined to change the world forever?

Verdict Brown delivers an amazing and intense read that arguably is the best Langdon thriller to date. Everything a reader expects from Brown is here, plus a well-written thriller with jaw-dropping twists as well. A high demand for the works of Dante plus a surge in Italian tourism is sure to follow. The king of the historical thriller is back, and this book will easily dominate the best sellers lists for quite some time. [See Prepub Alert, 1/15/13.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Brown's (The Lost Symbol, 2009, etc.) latest, in which a very bad guy is convinced that there are entirely too many people roaming the surface of the planet, and, because he's a fan of Dante and the Plague both, he's set to unleash inferno upon the world. Naturally enough, this being a Brown novel, someone is in possession of a piece of occult knowledge that will save the day--or not. The novel is populated with the usual elements in the form of secret, conspiratorial organizations and villains on the way to being supervillains, and readers of a literary bent may find the writing tortured: "This morning, as he stepped onto the private balcony of his yacht's stateroom, the provost looked across the churning sea and tried to fend off the disquiet that had settled in his gut." To his credit, Brown's yarn is somewhat more tightly constructed than his earlier Langdon vehicles, though its best parts are either homages or borrowings; the punky chick assassin who threatens Langdon, for instance, seems to have wandered in from a Stieg Larsson set, while the car-chase-and-explosions stuff, to say nothing of Langdon's amnesiac wanderings around the world, would seem to be a nod to Robert Ludlum. (Being chased by a drone is a nice touch, though.) If you want more of the great medieval poet Dante woven into a taut thriller, see Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club. Ace symbologist Robert Langdon returns, and the world trembles. Perfect escapist reading for fans.
From the Publisher
"Jampacked with tricks...A BOOK-LENGTH SCAVENGER HUNT that Mr. Brown creates so energetically."--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
"AS CLOSE AS A BOOK CAN COME TO A SUMMERTIME CINEMATIC BLOCKBUSTER…Brown builds up Langdon's supporting cast, which is the strongest yet."--USA Today
 
"FAST, CLEVER, WELL-INFORMED…DAN BROWN IS THE MASTER OF THE INTELLECTUAL CLIFFHANGER."--The Wall Street Journal
 
"BROWN IS AT HIS BEST when he makes readers believe that dusty books and musty passageways are just covers for ancient global conspiracies."--The Washington Post
 
"A DIVERTING THRILLER…Brown stocks his latest book with all the familiar elements:  puzzles, a beautiful female companion, and hints of secret conspiratorial agendas."--EW.com

"Brown gives us lots of history and culture…but he puts the story first. INFERNO IS THE KIND OF SATISFYING ESCAPIST READ THAT SUMMERS WERE MADE FOR."--The Boston Globe

"HARROWING FUN threaded with coded messages, art history, science, and imminent doom."--Daily News (New York)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385537858
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Series: Robert Langdon Series , #4
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 32,983
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Brown
Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including the recent record-breaking The Lost Symbol, which had the biggest one-week sale in Random House history for a single title.  His previous title, The Da Vinci Code, has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, making it one of the bestselling novels of all time. In addition to numerous appearances on The Today Show, Mr. Brown was named one of the World's 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. He has appeared in the pages of Newsweek, Forbes, People, GQ, The New Yorker, and others. His novels are published in over 50 languages around the world

Biography

Novelist Dan Brown may not have invented the literary thriller, but his groundbreaking tour de force The Da Vinci Code -- with its irresistible mix of religion, history, art, and science -- is the gold standard for a flourishing genre.

Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1964, Brown attended Phillips Exeter Academy (where his father taught), and graduated from Amherst with a double major in Spanish and English. After college he supported himself through teaching and enjoyed moderate success as a musician and songwriter.

Brown credits Sidney Sheldon with jump-starting his literary career. Up until 1994, his reading tastes were focused sharply on the classics. Then, on vacation in Tahiti, he stumbled on a paperback copy of Sheldon's novel The Doomsday Conspiracy. By the time he finished the book, he had decided he could do as well. There and then, he determined to try his hand at writing. His first attempt was a pseudonymously written self-help book for women co-written with his future wife Blythe Newlon. Then, in 1998, he published his first novel, Digital Fortress -- followed in swift succession by Angels and Demons and Deception Point. None the three achieved commercial success.

Then, in 2003, Brown hit the jackpot with his fourth novel, a compulsively readable thriller about a Harvard symbologist named Robert Langdon who stumbles on an ancient conspiracy in the wake of a shocking murder in the Louvre. Combining elements from art, science, and religion, The Da Vinci Code became the biggest bestseller in publishing history, inspiring a big-budget movie adaptation and fueling interest in the author's back list. In 2009, Brown continued Robert Langdon's esoteric adventures with The Lost Symbol, a tale of intrigue that, like its predecessors, takes readers on a wild ride into the sinister mysteries of the past.

Good To Know

  • Brown revealed the inspiration for his labyrinthine thriller during a writer's address in Concord, New Hampshire. "I was studying art history at the University of Seville (in Spain), and one morning our professor started class in a most unusual way. He showed us a slide of Da Vinci's famous painting "The Last Supper"... I had seen the painting many times, yet somehow I had never seen the strange anomalies that the professor began pointing out: a hand clutching a dagger, a disciple making a threatening gesture across the neck of another... and much to my surprise, a very obvious omission, the apparent absence on the table of the cup of Christ... The one physical object that in many ways defines that moment in history, Leonardo Da Vinci chose to omit." According to Brown, this reintroduction to an ancient masterpiece was merely "the tip of the ice burg." What followed was an in-depth explanation of clues apparent in Da Vinci's painting and his association with the Priory of Sion that set Brown on a path toward bringing The Da Vinci Code into existence.

  • If only all writers could enjoy this kind of success: in early 2004, all four of Brown's novels were on the New York Times Bestseller List in a single week!

    In our interview with Brown, he shared some of his writing rituals:

    "If I'm not at my desk by 4:00 a.m., I feel like I'm missing my most productive hours. In addition to starting early, I keep an antique hourglass on my desk and every hour break briefly to do push-ups, sit-ups, and some quick stretches. I find this helps keep the blood -- and ideas -- flowing.

    "I'm also a big fan of gravity boots. Hanging upside down seems to help me solve plot challenges by shifting my entire perspective."

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      1. Hometown:
        New England
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 22, 1964
      2. Place of Birth:
        Exeter, New Hampshire
      1. Education:
        Phillips Exeter Academy 1982; B.A., Amherst College, 1986; University of Seville, Spain
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    Chapter 1

    The memories materialized slowly . . . like bubbles surfacing from the darkness of a bottomless well.

    A veiled woman.

    Robert Langdon gazed at her across a river whose churning waters ran red with blood. On the far bank, the woman stood facing him, motionless, solemn, her face hidden by a shroud. In her hand she gripped a blue tainia cloth, which she now raised in honor of the sea of corpses at her feet. The smell of death hung everywhere.

    Seek, the woman whispered. And ye shall find.

    Langdon heard the words as if she had spoken them inside his head. “Who are you?” he called out, but his voice made no sound.

    Time grows short, she whispered. Seek and find.

    Langdon took a step toward the river, but he could see the waters were bloodred and too deep to traverse. When Langdon raised his eyes again to the veiled woman, the bodies at her feet had multiplied. There were hundreds of them now, maybe thousands, some still alive, writhing in agony, dying unthinkable deaths . . . consumed by fire, buried in feces, devouring one another. He could hear the mournful cries of human suffering echoing across the water.

    The woman moved toward him, holding out her slender hands, as if beckoning for help.

    “Who are you?!” Langdon again shouted.

    In response, the woman reached up and slowly lifted the veil from her face. She was strikingly beautiful, and yet older than Langdon had imagined—in her sixties perhaps, stately and strong, like a timeless statue. She had a sternly set jaw, deep soulful eyes, and long, silver-gray hair that cascaded over her shoulders in ringlets. An amulet of lapis lazuli hung around her neck—a single snake coiled around a staff.

    Langdon sensed he knew her . . . trusted her. But how? Why?

    She pointed now to a writhing pair of legs, which protruded upside down from the earth, apparently belonging to some poor soul who had been buried headfirst to his waist. The man’s pale thigh bore a single letter—written in mud—R.

    R? Langdon thought, uncertain. As in . . . Robert? “Is that . . . me?”

    The woman’s face revealed nothing. Seek and find, she repeated.

    Without warning, she began radiating a white light . . . brighter and brighter. Her entire body started vibrating intensely, and then, in a rush of thunder, she exploded into a thousand splintering shards of light.

    Langdon bolted awake, shouting.

    The room was bright. He was alone. The sharp smell of medicinal alcohol hung in the air, and somewhere a machine pinged in quiet rhythm with his heart. Langdon tried to move his right arm, but a sharp pain restrained him. He looked down and saw an IV tugging at the skin of his forearm.

    His pulse quickened, and the machines kept pace, pinging more rapidly.

    Where am I? What happened?

    The back of Langdon’s head throbbed, a gnawing pain. Gingerly, he reached up with his free arm and touched his scalp, trying to locate the source of his headache. Beneath his matted hair, he found the hard nubs of a dozen or so stitches caked with dried blood.

    He closed his eyes, trying to remember an accident.

    Nothing. A total blank.

    Think.

    Only darkness.

    A man in scrubs hurried in, apparently alerted by Langdon’s racing heart monitor. He had a shaggy beard, bushy mustache, and gentle eyes that radiated a thoughtful calm beneath his overgrown eyebrows.

    “What . . . happened?” Langdon managed. “Did I have an accident?”

    The bearded man put a finger to his lips and then rushed out, calling for someone down the hall.

    Langdon turned his head, but the movement sent a spike of pain radiating through his skull. He took deep breaths and let the pain pass. Then, very gently and methodically, he surveyed his sterile surroundings.

    The hospital room had a single bed. No flowers. No cards. Langdon saw his clothes on a nearby counter, folded inside a clear plastic bag. They were covered with blood.

    My God. It must have been bad.

    Now Langdon rotated his head very slowly toward the window beside his bed. It was dark outside. Night. All Langdon could see in the glass was his own reflection—an ashen stranger, pale and weary, attached to tubes and wires, surrounded by medical equipment.

    Voices approached in the hall, and Langdon turned his gaze back toward the room. The doctor returned, now accompanied by a woman.

    She appeared to be in her early thirties. She wore blue scrubs and had tied her blond hair back in a thick ponytail that swung behind her as she walked.

    “I’m Dr. Sienna Brooks,” she said, giving Langdon a smile as she entered. “I’ll be working with Dr. Marconi tonight.”

    Langdon nodded weakly.

    Tall and lissome, Dr. Brooks moved with the assertive gait of an athlete. Even in shapeless scrubs, she had a willowy elegance about her. Despite the absence of any makeup that Langdon could see, her complexion appeared unusually smooth, the only blemish a tiny beauty mark just above her lips. Her eyes, though a gentle brown, seemed unusually penetrating, as if they had witnessed a profundity of experience rarely encountered by a person her age.

    “Dr. Marconi doesn’t speak much English,” she said, sitting down beside him, “and he asked me to fill out your admittance form.” She gave him another smile.

    “Thanks,” Langdon croaked.

    “Okay,” she began, her tone businesslike. “What is your name?”

    It took him a moment. “Robert . . . Langdon.”

    She shone a penlight in Langdon’s eyes. “Occupation?”

    This information surfaced even more slowly. “Professor. Art history . . . and symbology. Harvard University.”

    Dr. Brooks lowered the light, looking startled. The doctor with the bushy eyebrows looked equally surprised.

    “You’re . . . an American?”

    Langdon gave her a confused look.

    “It’s just . . .” She hesitated. “You had no identification when you arrived tonight. You were wearing Harris Tweed and Somerset loafers, so we guessed British.”

    “I’m American,” Langdon assured her, too exhausted to explain his preference for well-tailored clothing.

    “Any pain?”

    “My head,” Langdon replied, his throbbing skull only made worse by the bright penlight. Thankfully, she now pocketed it, taking Langdon’s wrist and checking his pulse.

    “You woke up shouting,” the woman said. “Do you remember why?”

    Langdon flashed again on the strange vision of the veiled woman surrounded by writhing bodies. Seek and ye shall find. “I was having a nightmare.”

    “About?”

    Langdon told her.

    Dr. Brooks’s expression remained neutral as she made notes on a clipboard. “Any idea what might have sparked such a frightening vision?”

    Langdon probed his memory and then shook his head, which pounded in protest.

    “Okay, Mr. Langdon,” she said, still writing, “a couple of routine questions for you. What day of the week is it?”

    Langdon thought for a moment. “It’s Saturday. I remember earlier today walking across campus . . . going to an afternoon lecture series, and then . . . that’s pretty much the last thing I remember. Did I fall?”

    “We’ll get to that. Do you know where you are?”

    Langdon took his best guess. “Massachusetts General Hospital?”

    Dr. Brooks made another note. “And is there someone we should call for you? Wife? Children?”

    “Nobody,” Langdon replied instinctively. He had always enjoyed the solitude and independence provided him by his chosen life of bachelorhood, although he had to admit, in his current situation, he’d prefer to have a familiar face at his side. “There are some colleagues I could call, but I’m fine.”

    Dr. Brooks finished writing, and the older doctor approached. Smoothing back his bushy eyebrows, he produced a small voice recorder from his pocket and showed it to Dr. Brooks. She nodded in understanding and turned back to her patient.

    “Mr. Langdon, when you arrived tonight, you were mumbling something over and over.” She glanced at Dr. Marconi, who held up the digital recorder and pressed a button.

    A recording began to play, and Langdon heard his own groggy voice, repeatedly muttering the same phrase: “Ve . . . sorry. Ve . . . sorry.”

    “It sounds to me,” the woman said, “like you’re saying, ‘Very sorry. Very sorry.’ ”

    Langdon agreed, and yet he had no recollection of it.

    Dr. Brooks fixed him with a disquietingly intense stare. “Do you have any idea why you’d be saying this? Are you sorry about something?”

    As Langdon probed the dark recesses of his memory, he again saw the veiled woman. She was standing on the banks of a bloodred river surrounded by bodies. The stench of death returned.

    Langdon was overcome by a sudden, instinctive sense of danger . . . not just for himself . . . but for everyone. The pinging of his heart monitor accelerated rapidly. His muscles tightened, and he tried to sit up.

    Dr. Brooks quickly placed a firm hand on Langdon’s sternum, forcing him back down. She shot a glance at the bearded doctor, who walked over to a nearby counter and began preparing something.

    Dr. Brooks hovered over Langdon, whispering now. “Mr. Langdon, anxiety is common with brain injuries, but you need to keep your pulse rate down. No movement. No excitement. Just lie still and rest. You’ll be okay. Your memory will come back slowly.”

    The doctor returned now with a syringe, which he handed to Dr. Brooks. She injected its contents into Langdon’s IV.

    “Just a mild sedative to calm you down,” she explained, “and also to help with the pain.” She stood to go. “You’ll be fine, Mr. Langdon. Just sleep. If you need anything, press the button on your bedside.”

    She turned out the light and departed with the bearded doctor.

    In the darkness, Langdon felt the drugs washing through his system almost instantly, dragging his body back down into that deep well from which he had emerged. He fought the feeling, forcing his eyes open in the darkness of his room. He tried to sit up, but his body felt like cement.

    As Langdon shifted, he found himself again facing the window. The lights were out, and in the dark glass, his own reflection had disappeared, replaced by an illuminated skyline in the distance.

    Amid a contour of spires and domes, a single regal facade dominated Langdon’s field of view. The building was an imposing stone fortress with a notched parapet and a three-hundred-foot tower that swelled near the top, bulging outward into a massive machicolated battlement.

    Langdon sat bolt upright in bed, pain exploding in his head. He fought off the searing throb and fixed his gaze on the tower.

    Langdon knew the medieval structure well.

    It was unique in the world.

    Unfortunately, it was also located four thousand miles from Massachusetts.

    Outside his window, hidden in the shadows of the Via Torregalli, a powerfully built woman effortlessly unstraddled her BMW motorcycle and advanced with the intensity of a panther stalking its prey. Her gaze was sharp. Her close-cropped hair—styled into spikes—stood out against the upturned collar of her black leather riding suit. She checked her silenced weapon, and stared up at the window where Robert Langdon’s light had just gone out.

    Earlier tonight her original mission had gone horribly awry.

    The coo of a single dove had changed everything.

    Now she had come to make it right.

    Chapter 2

    I’m in Florence!?

    Robert Langdon’s head throbbed. He was now seated upright in his hospital bed, repeatedly jamming his finger into the call button. Despite the sedatives in his system, his heart was racing.

    Dr. Brooks hurried back in, her ponytail bobbing. “Are you okay?”

    Langdon shook his head in bewilderment. “I’m in . . . Italy!?”

    “Good,” she said. “You’re remembering.”

    “No!” Langdon pointed out the window at the commanding edifice in the distance. “I recognize the Palazzo Vecchio.”

    Dr. Brooks flicked the lights back on, and the Florence skyline disappeared. She came to his bedside, whispering calmly. “Mr. Langdon, there’s no need to worry. You’re suffering from mild amnesia, but Dr. Marconi confirmed that your brain function is fine.”

    The bearded doctor rushed in as well, apparently hearing the call button. He checked Langdon’s heart monitor as the young doctor spoke to him in rapid, fluent Italian—something about how Langdon was “agitato” to learn he was in Italy.

    Agitated? Langdon thought angrily. More like stupefied! The adrenaline surging through his system was now doing battle with the sedatives. “What happened to me?” he demanded. “What day is it?!”

    “Everything is fine,” she said. “It’s early morning. Monday, March eighteenth.”

    Monday. Langdon forced his aching mind to reel back to the last images he could recall—cold and dark—walking alone across the Harvard campus to a Saturday-night lecture series. That was two days ago?! A sharper panic now gripped him as he tried to recall anything at all from the lecture or afterward. Nothing. The ping of his heart monitor accelerated.

    The older doctor scratched at his beard and continued adjusting equipment while Dr. Brooks sat again beside Langdon.

    “You’re going to be okay,” she reassured him, speaking gently. “We’ve diagnosed you with retrograde amnesia, which is very common in head trauma. Your memories of the past few days may be muddled or missing, but you should suffer no permanent damage.” She paused. “Do you remember my first name? I told you when I walked in.”

    Langdon thought a moment. “Sienna.” Dr. Sienna Brooks.

    She smiled. “See? You’re already forming new memories.”

    The pain in Langdon’s head was almost unbearable, and his near-field vision remained blurry. “What . . . happened? How did I get here?”

    “I think you should rest, and maybe—”

    “How did I get here?!” he demanded, his heart monitor accelerating further.

    “Okay, just breathe easy,” Dr. Brooks said, exchanging a nervous look with her colleague. “I’ll tell you.” Her voice turned markedly more serious. “Mr. Langdon, three hours ago, you staggered into our emergency room, bleeding from a head wound, and you immediately collapsed. Nobody had any idea who you were or how you got here. You were mumbling in English, so Dr. Marconi asked me to assist. I’m on sabbatical here from the U.K.”

    Langdon felt like he had awoken inside a Max Ernst painting. What the hell am I doing in Italy? Normally Langdon came here every other June for an art conference, but this was March.

    The sedatives pulled harder at him now, and he felt as if earth’s gravity were growing stronger by the second, trying to drag him down through his mattress. Langdon fought it, hoisting his head, trying to stay alert.

    Dr. Brooks leaned over him, hovering like an angel. “Please, Mr. Langdon,” she whispered. “Head trauma is delicate in the first twenty-four hours. You need to rest, or you could do serious damage.”

    A voice crackled suddenly on the room’s intercom. “Dr. Marconi?”

    The bearded doctor touched a button on the wall and replied, “Sì?”

    The voice on the intercom spoke in rapid Italian. Langdon didn’t catch what it said, but he did catch the two doctors exchanging a look of surprise. Or is it alarm?

    “Momento,” Marconi replied, ending the conversation.

    “What’s going on?” Langdon asked.

    Dr. Brooks’s eyes seemed to narrow a bit. “That was the ICU receptionist. Someone’s here to visit you.”

    A ray of hope cut through Langdon’s grogginess. “That’s good news! Maybe this person knows what happened to me.”

    She looked uncertain. “It’s just odd that someone’s here. We didn’t have your name, and you’re not even registered in the system yet.”

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    Interviews & Essays

    Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Dan Brown

    The Barnes & Noble Review: You've said you first read the Inferno in high school. When did you first realize that Dante's work would be the basis for a novel?

    Dan Brown: I've known for at least a decade that I would one day write a novel incorporating the world of Dante Alighieri. While researching Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, I was immersed in church history and philosophy. One of the byproducts of that research was my coming to understand that Dante's popularized vision of the afterlife deeply influenced our modern Christian perceptions of hell. The notion of hell certainly existed long before Dante, and yet only in vague terms. The Bible described hell as an underworld of unquenchable fire. Classical mythology was a bit more specific, describing various realms and monsters, but it wasn't until Dante published The Divine Comedy that humankind was given a vivid, codified vision of the underworld. Dante described a multi-layered pit of misery where sinners endured specific punishments for specific sins, and this horrifying concept helped solidify hell as the deterrent to sin.

    BNR: You researched Dante and the mysteries surrounding his life and work in Florence. What was your most surprising discovery?

    DB: For me, one of the most surprising themes of Dante's Inferno is the portrayal of pride as the most serious of the seven deadly sins — a transgression punished in the deepest ring of hell. The notion of pride as the ultimate sin dovetails perfectly with Greek mythology, in which hubris is responsible for the downfall of the archetypal hero. In mythology, no man is more prideful than he who considers himself above the problems of the world-for example, the person who ignores injustice because it does not affect him directly. This notion is reflected in a famous paraphrasing of Dante's text: The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. This is a recurring theme of the novel.

    BNR: Dante's Divine Comedy is composed in an intricately braided poetic style as it tells the story of a poet's passage through hell, purgatory and paradise. What aspects of his style most influenced you in the writing of Inferno? Did you rely on a particular translation or translations?

    DB: The rhythm of Dante's poetry and his use of anaphora (repetition of phrases) does indeed find its way into the novel's "shade? sections and influences the way my villain speaks and writes. Additionally, Dante's use of physical motion to keep his action moving is something I've always tried to do in my novels, and I certainly continued that in Inferno. Regarding translations of Dante's original Italian, one of the great luxuries of writing this book in the digital age was that I was able very quickly and easily to compare multiple translations. At times, I was stunned by how greatly those translations differed. In the end, I found myself relying primarily on two — the translations by [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow and [Allen] Mandelbaum.

    BNR: The images of punishment throughout the Inferno are based on medieval conceptions of sin and its onsequences. Do you find them still relevant to themes of good and evil in today's world?

    DB: Dante's vision of justice relies on the concept of contrapasso (literally, suffering the opposite) — in a sense, the punishment precisely fits the crime. For example: a fortune teller who sins by seeing the future is punished by having his head placed on backwards so he can only see in reverse; a ruthless man who left another to starve to death is doomed to have his own bloody skull gnawed upon by the man he let starve; an adulterous couple who succumbed to lust is punished by being fused together sexually for all eternity without ever being satisfied. Today, in most cultures, the notions of contrapasso and "an eye for an eye? have disappeared, which may be one of the reasons that modern readers find Dante's brutal punishments so fascinating.

    BNR: Although Dante wrote his epic hundreds of years before Leonardo da Vinci, the two men are connected by their shared Florentine heritage. Do you see any similarities between the two?

    DB: Beyond being fellow Florentines, Dante and Leonardo share an elite spot in the pantheon of artistic giants. Both The Divine Comedy and Mona Lisa are examples of those rare human achievements that transcend their moments in history and become enduring cultural touchstones. Both masterpieces continue to speak to us centuries after their creation and are considered examples of the finest works ever produced in their respective fields. Like Leonardo, Dante had a staggering influence on culture, religion, history, and the arts. In addition to codifying the early Christian vision of Hell, Dante inspired some of history's greatest luminaries — Longfellow, Chaucer, Borges, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Monteverdi, Michelangelo, Blake, Dalí — and even a few modern video game designers.

    BNR: Dante placed himself at the center of his poetic epic — but he also called upon a figure from the classical world, the poet Virgil, as a trustworthy guide on his journey into darkness. Have you provided Robert Langdon with a Virgil?

    DB: Over the course of Langdon's adventure, he encounters numerous characters that have counterparts in Dante's Inferno. Some of these characters are overt. Others are more obscure. I'm hoping that some of the fun will be debating the parallels between Virgil's descent and Langdon's.

    BNR: The opening of Inferno leaves us with tantalizing references to places and ideas that — one hopes — will be illuminated as the novel unfolds. Do you begin writing with the notion of implanting mysteries for your readers, or does that come later, as the story develops?

    DB: Before I begin writing any novel, I complete an extensive outline (the outline for The Da Vinci Code was over one hundred pages). Once I have a clear sense of the arc of the novel, I begin each chapter by deciding not what I'll offer the reader, but rather what I'll withhold. A reader's desire to guess what I've hidden is always more exciting than anything I can show.

    BNR: When we first encounter Robert Langdon in Inferno, he's in a place his work has made very familiar to him, but he's been plunged into truly unknown waters. When first you planned your new book, did you know you'd be making life this difficult for your hero?

    DB: Absolutely. Only by placing Langdon in a difficult position does he have a chance to be a hero.

    —May 14, 2013

    Read More Show Less

    Reading Group Guide

    1. WARNING: THESE QUESTIONS CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE NOVEL

    What features does Inferno share with Dan Brown’s other Robert Langdon novels: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol? In what ways is it different from those earlier works?

    2. Why has Brown used these lines from Dante as an epigraph to Inferno: “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”? How does that statement illuminate the novel? What is the particular danger of maintaining moral neutrality in Inferno?

    3. What accounts for the frenetic narrative pace of the novel? How does Dan Brown use chapter endings to create suspense? What other devices create a narrative tension that pulls the reader along?

    4. What are some of the most surprising twists and turns in Inferno?

    5. What role does the setting play in Inferno? In what ways are Florence, Venice, and Istanbul integral to the plot of the novel?

    6. The brilliant biochemist Bertrand Zobrist asserts some unsettling ideas. He argues that the Black Plague, which killed one-third of Europe’s population, was one of the best things that ever happened to humanity and ushered in the Renaissance. He also believes that the human race won’t survive unless we have another mass extinction event, similar in scale to the Black Plague. In his confrontation with Dr. Sinskey, he rails, “We are on the brink of the end of humanity, and our world leaders are sitting in boardrooms commissioning studies on solar power, recycling, and hybrid automobiles.... Ozone depletion, lack of water, and pollution are not the disease—they are the symptoms. The disease is overpopulation” [p. 139]. Is Zobrist right about these issues? Is his solution the lesser of two evils or is it too morally repugnant even to consider?

    7. How does Langdon use his knowledge of literature, art, and symbology to decipher the clues that lead him to the location of Zobrist’s virus? In what ways is Dante’s great poem, The Inferno, central to the novel?

    8. The Consortium, which allows Bertrand Zobrist to do his work on the virus undetected, has a philosophy of "Provide the service. Ask no questions. Pass no judgment" [p. 75]. Is that a dangerous philosophy, and if so, why? Why does the Provost, by the end of the novel, realize that "For the first time in his life, ignorance no longer felt like the moral high ground"? [p. 444]. How disconcerting is it to learn that the Consortium really does exist, though under a different name, with offices in seven countries?

    9. Sienna Brooks is perhaps the most complex character in the novel. What kind of woman is she? How has her past influenced who she has become? How does she change over the course of the novel? Why does she feel that she has finally found a purpose at the end of the book?

    10. In what ways do issues of trust and betrayal play out in Inferno?

    11. Sienna explains one of the fundamental tenets of Transhumanism: "We as humans have a moral obligation to participate in our evolutionary process . . . to use our technology to advance the species, to create better humans-healthier, stronger, with higher-functioning brains. Everything will soon be possible" [p. 453]. Do an internet search on "Transhumanism" and discuss/debate the motivations and philosophical assumptions of the movement. What does Dan Brown's use of a real-life contemporary movement like Transhumanism add to Inferno? Does Transhumanism offer valid solutions to some of the essential problems that confront the human species?

    12. In an emotional speech to Dr. Sinskey, Sienna says, "Bertrand died all alone because people like yourself refused to open your minds enough even to admit that our catastrophic circumstances might actually require an uncomfortable solution. All Bertrand ever did was speak the truth . . . and for that, he was ostracized" [p. 449]. Does Bertrand go from villain to hero by the end of the book? Do the ends (saving the human species) justify the means (releasing a virus that will dramatically limit population growth) in this case?

    13. Why doesn't Robert Langdon give up on Sienna, even after he realizes what her motives are?

    14. At the end of the novel, Dr. Sinskey invites Sienna to accompany her to a conference where they will address world leaders about the virus Bertrand Zobrist has released and discuss the issue of population control. Is there a  significance to having two women, rather than two men, assume this role?

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4
    ( 1970 )
    Rating Distribution

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1970 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 16, 2013

      It was ok, but not his best.

      I am a huge Dan Brown fan, and I always look forward to reading his new books; however, this particular one was hard to get through. Normally I can't put one of his books down, and I fly through it. But this time I had to talk myself into finishing it. I think he went a little overboard on details. Events didn't seem to smoothly relate to each other. And the plot was both far fetched (even more than usual) and stale at the same time. Some of his tricks and twists have been used one time too many, and towards the end of the book I felt like he was throwing in too many twists just for the sake of it,to the point where it became convoluted and had me rolling my eyes.

      With all that said, I still enjoyed some things. I like how Langdon had amnesia in the very first chapter, and therefore had to work backwards to piece things together. That was a fresh idea of Dan Brown's. I just wish the rest of the book was just as fresh. It wasn't terrible, but it didn't leave me at the edge of my seat, biting my nails, like some of his previous books.

      154 out of 165 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 16, 2013

      A work of fun fiction.

      Dan Brown catches a lot of grief for the historical accuracy of his novels, but that is exactly the reason why they are under fiction. Any smart author blends fact with fiction. For all of you who don't get that, do you ever wonder why the Flintstones wasn't considered a reality show destined for The History Channel?

      Sometimes things are just for fun.

      114 out of 140 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 14, 2013

      I found the book enjoyable. As I do with his other stories. I re

      I found the book enjoyable. As I do with his other stories. I read them for entertainment and not as a definitive answer to religion so please try not to characterize every one that reads it as ignorant.

      103 out of 122 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 17, 2013

      more from this reviewer

      Inferno by Dan Brown If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you'll lov

      Inferno by Dan Brown

      If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you'll love Inferno.

      Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital in Florence not remembering how he got there. Last thing he remembers, he was walking to a lecture where he teaches symbology at Harvard University in Boston.

      He's told he's been shot, and his attacker has another attempt on his life; killing one of the physicians who was treating him. Sienna Brooks, a young female physician rescues him and they must soon evade both the US government and a sinister looking set of agents led by agent Cristoph Brüler.

      Langdon and Brooks outsmart all of these people to uncover that there is a virus that is going to be released by the renown biochemist billionaire, Bertrand Zobrist. Zobrist is a firm believer of Malthusian catastrophe - "The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world." To avoid this "Inferno," Zobrist has decided to take matters in his hand and reduce the world's population.

      Deep beneath Dante's Inferno lies clues that will lead Langdon, Dr. Brooks, the Consortium - a powerful organization that is for hire, and Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey - the head of the World Health Organization - to the place where the virus is being released. The reader is exposed to quite accurate descriptions of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul as the plot thickens, twists, and is finally revealed to the tune of Liszt' Dante symphony at the Istanbul ancient cisterns - which I'm listening as I write this.

      The book is a well researched novel. The twists and turns are incredible; it's a page turner. Couldn't put it down, read it in two days. I found myself searching for maps of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul to follow Langdon's quest. In the end, I had to listen to Liszt' Dante symphony to read the climactic conclusion: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," for once you open its pages, you'll be trapped in this fascinating tale, and you will also be re-examining what you thought of Dante's work.....

      67 out of 95 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted May 19, 2013

      Admittedly, I was hesitent to read this book because Dan Brown h

      Admittedly, I was hesitent to read this book because Dan Brown has become the author we love to find fault with and his novels, to a degree, have become formulaic. After reading The Lost Symbol, I thought that perhaps it was time to stop following this series. I was wrong.

      Yes, this one follows that same formula (a successful one, I may add), but I was completely engrossed in this story and found that the outside world simply vanished. Dan Brown's prose has improved, and he once again finds a way to weave history, science, art, geography etc. into a facininating thriller. That, and he at least gets you to think about a real-word issue (human population), regardless of whether or not you agree with what his view is.

      I should have seen some of the twists that were coming, but I didn't, and the ending was not what I expected at all. This is a story I expect will resonate with me for quite a while!

      55 out of 61 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 20, 2013

      Loved many of Dan Brown's previous books and looked forward to t

      Loved many of Dan Brown's previous books and looked forward to this one with great anticipation. What a let-down. It's nothing more than an art history travelogue thrown in with cliff notes for Dante's Inferno, surrounding a mystery that is definitely not heart pounding. As Langdon "dashes" from one traumatic event to the next he spends an inordinated amount of time (pages and pages) admiring architecture, design and the various stunning art pieces of past centuries. All this book did for me was to make me want to call my travel agent.

      48 out of 53 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted May 18, 2013

      I eagerly awaited this book, as I do all of Brown's novels. Half

      I eagerly awaited this book, as I do all of Brown's novels. Halfway through, I was convinced the author left the writing to an underling. The lack of an editor was glaring... characters' descriptions were just laughable. If I had read one more time "the man in designer sunglasses, itching his neck" I would have thrown the book against a wall. Words don't describe my disappointment... had to force myself to read the second half, and then only so that I wouldn't feel so cheated out of my money. Oddly enough, this week's 'People' magazine had a piece on Brown's house... how cleverly he had devised hidden doors and clues. If he had spent half the time on his manuscript that he used coming up with house decor, 'Inferno' wouldn't be such a mess. Never dreamed I'd be giving Dan Brown two stars.

      40 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2013

      Dull

      Reads like a travel essay of florence. Action is continually interupted with langdon's thought commentaries on the art or architecture. No edge of your seat tension on my part. In spite of the book's plot l was rather bored by it. Also picturing tom hanks as langdon doesn't work for me! Dan brown is more name than talent.

      29 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 15, 2013

      LOVED IT!

      It was fantastic beginning to end. I loved that even when you thought you had figured it out everything changed again. Loved every minute!

      27 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 18, 2013

      Not his best...

      Having a hard time getting into this one. Doesn't seem to have the tension of his other books. So far it's just one big chase scene with lots of riddles and trivia. Maybe his formula is wearing thin?

      25 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 15, 2013

      Good, but not as good as his others.

      I likedthis book, but at times it was very confusing. I felt like I was blindfolded and riding a rollercoaster...just this absolute feeling of disorientation. It did get better towards the middle, but getting there was...rough. Definitely wasn't able to put it down. I think his other books are more engrossing, and the plot twists are easier to follow. These gave me whiplash.

      19 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 16, 2013

      Worth the wait

      OMG... I have to re read again with Google, first to brush up on my Italian and THEN... go to the places on the map to see the art....and the story was not that bad.... cant wait for the movie.... again, worth the wait...

      17 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 26, 2013

      Terrible disappointment after his other books. I found that not

      Terrible disappointment after his other books. I found that not only did I not care about the characters in the book, I also was skipping portions of the book to get to the end. It was one of the books that I finished because I had started it. The book tends to balance between an academic travelogue of Florence and other historical sites and a ongoing lecture about the imminent dangers caused by overpopulation.

      15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 16, 2013

      more from this reviewer

      Typical Dan Brown, same blueprint as the Da Vinci Code. Fast pac

      Typical Dan Brown, same blueprint as the Da Vinci Code. Fast pace thriller with some historical facts and a puzzle to be solved. A highly entertaining read.

      14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 21, 2013

      Interesting premise but fell flat for me

      I found the premise interesting but got bogged down in all the traveloge type narration about the locations. I have read several book lately where the author keeps repeating the same details throughout the book. For example what the character experienced in the past or events from earlier in the book. The book was no exception. The repetition began to feel like filler. I kept thinking I got it the first time, move on.

      12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 6, 2013

      I was looking forward to this book for a long time and boy was I

      I was looking forward to this book for a long time and boy was I disappointed. I went to art school and the art history teachers made art history more exciting then this book. It reads like a tour guides book to Florence, done as a car chase. It kind of reminds me of the old movie if its Tues day it must be Belguim. There is no great concept in this book for the mytery part either, just another doomsday story which if you read his other books is the pattern. It seems to me Da Vinci code may have been his one hit wonder because this is a major disappointment, I have had to force myself to finish the book and others I have talked to have said the same thing just a boring chase book with so much repetition that I just began to skim over the pages were it began getting to me. I know Dante was expelled from Florence but how many times does Brown need to remind us after the 10 th time I got the message Dante was expelled okay already.

      10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 20, 2013

      One long chase scene. Not anywhere as interesting as the DaVinc

      One long chase scene.
      Not anywhere as interesting as the DaVinci code.
      Maybe I'm just tired of watching Langdon race thru historic monuments.
      Why do so many authors just repeat their formula over and over? 

      10 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2013

      inferno

      this was a book that I found I could not put down until I came to the end. very nail biting, with a surprising ending. loved it

      10 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 21, 2013

      Another great read...

      Once again, Dan Brown does not disappoint -- IF you understand Dan Brown. I have read all his books, and enjoy the fast paced thrilling ride he takes us on from the very first page. Interestingly, I read a newspaper review complaining that Inferno goes into too much explanation about art, architecture, geography, etc. I totally disagree! I found myself going back and forth between my Nook and the internet to "see" the places he was so beautifully describing. Even so, I finished the book in two days. Brown's books translate well into the illustrated versions for obvious reasons, and I will be adding this one to my collection when it is released. The only reason I gave 4 stars instead of 5 is because of Brown's continued formulaic writing, successful though it may be. But then -- I knew that going in.

      9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 25, 2013

      Bad

      I really struggled to read this crapload. Disappointed!

      8 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1970 Customer Reviews

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