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Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in an Italian hospital, disoriented and with no recollection of the past thirty-six hours, including the origin of the macabre object hidden in his belongings. With a relentless female assassin trailing them through Florence, he and his resourceful doctor, Sienna Brooks, are forced to flee. Embarking on a harrowing journey, they must unravel a series of codes, which are the work of a brilliant scientist whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written, Dante Alighieri's The Inferno.
Dan Brown has raised the bar yet again, combining classical Italian art, history, and literature with cutting-edge science in this captivating thriller.
About the Author
Date of Birth:June 22, 1964
Place of Birth:Exeter, New Hampshire
Education:Phillips Exeter Academy 1982; B.A., Amherst College, 1986; University of Seville, Spain
Read an Excerpt
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.....
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.
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.
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?
It was fantastic beginning to end. I loved that even when you thought you had figured it out everything changed again. Loved every minute!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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?
Not Dan Brown's Best. I usually fly through his books and was excited he wrote another Robert Langdon novel; however, INFERNO was a let down. It is weighted down by too many details and flips back and forth between too many characters. I like when Brown's books volley between the two main characters, the bad guy and Langdon. The reader is smacked around the court in every direction but over the net. The story line is good. The book is poorly executed. I'm saddened even more, because I have a true fondness for books that take place in Italy and Dante's THE DIVINE COMEDY. Sorry Mr. Brown, INFERNO was a miss.
Dan Brown's books are very formulaic, but I still am eager to read each one. Good storytelling, amazing visual descriptions, and still great twists/turns. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and am hopeful that Mr. Brown writes another. The ideas behind the book are so...shocking, yet they bring some serious issues to light. I always enjoy reading his books and the conversations they elicit with my fellow readers after.
OK, so does anyone ever need to sleep or eat (or pee for that matter) in this novel? Langdon has a brain injury and yet has no problem stopping his meds cold and then pops some No Doze and is good for 36 straight hours of high intensity adventure? Does Langdon ever learn from his past experiences? I'm willing to go on the ride but you gotta make me believe in the experience too. Robert walks right into the same traps that he always does. And just how many inept professional killers are there? I was really looking forward (like 3 years) to this book but I couldn't hop on board this one. I'm usually an easy voyeur but this one lost me early. I really want to visit Venice and Florence now but this wasn't a travel book.... or was it?
It is a good travel guide. That's not what I look for in a novel.
Other reviewers were right, not a good book. Page after page of travel narrative with very little happening. Been a long time since I failed to finish a book, but this is one of them.
The actual story was about 30 pages and the rest of the book was a travelog. Very boring unless you are interested in descriptions of buildings etc. Had to do a lot of skimming and was thrilled when I was finished!
I looked forward to its release and ended up feeling burdened by my commitment to read through until the end. It read like a third rate travel guide. Detailed descriptions of each and every museum and historical monument didn't contribute anything to the telling of the story. In fact, the story (as disjointed as it was) felt like a secondary or tertiary goal of the writer. With close to 600 pages, it was about 400 pages too long. I felt no investment in the characters and even less in the storytelling itself. There a many great books out. This was not one of them.