Friday, November 15, 2013


Dan Brown

Published 2013

First Sentences
"I am a shade.

Through the dolent city, I flee.

Through the eternal woe, I take flight."
Publisher's Description:

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.

Dear Reader,

I know, I know.  Dan Brown is a popular novelist, and people kind of either love him or hate him.  I have to admit, I think I've read everything he's written - at least all 4 of the Robert Langdon novels.  Not for the stellar writing (I recognize that it's not) but for the awesome amount of factoids that he stuffs into his books.  It's fun to "travel" along with Langdon, seeing cities I've never visited and learning fascinating tidbits about some of the world's most famous places and pieces of art.  That is what I read these books for.  I love how startling some of the things Dan Brown knows about the cities he studies can be. These are things I'll remember for a long time, and thus I have to admit (a bit begrudgingly) that I am a fan of his books.

I certainly have some complaints, though.  For instance: we know Dan Brown writes to the common denominator - he writes for the hoi polloi, as it were.  Which means he makes everything SUPER EXPLICIT.  It can be annoying to have understood what he meant to say the first time, only to have him pound a point or revelation home several times, to ensure it's gotten across to the reader.

Another issue, along that same vein, is that there are certain characters in his books: Langdon, for one, but also in this one, a genius and child prodigy named Sienna.  She's got an IQ off the charts, right?  And yet...she acts like an idiot at times.  One of the parts that stood out for me was when Langdon was explaining a certain anagram to her, and she just could NOT seem to grasp it.  -- Really?  I got it, and my IQ is certainly not near hers.  Again, this is an instance of Brown writing to the masses, knowing that he might be read by every level of reader, and trying to appeal to them all.  I'm not saying he shouldn't do that - I am just saying that can make things difficult to read.

However, I still find all of the facts and anecdotes so interesting that the book leaves an overall favorable impression with me.  I think it's a fun escapist read, and I would recommend it to anyone, really - and most especially, I'll probably recommend it to those people I know who have traveled through Italy or Turkey, because it has to be pretty cool to read and REALLY recognize those places.  (The one based in Washington, D.C. was pretty fun for me because of that.)

All right, I've babbled on enough. Time to get to my next book!

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