Tag Archives: The Lost Symbol

Review: Inferno

Recap: Yet another thriller following symbologist Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol), yet another adventure in history and European traveling. But unlike the books that came before it, in Inferno, Robert Langdon wakes up in Florence, Italy with no understanding of why he’s there, no recollection of how he got there. He is suffering from amnesia. But a woman with a gun, the murder of a doctor within the hospital where he’s recovering, and a chase force the famous Harvard professor to figure out quickly.

With clues referencing the classic piece of literature Dante’s Inferno, Langdon travels through three European cities to uncover a specific location, while also trying to recover his memory of the last two days. Along the way, he learns that the enemy-at-large and maniacal genius, Bertrand Zobrist, has created a plague and plans to release it within the next 24 hours. Now Langdon must locate the spot where Zobrist will release it. Concerned about world overpopulation, Zobrist believes killing off much of the population with this plague would allow the rest of the world’s people to live forever, rather than becoming extinct.

But without his memory, and with some of his friends dead, Langdon doesn’t know who to trust, how to solve this puzzle or if he’s going to be able to do it in time.

Analysis: In Inferno, author Dan Brown does what he does best — brings an age-old story into modern times and somehow twists it into a matter of life and death. I don’t know how, but I fall for it every time. In this case, the tale is Dante’s Inferno. But Brown’s overall story goes deeper. Brown’s Inferno adds the real-life issue of world overpopulation, forcing us to think about our own world problems. It made me wonder if Bertrand Zobrist, as crazy as he is, was right to invent something, anything that would solve the problem that currently looms over us. 

Brown also adds the layer of Robert Langdon’s memory loss. Langdon is used to solving puzzles with his symbology degree and experience. But here, he must also solve the puzzle of why he’s in Italy and how he got there. His brain must work doubly as hard in what seems like the least amount of time possible to stop the plague from getting out.

The only real issue with the novel is that at the end, after solving one puzzle, the other unanswered questions are not solved by Langdon and his companions. They are simply answered by the enemy, who gives up information when a guilty conscience strikes — a seemingly lazy use of deus ex machina.

MVP: Robert Langdon. Ultimately, he saves the day. As always. Yes, he has help. Yes, he’s given information to fill in some of the blanks. But without his intellect and knowledge of history, literature, and symbols, his team wouldn’t be able to accomplish the task at hand.

Ger Inferno in hardcover for $15.38.

Or on your Kindle for just $6.49.

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Review: The Lost Symbol

Recap: The Lost Symbol begins in much the same way all of Dan Brown’s books in the Robert Langdon series do: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is abruptly interrupted to respond to a symbol emergency. In this particular novel — the third and most recent in the series — Langdon’s mentor, Peter Solomon, requests that he give a speech at the United States Capitol. So Langdon flies to Washington D.C. But he’s in for much more than he imagined. 

He soon learns he’s been tricked. In fact, Peter Solomon has no idea Langdon is in town. And as Langdon attempts to find him, he instead finds his mentor’s severed hand, lying in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda. In a moment of chaos, Langdon learns Solomon has been kidnapped by a man named Mal’akh. Mal’akh tells him the only way Solomon will be spared is if Langdon locates the Lost Word and Mason’s Pyramid.

And so begins a new symbolic saga for Langdon, who must find the Lost Word, the Mason’s Pyramid, Peter Solomon, and deal with the CIA in its attempts to find the kidnapper.

Analysis: It’s apparent that Brown uses a specific guideline for his Robert Langdon stories. They all start the same and take Robert Langdon to another city on a quest to find or decode something. Always, there is an exotic woman involved — in this case, Peter Solomon’s younger sister and brilliant scientist Katherine — and the entire long-winded story takes place in the course of an evening.

Brown not only uses similar formatting in his novels, but common themes as well: religion, symbology, ancient art, architecture, and history. The same holds true in The Lost Symbol, in which the reader is taught about the world of Freemasonry. Also included is information about the architecture in Washington D.C. and the art that adorns it. You know when you’re reading a Dan Brown novel, it’s going to be  heavy. There’s a lot for the readers to wrap their heads around. And as overwhelming and intimidating as it looks, the background information is necessary in the long run.

In The Lost Symbol, Brown also focuses a lot on character development. Learning about Katherine’s Noetic science research and the many transformations of Mal’akh are particularly fascinating.

But there’s nothing like Brown’s pacing and storytelling. The short chapters help the novel move along quickly, and the major twist toward the end is breathtaking.

MVP: Katherine Solomon. Girl power! This woman is brilliant and kicks ass. She works well with Langdon to try to uncover the Ancient Mysteries and the location of her brother. There’s an underlying tone of romance between her and Langdon, but Brown keep its realistic. But most importantly, Katherine’s emotional ties to their work –namely, trying to saving her brother’s life — makes the reader feel for Katherine and the pressure she is under.

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