Author: Dan Brown
Based on the much recurring theme of Dan Brown’s ‘Robert Langdon’ novels, this novel is also based on his recipe of mixing cutting edge scientific research and his love for symbology and art history. But unlike other novels, here Robert Langdon is not seen discovering secrets or ancient passageways; actually, he doesn’t exactly know what or who is he looking for, courtesy his retrograde amnesia resulting from the gunshot in his head. On top of it, he’s filled with guilt when the doctor tells him that he entered the hospital, chanting ‘ve…sorry, ve…sorry’.
The plot as a result does not need a lot of introduction and the reader is literally dropped into the heat of the night. This might be a welcome move to many first timers as Dan doesn’t spend much time in breaking the ice and gets on with the running around straightaway. The story is beset with twists and turns, Robert tries to contact the consulate and ends up being chased by an entire brigade of trained and armed professionals. Sienna (doctor) hands over an artifact which was hidden in a secret pocket of Langdon’s favorite (read trademark) Harris Tweed coat when he arrived at the hospital. They find a digitally altered projection of Botticelli’s Map of Hell inspired from Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’. This proves to be a starter of sorts for Robert as he begins to search for something he knows nothing of.
The plot is full of twists and turns, lots of claustrophobic spaces where Robert is ill at ease and monumental wonders of the ancient world which are now teeming with tourists. One of the hallmarks of Dan’s narration is that it is pretty much a ‘comedy’ from Dante’s era, meant for the masses. It is accompanied by accurate and vivid details of the surrounding. He seems like a curator in his account of the art and its relevance. While it definitely makes one feel like a part of the plot, it sometimes gets too belabored where one would think, let us get going with the plot already. Nevertheless, his details are neither too long, nor too short and almost appropriate to the context. It makes sense when Robert is explaining such things to his elegant partner, but seems incredulous when he’s being chased and he still manages to admire the beauty of the place in his head. If I’m running for my life, I’m running for my life; my brain doesn’t have enough room to look around and remember the magnificence of the place, I am looking for exits. But this is something Langdon does like child play.
Throughout the story, Dan gives the readers ample opportunity to guess and judge, only to be proven wrong in the next scene. A stranger in a strange land with no idea what or why he’s there, Robert has only two people he can rely on, himself and Sienna, who rescued him from the clutches of death.
What are my thoughts about the novel after having read it? It definitely is a good read. You would not feel like putting the book down even for a moment when you are in between a chase sequence. I felt the urgency while it lasted, and now that it is over, I feel ambivalent regarding my quotient of fulfillment of purpose. No doubt, it did whet my appetite for thrill, but I don’t know, it ended too soon, or maybe it just made me hungry enough to look forward to the next book.
The rest of the summary for the ones who've read it is here.