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Inferno: Surprises and Disappointments

So, Inferno is out! Have you read it yet? What are your thoughts on the novel? Over at my other blog The Daily Grail, I've posted a feature going through my own thoughts on the book, and also looking at how I went offering readers a primer to the content in DB's new novel with my little ebook Inside Dan Brown's Inferno.

As mentioned in that feature, I think my chapters on Dante, Florence and Renaissance history all would have provided an excellent grounding for Inferno readers. The 3-headed Satan symbol, the Vasari painting with the 'Cerca Trova' message, Dante's mask, and locations such as the Vasari Corridor, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Baptistery of San Giovanni - readers of my book would have known exactly what Dan was referring to. I even discussed the Black Death and how it may have helped trigger the Renaissance, not realising how crucial a part this analogy would play in Dan's new book. On the downside, my chapter addressing esoteric and hidden history was pretty much a complete bust, as Dan (surprisingly) seemed to avoid this topic as much as possible, even on topics like Dante as an initiate that he's covered in previous novels. A shame I thought, but hopefully readers still learned plenty from that chapter, regardless of it being non-Inferno material. Likewise, all the hints to Pythagoras, Fibonacci, the Voynich Manuscript and Il Tesoretto on Dan's website, book cover and publication date seem to have been complete red herrings. But again, by exploring those topics I hope readers learned a bit more about 'off the beaten track' history.

I am in the process of updating my book to a post-publication guide - if you've already purchased the ebook this will come out as a free update. If you want to keep some of the 'irrelevant' material that I'll be expunging (Pythagoras etc), I'll be providing an email address so that you can request the original pre-publication version as a separate (free) ebook as well.

What were your thoughts on Inferno?


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UDbmas wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

It was okay

I was also hoping for the plot to be more intimately connected to the setting and to Dante. In DVC, Da Vinci and The Last Supper were vital and the plot was uniquely tuned to it. Inferno's plot didn't need Dante or Florence. Any literary or art work and any major city could have been substituted. The connections were loose at best. That is a bit disappointing since as you point out there is a LOT of potential material. The main plot and even ground zero could have still served, but it could have captured a bit of the DVC magic if there were more clues to be sorted out specific to the Duomo, or David, or the poem itself. At least we got one direct poem hit with Paradise 25. There are SO many ways that the clues and inner workings of the plot could have been uniquely tied to Florence and specific artworks, but as we have it now, the Renaissance masterworks are just blurs being passed by on a 500-page allegorical car chase.The whole amnesia bit seemed to weaken the tension, and the elaborate set-up bit was a real groaner for me.

Greg, your background info was great. So it's all your fault! (just kidding)You did such a fine job putting that together in a concise and easily graspable way that we had set a pretty high bar. That's not to say I didn't like Inferno. It was better than TLS, but it still didn't recapture the DVC magic. Next time I think Brown should let Langdon take a solo flight and just have his feminine partner should either be less involved in the plot, adding a bit of ordinary human stress as he juggles a relationship and a life-or-death mystery. Or she should be his impetus, being held captive or in need of some rare antidote.

And I am curious to know if his publishers will admit to the US cover typo on the original. Since the published cover is different from it's first incarnation, I guess it was a typo.

Greg wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Good comments!

UDbmas wrote:
Inferno's plot didn't need Dante or Florence. Any literary or art work and any major city could have been substituted.

EXACTLY! This could have been set (and perhaps would have even worked better) in somewhere like New York - you could then use the population of the city, Wall Street, Ground Zero and so on as illustrations of the main theme, while still visiting a few more historical sites (e.g. Lady Liberty) along the way. Using Florence just seemed wrong, and from what I know of the city it just wasted so many possible uses of the history, art and architecture of the city.

the Renaissance masterworks are just blurs being passed by on a 500-page allegorical car chase.

Yuppity yup. We're on the same page on this note.

And I am curious to know if his publishers will admit to the US cover typo on the original. Since the published cover is different from it's first incarnation, I guess it was a typo.

Now this does have me curious. We don't have the same cover over here, so I can't check any of the front/back/spine closely (pics anybody?). But from what you're saying, they went with the 'Cerca Trova' cover that turned up later on, rather than the Catroaccr one? Looking at Amazon, I see it's the Cerca Trova one - weird. Because that one is *forced* - they had to put the first two letters in the first circle to do it, and lost the mirroring between the numbers and the letters. It's like the Catraccr one was meant, then Brown dropped something important out of the book and so they hurriedly came up with another cover code? Guessing here, but it is very strange. I welcome any theories you guys might have.

Thanks for your thoughts UDbmas, appreciate the kind comments too! :)

UDbmas wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

2 US covers

Hi Greg. The original cover image is on Dan Brown's Facebook page on the day the cover was first released (Feb 20th), and on it's the thumbnail image for it in the "NOVELS" panel. It also, at least for now, is the cover image used by (US site). By April 20th the cover had changed to the one we actually got which has the same 10-letter medallion as the Italian version.

tbeyer wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

The Cover and the Novel

This time the cover art seems to refer to the novel itself, as opposed to those of The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. It also appears that the publicity folks in charge of the webpage, Facebook and Twitter feeds, were more creative than the facts and fiction in the novel itself. But remember there are only perhaps a few dozen as engaged as Greg or UDbmas. The final verdict will be rendered by readers. It is an entertaining and informative read that should help tourism to Florence, Venice and even istanbul. And when and if it is filmed (i'm still waiting for The Lost Symbol-and so I suspect are the Freemasons in Washington, D.C.) a new round of sales will occur.
As for the American cover, I have found a few more gifts, but there may be more invisible to my poor eyes.

RalphK wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


I bought the e-book and didn't get a good look at the cover until yesterday. I don't know if anyone else has reported this, but the inner cover displays DG2064, from which we can infer (spoiler alert) that the author actually has the same middle initial as his father.

I found the book to be a bit disappointing. The main thing it lacked was any real relationship between past events and the main story.

RalphK wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


Actually, the DG2064 was on the back cover at the top.

barney560 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


I am curious to know what DG2064 means if you ever find out. Since I didn't see it mentioned here yet, I also noticed the numbers 1265 near the fold on the back flap which most likely represents the year that Dante was born.

UDbmas wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


Now that the rush is over, I am re-reading the hard-cover at a "normal" pace. I like it better on the second run. Knowing what will and won't be there actually helps. It's a bit more enjoyable because I can pay more attention to the little college prof info drops. And I did like the remark about not seeing Michelangelo's David. I knew it would have to be there, but damn that was cute.

RalphK wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


Hi Barney-

Once you read the book you'll be able to interpret DG2064 pretty quickly. If I lay it out for you it will make this less enjoyable.

barney560 wrote 4 years 21 weeks ago


I've had the book for 9 days but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I did a search of the text after my last post and figured out what it meant. (DS2061) :-)

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