Robert Langdon: Inferno by Dan Brown – Book Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings writes a review of Dan Brown’s fourth Robert Langdon novel, Inferno, published by Bantam Books. But is it worth the hype?

“Inferno is possibly one of the worst books that I’ve read this year, and in fact – one of the few things that I can say it is better than is The Lost Symbol. But only just.” ~The Founding Fields

 I’ll admit – I liked Brown’s first two books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. Heck, I even liked the films to a certain extent. But when his third novel, The Lost Symbol came around – it quickly became apparant that this was possibly one of my least favourite novels. So, I was torn on getting Inferno. Could Brown produce a novel that redeems himself from the travesty that I can’t even remember most of the plotline from, and match the books that remind me why I enjoyed his work in the first place? In short, no. He fails to bring anything new to the table and as a result, the book runs along a similiar plotline to the previous books that made his name and doesn’t give us a new approach like Deception Point & Digital Fortress, the latter of which I enjoyed, the former I couldn’t get through.

Seek and ye shall find.’

With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence.

Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…

I think the biggest problem about Inferno is Robert Langdon himself, the Harvard Symbologist with his Mickey Mouse wristwatch, and the problem for most long-running thriller series featuring a lead character (James Patterson’s Alex Cross books is another example of this). They don’t develop. The Langdon that we meet in Inferno is virtually indistingushiable from the one that we met at the beginning of Angels & Demons. Heck, for all we know – Inferno could be the first outing for the main protagonist. But it’s not. He remains the same, and you’d think that he’d have some character development after the past few books.

InfernoWhilst this could be explained away as it allows the reader to jump on right with the latest book, it still poses a nagging problem for me. And it gets worse – There isn’t even, as far as I could tell, any references to the previous novels. Mainly because Inferno follows exactly the same pattern as his previous books.

Awakened in the dead of night, Langdon finds himself working with a woman with hidden secrets against the authorities and a mystery assassin dispatched by a secret organisation. Sound familiar? Yes. This is every Robert Langdon featuring Dan Brown book that you’ve read before. Whilst he may be sticking to the tried and tested formula that made him famous, I’d like him to bring out something new for a change. Something fresh. If Dan Brown was a video game, he’d be the Call of Duty of video games, and if you’ve read more than one Brown book before then you’ll get my point.  The two biggest problems that I had with this book are lack of character development and originality.

And I think there are only two redeeming factors about this book. The first, is that it’s better than The Lost Symbol. Just. The page-turning element is still there, and the thriller portion will keep you turning pages. The second, is the cover, and one of the main reasons why when I was in a local supermarket, I went for this over Run, Alex Cross – the latest Patterson book. On reflection, I probably should have went for the Patterson book. But Brown fan or not, you can’t deny that the cover (UK Version, above left) looks awesome. If only the book could be as well.

Congratulations, Dan Brown. I think you may have just won my award for worst novel of 2013 so far.

VERDICT: 1.5/5

THE ROBERT LANGDON SERIES: Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno.

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer


  • Dutchman

    In my opinion it is the best book i’ve ever read. Or maybe the Dutch translation is just better 😉

  • Larry B. Killian

    This is his 6th book not 4th as you mention, it’s the 4th book in this series though. I am planning on writing a review on this as well but I don’t think it’s that bad. Not the worst I have read this year. I do dig the UK version cover, better then the US version.

    • BaneofKings

      Fair enough. The UK Cover was what sold me to buy this book over James Patterson’s Kill Alex Cross, as both were in the same shop. Wish I’d have gone with KAC though after reading this though.