Author: Dan Brown
Published May 14, 2013 by Doubleday
Genre: mystery, thriller, suspense, historical fiction, contemporary novel, sci-fi
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
From the cover - "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."
My review - Dan Brown doesn't shine for the pristine quality of his prose: his narrative style is far from flawless and, in more than one occasion, those historical facts and cultural references that normally represent the best asset of his writing were simply too extensive to absorb...Don't get me wrong. I admire Brown's ambition to incorporate history, art, and science in a work of fiction. I am all for it. But when an author veers off course with minute descriptions that would better serve as footnotes, and disrupts the action with frequent and distractingly lengthy digressions, then the result is anticlimactic...now and again I lost track of Robert Langdon and I had to rewind in order to locate his whereabouts. Obviously, Brown's appeal lays elsewhere.
Despite the drawback of an uneven narration, Inferno remains an intellectually rewarding read, grand in scope and thought-provoking.
Meticulously researched and well documented, Inferno paints a suggestive portrait of some of the most enchanting European locations and their history (Florence, Venice, Istanbul). Sumptuous descriptions and an elaborate game plan inspired by the rich symbolism of Dante Alighieri's monumental masterpiece (La Divina Commedia) are the pillars of Brown's conspiracy thriller, but what sets it apart from his previous books is a stronger sci-fi spin.
Brown leaves the beaten path of esoteric doctrines to take on a more secular and alarmingly current subject, a subject that resonates with a strong socio-political underscore. More than ever before, his signature mind boggling theories provide a springboard for social commentary: the villain of the story, a genetic engineer of exceptional skill and vision, has been trying in vain to bring the risks of overpopulation to the attention of government agencies and world organizations.
Unhinged and ostracized by the scientific community, he believes that extinction is impending and that the catastrophic circumstances of our species require an 'uncomfortable' solution. Is his transhumanist approach an act of genetic terrorism or a way to fix the fatal flaws in our evolution? Is it unethical to use technologies that advance and help the human kind to survive in a changing world? Should we consider genetic engineering as just another step in our evolution (like fire and wheel) rather than an unnatural deviation? After all, scientists dabble in the gray areas of science every day, indisturbed; government agencies are among the first ones to weaponize ground-breaking technologies:
"...expect the worst from people who hold power."
For once, the evil genius may have a point.
|Botticelli's Map of Hell|
BOOKS & WINE
Sommelier extraordinaire Andrea Mussone is on the blog today to share his expertise and offer his tips on books and wine pairing. Big fan of Dan Brown and passionate about the art of wine tasting, Andrea recommends a classic Italian red.
"Since Inferno is mainly set in Florence, Tuscany, I've immediately thought of a territorial pairing, and this region offers a wide choice of wines. More specifically, being Inferno an intriguing and complex book, rich in historical references, the perfect wine match would be a Brunello di Montalcino. The town of Montalcino is located south of Florence, in the province of Siena. Brunello is one of Italy's most famous and prestigious wines, historically one of the oldest. The "terroir" (soil) contributes to the vast range in characteristics and potential complexity of Brunello di Montalcino. It is made from Sangiovese grape, an indigenous grape variety. Following fermentation, the wine is aged three years or more in oak casks or small oak barrels. At the nose it generally offers a wide range of aromatic notes: spices, pepper, herbs, underbrush, then ripe red fruit, berries, currants, violet, tobacco, leather. On the palate Brunello is warm, seductive, rich, deep, intense, complex, velvety, mineral, spicy, balsamic. This full-bodied wine is particularly suited to accompany a beef filet, "Fiorentina" style. Being also a meditation wine, Brunello is the perfect 'sipping companion' to Inferno".
|Andrea Mussone, Italy|