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Inferno Hardcover – Unabridged, May 14, 2013
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Amazon Exclusive: Inside Inferno
Explore the sights of Inferno alongside Robert Langdon in this exclusive first look at Dan Brown's latest thriller.
As Langdon continued on toward the elbow of the square, he could
see, directly ahead in the distance, the shimmering blue glass dial of the
St. Mark’s Clock Tower—the same astronomical clock through which
James Bond had thrown a villain in the film Moonraker.
The Tetrarchs statue was well known for its missing foot, broken
off while it was being plundered from Constantinople in the thirteenth
century. Miraculously, in the 1960s, the foot was unearthed in Istanbul.
Venice petitioned for the missing piece of statue, but the Turkish authorities
replied with a simple message: You stole the statue—we’re keeping our
Amid a contour of spires and domes, a single illuminated facade dominated
Langdon’s field of view. The building was an imposing stone fortress
with a notched parapet and a three-hundred-foot tower that swelled
near the top, bulging outward into a massive machicolated battlement.
Langdon found himself standing before a familiar face—that of Dante Alighieri.
Depicted in the legendary fresco by Michelino, the great poet stood before
Mount Purgatory and held forth in his hands, as if in humble offering,
his masterpiece The Divine Comedy.
Amazon Exclusve: Additional Reading Suggestions from Dan Brown
- The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno—(Penguin Classics)
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology—Ray Kurzweil (Author)
- Brunelleschi's Dome—Ross King (Author)
- The Lives of the Artists Volume 1—Giorgio Vasari (Author), George Bull (Translator)
- The Book Of Symbols: Reflections On Archetypal Images—ARAS
Q&A with Dan Brown
Q. Inferno refers to Dante Alighieri´s The Divine Comedy. What is Dante’s significance? What features of his work or life inspired you?
A. The Divine Comedy—like The Mona Lisa—is one of those rare artistic achievements that transcends its moment in history and becomes an enduring cultural touchstone. Like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, The Divine Comedy speaks to us centuries after its creation and is considered an example of one of the finest works ever produced in its artistic field. For me, the most captivating quality of Dante Alighieri is his staggering influence on culture, religion, history, and the arts. In addition to codifying the early Christian vision of Hell, Dante’s work has inspired some of history’s greatest luminaries—Longfellow, Chaucer, Borges, Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Monteverdi, Michelangelo, Blake, Dalí—and even a few modern video game designers. Despite Dante’s enduring influence on the arts, however, most of us today have only a vague notion of what his work actually says—both literally and symbolically (which, of course, is of great interest to Robert Langdon). A few years ago, I became very excited about the prospect of writing a contemporary thriller that incorporated the philosophy, history, and text of Dante’s timeless descent into The Inferno.
Q. Where did do your research for Inferno? How long did you spend on it?
A. Researching Inferno began with six months of reading, including several translations of The Divine Comedy, various annotations by Dante scholars, historical texts about Dante’s life and philosophies, as well as a lot of background reading on Florence itself. At the same time, I was poring over all the new scientific information that I could find on a cutting edge technology that I had decided to incorporate into the novel. Once I had enough understanding of these topics to proceed, I traveled to Florence and Venice, where I was fortunate to meet with some wonderful art historians, librarians, and other scholars who helped me enormously.
Once this initial phase of research was complete, I began outlining and writing the novel. As is always the case, when a book begins to take shape, I am drawn in unexpected directions that require additional research. This was also the case with Inferno, which took about 3 years from conception to publication.
With respect to the process, the success of these novels has been a bit of a Catch-22. On one hand, I now have wonderful access to specialists, authorities, and even secret archives from which to draw information and inspiration. On the other hand, because there is increased speculation about my works in progress, I need to be increasingly discreet about the places I go and the specialists with whom I speak. Even so, there is one aspect of my research that will never change—making personal visits to the locations about which I’m writing. When it comes to capturing the feel of a novel’s setting, I find there is no substitute for being there in the flesh...even if sometimes I need to do it incognito.
Q. What kind of adventure will Robert Langdon face this time? Can you give us any sneak peak at the new novel?
A. Inferno is very much a Robert Langdon thriller. It’s filled with codes, symbols, art, and the exotic locations that my readers love to explore. In this novel, Dante Alighieri’s ancient literary masterpiece—The Divine Comedy—becomes a catalyst that inspires a macabre genius to unleash a scientific creation of enormous destructive potential. Robert Langdon must battle this dark adversary by deciphering a Dante-related riddle, which leads him to Florence, where he finds himself in a desperate race through a landscape of classical art, secret passageways, and futuristic technology.
Q. What made Florence the ideal location for Inferno?
A. No city on earth is more closely tied to Dante Alighieri. Dante grew up in Florence, fell in love in Florence, and began writing in Florence. Later in life, when he was exiled for political reasons, the longing he felt for his beloved Florence became a catalyst for The Divine Comedy. Through his enduring poem, Dante enjoyed the “last word” over his political enemies, banishing them to various rings of Inferno where they suffered terrible tortures.
From Publishers Weekly
The threat of world overpopulation is the latest assignment for Brown's art historian and accidental sleuth Robert Langdon. Awakening in a Florence hospital with no memory of the preceding 36 hours, Langdon and an attractive attending physician with an oversized intellect are immediately pursued by an ominous underground organization and the Italian police. Detailed tours of Florence, Venice, and Istanbul mean to establish setting, but instead bog down the story and border on showoffmanship. Relying on a deceased villain's trail of clues threaded through the text of Dante's The Divine Comedy, the duo attempt to unravel the events leading up to Langdon's amnesia and thwart a global genocide scheme. Suspension of disbelief is required as miraculous coincidences pile upon pure luck. Near the three-quarters point everything established gets upended and Brown, hoping to draw us in deeper, nearly drives us out. Though the prose is fast-paced and sharp, the burdensome dialogue only serves plot and back story, and is interspersed with unfortunate attempts at folksy humor. It's hard not to appreciate a present day mega-selling thriller that attempts a refresher course in Italian literature and European history. But the real mystery is in the book's denouement and how Brown can possibly bring his hero back for more. Agent: Heide Lange, Sanford J. Greenberger Associates. (May)
Top customer reviews
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I read the Da Vinci Code when it first came out and knew very little about Bibical theories, especially those surrounding Mary Magdalene. So without spoilers, let me say that I was really surprised and interested about the twists that were in that book.
Both in that book and in this one, there are discussions about European art and history. I know a little more about that having been an art history minor in college, but Dan Brown really has fun (and so did this reader) in exploring the intricacies and possible hidden meanings and details of many old writings, and in showing us the secret portals to ancient churches and mosques not seen on your average tour. In this case, what is explored in detail is Dante's Inferno, although other works and historical sites are detailed as well.
The story itself is about professor of religious iconography Robert Langdon - Dan's Brown's recurring hero - who tries to stop a madman from unleashing a possible plague on humanity. And to do so requires figuring out the secrets hidden away in Dante's epic poem.
Yes, yes, I know. There are many far-fetched things and you may not want to look all that closely at plot details but instead have fun and know that you will learn things along the way.
I loved learning things such as the following:
"By the time city officials realized it was the rats that were causing the disease, it was too late, but Venice still enforced a decree by which all incoming vessels had to anchor offshore for a full forty days before they would be permitted to unload. to this day, the number forty - quaranta in Italian - served as a grim reminder of the rings of the word quarantine."
I have tried reading Angels and Demons and found I didn't get too far, but this book was the first one since the Da Vinci Code that kept ahold of me till the end.
Lots of fun, and you even learn some interesting stuff along the way.
_Inferno_, as the title implies, is closely related to Dante's story and by extension, Florence. For readers familiar with either (or both), there Brown does them justice, his description of the city, its sights and its secrets are all vivid and honestly rendered. At the risk of spoiling the story, I will not go into detail of the other cities crucial to the plot suffice it to say Brown does these places justice as well. And it is primarily for these reasons - his eye for detail, his accurate retelling of the history of these places (and of the historical figures that play such a prominent role in the story) that I give it four stars. The plot was a bit of a disappointment, and at the risk of sounding pedantic, it was a disappointment to always be one (if not two) steps ahead of Langdon as he puzzled his way through the crisis.
Of equal - if not greater - disappointment, was the resolution to the threat. Brown does a fantastic job of keeping readers off balance as one never knows who to trust or who is lying, who is telling the truth and who is telling a half truth through much of the book (which also made for tense, compelling reading); however, this was not enough to rescue the story from a truly anti-climactic resolution to what had been made out to be a crisis of Biblical proportions.
Fans of Brown, I am sure, will happily overlook these flaws; the detail and descriptions of locations certainly go a long way in helping what is otherwise a mediocre story along. I read this on a long trans-Atlantic (followed by a trans-continental) flight - it was a perfect distraction, and under these circumstances, I recommend it.