Inferno is a 2013 mystery thriller novel by American author Dan Brown and the fourth book in his Robert Langdon series, following Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol. The book was released on May 14, 2013 by Doubleday. It was number one on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover fiction and Combined Print & E-book fiction for the first eleven weeks of its release, and also remained on the list of E-book fiction for the first seventeen weeks of its release.
In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.
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.
Listening to Inferno (Robert Langdon) by Dan Brown Audio book English Version
Harvard University professor Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital with a head wound and no memory of the last few days. His last memory is walking on the Harvard campus, but he quickly realizes that he is now in Florence. Sienna Brooks, one of the doctors tending to him, tells him he suffered a concussion from being grazed by a bullet and had stumbled into the emergency ward. Suddenly, Vayentha, a female assassin who has been following Robert, breaks into the hospital, shoots the doctor in charge of Robert’s care, and approaches Robert’s room. Sienna grabs Robert and they flee to her apartment.
After Sienna recounts the details of his admission to hospital, Robert finds a cylinder with a biohazard sign in his jacket and decides to call the U.S. consulate. He is told that they are searching for him and want his location. Per Sienna’s guidance, Robert gives them a location across the street from Sienna’s apartment to avoid getting Sienna more involved in his mysterious situation than she already is. Soon, Robert sees an armed Vayentha pull up to the location Robert gave the consulate. At this point Sienna and Robert believe the U.S. government wants to kill him.
Robert decides to open the container and finds a small medieval bone cylinder fitted with a hi-tech projector that displays a modified version of Botticelli’s Map of Hell. At the bottom of the illumination are the words “The truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death.” Suddenly, soldiers raid Sienna’s building; Sienna and Robert narrowly escape.
Robert and Sienna head toward the Old City, believing the cylinder must have something to do with Dante. However, they find that Florentine police and Carabinieri officers have sealed the bridges and are searching for them. They run into a construction site near theBoboli Gardens where Robert illuminates the modified “Map of Hell” again, notices that individual letters, which collectively spell “CATROVACER,” have been added to each of the ten layers of the Malebolge, and that the layers have been rearranged. Moving them back to the order in the original Botticelli “Map of Hell” yields the words “CERCA TROVA”. Robert recognizes these are the same words on the painting The Battle of Marciano by Vasari, located in the Palazzo Vecchio. Robert and Sienna manage to evade the soldiers and get into the Old City using the Vasari Corridor.
Robert stands in front of The Battle of Marciano trying to figure out where to go next by connecting the “eyes of death” phrase in the modified “Map of Hell” with his location. A custodian sees Robert snooping around and gets the director of the museum in the Palazzo Vecchio, Marta Alvarez. Marta recognizes Robert, having met him and Ignazio Busoni, the director of Il Duomo, the previous night. She leads Robert and Sienna up a set of stairs by The Battle of Marciano, and Robert realizes the top of the stairs is on the same level as the words “cerca trova” in the The Battle of Marciano painting. Marta tells Robert that she showed them Dante’s death mask the previous night, which sits in a room down the hall from the Battle of Marciano painting. Robert realizes he is retracing his own steps from the previous night. Marta takes Robert and Sienna to the mask who find that it’s gone. They look at security footage and see Robert himself and Ignazio stealing the mask. The museum guards turn on Robert and Sienna. At this moment, Marta calls Ignazio’s office to question him but is greeted by his secretary, who informs Marta that Ignazio died of a heart attack the other night but left a message for Robert moments before he died. Ignazio’s secretary asks to speak with Robert and plays to him Ignazio’s message. In it Ignazio esoterically tells Robert where the mask is hidden, referring to “Paradise 25.”
Robert and Sienna escape the guards, but the soldiers arrive. They cross the attic over the Apotheosis of Cosimo I, where Sienna pushes Vayentha to her death. Robert connects the phrase “Paradise 25” to the Florence Baptistry, where he and Sienna find the Dante mask along with a riddle from its current owner, a billionaire geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist. Sienna later explains that Zobrist was a geneticist who advocated the halting of humanity’s growth, due to its out of control population. And that he was rumored to be working on a means to do so using an engineered disease. A man named Jonathan Ferris, with a large bruise on his chest which he hides from the two, and a severe rash on his face, claiming to be from the World Health Organization (WHO), comes and helps them escape the soldiers. They follow the riddle to Venice, where Ferris suddenly falls unconscious, with Sienna claiming he is suffering from massive internal bleeding, causing Langdon to suspect Ferris has been infected with Zobrist’s plague. Robert is captured by a group of black-clad soldiers while Sienna escapes.
Robert is taken to Elizabeth Sinskey, the director-general of the WHO, and is given an explanation of what is going on: Zobrist, who committed suicide the week before, was a brilliant geneticist and Dante fanatic who has supposedly developed a new biological plague that will kill off a large portion of the world’s population in order to quickly solve the problem of the world’s impending overpopulation. Elizabeth raided Zobrist’s safe deposit box, found the cylinder, and flew Robert to Florence to follow the clues. However, Robert stopped communicating with Elizabeth after meeting with Marta and Ignazio, and the WHO feared he betrayed them and was working with Zobrist to unleash the plague. The soldiers were the WHO’s emergency response team and never meant to kill Robert.
Zobrist had paid a shadowy consulting group called The Consortium to protect the cylinder until a certain date. He also left a disturbing video filled with Dante imagery, which also showed a picture of the plague itself, kept in a hidden underwater location, within a slowly dissolving bag. The video claims that the world will be changed the following morning. When Elizabeth took it away, they were obligated to protect whatever the bone cylinder pointed to. They kidnapped Robert after the meeting with Marta and Ignazio, but Robert hadn’t yet solved the whole riddle. They gave Robert benzodiazepine drugs to erase his short-term memory, created a fake head wound, and staged every event up to this point so that Robert would be motivated to solve it. Sienna, Vayentha, and Ferris are all actors working for The Consortium; the call to the U.S. consulate was also staged. The leader of The Consortium, having become aware of the bioterrorism plot, has agreed to cooperate with the WHO. Ferris’s rash was due to an allergic reaction to the spirit gum he as part of the disguise as the doctor Vayentha “murdered”. His bruises were because the squib used to simulate him being shot in the chest misfired and broke his ribs. He collapsed in Venice because he had been ordered to detain Sienna, as the Provost (Consortium head) had allied with Sinskey, with Sienna realizing and punching him in his damaged ribs.
Sienna goes rogue, and The Consortium realizes she was a secret supporter and lover of Zobrist. She learned where the plague is being kept after Robert solved the riddle and acquires a private jet to get to it before everyone else. Robert, the WHO, and The Consortium, team up to stop her. From watching Zobrist’s video they conclude that the bag containing the plague will be fully dissolved by the date the video specifies, and that Zobrist’s clues point to its location: the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, whereEnrico Dandolo is buried. Robert and the others find the plague is in the Cistern, but discover that Sienna is already there. The bag that held the plague had already been broken, presumably spreading through the outer world via visiting tourists. Sienna runs out of the Cistern yelling something in Turkish, which causes panic among the tourists who stampede out into the city, while Langdon gives chase.
It is discovered Sienna didn’t puncture the bag; it was water soluble and had dissolved one week previously in the Cistern waters, meaning that the whole world has already been infected. The date specified in Zobrist’s video was the mathematical calculation of when the entire world would be infected. It is also discovered that Sienna was trying to stop the virus herself, but didn’t trust the WHO because samples of the virus would certainly find their way into the hands of governments performing weapons research. The leader of The Consortium tries to escape WHO custody with help from disguised underlings, but is caught later by Turkish police. It is implied that The Consortium will be investigated and ruined. Sienna receives amnesty in exchange for working with the WHO to address the crisis, since she is a medical doctor and has extensive knowledge of Zobrist’s research and work.
The plague that Zobrist created is revealed to be a vector virus that randomly activates to employ DNA modification to causesterility in 1/3 of humans. Even with future genetic engineering technology, changing the human genome back would be hazardous. The human race, therefore, has been forced into a new age.
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.
–This text refers to the Hardcover edition.