Handsome Symbologist Robert Langdon is at it again! He wakes up with retrograde amnesia in a hospital in Florence, barely escapes an attempt on his life, acquires a plucky female sidekick, and gets down to the important business of being handsome and symbology-solving. And that’s all within, like, the first twenty pages of Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno, a thriller that, predictably/reliably (take your pick) draws on Brown’s/Langdon’s wonkish knowledge of obscure art history and European architecture to save the world from a madman whose clues are drawn from Dante’s work of the same name.
Unpopular though it may be to admit it publicly, I kind of love Dan Brown. The books are ridiculous, sure, but they’re consistently fun to read and perfect for summer weekends when the old brain needs a vacation. It’s nice to be able to unplug and let Robert Langdon do all the worrying for me. If you’ve read Brown, you know there’s a formula to his stories, and you can count on certain items and ideas making repeated appearances. So just for kicks, I kept track of a bunch of Brown’s favorite things during my latest adventure with Robert Langdon.
Fellow Rioter Greg and I will be breaking down our full reactions to the book together in a separate post, so today I give you, simply, Inferno by the numbers. I drank while reading, so, you know, the counts might not be totally accurate.
Bad guys who jump off buildings: 1
Reminders that Robert Langdon is a symbologist: 16
Portentous dreams: 1
Dwight Schrute-style declarations of facts: 1
Times Robert Langdon thinks he is going to die: 3
Attempts to kill Robert Langdon: 5
Robert Langdon is caught in a cramped space/afraid he’s about to be caught in a cramped space/reminds someone that he is claustrophobic: 13
Eye-roll worthy self-selected Bad Guy nicknames: 2 (The Shade? I mean, really, D. Brizzle. I expect more.)
Mentions of the Girl Friday’s (her name is Sienna Brooks) ponytail: 13
Symbols actually printed into text of the book: 4
People who are not what they seem: 2
References to Robert Langdon’s beloved collector’s edition Mickey Mouse watch: 6
Hints that Robert Langdon is suave with the ladies: 4
Number of times I wondered if Robert Langdon would be any good in bed: at least a dozen (verdict: probably not, but I’ll bet he has one solid go-to move)
Laps swum by Robert Langdon: 0 (which must be a first for a Robert Langdon book…but he does think about swimming once)
Puzzles solved/devices unlocked/codes cracked: 11
Comments about Robert Langdon’s eidetic memory: 5
Mistakes Robert Langdon recognizes he made just in the knick of time: 1 (he wouldn’t be likable if he were perfect, you know)
Number of times Robert Langdon channels Dante and swoons: 3
Boats with symbolic names: 1 (The Mendacium….come on, you know that’s great)
Lengthy expositions about architecture, art, history, and Robert Langdon’s taste in clothing: you know I wasn’t counting that closely
Publishing jokes: 4 (the best being when Langdon’s editor thinks he would be more deserving of favors if he wrote, say, Fifty Shades of Iconography)
Any recurring tropes I missed? Do you have a favorite Dan Brown detail?
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