As mentioned, the first two-thirds of the novel was quite enjoyable. The pacing was good and there were enough unanswered questions to compel me to keep turning the pages looking for answers: Who is the white-haired woman in Langdon’s visions? What is Sienna’s secret? Who is the mysterious stranger following them through the streets of Florence? How did Langdon get injured? What is the secret of Dante’s death mask?
After the hunt for the Holy Grail and preventing a madman from taking over the world by gaining magical powers through getting a mystical tattoo on his head, a run-of-the-mill mad scientist seeking to wipe out a third of humanity with a genetically engineered plague was refreshingly realistic. In fact, I would say Brown’s choice of antagonist is the best thing about the novel. Not only is it a very plausible scenario in our age of bioterrorism and genetic manipulation, but the antagonist is made even more menacing by the fact that he is already dead when the novel starts, appearing only in Langdon’s visions and in a video left behind as a pair of bright green eyes staring from behind a medieval plague mask. This leaves Langdon and Brooks up against The Consortium, a secret organisation of incredible power and influence, acting on final instructions left to them by said mad scientist.
One last thing I noticed very early on is that this time around Brown opted for multiple points of view. The previous Langdon novels tended to be written entirely from the protagonist’s point of view, with only a scene thrown in here and there to show us what the bad guy (Silas, the assassin, the crazy tattoo guy) was up to. In this novel every major character gets a chance to show us their perspective – a very effective technique in thrillers…if done right.
However, the first part of the novel did have its faults. And to find out what they were, click on Page 3 below.