Sneak Preview of ‘Inferno’ By Dan Brown


Fact:cover

All artwork, literature, science, and historical references in this novel are real.

‘The Consortium’ is a private organization with offices in seven countries. Its name has been changed for considerations of security and privacy.

Inferno is the underworld as described in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, which portrays hell as an elaborately structured realm populated by entities known as ‘shades’ – bodiless souls trapped between life and death.

Prologue

I am the Shade.

Through the dolent city, I flee.Through the eternal woe, I take flight.

Along the banks of the river Arno, I scramble, breathless . . . turning left onto Via dei Castellani, making my way northward, huddling in the shadows of the Uffizi.

And still they pursue me.

Their footsteps grow louder now as they hunt with relentless determination.

For years they have pursued me. Their persistencehas kept me underground . . . forced me to live in purgatory. . . laboring beneath the earth like a chthonic monster.

I am the Shade.

Here above ground, I raise my eyes to the north, but I am unable to find a direct path to salvation . . . for the Apennine Mountains are blotting out the first light of dawn.

I pass behind the palazzo with its crenellated tower and one-handed clock . . . snaking through the early morning vendors in Piazza di San Firenze with their hoarse voices smelling of lampredotto and roasted olives. Crossing before the Bargello, I cut west toward the spire of the Badia and come up hard against the iron gate at the base of the stairs.

Here all hesitation must be left behind.

I turn the handle and step into the passage from which I know there will be no return. I urge my leaden legs up the narrow staircase . . . spiraling skyward on soft marble treads, pitted and worn.

The voices echo from below. Beseeching. They are behind me, unyielding, closing in.

They do not understand what is coming . . . nor what I have done for them!

Ungrateful land!

As I climb, the visions come hard . . . the lustful bodies writhing in fiery rain, the gluttonous souls

floating in excrement, the treacherous villains frozen in Satan’s icy grasp.

I climb the final stairs and arrive at the top, staggering near dead into the damp morning air. I rush to the head-high wall, peering through the slits. Far below is the blessed city that I have made my sanctuary from those who exiled me.

The voices call out, arriving close behind me. ‘What you’ve done is madness!’

Madness breeds madness.

‘For the love of God,’ they shout, ‘tell us where you’ve hidden it!’

For precisely the love of God, I will not.

I stand now, cornered, my back to the cold stone. They stare deep into my clear green eyes, and their expressions darken, no longer cajoling, but threatening.

‘You know we have our methods. We can force you to tell us where it is.’

For that reason, I have climbed halfway to heaven.

Without warning, I turn and reach up, curling my fingers onto the high ledge, pulling myself up, scrambling onto my knees, then standing . . . unsteady at the precipice. Guide me, dear Virgil, across the void.

They rush forward in disbelief, wanting to grab at my feet, but fearing they will upset my balance and knock me off. They beg now, in quiet desperation, but I have turned my back. I know what I must do.

Beneath me, dizzyingly far beneath me, the red tile roofs spread out like a sea of fire on the countryside . . .illuminating the fair land upon which giants once roamed . . . Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo,Botticelli.

I inch my toes to the edge.

‘Come down!’ they shout. ‘It’s not too late!’

O, willful ignorants! Do you not see the future? Do you not grasp the splendor of my creation? The necessity? I gladly make this ultimate sacrifice . . . and with it I will extinguish your final hope of finding what you seek.

You will never locate it in time.

Hundreds of feet below, the cobblestone piazza beckons like a tranquil oasis. How I long for more time. . . but time is the one commodity even my vast fortunes cannot afford.

In these final seconds, I gaze down to the piazza, and I behold a sight that startles me.

I see your face.You are gazing up at me from the shadows. Your eyes are mournful, and yet in them I sense a vener -ation for what I have accomplished. You understand I have no choice. For the love of Mankind, I must protectmy masterpiece.

It grows even now . . . waiting . . . simmering beneath the bloodred waters of the lagoon that reflects no stars.

And so, I lift my eyes from yours and I contemplate the horizon. High above this burdened world, I make my final supplication.

Dearest God, I pray the world remembers my name not as a monstrous sinner, but as the glorious savior you know I truly am. I pray Mankind will understand the gift I leave behind.

My gift is the future.

My gift is salvation.

My gift is Inferno.

With that, I whisper my amen . . . and take my final step, into the abyss.

Chapter 1

The memories materialized slowly . . . like bubbles surfacing from the darkness of a bottomless well.

A veiled woman.

Robert Langdon gazed at her across a river whose churning waters ran red with blood. On the far bank, the woman stood facing him, motionless, solemn, her face hidden by a shroud. In her hand she gripped a blue tainia cloth, which she now raised in honor of the sea of corpses at her feet. The smell of death hung everywhere.

Seek, the woman whispered. And ye shall find.

Langdon heard the words as if she had spoken them inside his head. ‘Who are you?’ he called out, but his voice made no sound.

Time grows short, she whispered. Seek and find.

Langdon took a step toward the river, but he could see the waters were bloodred and too deep to traverse. When Langdon raised his eyes again to the veiled woman, the bodies at her feet had multiplied. There were hundreds of them now, maybe thousands, some still alive, writhing in agony, dying unthinkable deaths. . . consumed by fire, buried in feces, devouring one another. He could hear the mournful cries of human suffering echoing across the water.

The woman moved toward him, holding out her slender hands, as if beckoning for help.

‘Who are you?!’ Langdon again shouted.

In response, the woman reached up and slowly lifted the veil from her face. She was strikingly beautiful, and yet older than Langdon had imagined—in her sixties perhaps, stately and strong, like a timeless statue. She had a sternly set jaw, deep soulful eyes, and long, silver-gray hair that cascaded over her shoulders in ringlets. An amulet of lapis lazuli hung around her neck—a single snake coiled around a staff.

Langdon sensed he knew her . . . trusted her. But how? Why?

She pointed now to a writhing pair of legs, which protruded upside down from the earth, apparently belonging to some poor soul who had been buried headfirst to his waist. The man’s pale thigh bore a single letter—written in mud—R.

R? Langdon thought, uncertain. As in . . . Robert? ‘Is that . . . me?’

The woman’s face revealed nothing. Seek and find, she repeated.

Without warning, she began radiating a white light. . . brighter and brighter. Her entire body started vibrating intensely, and then, in a rush of thunder, she exploded into a thousand splintering shards of light. Langdon bolted awake, shouting.

The room was bright. He was alone. The sharp smell of medicinal alcohol hung in the air, and somewhere a machine pinged in quiet rhythm with his heart.

Langdon tried to move his right arm, but a sharp pain restrained him. He looked down and saw an IV tugging at the skin of his forearm.

His pulse quickened, and the machines kept pace, pinging more rapidly.

Where am I? What happened?

The back of Langdon’s head throbbed, a gnawing pain. Gingerly, he reached up with his free arm and touched his scalp, trying to locate the source of his headache. Beneath his matted hair, he found the hard nubs of a dozen or so stitches caked with dried blood.

He closed his eyes, trying to remember an accident.

Nothing. A total blank.

Think.

Only darkness.

A man in scrubs hurried in, apparently alerted by Langdon’s racing heart monitor. He had a shaggy beard, bushy mustache, and gentle eyes that radiated a thoughtful calm beneath his overgrown eyebrows.‘What . . . happened?’ Langdon managed. ‘Did I have an accident?’

The bearded man put a finger to his lips and then rushed out, calling for someone down the hall.

Langdon turned his head, but the movement sent a spike of pain radiating through his skull. He took deep breaths and let the pain pass. Then, very gently and methodically, he surveyed his sterile surroundings. The hospital room had a single bed. No flowers. No cards. Langdon saw his clothes on a nearby counter, folded inside a clear plastic bag. They were covered with blood.

My God. It must have been bad.

Now Langdon rotated his head very slowly toward the window beside his bed. It was dark outside. Night.

All Langdon could see in the glass was his own reflection—an ashen stranger, pale and weary, attached to tubes and wires, surrounded by medical equipment. Voices approached in the hall, and Langdon turned his gaze back toward the room. The doctor returned, now accompanied by a woman.

She appeared to be in her early thirties. She wore blue scrubs and had tied her blond hair back in a thick ponytail that swung behind her as she walked.

‘I’m Dr. Sienna Brooks,’ she said, giving Langdon a smile as she entered. ‘I’ll be working with Dr. Marconi tonight.’

Langdon nodded weakly. Tall and lissome, Dr. Brooks moved with the assertive gait of an athlete. Even in shapeless scrubs, she had a willowy elegance about her. Despite the absence of any makeup that Langdon could see, her complexion appeared unusually smooth, the only blemish a tiny beauty mark just above her lips. Her eyes, though a gentle brown, seemed unusually penetrating, as if they had witnessed a profundity of experience rarely encountered by a person her age.

‘Dr. Marconi doesn’t speak much English,’ she said, sitting down beside him, ‘and he asked me to fill out your admittance form.’ She gave him another smile.

‘Thanks,’ Langdon croaked.

‘Okay,’ she began, her tone businesslike. ‘What isyour name?’

It took him a moment. ‘Robert . . . Langdon.’

She shone a penlight in Langdon’s eyes.

‘Occupation?’

This information surfaced even more slowly.

‘Professor. Art history . . . and symbology. Harvard University.’

Dr. Brooks lowered the light, looking startled. The doctor with the bushy eyebrows looked equally surprised.

‘You’re . . . an American?’

Langdon gave her a confused look.

‘It’s just . . .’ She hesitated. ‘You had no identification when you arrived tonight. You were wearing

Harris Tweed and Somerset loafers, so we guessed British.’

‘I’m American,’ Langdon assured her, too exhausted to explain his preference for well-tailored clothing.

‘Any pain?’

‘My head,’ Langdon replied, his throbbing skull only made worse by the bright penlight. Thankfully,

she now pocketed it, taking Langdon’s wrist and checking his pulse.

‘You woke up shouting,’ the woman said. ‘Do you remember why?’

Langdon flashed again on the strange vision of the veiled woman surrounded by writhing bodies. Seek and ye shall find. ‘I was having a nightmare.’

‘About?’

Langdon told her.

Dr. Brooks’s expression remained neutral as she made notes on a clipboard. ‘Any idea what might have sparked such a frightening vision?’

Langdon probed his memory and then shook his head, which pounded in protest.

‘Okay, Mr. Langdon,’ she said, still writing, ‘a couple of routine questions for you. What day of the week is it?’

Langdon thought for a moment. ‘It’s Saturday. I remember earlier today walking across campus . . . going to an afternoon lecture series, and then . . . that’s pretty much the last thing I remember. Did I fall?’

‘We’ll get to that. Do you know where you are?’

Langdon took his best guess. ‘Massachusetts General Hospital?’

Dr. Brooks made another note. ‘And is there someone we should call for you? Wife? Children?’

‘Nobody,’ Langdon replied instinctively. He had always enjoyed the solitude and independence provided him by his chosen life of bachelorhood, although he had to admit, in his current situation, he’d prefer to have a familiar face at his side. ‘There are some colleagues I could call, but I’m fine.’

Dr. Brooks finished writing, and the older doctor approached. Smoothing back his bushy eyebrows, he produced a small voice recorder from his pocket and showed it to Dr. Brooks. She nodded in understanding and turned back to her patient.

‘Mr. Langdon, when you arrived tonight, you were mumbling something over and over.’ She glanced at Dr. Marconi, who held up the digital recorder and pressed a button.

A recording began to play, and Langdon heard his own groggy voice, repeatedly muttering the same phrase. ‘Ve . . . sorry. Ve . . . sorry.’

‘It sounds to me,’ the woman said, ‘like you’re saying, ‘Very sorry. Very sorry.’’

Langdon agreed, and yet he had no recollection of it.

Dr. Brooks fixed him with a disquietingly intense stare. ‘Do you have any idea why you’d be saying this? Are you sorry about something?’

As Langdon probed the dark recesses of his memory, he again saw the veiled woman. She was standing on the banks of a bloodred river surrounded by bodies. The stench of death returned.

Langdon was overcome by a sudden, instinctive sense of danger . . . not just for himself . . . but for everyone. The pinging of his heart monitor accelerated rapidly. His muscles tightened, and he tried to sit up.

Dr. Brooks quickly placed a firm hand on Langdon’s sternum, forcing him back down. She shot a glance at the bearded doctor, who walked over to a nearby counter and began preparing something.

Dr. Brooks hovered over Langdon, whispering now. ‘Mr. Langdon, anxiety is common with brain injuries, but you need to keep your pulse rate down.No movement. No excitement. Just lie still and rest. You’ll be okay. Your memory will come back slowly.’

The doctor returned now with a syringe, which he handed to Dr. Brooks. She injected its contents into Langdon’s IV.

‘Just a mild sedative to calm you down,’ she explained, ‘and also to help with the pain.’ She stood

to go. ‘You’ll be fine, Mr. Langdon. Just sleep. If you need anything, press the button on your bedside.’ She turned out the light and departed with the bearded doctor.

In the darkness, Langdon felt the drugs washing through his system almost instantly, dragging his body back down into that deep well from which he had emerged. He fought the feeling, forcing his eyes open in the darkness of his room. He tried to sit up, but his body felt like cement.

As Langdon shifted, he found himself again facing the window. The lights were out, and in the dark glass, his own reflection had disappeared, replaced by an illuminated skyline in the distance.

Amid a contour of spires and domes, a single regal 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 sat bolt upright in bed, pain exploding in his head. He fought off the searing throb and fixed his gaze on the tower.

Langdon knew the medieval structure well.

It was unique in the world. Unfortunately, it was also located four thousand miles from Massachusetts.

Outside his window, hidden in the shadows of the Via Torregalli, a powerfully built woman effortlessly unstraddled her BMW motorcycle and advanced with the intensity of a panther stalking its prey. Her gaze was sharp. Her close-cropped hair—styled into spikes—stood out against the upturned collar of her black leather riding suit. She checked her silenced weapon, and stared up at the window where Robert Langdon’s light had just gone out.

Earlier tonight her original mission had gone horribly awry.

The coo of a single dove had changed everything.

Now she had come to make it right.

 

Copyright © Dan Brown 2013

Publisher: Random House India

Release Date: 14th May 2013

Pre-order it: www.crossword.in

Price: 750

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The Family Saga Continues…


Hello & Welcome back Book Lovers.     555219_10151476186518606_1731945767_n

Today we give you a review of the third volume of the Clifton Chronicles ‘Best Kept Secret’ by Jeffrey Archer.
( Review written by Sidharth S)

A suggestion..if you havent read the first two you better not read this one as you will be missing on whole lot of the twists in the tale.

Also for those who have read the first 2 volumes a must read saga of the story of the docker boy Harry Clifton and a connection with the rich and famous Barrington family of Bristol completely changes his fate.

(I guess we all are attached to the name Harry thanks to Ms Rowling 🙂 )

Recaping the earlier books ..Young Harry befrineds the young Giles Barringhton, Falls in love with young Emma Barrington, hates Hugo Barrington as he might be a threat to the Barrington lineage. Torn by his inability to marry his love Harry goes to war and a change in his identity to escape his family back home lands him in behind bars where he pens his first book.  He is ultimately rescued by his love and brought back home to Bristol and turns into a full time author which follows the demise of Hugo Barrington leaving the families with the perplexity  of the heir to he Barrington estate and a secret left behind..

Set in the small town of Bristol where now with the third volume we see the emergence of the third generation of Clifton-Barrington family. The son of Harry Clifton, Sebastian is seen prominent in this book and family ties even more stronger than before.

Archer’s third volume is fast paced leaving no room for boredom. It takes you through the years of Harry being a successful author, having a family, supporting his friend Giles political ambitions and eventualy helping his son Sebastian who befriends the wrong people which land him at the hands of an internaional Crook.

Mr Archer ‘s narrative style of writing gives each character so much depth, that you become so closely attached to them. A lot of Archer’s novels showcase England in the earlier 20th century spanning over years many a times having backgrounds of war and politics. The Clifton chronicles which are now going to be seven volumes takes us trough strong family bonds, love, jealousy, anger, greed of wealth, political ambitions, changing economies, lies, deciet, secrets and myriad characters.

Archer’s flair of storytelling is undeniably gripping appealing to a wide audience of readers.

For all those who have loved Archer’s novels in the past will definately like every bit of this saga. And all those who havent yet read his books but love complex family dramas will come to like the Clifton chronicles.

Giving it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan India

Price: Rs 350

Signing off for now..

Until next time geeks

Happy Reading!

Crossword Bookstores.

The Final Chapter…


Hello & Welcome Back Book Lovers

It’s been a while.                                                          ft

Today we give you a review of the most awaited book of the year the 3rd book in the Shiva Trilogy ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’ by Amish.
(Review written by a reader Niharika k)

 There is  Good and Evil in all of us…

You will be at the edge of your seat while reading the book as each chapter will grip you, surprise you and even alter your thinking..
Fans of the first 2 Books are definitely not going to be disappointed by this 600 Pages long book where Secrets are revealed (Nagas), Revelations made (Somras), War to be waged (good vs evil), Sacrifices to be made (Devagiri) and Legacies to be saved (Vayuputras).   Hope we havent given out too much…?

As seen in the first 2 books Shiva the great warrior who travels across various kingdoms with his love Sati by his side in the search of evil and how he is often perplexed on his destiny of being the Great Neelkanth. The journey of the warrior turned God comes to its final end in this gripping Saga..

The most simplest and greatest question the book talks about is What is Evil?
Is it what is described as evil by everyone else without having to quesion the very existence of it?
Or can  too much of good become evil.. ?
These quesions continue to haunt Shiva from the very begining.

Amish’s writing though simple yet very picturesque takes you through the beautiful lands of Branga, Ayodha, Mrittikavati,Devagiri and the scenic sights of the land of Vayuputras. The battle scenes and strategies described are truly epic in nature.

We have always seen the character of Shiva who is strong like a warrior, weak with the heart of a lover and searching his life’s purpose. He smokes, he drinks, he sings, he dances, he romaces and his agitation is what keeps readers intrigued throughout the series.

The complexity of relations increases in this book. We witness several strong bonds and relationships in the third part which are continously put to test and how they each survive their agnipariksha is truly riveting and heart wrenching.One particular scene where Parvateshwar has to chose between the love for his country and the love for his god undermines his strong character who changes his beliefs but not his duty and loyalty.
Ganesh who was ealier seen bereaved finds comfort and solace in his new family especially with his brother Kartik. The strong brotherhood between Kartik and Ganesh is articulately written in moments of war, pain and sacrifices.

When the people elect the king of the country and when the king of the country is corrupt, the people are also corrupt. A line that truly applies to the changing times of  today where we continously question our governmet and reforms. Alot of the philosophy written by the author hints at the current scenarios and the belief systems of our society at present which will definately get you thinking

The true hero of this book is not Shiva but his courageous wife Sati. A mother, a daughter, a wife and a warrior she is the heart and soul of the book. Strong willed and detrmined she leaves you with a myriad of emotions till the very end. At times you will find the book slow paced, at times you will be marvelled by details of the historical facts, scientific and geographical explantions (facts or fiction you decide) mentioned or you wont be able to keep the book down as the very end will defy everything.

The writer has truly written 3 great pieces of historical fiction for everybody and as we all are keen to know what will he be writing next you gotta  read this book as there might be a small hint on what he might be writing next..

Giving it 4 out of  5 stars for its simple yet epic writing and insipiringly humane characters.   Do drop in your comments.

Har Har Mahadev  

 

 

Publisher: Westland Books

Price:Rs 350  

 

Signing off for now..

 

Until next time Geeks

 

Happy Reading!

 

Crossword Bookstores