Book Review: The Robert Langdon Series
They’re Bestsellers for a reason
They’re bestsellers for a reason
I’ve finally finished the Robert Langdon series. It took me a couple of years, but I made it. The Robert Langdon series is written by Dan Brown and consists of five novels so far, and hopefully there are more in the future. It’s a very popular series, starting with Angels & Demons in 2000, and Origin in 2017. This series has gained a lot of fans also due to popular movies, most notably The Da Vinci Code, as well as Angels & Demons, and Inferno.
As stated before, it took me a few years to get through this series. I read Angels & Demons in high school, and Da Vinci Code in college. I decided to finish the series and read the final three books this past summer. Now having read all the books, I can say that I enjoyed each book in the series.
Each book follows a bit of the same formula; Harvard Professor Robert Langdon finds himself in the center of a historically based thriller with a mystery to be solved. For example, Angels & Demons follows Langdon racing against time to stop the Illuminati from leveling the Vatican. Origin sees him trying to stop the coverup of a new scientific discovery that humans were not created from God.
The historical aspect of these books makes them that much more compelling. Langdon is a symbologist and intelligent historian, so he gets to explain to those around him, including the audience, all about the nuances of each clue in his journeys to keep us invested. You can tell Dan Brown did his research with each and every book. He has loads of historical truths and is able to blend them well with historical myths and conspiracy theories. Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory, especially when the author can make you believe it to be true? I’ve always found historical fiction impressive because of the intense research that goes into it. You can tell when an author hasn’t put in the work, and Brown went headfirst into all of the history he could get his hands on.
What Brown also does well for his novels is the use of time constraints to keep the action moving. If you were to tell someone that each book in this series is dense with historical and cultural facts, it can sound a little boring on paper. However, Brown’s novels are anything but. Each mystery sees Langdon and a female companion close to the case on the run from authorities and secret societies trying to uncover the truth. Inferno has a countdown until a dangerous virus is spread out into the world, and The Da Vinci Code sees Robert as the main culprit for the murder that kickstarts the plot. Everything is a race against time, keeping you on your toes and turning the pages. This is especially true for the last 100 pages or so of each book. When reading each of these novels, I have to actually plan when to finish them. Once I’m in those 100 pages, you’ll have to pry the book from my cold, dead hands.
Another great thing about each of these books is that they’ve invited some controversy over their themes. Considering that a good chunk of these novels are European history based, there are a lot of themes questioning Christianity, examining some philosophical questions that can be considered a little offensive in some circles. The thought provoking questions like where did we come from, where are we going, and so forth are examined heavily in Origin, for example. Angels & Demons is another book where the battle between science and religion is at the forefront of the novels tension. I love this kind of questioning present in Brown’s novels. It makes them more than a quick, mindless read. You’ll find yourself thinking about them long after you’ve put them down.
If I had to rank the books, it would be a little tough, but I could do it. Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons are the two most popular ones for a reason. They’re both excellent. Between the two of them, I would have to say that Angels & Demons would be my favorite. I had a blast reading and analyzing that book. Following those two books would be the fourth book, Inferno which I thought had one of the best endings, followed by the Lost Symbol and Origin. Origin is the one I literally just finished, and I still really enjoyed it. I thought it was a solid end to the series, if that’s Brown’s intention. If not, no big deal. What’s so great about these books as well is that they don’t rely on each other. Sometimes the later books refer to older events, but you can read each one like a standalone novel. I’d definitely recommend any of these books to friends if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced read. I can’t help but hope that Brown writes more of Robert Langdon, because I’d love to go on another journey with him.