Dan Brown releases his latest blockbuster 'Inferno' on Tuesday in a novel he promises will be his "darkest" yet.
If it lives up to Dante's Divine Comedy, from which comes the infamous quote 'abandon hope all ye who enter here' readers are in for a bleak ride.
Inferno follows Dante's journey through Hell, with the Roman poet Virgil as his guide. Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within Earth, each circle taking Dante closer to the core of evil, where Satan resides, locked in a lake of ice.
Each circle is based on a new sin: anger, lust, treachery, or fraud, with hideous and imaginative punishments attached to each, many of them reminiscent of the medieval imagination.
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In the seventh circle (violence) there are rivers of boiling blood and fire for people who have been violent against people or property. Those sinners who have killed themselves are transformed into gnarled spiky bushes before being gorged upon by vicious Harpies, a kind of winged spirit in Greek mythology. Others are chased and mauled by dogs. Dante stops to talk to 'sodomites' here. Yup, Dante puts gay people in in the seventh circle of Hell, the fiery circle of the violent, far below those merely lustful straights in the second circle.
The eighth circle (fraud) flatterers are steeped in human excrement, while fraudulent psychics have have their heads forcibly turned around on their bodies backwards, so they can never look ahead. Politicians are dipped in boiling oil and their march through hell is signalled by a fart. It's imaginatively dark. By comparison, the ninth circle, which Satan inhabits, beating his wings in a block of ice, appears to be a breeze.
As salivating Brown aficionados hunch over their fresh treat, devouring the first leaves of the ripe tome and inhaling that moorish new book smell, here are some pictures of the twisted world they are about to travel through.