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9 reasons Dan Brown's Robert Langdon novels are actually fantasy

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Jul 9, 2019, 3:01 PM EDT

Are you familiar with noted symbologist and Harvard professor Robert Langdon? If not, you’re missing out on some of the most delightfully wacky fantasy novels currently being published. Three of the books have been turned into movies with Tom Hanks in the main role, and the fifth novel in the series, Origin, was released in October 2017.

“Wait,” you might be saying to yourself. "Aren’t those the books by Dan Brown that have something to do with Jesus and Leonardo da Vinci? Aren’t those supposed to be mysteries?"

Nope. And I’m going to tell you why.

(Before I begin, though, I feel that it’s important to point out that while I have a sense of humor about these books, I genuinely do adore them. They’re bizarre and wholly unbelievable, but in a way I find delightful. This article is written out of love, not hate.)


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Religious symbology is crucial to every world-changing problem in this universe.

Religious symbology may be considered an obscure field in our world, but in this fantasy setting, most threats to the world require decoding of intricate religious symbology to solve. I mean, it makes sense. After all, doesn’t religious symbology crop up everywhere in our daily lives?

No? Oh, right. That’s why these books are fantasy novels.

A professor of religious symbology is famous.

I mean, most professors, even those who teach at Harvard, aren’t famous. Why would noted symbologist and Harvard professor Robert Langdon be famous? Because he keeps finding himself in headlines following his involvement in world-changing events.

I’m not saying that Robert Langdon isn’t a gift to us all. His toned physique (thanks to years of swimming), his eidetic memory, his claustrophobia, his Mickey Mouse watch, his tweed jackets — these things are gifts to readers. But why is he involved in these world-spanning events? BECAUSE THIS IS A FANTASY NOVEL.

A religious symbologist has saved the world five times.

FIVE TIMES. People, this is serious business. The world that Robert Langdon lives in is obviously fraught with religious drama and shadowy conspiracies that go back thousands of years. Only noted symbologist and Harvard professor Robert Langdon can solve these puzzles.

Dying people are clever enough to spend their last painful moments creating elaborate puzzles instead of just delivering clear information.

After all, if you were naked and tortured and dying on the floor of the Louvre, wouldn’t you position yourself as da Vinci’s Vitruvian man and dip your finger in your own blood and create cryptic messages? Or does that type of thing only happen in fantasy novels?

Intelligent, sharp, and witty women are captivated by Robert Langdon as he explains things to them.

I’m not saying that what Langdon studies isn’t interesting. I’m saying the amount of time he spends explaining basic concepts to women who are probably far smarter than him is incredible, and the fact that they hang on his every word is just a fantasy.


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Robert Langdon is shocked when these smart women actually know things.

Wait, I was counting why these were fantasy novels. Never mind.

Robert Langdon might be a Harvard professor and a world-famous symbologist, but he still hasn’t figured out that, in every novel, someone he trusts will betray him.

Robert. Honey. There’s a pattern here. In every single novel. Your readers see it. The second I open one of these books, I start hunting for the final betrayer, and I usually have it figured out by the middle of the book. Yet Robert Langdon is always shocked by this betrayal. COME ON NOTED SYMBOLOGIST AND HARVARD PROFESSOR ROBERT LANGDON, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SMART.

In the latest book, Origin, Robert Langdon is constantly surprised at how much knowledge an AI has.

I mean, it’s an AI. Artificial intelligence. INTELLIGENCE IS IN THE NAME. Also, it’s a computer. Of course it knows a lot about religious symbology. You are not the be-all end-all, Professor.

This is basically Dan Brown’s fanfic for himself.

Dan Brown is, by all accounts, a genuinely nice guy. And I have to applaud him for basically writing self-insert history teacher fan fiction, getting it published, and having it turn into one of the bestselling series in history. Bravo, sir.


Credit: Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

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