By Dan Brown
Published September 15th, 2009
HardCover, 509 Pages
Vehicles move through the murky night, carrying highly secret material. And that clandestine material will only be available -- after midnight – to those who have signed non-disclosure notices. The plot of the new Dan Brown novel? No, it’s actually how reviewers such as myself obtained our copies of the much-anticipated The Lost Symbol, the follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. And as we read it in (literally) the cold light of dawn, we wonder: is it likely to match the earlier book’s all-conquering, phenomenal success?
Firstly, it should be noted that The Lost Symbol has incorporated all the elements that so transfixed readers in the Da Vinci Code; complex, mystifying plot (with the reader set quite as many challenges as the protagonist); breathless, helter-skelter pace (James Patterson's patented technique of keeping readers hooked by ending chapters with a tantalizingly unresolved situation is very much part of Dan Brown’s armory). And, of course, the winning central character, resourceful symbologist Robert Langton is back, risking his life to crack a dangerous mystery involving the Freemasons (replacing the controversial trappings of the Catholic Church and homicidal monks of the last book). And while Dan Brown will never win any prizes for literary elegance, his prose is always succinctly at the service of delivering a thoroughly involving thriller narrative in vividly evoked locales (here, Washington DC, colorfully conjured).
Robert Langdon flies to Washington after an urgent invitation to speak in the Capitol building. The invitation appears to have come from a friend with copper-bottomed Masonic connections, Peter Solomon. But Langdon has been tricked: Solomon has, in fact, been kidnapped, and (echoing the grisly opening of the last book) a macabre mutilation plunges Langdon into a tortuous quest: his friend’s severed hand lies in the Capitol building, positioned to point to a George Washington portrait – one that shows the father of his country as a pagan deity. The ruthless criminal nemesis here is another terrifying figure in Brown’s gallery of grotesques: Mal’akh, a powerfully built eunuch with a body festooned with tattoos. Mal’akh is seeking a Masonic pyramid that possesses a formidable supernatural power, and a pulse-pounding hunt is afoot, with Langdon stalled rather than aided by the CIA.
My husband purchased this for me on the day it released and since then I have been reading this at a snail-pace. Thanks is due to him, it was a surprise gift and something I liked. It is kind of difficult to surmise my thoughts on this one, so I am going to first talk about things I love about this one, I am however taking for granted that you by now, know the spine of the story and that my favorite Robert Langdon features in this one.
This books is mostly about Masons and Freemasonry. I had NO CLUE, about who the masons were and what this was all about, so this book in a way was VERY informative on that aspect. Washington, oh MY! I literally saw EVERYTHING and got my husband to promise me that some day we will surely visit all the buildings mentioned in this one. The suspense and thriller part of it worked for me, Brown kept me guessing as to what would happen next and I was surprised at what really comes about as the climax.I really like all the concepts, Neotic Science and the philosophical aspect of this book. The thing it discusses and all that. Though I surely felt, Langdon was a bit too skeptic in this one and not the one brewing all the answers as was the case with the previous ones. I must say, I really loved Peter Solomon and detested Mal'akh...arggh! I am not sure if I really love Katherine's character, but I sure like her...
Now the things I really didn't like, it was tad bit long. Sometimes these same philosophies got a bit too LONG and boring. It took all my will to not skip them, seriously. I felt the chapters were bit too small, the sense of accomplishment that I mostly feel was never there until I finished with the book.
The book moves fast through the mystery aspect though. To be true, I enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed Angels and Daemons, which is my favorite Brown book.
There are MANY quotes in this book that are note-worthy, but this one has to be my favorite -
TIME IS A RIVER...AND BOOKS ARE BOATS. MANY VOLUMES START DOWN THAT STREAM, ONLY TO BE WRECKED AND LOST BEYOND RECALL IN ITS SANDS. ONLY A FEW, A VERY FEW, ENDURE THE TESTINGS OF TIME AND LIVE TO BLESS THE AGES FOLLOWING.
The quote above is supposed to be the preface of the revered Masonic Bible and talks about ancient spiritual texts - the most studied books on earth. And as the author rightly says, the least understood.
I am really torn between rating it a 3.5 or 4. I think I will go with 3.75 :-D
I would love to see Langdon in action again though, I really like him. I am sure this will make a good movie, which my husband is waiting for. We are Tom Hanks lovers ;-)