Oct 21 2009

The Lost Symbol

Published by at 10:48 pm under Books


For adults, Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was the equivalent of a new entry in the Harry Potter(for boys) or Twilight(for teens) series. Arriving 5 years after his last book The Da Vinci Code, which became one of the most widely-read novels in history, it’s release was heralded by midnight openings and long lines at bookstores – things which are not seen for books targeted at adults. While no novel can stand up to that kind of hype, The Lost Symbol is unmistakably Dan Brown and is a fast and engaging read as long as one doesn’t take it too seriously.

Dan Brown follows the popular adage If it ain’t broken, don’t mess with it in penning The Lost Symbol. He follows the basic template of The Da Vinci Code by creating one long chase and embellishing it with history, legends, conspiracy theories and puzzles. The entire story takes place in one night, making it fast-paced. It contains  one big plot twist that is easily predictable and a huge surprise towards the end that’s terrific as long it lasts.

What Brown did for Europe and Da Vinci’s works of art in his previous book, he does for Washington D.C. here. The target this time is the ‘Ancient Mysteries’, the definitive collection of wisdom over the ages, that is supposed to be hidden somewhere in the city. Langdon is pulled into the search when his mentor Peter Solomon is kidnapped and the kidnapper believes that Langdon is the only person who can discover the portal that leads to the Ancient Mysteries. Pointing the way to the portal are popular landmarks all over DC.

Brown has fun revealing little-known facts about well-known buildings and structures in DC. It is definitely intriguing as he explains the Masonic links of the Capitol or the Washington Monument and his interpretation of sections of their architecture or the works of art housed in them. His descriptions of Noetic Science and its goals are also quite exciting and the author’s conspiratorial tone definitely helps in making these portions involving.

The way is littered with puzzles, another Brown trademark, but they are quite amateurish and require many leaps of intuition from the characters. More interesting are the nuggets of information that are scattered around like about the commonalities between religions, new information about famous personalities(like Isaac Newton) or the etymologies of some common words(I especially liked the origins of the ‘Sincerely’ we routinely append the end of our letters).

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “The Lost Symbol”

  1. Bhaskaran says:

    Balaji, not related to this post. I have been a regular visitor here for many years, but suddenly I thought it is a possibility – were you associated with another tamil movie website (along with Sandhya) almost 10 years ago?

  2. Snowsson says:


    I would have to say that “The Lost symbol” is a bit less interesting than the other two on the same lines. I am only half way through and thanks for not telling the ending :-) I might not see the comments on your post until I finish the book, since someone might spill out the ending.

    Not sure if you had read his other non-mystic novels one on cyptography (Digital fortress) and another on alien/scientific stuff (Deception point), but both even though interesting (the novels in anyway typical Dan Brown style) did not become a hit.

    Considering that not sure what Dan Brown will choose as his next plot and if its going to be along the same lines of mystic puzzles I would prefer to read reviews before I read the book (same thing happened with Clive Cussler as over period of time, lost interest with all of those NUMA stuff)

  3. Nikitha says:

    Angels & Demons is my favorite work from Dan Brown. Both the Da Vince Code and Lost Symbol aren’t are little less gripping. I also like Digital Fortress, but Deception Point was really bad.

    Sidenote: Balaji, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, and I think more girls read it than boys!

  4. Sreekrishnan says:

    1. Langdon looks stupid in this. he merely comes in to throw the facts around DC while has nothing good to reveal as in Da Vinci or A&D

    2. The lost symbol concept is something that lot of people around the world have been saying but no one quite gets it – as mentioned in the book – the world is not yet ready for that. [Dont ask me if i am gnyani, i can understand the point of what they say – but i am just another one who cannot see through it]

    3. The presentation of the revelation of the idea is naive and is childishly done if you are understanding something in the level of Bhagvad Gita well.

  5. vijay kumar says:

    Not really unputdownable. The twist was an expected one for me. With no real controversy, it is tough to imagine world wide buzz on this one. I have a plot line in mond for Robert Langdon’s next adventure – destination Agra – is itTaj Mahal or Tejo Deo Maheshwar as some claim – was the black Taj real? Chennai and its Masonry links. Scope for controversy.

  6. Balaji says:

    Bhaskaran, I think you are referring to Minnoviyam. I wasn’t really associated with it though a couple of my reviews were posted there :)

    Snowsson, I read Deception Point before I knew about Dan Brown but read the others only after he became famous with DVC. This one is definitely less interesting than the other 2 and a big reason is the similarity in ideas and structure :)

    Nikitha, A&D is my favorite too, probably since I read it first, even before DVC. But surprisingly I feel exactly the opposite way about his early 2 books. I liked Deception Point quite a bit(except for the over-the-top climax) while I didn’t like Digital Fortress much :)

    Sreekrishnan, I hadn’t heard of the Lost Symbol concept before this. And yes, there were quite a few amateurish things scattered around the book :)

    vijay, yes, the twist wasnt a surprise for me either.
    I’m sure he’ll find a lot of good stuff if he does some research into ur ideas there :)

  7. Nikitha says:

    I think the reason I liked Digital Fortress was I read it before Deception Point, and it was something new. I read Deception Point after that.

    They are both extremely similar (down to the bad guys)

  8. Anonymous says:

    y is HP just for boys?? a lot of girls read if and love it!
    A&D is also my favorite, will have to read his earlier works.

  9. Anon says:

    ^haha, yeah. HP is read by pretty much everyone…and it’s meant for girls, too…

  10. Raju says:

    For me too, A&D is the favorite thus far. Unlike his earlier two novels, the hunt and the ‘treasure’ in ‘The Lost Symbol” were not that riveting. But, still, it was far better than most of the NYT bestsellers which spend a lot of time talking about someone’s personal struggle just to fatten the book. As with any of his earlier works, I learnt a lot reading this, so it was an enjoyable experience. It was nice to see a Tamil term (Kubera Kolam), and to find the reference to Hindu customs towards the end of the novel. The ‘Manna’ he mentions is what we call as ‘manam’, I felt.

    In the discussion about mindfulness, he left out the ‘Kundalini Yoga’ kinda practices that a few still practice successfully in India. I think that is bcoz the ‘Yoga’ as the Western world sees and practices is mostly the stretching and breathing part only, both of which don’t require a great Guru to teach. I liked this sentence “You can point to the alleged miracles of the Bible, or any other religious text, but they are nothing but old stories fabricated by man and then exaggerated over time.” This is what I have been thinking as the reason for our confusion of quite bit of Hindu mythical text as the religion itself.

    Overall, a must read; not unputdownable; more verbal diarrhea than the previous two Langdon novels.

  11. Balaji says:

    Nikitha, yeah the first book usually makes an impression that’s difficult to dispel when the others are similar. thats probably why A&D is the favorite for most readers :)

    Anons, ok I take it back. looks like HP is just as popular with the girls too :)

    Raju, long time no see… u r right about the learning part. though he tried to give everything a secretive tone, there were a lot of interesting nuggets of info about many things. liked your last line. nice description :)