Oct 21 2009
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).
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