Saturday, 19 December 2009

Book Review: The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown (2009)


Dan Brown's follow-up to the runaway bestseller The DaVinci Code is another entertaining romp featuring symbologist Robert Langdon, this time decoding the surprisingly secretive world of Washington DC.

Langdon is mysteriously summoned by his long-time friend Peter Solomon, a senior member of the Masonic Order, to deliver a lecture in DC. The invitation is the start of one very long night for Langdon, as the monstrous villain by the name of Mal'akh orchestrates a nightmare sequence of events that leaves Langdon reeling, Solomon in captivity, and his sister Katherine Solomon, a Noetics scientist, in danger of death.

Mal'akh, a student of the dark arts of sacrifice, is seeking ultimate power by gaining access to the knowledge hidden in the legendary Ancient Mysteries, a possibly mythical treasure of the world's collective wisdom thought to be protected by the powerful Masons.

To get his hands on this ultimate fountain of eternal power, Mal'akh needs Langdon's unwilling help to find and unlock the artifacts, symbols, and puzzles used by the Masons to protect the location and identity of the Mysteries. Mal'akh also has a personal and long-running vendetta against the Solomons, and is happy to destroy the family to gain access to the secrets protected by the Masons.

As Langdon races to save Peter Solomon from torture and Katherine Solomon from death, the typical assortment of colourful Dan Brown characters join the fray, including the Director of a secretive CIA department and the senior manager of the US Capitol Building.

In addition to Peter Solomon, many of the other characters in The Lost Symbol are senior Masons. The book is a largely sympathetic portrayal of the Order, a society of secrets rather than a secret society, a distinction made early in the book. While The Lost Symbol likely reveals more about the Masons than they would prefer, and shines a spotlight that the publicity-shy Order would rather avoid, the overall context is both positive and supportive.

At over 500 pages, this is a long book, and while it takes place over one night, a good half of the text is occupied by flashbacks as critical events from the pasts of Langdon, both Solomons and Mal'akh are recollected to flesh-out the background to the events unfolding in DC. The last 200 pages do fly by as Brown takes the story to a suitable climax.

Brown then uses the denoument, a solid 50 pages, to deliver the real message behind the book with a solid punch, and it is surprisingly even more powerful and universal than the ending of The DaVinci Code.

The Lost Symbol, with its straightforward pace and bluntly descriptive language, will not win any literary awards, but it provides good entertainment with a satisfying dose of intellect.






509 pages.
Published in hardcover by Doubleday.


The Lost Symbol at the Ace Black Store.
Ace Black Blog Book Review No. 25.

All Ace Black Blog Book Reviews are here.

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