Todd’s Review of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

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Dan Brown is back with his third installment of the Robert Langdon series with The Lost Symbol.  With Mr. Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology, Brown delves into the world of Freemasonry in this novel.  The previous two books in the series, Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code dealt with the Iluminati and the Templar Knights.  Brown has certainly made a name for himself in the literary world introducing the practices of these secret organizations to the public as well as demystifying their true purposes and roles in society.

Robert Langdon is invited to give a lecture at the United States Capitol by his friend and Freemason Peter Solomon.  Solomon is an influential Mason, having obtained the highest position in the Freemasons: the 33rd degree.  When Langdon arrives at the Capitol, he realizes there is no lecture, and finds something much more sinister: the severed hand of Mr. Solomon pointing up at the ceiling of the Capitol.  Langdon is contacted by a man who calls himself Mal’akh, stating that he was the one that originally asked Langdon to give his lecture, not Peter.  He also reveals that he was the one who placed Mr. Solomon’s hand in the Capitol.  He gives Langdon a dire agenda: find and decipher the secret pyramid of the Freemasons or Mr. Solomon dies.  As if this wasn’t taxing enough, Langdon’s day becomes even more complicated, as he becomes an unwilling participant in the CIA’s attempt to intervene in the matter.  CIA director Inoue Sato becomes increasingly impatient as Langdon hides clues from the CIA in order to protect Peter, and begins to suspect Langdon of foul play.  Enter Katherine Solomon, Peter’s sister and Langdon’s partner in his attempt to save Peter’s life.  She studies Noetic science, the science of thought and senses.  She conducts invaluable work that proves that thought has physical mass and can impact other objects.  Obviously, her research has huge implications in the way in which humankind views religion, prayer, thought, and many other things.  Not only has Peter been caught in Mal’akh’s web, but Katherine almost loses her life in Mal’akh’s attempt to destroy all of her work.  Langdon must save her, as well as try to discover Mal’akh’s true motive for attacking Peter and his family.  Will Robert and Katherine discover the secret of the pyramid in time to save Peter and stop Mal’akh?  Will Langdon be able to evade the CIA long enough to bring Mal’akh to justice?

I will admit that at first I was not a fan of this book.  Having read DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons, I was quite familiar with the plot outline of the Robert Langdon series of novels.  The structure seemed too similar to just be written off as overarching themes between all of the books.  It was as if I was re-reading the other novels; the path which Langdon was traveling felt too familiar to me.  The book began with a single element of a code, then unfolded with Langdon being wanted by the authorities, leading to his partnering with an attractive female counterpart, etc.  It was a bit typecast to put it bluntly.  However, just as I thought I was going to really lose interest, I finally became hooked in the last few climactic chapters of the book.  The ending definitely does not disappoint.  I can’t really even provide any clues to what happens, but rest assured that it will keep you enthralled though the end.

Definitely worth noting is Brown’s fantastic ability to pack a ton of history and symbology into his works.  I always feel like I’ve taken a history and symbology course after reading his books, and this one was no different.  Brown is an expert into weaving academic concepts into the action of his novels, and the mind games he plays with the symbols that Langdon must crack are always very entertaining.  Overall, although I felt the plot dragged and was at least somewhat predictable considering Brown’s past works, The Lost Symbol was a solid read that kept me entertained and satisfied in the end.  For anyone who is a fan of Brown or just wants to  read a fun, engaging crime drama, pick up a copy today.

3 out of 5 stars

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (2009)
Hardcover 528 pages
ISBN: 9780385504225

2 thoughts on “Todd’s Review of The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

  1. Todd, I’m in the middle of this book right now, so I can’t read the blog post, but I’ll be sure to check-back and comment upon completion. Very excited to finish it!

    • Finally finished reading the book last night and I have to say – WOW… I’ve read the 2 previous Langdon books, as well as Brown’s other books and in my mind, this one tops them all in terms of stories. I was hooked immediately upon entering the Capitol building, and everything else after that became more of a reason to stay.
      What I loved about this book, as well as Brown’s other novels, is the fact that each chapter leaves you with a cliff-hangar that you can’t wait to finish the next chapter to get some sort of a conclusion, only to find yourself enthralled in a new cliff-hangar.
      I agree with you that this book told a very similar story from Langdon’s POV – given 1 clue to solve, partners with a beautiful female, untrustworthy of someone near him, etc… but I think that’s what makes these stories work so well. If there wasn’t so much suspense, unknown, and mystery behind certain aspects of the story, then it wouldn’t be an exciting read.
      Going into this I had heard other people’s comments about the book saying “the ending is so obvious” and “I knew 1/2 way through the book what was going to happen”, well I don’t know how they did it because up until about 40 pages from the ending, I was still gripping the edges of the book in wonder at what would be revealed next. And the rest of those 40 pages, I was so enthralled with the explanation of all they had worked for.
      What I found to be very interesting, and actually somewhat of a distraction, was the fact that I had seen the film-version of the 2 previous books and know that they are writing this one for Hollywood as well, so the whole time I was reading this book I was thinking “how will they visualize this piece of the story?”

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