With the release of Inferno in the cinemas recently, I had planned to zoom through The Lost Symbol and at least have made a start on Inferno… that didn’t happen though. This particular book review/entry will probably contain spoilers, just so you’re aware. It has been out for some time now anyway [not that that makes someone spoiling something for you okay, which is why I always try to include these warnings].
Synopsis – From GoodReads:
In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world’s most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling – a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths…all under the watchful eye of Brown’s most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, DC., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.
As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object – artfully encoded with five symbols – is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation…one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.
When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon – a prominent Mason and philanthropist – is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations – all of which seem to be dragging hi toward a single, inconceivable truth.
As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown’s novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histries, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown’s fans have been waiting for…his most thrilling novel yet.
It’s been a very long time since I picked up a Robert Langdon book. In fact, a very long time since I read a Dan Brown book. I’m thinking over ten years, possibly even longer than that as I know I read Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code in school. It’s been so long, so I have to say that while the character of Robert Langdon was familiar, I couldn’t say that I remembered him completely – except what I had seen in the Inferno film a few weeks back,
I was looking forward to reading as I had assumed it was going to be a quick read, as I remembered the others to be, but my expectation fell far short from reality. It’s taken me ages to get through this one, and not just because I haven’t been able to dedicate the amount of time to it either. I would read, and feel like I had been reading for a long time, and make no progress. There is an awful lot of content to consider in this book, and some of which I think could have been edited out a bit.
The plot is heavily invested in the Freemasons – a group based in reality that I have little information about. Robert Langdon is called to Washington to give a lecture, but is tricked and instead has to help a maniac find the Masonic Pyramid, and then if that wasn’t enough – he had to decipher it as well.
Aside from Robert, we have a couple of other characters to note. Katherine Solomon, scientist in Noetics, previous romantic interest, sister to the kidnapped Peter Solomon. Peter Solomon, and the Soloman family, are wealthy – extremely so, but mired in tragedy. From the loss of his son and mother some years back, there’s just Katherine and Peter now. Peter also, conveniently is the head of the Masons.
Oh, and he’s just had his arm chopped off by a psycho. Not that you would know.
Peters’ hand is the start of the mystery for Robert. Masonic rituals, the CIA, Katherine, the odd religious leader here and there guide Robert through the journey of deciphering the pyramid in the hopes of saving Peter. The CIA doesn’t want him to do this. They couldn’t care about Peter any less, in fact.
So Robert is facing difficulty all around. As with many books, not just this one, artistic licence allows Robert to survive everything that comes his way without too much effort. Heck, he even gets drowned in ‘breathable liquid’ before being rescued by the CIA and continuing on with his efforts to save his friend. This actually happens a little too often in this book for my liking, and at times I was like… seriously? Unless you were a main character, you were probably going to end up dead.
The Lost Symbol became a search for the The Lost Word, which when revealed both wasn’t lost, not particularly interesting in my opinion. Certainly didn’t make me want to find a copy of the Bible and give it a read.
When we’re given some history into Peter’s life, and his losses, like that of his son, I had guessed from that moment how the plot was going to go. The maniac that tortured Peters family? Naturally it was his ‘dead’ son, back to wreck his revenge. This was just too darn predictable, and once this revelation was aired, not only was I disappointed – I had wanted to be wrong about it – but I lost interest in the last few sections, skim reading it more than paying any particular attention to it. I wasn’t interested in the Bible being the lost word, I wasn’t interested in Katherine and Robert seeing the sunrise with the Obelisk [again, I called that at the beginning of the book].
I was hoping for a thrilling read, which I didn’t exactly get. The answers weren’t great, and of course, everyone that was important were saved and survived. Also, Peter apparently magically healed up, and didn’t need hospital treatment after his ordeal of being tortured and having his hand chopped off, because he was able to do loads of stuff for Robert and Katherine before the end of the book, like taking them to the top of the Obelisk, and sending them back to the Capitol building.
The journey in the book took only about 10 hours from finding the hand to the final revelation. 10 hours. Reading it took so much more.
I really wanted to be enthralled by this one like I was with the others, and it makes me question whether I will read the final book – even though I enjoyed the film, can I bring myself to do it? Dan Brown’s writing style in this one irritated me more than once with the constant cliffhangers and treating his readers a little like uneducated masses – I feel like I shouldn’t have been able to call what was going to happen, especially so early in the story.
Have you read this? What did you think?