The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown, is the third in his Robert Langdon series. I read the first two (The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons) a long time ago, and absolutely loved them! This third one had been on my to-read list for quite a while now. So when I learnt that the fourth one (Inferno) was also releasing this year in May, I decided to finally strike it off my list, to make way for the fourth one!
Blurb from The Lost Symbol:
Robert Langdon, the famed symbolist from Harvard, is beckoned for a talk at the Capitol Building by his mentor and philanthropist, Peter Solomon. As soon as he arrives, he finds Solomon’s severed hand, left behind by a killer, Mal’akh - a hand that he identifies to be an archaic invitation.
Robert understands that the only way to emancipate his friend is to follow the hints and symbols to where they lead him. As soon as he makes his final decision, he is brushed off far behind the frontispiece. He finds himself amidst America’s hidden history - temples, alcoves, and adits. Everything around him seems to lead him to a single, fantastic, and incomprehensible gospel.
The Lost Symbol was another typically Robert Langdon standard-formula book. (I don't have any problems with that, by the way.) Langdon, receiving an urgent call from someone, takes off to Washington DC this time, only to find himself in the middle of yet another series of events involving psycho villains, secret societies (the Freemasons this time), crypts, symbols, ancient history, technology and confined spaces that force him to deal with his claustrophobia! Usual Dan Brown mix of suspense, thriller, science and history, but the end was a complete let down.
Characters in this book were not as crisp as Brown's previous two Langdon books. Peter Solomon, Langdon's mentor, a 33rd degree Freemason, the head of the Smithsonian Institution, is the person whose kidnapping sets the plot in motion. But we don't really see him in action till much later in the plot. Sato, the head of CIA's Office of Security, and Bellamy, Peter Solomon's friend, a Freemason brother and the Architect of the Capitol, are both seemingly trying to help Landon unravel the mystery. Their roles in the plot could have been longer. Dr. Katherine Solomon, Peter's younger sister, works in the field of Noetic Science, is initially introduced as a strong character, and I was expecting her to play a more vital role towards the end. Surprisingly, I quite liked the character of Mal'akh, the unrelenting villain of the plot! The emotional and mental disturbances that go on in making one of the cruelest antagonists created by Dan Brown, do come across.
The Lost Symbol was slow to pick up, and seemed to drag a bit at times. Some parts made for a brilliant hair-raising thriller. But, in a lot of places, the writing seemed to come across as too much pedantry. There was a lot of archaeological description about Washington DC, too much unwanted history, that wasn't even so relevant to the plot. It was as if the author was trying to show off his knowledge. I was forced to skip paragraphs. The presentation seemed a bit shabby. Unlike Brown's previous books, science and ancient history don't seem to blend naturally in this one. I liked reading about Katherine's field of work and her experiments in Noetic Science, but honestly, what's it got to do with freemasonry? Nor was it used in the climax like the antimatter in Angels & Demons.
I didn't enjoy The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown, as much as I enjoyed his previous two books in the Langdon series:
Angels & Demons (Buy it from Flipkart or Amazon.in or Amazon.com)
The Da Vinci Code (Buy it from Flipkart or Amazon.in or Amazon.com)
However, I certainly am looking forward to the fourth in the series - Inferno - that can be ordered from Flipkart or Amazon.in or Amazon.com.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5. Even though The Lost Symbol tends to drag a lot, and there is a lot of "information overload", ardent Dan Brown lovers will probably enjoy it. It could have been so much better with a little more attention on the characters and the action (more secret passageways, more narrow escapes), and a little less "lecturing" on architectural relics.
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