The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3)The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Format: Hardbound, 509 pages
ISBN: 0385504225 (ISBN13: 9780385504225)
Published September 15th 2009 by Doubleday
borrowed, favorite
Read from October 25 to November 02, 2012
Rating: ★★★★★

Notorious worldwide for blurring the line between fact and fiction, best-selling author Dan Brown continued the adventures of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon in this third book. The novel centers about one of the oldest and most mysterious brotherhood—the Freemasonry, along with its many “secrets”—making The Lost Symbol an enthralling and gripping novel difficult to put down.

Da Vinci Code created quite a stir when the movie adaptation was shown in the Philippines (and around the world, I believe), being a Christian country dominated by Catholics. Meanwhile, I have read the Angels & Demons nearly two years ago, and I could say that it was one of the most engrossing novels I have ever read. I have not yet read the Da Vinci Code when I read The Lost Symbol though (but I’ve already read it now), but I have watched the DVC movie after reading A&D, and I pretty liked it (though I find some of the parts hard to understand, so I think it’s better if I could read it). Then, a friend let me borrow her hardbound copy of The Lost Symbol, and having had a good experience from Dan Brown’s A&D, I immediately immersed myself to it.

In Angels & Demons, Dan Brown explored the secret society of Illuminati. Da Vinci Code is an international sensation because of its plot about Jesus’ alleged romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene. This time, in The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown crafted another compelling story by divulging the fraternal organization of Freemasonry. Being an old and exclusive brotherhood, Freemasonry—in reality—has a lot of controversies in its name, followed by countless conspiracy theories.

Probably one of the things I like about Dan Brown’s writing style is his characterization of Robert Langdon. As his fictional alter-ego, Mr. Brown manages to reflect his own perceptions with the character of Robert Langdon. He creates delicate stories that challenge the society and the perspective of his readers, and he could be easily accused as a heretic. However, taking a deeper view and analysis of his novels, I could say that Mr. Dan Brown presents different sides of the issues. He writes rather common conspiracy theories for the novel(s)—real-world suspicions of people about its society and government and organizations—but Robert Langdon’s skepticism and scholarly background throw in another angle in these controversies. He doesn’t make the readers believe in anything; instead, he gives different viewpoints about the issues. I don’t think Dan Brown’s books are really “dilapidating” the minds or beliefs of the readers; rather, his novel(s) encourages a stirring debate about one’s opinions and beliefs—which, for me, is a really healthy exercise for people’s minds and principles.

I was enthralled with The Lost Symbol, though I found some parts of it… mediocre. I like the way it is filled with genuine histories and academic concepts—though I’d have to check it again to know what are actually factual and what parts are merely fiction. However, there are a couple of times when the book sounded like a printed Wikipedia because of the way it presents information. The dialogues of characters sometimes seemed mechanical, even.

The novel is written in non-linear narrative (please correct me if I’m wrong about the term!), which has lots of flashbacks. Honestly, this seemed like a simple writing feat, but I can’t pull this kind of writing, that’s why I’m fascinated with writers who could do this style effectively. The chapters were chopped into excellent parts, too. However, it feels somehow frustrating when these chapters end with cliffhangers, and another chapter would start with a different scene altogether. It feels like I’m riding in a bumpy roller coaster ride—an interesting act would be presented; I would be immersed in the scene; the anticipation would build; and I couldn’t wait to reach a gripping height; then poof! The chapter would conclude in a way that left the reader hanging. Anyway, I think it is fairly effective since the reader would keep on flipping the pages more to sustain their desire to know what happened/will happen.

I also found parts that didn’t quench my appetite for information, or left open-ended questions. Things like:

“If Freemasonry was an organization exclusive for men, what the hell was Director Inoue Sato doing in the initiation rites?”

“Is she really part of the Eastern Star, like what Warren Bellamy thought?” (I don’t think it was directly said?)

“Then why was she shocked to find the Freemason meditation room under the U.S. Capitol?” (A rather shallow question, but still..)

“What was the document doing in the director’s vault?” (I don’t know if this was actually made clear in the novel, I was really feeling sleepy and groggy in this part of the book)

And the Noetics Science! That was really an interesting plot device, but I think it wasn’t taken full advantage of. Sad. I wish the novel explored more of that field.

I still have other questions, though I can’t remember some of them, but I noted them in the margins of the book.

There are parts that I really found disturbing, especially the parts where Peter Solomon’s severed right hand was just lying in the Rotunda of U.S. Capitol. I was trying to imagine it, and like, “WTF there’s a hand on the floor!” And Mal’akh, jeez! He was really sick! I can’t imagine what kind of twisted mind he has. I had realized who he really was toward the middle of the novel, but I cannot grasp the kind of goal he has. Well, I do comprehend the goal, but the way Mal’akh wanted to achieve that goal was really, really twisted; and only a person with a twisted mind exploited by various drugs could come up with that perverted goal.

Dan Brown have this habit of starting his novels (well, with the Robert Langdon series) with lost/killed person that became the central struggle of the story and the characters. I was happy Peter Solomon did not die, because he seems a genuinely nice guy. And with all the tragedies that fallen in his family, it seems just fair that he survived. I mean, that man deserves it. He lost his right hand, though. But he and Katherine still have each other, anyway.

Speaking of Katherine Solomon, I have notice the subtle hints of a romantic attraction between her and Robert Langdon; although the woman was a bit older the guy. Dan Brown also made that move in the previous books: another subtle romantic notion at Da Vinci Code between Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu; and a building romance between Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra in Angels & Demons (what happened to them anyway?!) Well, for a man in his forties, Robert Langdon is really attractive. I mean, c’mon! The chap has looks and brains! For crying out loud, I’m attracted with his intelligence! ha-ha! Just imagining the kind of scholarly stuffs he could discuss to me—because I’d just perhaps be listening (nah, I cannot give him something new, probably)—and the kind of academic debate it could stir, makes me want to fan myself because of raw hotness. Hahaha! Jeez, I can’t believe this. XD

Despite being accused as an anti-Christian, Dan Brown is said to be a Christian; and that identity was somehow demonstrated in The Lost Symbol. For instance, there are several points about afterlife; and Robert Langdon, while inside the tank, seemingly had an out-of-the-body experience. Mal’akh, after having countless shards of glass fallen on his tattooed body, died and even had a brief “limbo” experience as he saw his father grieving over his dead body. Afterwards,though he was expecting a godly welcome from the forces of evil, his ‘soul’ came to this dark and torturous place I perceive as Hell. This gave Dan Brown’s standpoint about what happens after death—much reflecting most Christian religions’ beliefs. There are also numerous parts in the novel referring to the church, and although it was not often deliberately mentioned what kind of church, I believe those as Christian church. Christianity—Catholicism, even—was also mentioned more in the book than other religions.

Overall, a really nice book, although there are a couple of down sides, but it is one of my favorite books simply because Dan Brown is a remarkable story-tellers.

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