Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol
Eric Prister | Monday, September 21, 2009
Dan Brown, the best-selling author of “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons,” strikes again with another extraordinarily interesting, historically questionable yet remarkably entertaining novel, “The Lost Symbol,” released Sept. 15.
A sequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Lost Symbol” traces Harvard professor and symbolist Robert Langdon as he seeks to avoid what inevitably turns out to be a worldwide catastrophe, using his unique knowledge of symbolism and history as his guidepost. Langdon arrives on the scene – this time the streets of Washington, D.C. – to find his friend and mentor Peter Solomon kidnapped, along with the kidnapper’s claim that only Langdon has the ability to save Solomon’s life.
As Langdon attempts to solve the clues before him in time to save his kidnapped friend, he is pursued by both the CIA, led by the short but terrifying director of CIA Office of Security, Inoue Sato and by Mal’akh, a god-like man, tattooed from head to toe with more knowledge and ability than anyone could have imagined. Both, it seems, desire to uncover the secrets of the Freemasons, a secret order in which Solomon is highly involved.
Mal’akh, like the albino Silas from “The Da Vinci Code,” is another of Brown’s monster-like villains, whose physical appearance is just as terrifying as his intentions. Mal’akh will seemingly stop at nothing to uncover the secret held by Peter Solomon and torment the Solomon family and only Langdon has the ability to stop him.
In “The Lost Symbol,” Brown all but abandons his use of artwork that is so prominent in his other works in favor of the true code breaking that Langdon must do to accomplish his task. This novel includes fewer historical revelations and scandalous discoveries, but replaces it with suspense, since it seems as though Mal’akh is always waiting for Langdon around the corner.
Brown has often been criticized for making attacks on Christian faiths and particularly the Catholic Church, but he avoids doing so in “The Lost Symbol” – sort of.
Though it does not directly focus on Christianity, the novel does claim to unveil some of the mysteries of the Freemasons, the ramifications of which would be seen as troublesome for many faiths, including Christianity. It seems as though Brown cannot help but take shots at organized religion, and though he does not focus this book on it, his contempt for their structures is still evident.
Despite this, Brown surely knows how to keep a reader’s attention, by ending chapters – which for him are very short – on cliffhangers, and telling multiple stories at the same time, so that resolution does not come immediately. “The Lost Symbol,” like all of Brown’s books, is perfect for a college student who wants to take a break from the daily homework grind. It’s short chapters make for easy stopping places, and the diction is simple and straightforward, which takes much less concentration to read that the average college assignment.
The only drawback to “The Lost Symbol” is that the final twist and resolution come a bit too soon. Brown could easily have ended the book before he does, but it seems that he wants to add a bit of his own philosophy to the work, and does so in the ending chapters. This section brings to light some of the questions that have been unanswered throughout the book, but without action to back them up, it leaves something to be desired.
Having said that, “The Lost Symbol” is exactly what it is supposed to be – a fast-paced novel that keeps the reader interested, gives an interesting and new view at some of America’s most famous men and landmarks, and is an overall enjoyable read. For those who do not enjoy Brown’s books, this will be no different. But for those who do, “The Lost Symbol” may just be his best yet.