The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol is the fifth book by author Dan Brown, after his major bestsellers, Digital Fortress (1998), Angels and Demons (2000), Deception Point (2001), and The Da Vinci Code (2003). Out of all Brown’s books, The Da Vinci Code was credited with the most controversial reception, and was accused of morally attacking the Catholic Church.

Handsomely structured, although being charged with accusations of reflecting conspiracy theories, similar to Angels and Demons (set in the Vatican) and The Da Vinci Code (taking us from Paris to London), this time Brown travels to Washington DC to tell us about the partially known, if not hidden, tale orbiting around Freemasonry.

Set to release in 2006 under the working title of The Solomon Key, the date of its release was pushed forward to September 2009.

The book is the third in the Robert Langdon series, who is a Harvard University symbologist, and also the protagonist in the story.

Langdon, after his previous two expeditions of cracking the Illuminati case, and uncovering what has been an undefined mystery to people worldwide – The Holy Grail – is summoned at the Capitol Building this time, but is tricked into an intricate web loosely based around his kidnapped mentor (Peter Solomon, a mason), a hideous, tattooed colossus (Malakh) and an averagely arranged masonic-ritual puzzle. From there on begins Langdon’s 12 hour long quest of exploring secret passageways in the Capitol Building, unearthing truths about Freemasonry and learning the sainthood of George Washington through the painting Apotheosis of Washington.

After coming to the Capitol Building, Langdon soon learns that Malakh has kidnapped Peter Solomon, and threatens Langdon of the consequential damage to Peter if he doesn’t tell Malakh about “the lost symbol”, which can be learned by deciphering the code in scripted on the Masonic pyramid. In comes the character of Peter’s sister, Katherine Solomon, who has developed an experiment, one that has never been seen before, of establishing a significant connection between scientific truths and understanding them through powers of spirituality.

Inoue Sato, Director of CIA’s Office of Security, is on a wild goose chase, who considers Langdon to be the bad guy, since he holds possession of the Masonic pyramid given to him by Peter. Sato wants Langdon to solve the case by decoding the inscription, which puts Langdon in further dilemma, following the promise he made to Peter about not disclosing it all irrespective of the circumstances.

The Lost Symbol, somehow, does not seem to level itself to the standards his previous works had set. On many occasions, Brown has incorporated emphasis on his characters in Italics that only succeed in producing what is totally uncalled for, does not provide his readers with the same thrill of a “page turner”, and exaggeratedly articulates at several points.

Unsure as it is, the novel may or may not lead to religious or political implications, but certainly will want its readers to dig into issues enveloping the cast of masonry. Brown, who is otherwise known for his clever-witted expertise in creating contemporary tales around facts surrounding ancient mysticism, has not pulled the strings of contriving a well-documented genre for which he is indigenously known for. In the end, The Lost Symbol is only a story that tries to utilize heavy notes of language, attempts to make it juicier where it is least needed and characterizes its players as walking encyclopedias. If not a transcript that enlightens us about masonry, it can only be treated as a sheer pleasure read, with reasonable twists and turns to provide mild thrills along the course of its story.

Shaurya Arya

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