Thursday, 23 December 2010

Robert Langdon Searches for the Lost Symbol

I was a bit skeptical when I started reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. Having read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons (and subsequently having seen both movies) I didn't think there was anything that Mr. Brown could write that is worth reading. After all, both of the above novels are essentially the same - they feature the recurring themes of symbols, keys, cryptography, hidden secrets, secret societies, etc. I admit that Dan Brown has a great imagination and an enthralling style of writing but still, I do not wish to read the same thing over and over again.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by The Lost Symbol. Of course, you can immediately tell who the writer is. Robert Langdon, the clever Harvard professor of symbology is again trapped in a chase-and-run situation, in which he has to solve the mystery of the lost Mason symbol and unlock the ancient secrets. Whoever possesses these ancient secrets, possesses the greatest knowledge in the world. The stake is the life of the greatest Mason and Langdon's friend and mentor Peter Solomon. There is the absolutely crazy antagonist, who is obsessed with weird Christian rituals and is determined to stop the world from acquiring this knowledge and to pray himself a sacrifice. At the end in a typical American manner good conquers common sense, the ancient secrets are revealed (you will be surprised here) and the "bad guy" is punished.

Still, The Lost Symbol is an enthralling reading, which you cannot leave until you have read it cover to cover. Brown has this manner of posing questions and giving answers several chapters ahead. Where he poses another question, which absolutely leaves you no choice but to keep reading. And of course, you keep asking yourself "What could these ancient secrets possibly be that they give their owner access to the ultimate knowledge?" Having in mind that Brown's literature may be exaggerated but it is never fantastical, this question becomes even more itching throughout the novel. I simply couldn't go to sleep without finding out. At the end, as with all complex ideas, the answer is pretty simple. I will not spoil the fun for those of you who haven't read it but I am more than sure nobody thought of that interpretation.

As a whole, The Lost Symbol is hardly a masterpiece. But, the author doesn't even attempt it to be so. It is just a thriller novel, which demonstrates Brown's extensive knowledge about secret societies, Christianity, and history. It is worth taking time to read it. Bear in mind, even though the author claims at the beginning that all societies and symbols are real, after all this is fiction. Even if you wished there were hidden treasures and symbols all over Washington (and Paris for that matter) I sincerely doubt it.

PS: The greatest disadvantage of having seen the Hollywood adaptions is that I kept picturing Tom Hanks while reading about Robert Langdon. Spoils the experience a little bit.

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