Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review Club: THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown

I wasn't sure if I was going to buy Dan Brown's latest in hardcover until I discovered that it was about the Freemasons, a subject of lifelong interest. My grandfather was a Mason, my grandmother was a member of Eastern Star, and I joined Job's Daughters as a teen, so you could say it's in the blood.

From the product description:

As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object--artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon’s beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations--all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After scores of Da Vinci Code knockoffs, spinoffs, copies and caricatures, Brown has had the stroke of brilliance to set his breakneck new thriller not in some far-off exotic locale, but right here in our own backyard. Everyone off the bus, and welcome to a Washington, D.C., they never told you about on your school trip when you were a kid, a place steeped in Masonic history that, once revealed, points to a dark, ancient conspiracy that threatens not only America but the world itself.

According to Wikipedia, The Lost Symbol is the "fastest selling adult novel in history", having sold one million copies in print and e-book format in the US, Canada and the UK on the very first day of release! Talk about a writer's pipe dream come true! Pretty awesome, considering it has been six years since The Da Vinci Code was released in 2003. I saw a TV interview with Brown where he said he spent years researching the book, and what he learned changed his beliefs.

I won't go into a lot of plot details as I don't want to inadvertently spoil anyone's enjoyment. The joy of a Dan Brown novel comes as much from the intellectual exercise as the thrilling plot twists and turns. In addition to the secrets of Freemasonry, Brown delves into noetic science which tries to reconcile modern science with ancient mysticism. Katherine Solomon, the sister of Langdon's mentor Peter, is a scientist working in this area, and her work is also targeted by the diabolical and almost superhuman villain Mal'akh.

I enjoyed The Lost Symbol as much, if not more than, the Da Vinci Code. Having already read Holy Blood, Holy Grail and other books about the Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar, I was familiar with a lot of the territory in that book. While I had some background about the Freemasons, I didn't know how deeply Masonic ideas and symbols were enshrined in our nation's capital, so a lot of this was new to me and great fun to follow and decipher. I'm now happily off on an exploration of Katherine Solomon's field of interest: Noetic Science.

If you're a Dan Brown fan, don't miss this one!


Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy


David Cranmer said...

A co-worker read THE LOST SYMBOL in one day (We were doing some serious traveling) and at the end told me "Brilliant!"

And now your review confirms it. Thanks.

Linda McLaughlin said...

David, wow, your friend really devoured it. I read it slowly so I could think about some of the philosophical implications. In any case, I think it's well worth reading.

Barrie said...

So sorry, Linda. You're up and linked now. And I have got to read this book!!!

Ellen Booraem said...

I didn't think much of The Da Vinci Code, and haven't read any of the subsequent books. You may have enticed me to try this one, you, I'm fascinated by this country's Masonic beginnings. Thanks for the review!

pattinase (abbott) said...

My grandfather was too. I think all men in business belonged to these groups. When he died, the Masons came in and had their own ceremony. Always made me wonder what went on.

Travis Erwin said...

I've never read any Dan Brown but suppose I should someday.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Barrie, thanks for getting the link up.

Ellen, if you didn't like The Da Vinci Code, you might not like this one either. I'm not saying he's a great writer or that it's a great thriller, but he always gives us something interesting to ponder and I like that.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Patti, my grandfather died before I was born, so I don't know if there was a Masonic ceremony or not. You might find the book interesting, though.

Travis, what we read is such a personal decision, I always say there are no "shoulds". What you read is entirely your choice.

Teresa said...

Hi Linda,

I read "The Lost Symbol" in one afternoon and an evening. I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed it. But then, I really enjoy Dan Brown books. Thanks for sharing.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

My husband has now finished the book, and it's my turn. I'm very much looking forward to reading as Dan Brown always teaches me something new while I'm being entertained. Thanks for the review!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Teresa, can't wait to talk to you in person about The Lost Symbol. :D

Alyssa, hope you and your husband enjoy the book.

Sarahlynn said...

Thank you for this review! My husband now has his Christmas vacation novel. :-)

Keri Mikulski said...

Love Brown's books.

Thanks for the review!! :)

Anonymous said...

[ ... ] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @zenx, an influential author, said RT @1ndus: Xtreme [ ... ]