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Books: The Lost Symbol
Sunday, 2009 September 27 - 10:47 am
Dan Brown's recently released (and highly anticipated) novel, The Lost Symbol, is another Robert Langdon saga in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

Langdon's new world-changing puzzle has to do with the Freemasons and their most closely guarded secrets... which may have something to do with "noetic science", the idea that the human mind is capable of influencing matter by thought alone.

Much like The Da Vinci Code, this book is full of realistic-sounding "facts" about science and history that readers are expected to take at face value, at least for the sake of the story. The problem is that Dan Brown spends so much time explaining and defending these "facts" that the dialogue seems forced, like the characters are reading out of Wikipedia.
"I see. So what exactly are these . . . Ancient Mysteries?"

Langdon exhaled. Have you got a few weeks? "In short, the Ancient Mysteries refer to a body of secret knowledge that was amassed long ago. One intriguing aspect of this knowledge is that it allegedly enables its practitioners to access powerful abilitis that lie dormant in the human mind. The enlightened Adepts who possessed the knowledge vowed to keep it veiled from the masses because it was considered far too potent and dangerous for the uninitiated."

There is a lot of dialogue like this, and it's not just Langdon who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of history, architecture, religion, symbology, and etymology. After a while, that makes the characters seem somewhat less than believable.

And again, like The Da Vinci Code, the story is a non-stop chase, it features a wacko villain who performs rituals while naked (oh yes, the phrase "sex organ" is used more than once in this book), and there's a female sidekick for Langdon who is an intelligent, pretty, older woman. At times, I have to wonder where Brown's fascination with naked psychotic men and sexy older women comes from.

The book wouldn't be a Robert Langdon story without a few puzzles, and he sprinkles them in throughout. The puzzles are somewhat unsatisfying; either they're too easy to figure out, or they're impossible to understand until Brown reveals a hidden clue.

So while the book was engaging, it wasn't engrossing. Halfway through I was tempted to just skip to the ending. If you're a Dan Brown fan, I think you'll appreciate the style and the pace of the story... but you'll also probably guess most of the plot twists before they happen, and you'll find yourself thinking, "Guh, this is just like his other books... except somewhat less believable."

Rating: 2.5 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: booksreviews

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