When ‘Da Vinci Code‘ came out in 2003, I was in college and everyone had this book in their hands. I borrowed the book from a friend, stayed up all night and finished it. A decade and a half down the lane, Dan Brown made progression with The Lost Symbol, Inferno and then the Origin.
Sadly, my momentum gained at reading Da Vinci Code gave way to watching Tom Hanks play Robert Langdon in Angels and Demon, Da Vinci Code and Inferno. Last year, I stumbled upon ‘The Lost Symbol’ and somehow mistook it for Dan Brown’s latest ‘Origin’ (yeah, my brain sometimes takes its own trip beyond my power!).
Fine, a year later, I read the book and with the same pace. The only problem though, Robert Langdon’s character talks in Tom Hank’s accent in my head.
‘The Lost Symbol’ was published in 2009 and proceeds after ‘Da Vinci Code‘. Dan Brown collects all the ingredients from ‘Da Vinci Code’ and brings to this book. The gigantic 671-pages-book just rushes in a flash. Yet, I would say this isn’t the perfect book of sorts, Dan Brown plays safe with Freemasons theory and adds philosophical angle to his thriller.
Dan Brown doesn’t dilute his strength and stays ground with symbology, conspiracy theories and unearthing an ancient secret. This time, Professor Robert Langdon is down to locate his longtime friend Peter Soloman, whose whereabouts are unknown and also, to trace a hidden treasure through a Masonic pyramid.
We begin with Robert Langdon being solicited by Peter Solomon to give a lecture at the United States Capitol. However, it turns out to be a conspiracy as Robert Langdon reaches the venue to find out the whole thing to be a set-up. Peter Solomon is missing. The person who contacted on behalf of Peter Solomon now directs Robert Langdon according to his whims.
There is a severed hand of Peter Solomon in the Capitol Rotunda with the symbols of ‘Hand of Mysteries’ tattooed on the fingers. From here begins the trail of Robert Langdon in company of Officer Inoue Sato, the head of the CIA’s Office of Security and Officer Anderson, head of the Capitol Police to unravel the mystery. CIA’s angle takes a beating, failing at every juncture and with the confusing sketch on an impeding world disaster in case the secret of the pyramid is exposed.
‘Masonic Pyramid is described as enormous, with a tip forged of solid gold…the Masonic Pyramid of Legend …a map that revealed the hiding place of a long spiral staircase that led deep into the earth…down hundreds of feet to a mystical ancient treasure that had been buried in Washington long ago’
The pyramid with enormous powers has remained a secret with the Freemasons in Washington DC. If you thought Washington had nothing ancient to pool your interest in, then Robert Langdon clarifies, ‘Castles, crypts, pyramids, temples….it’s all there.’ Dan Brown made me Google ‘George Washington Zeus’ and Michelangelo’s diabolical ‘horned Moses’. And, as it was great deciphering Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings, we have Albrecht Durer’s ‘Melencolia I’ in ‘The Lost Symbol’. I think this is exactly why I read Dan Brown; it is not so much the story but these references on art and sculpture from the West. He makes reading on ‘renaissance’ period so much fun.
The character of Mala’kh, the tall, huge-built, tattooed anti-hero of the book is the high point of ‘The Lost Symbol’. This eccentric man has kept Peter Solomon captive and has asked Langdon to retrieve and decipher the ancient codes on the Masonic Pyramid. Mala’kh is the dark character you begin to believe is either an incarnation of demon or is turning into one and his final transformation requires the powers from some mystical portal unlocked through the pyramid.
Peter Solomon is a wealthy man, CEO of the Smithsonian Institution and in the highest order of Freemasonary. The female counterpart to Langdon in ‘The Lost Symbol’ is Katherine Solomon, the fifty-year-old expert on Noetic Science. Yes, Google helps again, plus a lot of text in the book; Noetic Science is ‘how beliefs, thoughts and intentions affect the physical world.’ This requires Katherine to have an exclusive lab, dark and quite, so you get a perfect heart in your mouth chase sequence. The age of the characters do not define the scenes, have ‘Langdon-Sophie’ from Da Vinci Code as reference. Age only adds to the experience and knowledge of the characters.
‘For centuries the “brightest minds on earth had ignored the ancient sciences, mocking them as ignorant superstitions, among themselves instead with smug skepticism and dazzling new technologies – tools that led them further from the truth.’
Peter Solomon’s character strongly believes in the religious scriptures for the ancient wisdom. It is interesting how Dan Brown quotes Bhagavad Gita and Krishna while explaining ‘polarity’ and the Jewish text known as ‘The Zohar’ to modern Superstring theory. The citations to the ancient scriptures run constant through Peter and Katherine’s characters. The Masonic rituals form another part in the realm. This bit is confusing, I am still guessing whether Dan Brown wanted to vilify the Masons or elevate a secret society as being ‘refreshingly open-minded’.
‘People study mysteries for entire lifetimes and are still unable to access the power allegedly hidden there. Langdon flashed on Durer’s Melencolia I – the image of the dejected Adept, surrounded by the tools of his failed efforts to unveil the mystical secrets of alchemy. If the secrets can actually be unlocked, they will not be found in one place!’
A major setback in ‘The Lost Symbol’ is dilution of Robert Langdon’s character. The master of symbology is rather dependent on Katherine or Peter or Warren Bellamy, the architect of the Capitol and a Mason/ friend of Peter Soloman. With every appendage to cripple you down, you will continue to read this for Dan Brown and his way around building mystic ladders.
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