It’s 5 years since I read all of Dan Brown’s novels. Regrettably only remember part of Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons vividly, the other two are a blur. The latest offering The Lost Symbol bears all the hallmark of Brown, i.e. the reluctant Robert Langdon arrived in a museum with a gruesome scene in sight that offers some clue to a secret, while a psychopath killer cum sadistic freak lurking in the shadows, a damsel in distress which originates from a prestige lineage; not to mention, the codes and symbols, free masons, the pyramids, the chase and the fairly predictable whodunit.
Peter Solomon is Robert Langdon’s mentor, and many years ago entrusted Langdon with a gold capstone of a Masonic Pyramid. The stone pyramid, its Masonic cipher, the sealed capstone is 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.
This secret has to do with The Ancient Mysteries – the lost wisdom of the ages – have long been considered mankind’s most sacred treasure, and like all great treasure, they have been carefully protected. The enlightened sages who understood the true power of this wisdom learned to fear its awesome potential. They knew that if this secret knowledge were to fall into uninitiated hands, the results could be devastating; as we said earlier, powerful tools can be used either for good or for evil. So in order to protect the Ancient Mysteries, and mankind in the process, the early practitioners formed secret fraternities. Inside these brotherhoods, they shared their wisdom only with the properly initiated, passing the wisdom from sage to sage.
Throughout the entire book we were reminded again and again about the Ancient Mysteries and how the pyramid is the key to find out the truth that will destroy or enlighten mankind, depending on whose hands it falls into…… it became a little weary halfway into the book.
There is also the tendency of Brown to display his research / intellectual prowess, by using big words, and quoting mind boggling terminologies that only interest groups could relate to. Some examples are:
- The number of other esoteric groups, i.e. Rosicrucian, Kabbalistic, Alumbradian.
- History great unsolved codes – the Phaistos Disk, the Dorabella Cipher, the mysterious Voynich Manuscript.
- A collection of dead species, a type of fish, Coelacanth; and a type of squid called Architenthis.
- Symbol, symbolon, symbature (symbol + signature)
- Using a lock opener Key4 consists of primarily cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine with diethylhexyl plasticizer. (duh!)
Avert your eyes from the following para and hop on to the last, if you don’t want a spoiler……..
So where were we? Oh Yes. Peter and friend, Warren Bellamy, and a mysterious blind old man are all members of the Supreme Council 33rd degree. Peter Solomon chose to entrust part of his inheritance to his worthless first born, Zachary, who subsequently squandered away his wealth, got involved in drug ring, Incarcerated in the Turkish prison, blabbered about his family secret. Zachary got bludgeoned to death by a fellow inmate who took over Zachary’s wealth and reborn as Mal’akh, tracked Peter down, hoping to steal the secrets but instead got shot by Peter. Peter’s mom died as a result of the attack in the Solomon’s home. This time, Mal’akh is back for revenge, to kill the holders of the secrets and to bury the truth. This includes Katherine’s (Peter’s sister) research of Noetic Sciences.
Experiments at facilities like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in California and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) had categorically proven that human thoughts, if properly focused, had the ability to affect and change physical mass. Their experiments are rather highly controlled inquiries that all produced the same extraordinary result: our thoughts actually interacted with the physical world, whether or not we knew it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm.
If a thought has mass, then a thought exerts gravity and can pull things toward it… meaning… if enough people begin thinking the same thing, then the gravitational force of that thought becomes tangible.. and it exerts actual force. And it can have a measurable effect in our physical world. (This is the passage I found most inspiring), and also
Power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.
Katherine has made some breakthrough, and Mal’akh is out to get her.
Just when I think The Lost Symbol didn’t live up to Da Vinci Code’s expectation, towards the middle of the book, the action picked up. More codes to decipher, more clues to trace from the pyramid. The Mickey Mouse watch adorn and claustrophobic Robert Langdon is faced with his deepest fear in the race of time to save Peter Solomon and escaping from the radar of the CIA.
The work of Da Vinci Code discussed codes, art work and religious icons that we could all relate to. It costs such controversial and public attention because it’s blasphemous at the same time it is intriguing. I can’t help but to compare this book with Da Vinci Code. In The Lost Symbol, I feel my interest is not vested enough to care about the truth of the ancient secret. The Lost Symbol however has a more evangelistic intent to it, there is a central theme of World Peace in this book, about faith and belief, about the power for focused conviction and intention, and when people share the same thing, we can change the world. The ending still caught me by surprise. Overall, the book is very clever, the plot is nicely paced. The codes and conclusion are wrapped up nicely. The arguments are convincing. Brown did not disappoint. For this I am willing to overlook the flaws in this book.
Although the ancient secret is not really a secret, but enjoy the ride nevertheless.
My Verdict: 4.5/5
What I like about the book: With 133 short chapters the book is fast pace, keeps you on your toes till the end. Not a word of Swear word. A first rate thriller.
What I hate about the book: Repetitive. The constant drumming of the Ancient Mysteries and Masonic Pyramid wears off the novelty and importance of them after awhile.