- Hardcover: 510 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1st edition (September 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385504225
- ISBN-13: 978-0385504225
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5,365 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lost Symbol Hardcover – September 15, 2009
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Let's start with the question every Dan Brown fan wants answered: Is The Lost Symbol as good as The Da Vinci Code? Simply put, yes. Brown has mastered the art of blending nail-biting suspense with random arcana (from pop science to religion), and The Lost Symbol is an enthralling mix. And what a dazzling accomplishment that is, considering that rabid fans and skeptics alike are scrutinizing every word.
The Lost Symbol begins with an ancient ritual, a shadowy enclave, and of course, a secret. Readers know they are in Dan Brown territory when, by the end of the first chapter, a secret within a secret is revealed. To tell too much would ruin the fun of reading this delicious thriller, so you will find no spoilers here. Suffice it to say that as with many series featuring a recurring character, there is a bit of a formula at work (one that fans will love). Again, brilliant Harvard professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day. The setting, unlike other Robert Langdon novels, is stateside, and in Brown's hands Washington D.C. is as fascinating as Paris or Vatican City (note to the D.C. tourism board: get your "Lost Symbol" tour in order). And, as with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless, the revelations many, and there is an endless parade of intriguing factoids that will make you feel like you are spending the afternoon with Robert Langdon and the guys from Mythbusters.
Nothing is as it seems in a Robert Langdon novel, and The Lost Symbol itself is no exception--a page-turner to be sure, but Brown also challenges his fans to open their minds to new information. Skeptical? Imagine how many other thrillers would spawn millions of Google searches for noetic science, superstring theory, and Apotheosis of Washington. The Lost Symbol is brain candy of the best sort--just make sure to set aside time to enjoy your meal. --Daphne Durham
More from Dan Brown
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. Returning hero Robert Langdon comes to Washington to give a lecture at the behest of his old mentor, Peter Solomon. When he arrives at the U.S. Capitol for his lecture, he finds, instead of an audience, Peter's severed hand mounted on a wooden base, fingers pointing skyward to the Rotunda ceiling fresco of George Washington dressed in white robes, ascending to heaven. Langdon teases out a plethora of clues from the tattooed hand that point toward a secret portal through which an intrepid seeker will find the wisdom known as the Ancient Mysteries, or the lost wisdom of the ages. A villain known as Mal'akh, a steroid-swollen, fantastically tattooed, muscle-bodied madman, wants to locate the wisdom so he can rule the world. Mal'akh has captured Peter and promises to kill him if Langdon doesn't agree to help find the portal. Joining Langdon in his search is Peter's younger sister, Kathleen, who has been conducting experiments in a secret museum. This is just the kickoff for a deadly chase that careens back and forth, across, above and below the nation's capital, darting from revelation to revelation, pausing only to explain some piece of wondrous, historical esoterica. Jealous thriller writers will despair, doubters and nay-sayers will be proved wrong, and readers will rejoice: Dan Brown has done it again.
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Top Customer Reviews
The entire thing reminded me of a bawdy old joke my grandfather once told me; the punch line was a sign that read "you just got f**ked by grandma" (Google it). In this book Brown simply set up formula characters and then knocked them over, one after another. (People came in just to get shot, authority figures simply expected to be recognized, etc. . .) Each carefully crafted lead never led to anything at all so . . . Each time the story line led into nothing, and this was almost every chapter, we simply said "you just got f**ked by grandma".
That being said, The Lost Symbol was terrible. The writing style was "okay," but didn't contribute to how bad the book was; rather, it failed because of (i) poor narrative; (ii) lack of cohesion between primary elements of the story; (iii) lack of character development; and (iv) predictability.
The narrative was poor primarily because there were many chapters that did not make sense in relation to the story, or were unnecessarily included. Just one example was early on when Peter is telling his sister Kathrine--who is supposedly a "scientist"--about how the "ancients" somehow had knowledge of modern findings in fields such as theoretical physics. Not only was this entire discussion unnecessary for the plot, it was just factually wrong. Brown (through his character Peter) supports "claims" that modern science is merely "rediscovering" ancient knowledge, supporting these claims on the basis of vagaries and nonsense. For example, Brown (through Peter) explains that ancient mystics purported some notion of "extra" dimensions of thought, and this was somehow predictive of modern rigorous results from String Theory. Not only is that plain wrong, demonstrating Brown's lack of understanding, it takes you out of the story because it seems like an argument a child would conceive to explain something he/she doesn't understand. If Brown had consulted a real scientist, he would have likely dropped the whole "Noetic" thing, too. It's implausible passages and plot anchors like these that detract so strongly from the story.
In the book, the CIA acts as a police force, which, surprisingly, it is not. This is absurd, and it would have been more believable if the FBI had been substituted for the CIA. Why didn't his editor bring this up?
There is also not much in the way of character development. After so many books, I would expect his Robert Langdon character to be more developed. I guess not. Supposedly being a professor at Harvard university, Langdon is surprisingly dimwitted. He often is the last to "get" things that he should get straight away. I see this as a failing on Dan Brown's part; Brown can only write characters as intelligent as he is.
Finally, the whole story is predictable early on after only a little thought, and the ending is unsatisfying and "amateurish." It feels like a giant waste of time after Langdon learns what the "lost symbol" actually is, especially due to its predictability.
The end of the book drags.
I'm not sure I'll read the next one.