Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown strikes again. If you liked his 'Da Vinci Code' you might like this one too. I wasn't a big fan of his 'Demons and Angels'. Coming at the back of his highly successful book, the second one was almost like a Hindi Bollywood movie in its climax. I was a little skeptical as I started this one hoping that it would be a bit like the 'Da Vinci Code'.

So let me say at the onset that 'The Lost Symbol' comes very close to the first book. It mathches the intrigue, the pace, the mystery and the page-turning ability of 'Da Vinci Code'. From the first few pages when the hand appears to the last one it is a definite page turner with the exception of a few pages in between. But then which book does not have a few slow moments?

The book has its regular characters to constitute a potboiler. The protagonist - Prof. Langdon; his partner and love interest - Katherine Solomon; the self-tattooed, self-inflicted, no-emotion, driven baddie - Mal'akh; the law enforcer who could be good or bad - Inoue Sato, Director of CIA's Office of Security and the commonly known locations of Washington along with Freemason's intriguing rituals and people.

In my view the central theme of the book seems to be - "One Word will set them free"! Mal'akh kidnaps Langdon's mentor - Peter Solomon and cunningly brings Langdon to Capitol building where he leaves Peter's dismembered hand pointing to the sky. From there on Mal'akh sets clues for Langdon to decipher if he wants to save his mentor. Peter Solomon is, of course, a Freemason of the highest order who is protector of secrets, the main among them being that somewhere is hidden a word or a thing that could reveal all the secrets of ancient powers and mysteries to the world. The premise being that visionaries like Galileo, Newton, Einstien and other pioneers have known and seen those secrets and fear that if the world gets to know them there could be chaos if the power gets in the wrong hands. Therein being the motivation for Mal'akh who knows this secret since he disguised himself to get into the highest order of Freemasons.

Mal'akh's leverage is a video tape he made of the Freemason's initiation ceremony that shows such acts as drinking blood-red wine from a human skull, taking part in an enactment of your own muder, hearing things like your tongue being cut if you reveal the secrets and so on - all seemingly barbaric acts. The idea is that these are all symbolic but if released can wreak havoc in the world since the highest order clearly shows key and important people from the administration as being part of the cult. So this video must not see the light of day. And so Langdon must dig deep into all his knowledge and understanding of ancient mysteries to unlock secrets and decipher codes.

'The Lost Symbol' takes us on a rollercoster ride from the Smithsonian Museum to the Capitol to the National Library of Congress to the Washington Monument with Langdon chasing Mal'akh and trying to save his mentor. In all this there is also the intruiguing science of Noetics that Katherine Solomon is working on which is the study of the untapped potential of the human mind with the central theme that when many people share a same thought that thought can have physical implications. So if all os us think that something good will happen, something good will. The HUGE thing for Katherine Solomon seems to be when she shows that a human soul exists!! But read the book for that scene.

The only disappointment of the book stems from the ending which is almost anti-climatic. Also if you have read enough mystery books you tend to get a feel of Mal'akh and his mystery towards the ending. I did. I managed to figure out who Mal'akh was before Dan Brown got to it.

If 'Da Vinci Code' changed Paris then 'The Lost Symbol' will make you look at Washington in a new Masonic light. Reading the book does make you wonder about the Freemason's and how much impact they had on the roots of American Constitution and political architecture. Why is the Capitol building designed along Roman lines? huh?

The book is 600 pages thick so its not a fast breezy read. But if you love mystery, intrigue and you want it all to be fast paced, this is the book for you. If you want to have a good time, not think too much and don't mind forgetting the book after a few months, pick this up and have a blast.

I would rate it 3.5/5!

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