Review: The Lost Symbol

3.10.09

Topping the book lists months before it had even been published, The Lost Symbol’s release date of September 15th 2009 dipped fans back into the action-packed world of Dan Brown, and his most famous character, Robert Langdon.

I had read The Da Vinci Code and was suitably impressed if not at times confused by some of the events and information. This did not detract me from seeing the film, and its ‘follow-up,’ Angels & Demons. I was suitably interested in the release of The Lost Symbol, particularly as the thriller is set in my favourite city- Washington D.C and the landmarks I have come to love.

I trooped out to my local superstore in the morning, and purchased a copy of the hardback book for just £5! The Lost Symbol had a first printing of 6.5 million in the United States, and 1.5 million here in the UK. Subsequent googling throws up that the publication sold one million in hardcover and e-book versions on the first day, making it the fastest selling adult novel in history. By September 25th it had had topped the New York Times Best Seller list.

I sat down that evening with a cup of tea, and began to delve into the world of Freemasonry. I was hooked from the first instance, much more than I had been with The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons. The story occurs over 12 hours in Washington D.C, when Robert Langdon (who we all will forever vision as Tom Hanks,) is called to deliver a lecture in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. He is invited by his mentor and friend, Peter Solomon, the head of the Smithsonian Institution and also a 33rd degree Mason. Langdon discovers Solomon’s severed hand in the middle of the Capitol’s Rotunda, a discovery which soon leads to Langdon’s race against time to locate his friend. The novel’s villain, Mal’akh has taken Solomon hostage, and demands Langdon’s help to unlock the Ancient Mysteries in return for the safe release of Solomon. Langdon is assisted by Dr. Katherine Solomon, Peter’s sister and a scientist researching the ability of the human mind to affect subatomic particles. Their challenge leads them across the Greater DC area, where the story’s climax reaches its height in a Masonic temple. To top all of this, the CIA is also pursuing Mal’akh in the interests of National Security, where the information he has could destroy American democracy as we know it.

Unlike other works of fiction, I could not put this book down. I completed it in three days, often staying up into the early hours of the morning, desperate to discover what happened. Even though I am an avid reader, this is not like me! The mix of location and plot was a perfect, and with many of the key scenes taking place in several of DC’s historical landmarks, I could picture the action clearly in my mind. Some critics have commented that the book reads like a glorified travel novel, a guidebook for the tourist after a heightened sense of drama. I do not believe this is the case, and I think that the historical background provides context and familiarity for the reader. I certainly learned things about the nation’s capital that I had not previously known.

I would recommend The Lost Symbol to anyone who loves the thriller genre, or is curious to find out more about the secretive world of Freemasonry and its links to Washington D.C. It is expected that, like its predecessors The Lost Symbol will be made into a movie, due for release in 2012. If this is indeed the case I cannot wait!

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