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3.5 out of 5 stars1,520
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2014
I know people like knocking Dan Brown. He's successful and therefore also the target for some envy, but he's also not an amazing writer. What he does do really well, though, is write stories that appeal to many people.

Whereas The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons both had a feel of originality about them (although he ripped off a lot of the seemingly original bits in The DaVinci Code from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", perpetuating the Plantard Priory of Sion hoax), in "The Lost Symbol" you do start getting the feeling that you've read The Lost Symbol before: the landmark-to-landmark chase for clues, misunderstood secret societies, symbology 101, dramatic omissions of information, the cliffhangers, the repetitions of things you've already been told just a few paragraphs earlier, a bit of quasi-philosophy and pseudo-science thrown in for good measure.

If you're in the right mood for it it is a bit captivating, for sure, and there are some nice bits in it that can make people think in new ways - not necessarily a bad thing. Personally, I didn't know anything about Washington DC architecture and art, so it's nice to get a quick introduction through a novel.

By the way, who is Katherine Solomon's cell phone provider? I mean, who doesn't want to be on a network that can get a text message through a dome that even blocks out photons and into a lead-lined concrete bunker inside that dome. I might not be a scientist, but I think the fact that she can receive a text message there would invalidate all the results of her experiments.

Everything else aside, though, I did enjoy reading the novel - when it all comes down to it, that is its purpose. If you read it expecting to be awed, you might not. If you read it trying to find things to knock, you will find them. If you read it to pass the time without any prejudices, perhaps on a long journey like I did, you might find it reasonably satisfying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
There's a lot of Dan Brown bashing going on these days, but I have to take my hat off to a man who does as much research as him, and who includes the kind of cliffhangers that you could make you miss your train and stay up until 2am.

This is an intricately plotted novel (i.e typical Dan Brown) with more twists and turns than a giant maze. Focussing on Freemasonry, and its strong links with ancient symbolism, it seems only natural that Professor Robert Langdon would be involved at some point. The settings are all interesting and brilliantly vivid, but don't worry if there's one you don't like, because this book moves fast. There seems to be one big constant chase all the way through, with cliffhangers and questions making the reader screech to a halt at the end end of every chapter.

Langdon seems to struggle a bit more in this book, but I don't think it's because of a lack of knowledge or intellect, it's more to do with an inability to believe in myth rather than fact. He has to be taught to let go.

The villain of the piece Mal'akh, is one terrifying beast who at times seems invincible. His cruelty knows no limits. Director Sato is pretty scary too, in a totally different way. The Director's introduction to the story was beautifully done, even slightly comic.

Overall, this book was so addictive that I started going to bed early so I could read it more. It kept me thoroughly entertained, and longing to visit Washington DC.

The reason I gave it four stars is this: I know it's a Dan Brown but after about the ninth or tenth code cracking scene I was kind of done with all that. Secondly, sometimes when you're waiting breathlessly for another clue, there'll be a load of long winded waffle in between you and the answer. There's suspense, and then there's losing your reader so they go and put the kettle on.

Apart from that, a great read that kept me guessing. I did NOT see the big twist at the end coming (don't worry I won't tell you). Briliant.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
back when I worked in a bar I had one customer who loved to hear his own voice. Out of politeness I would stand or sit and listen to him drone on about things he knew of. He'd go on for hours on end. Sometimes he'd come up with a gem of a saying or some vital bit of gossip, but aside from that it was painful having to listen to him.

Reading this book felt just like that, painful!

OK so there's the usual character building and he lets you get to know a character before then killing them. Death is usually by some immensely powerful homo-erotic character.

The book hooked me then dropped me then hooked me and dropped me again and so it went on. I've been hooked all the way through by previous books of his and was hoping to be so again with this one but it weren't to be.

I enjoyed Da Vinci Code, Digital Fortress, Deception Point. I absolutely loved Angels and Demons. Maybe once you've read one symbolist mystery, you've read them all?

I had high hopes but feel let down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I listened to the unabridged audiobook of this new Dan Brown novel. I have to say I did enjoy it despite reservations offered by a lot of reviewers, the point is that for popular fiction although it follows a very well established Dan Brown sequence of mysteries and puzzles unfolding, I do find it intriguing enough to want to keep on and wanting to find out what happens next quickly from one chapter to the next. The subject matter is interesting and I had not known some of the masonic contexts of the establishment of Washington buildings etc, and this in itseld is interesting and even if woven into fiction, it is interesting from the perspective of me as someone who has visited Washington as a tourist and on business, and to see it in a somewhat different light.

There are times that you do wish Dan Brown got to the point in some parts of the story (for example when some details are statements of the obvious), and also I found myself not liking Langdon character as much as in Angels & Demons or even in DVC - for some reason between his last fictional outing and this one Langdon has become a little thicker :o) and those around him a little cleverer and quicker to figure things out - anyway perhaps that was intentional on the author's part

The baddie in this story reminds me a bit of the one in Red Dragon. The thriller elements of the novel are very good and the way the narrator reads and characterises is excellent. I would recommend going for the unabridged version if you choose the audiobook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 September 2009
You would think that after all the millions of dollars that Dan Brown has earned in recent years, the one thing he could have afforded was to go on a writing course. But the simple fact is, he is no better a writer than he was when he produced Angels and Demons followed by The Da Vinci Code. The Lost Symbol is the third to feature Robert Langdon and it is in my opinion the weakest of the three, partly because it's just so familiar, so similar, so much like the other two. I am annoyed that I read it, because I could have read something a whole lot better from my 'to-be-read' pile. It's poorly written, the characters are uninteresting and engender no emotional attachment for the reader, and even the story isn't particularly interesting either - normally the one thing that Dan Brown can at least provide.

Reading the book was a bit like watching a film that was paused every few minutes while a lecturer pointed out historical details and intellectual significances to make sure the students understand what's going on. The irony of it all, though, is that despite the constant references to all this intellectual elitism, it insults the intelligence of even the average reader and calls into question the cognitive strengths of the author himself. I think he should stick to non-fiction, because the only areas in which he piqued my interest were - as usual - his mixing up of myth, legend and fact that gets the reader wondering if there could be some truth in his assertions. That was particularly true in The Da Vinci Code, and although he tried the same kind of approach in his new novel, it's a lot less controversial and won't get anywhere near as many tongues wagging as to any basis on fact or truth. The bottom line is that Dan Brown is not a very good writer of suspense mysteries or really any kind of fiction at all, and the only reason that this book will surely sell in huge volumes is a result of people buying it because everyone else is buying it. My advice, for those who haven't coughed up the readies yet, is don't bother, don't follow the herd, and read something better. It won't be hard to find.

Sadder news still, but no surprise at all, is the fact that The Lost Symbol is already at the development stage for another 'blockbuster' Hollywood film, although Hanks is unlikely to get his routine $25 million pay packet and there are rumours that Ron Howard might say 'Happy Days' for the first time in quite a while. The reasons for Hanks' paycut are two-fold: there's a recession out there somewhere, and even Columbia Pictures know this third instalment is nowhere near as good as the first (The Da Vinci Code) which has so far grossed over $750 million.

As for the book - give it a miss. Within the genre of mystery thrillers, there are so many better alternatives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2013
I have always enjoyed Dan Brown's books but The Lost Symbol (the third installment in the Robert Langdon series) was rather predictable.

As always Robert Langdon had a pretty, yet smart sidekick whose contributions to the mystery are vital to his success. The revelations and descriptions are enlightening but nothing compared to Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. The symbols and artwork seem to glorify the significance of America as one of the best countries in the world, which i found very distasteful. The storyline as i said before, was very similar to the last books but i found it very frustrating. When something of relevance was revealed, the story would jump to another underlying plot line leaving you wanting to know the answers. That would have been bearable, maybe even enjoyable if the answers were not so predictable and if it didn't happen as often as it did. However, the predictability of the book may have come from the my previous readings of Dan Brown and i could have just learned to never take any of the characters in his books at face value.

Overall the book was average. It didn't hold me as much as his previous books and failed to surprise me, which i expect from Dan Brown. It would have been an easier read had it not contained so many frustrating jumps in the plot line and glorification of America. Here's me hoping that Inferno will restore my faith in Dan Brown.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2009
Dan Brown isn't a literary genius but I loved Angels and Demons and da Vinci Code (having both paperback and hardback illustrated versions) but the Lost Symbol is just plain dire. The previous books are rollicking yarns that have pace, tension, humour and a bit of controversy thrown in for fun.

In the Lost symbol the charcaters are unintelligent and annoying. It is not possible to care about them as they wandering aimless about without much rhyme or reason to avoid yet another weirdo (this time instead of being albino he is covered in tatoos but other than that...). Noetic 'science' (aka noetic tosh), too many pages filled up to make the book longer and an ending I just wanted to finish to say 'there done it, now I never have to see it again'.

The first two Dan Brown books weren't brilliant but at least they had some situations and ideas that made you occasionally think and more often laugh at the absurdity but at least they were entertaining. The Lost Symbol is just plain uninteresting, the story (for what it is worth) could have been written in about 50 pages (the rest of the book is pure padding). Ultimately it is too self referencing and tries too hard to spin some sort of ancient historical interest that the USA simply doesn't have.

It won't get read again for anything and I wouldn't insult anyone by trying to sell this second hand - it just deserves the paper recycling bin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2015
I have read all the Dan Brown books up to this one and Deception Point. I have enjoyed them all and his characters are well thought out with the story easy to follow. I like that he writes from the perspective of many different characters to provide a good overview. I gave Da Vinci Code 5 stars, but this one I have only awarded 4 stars as to me there were some noticeable holes in the story. I won't spoil the book by writing what they are but they are glaring holes, and although its a story and so what, one of the holes so obviously had an affect on the content of the story. I am surprised Dan Brown's team did not sort them out before publication As with many other authors there are a lot of descriptive passages which I skimmed as not particularly necessary to the storyline. Definitely a decent plot and storyline. I suspect and hope many readers will find that the book is thought provoking when they have finished it. As a Christian I was definitely left with 'book hangover' - in a good way. The Robert Langton series are always full of interesting historical facts related to buildings, books, traditions and religion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2010
I agree with quite a lot of the other negative reviews and don't have much more to add so I'll keep it brief.

1. This story had me gripped for the first 60 pages or so and then quickly released me as I realised that it's exactly the same as the other Robert Langdon novels.

2. This book is very, very preachy and the constant chapter ending cliffhangers get really annoying and are quite anticlimatic as was the big "reveal".

3. There isn't even really any actual treasure and as no-one on Earth seems to know how to decipher the coded science in the bible (in this novel that is) then what was the point of the whole story?

4. We never found out what would have happened if the evil tattooed nutter had succeeded.

5. You can be tortured and lose a hand but not be kept in hospital for observation/medical attention.

6. You can run around after been drained of half your blood.

7. Most people will see the 'twist' coming a mile off.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2010
Follows the same thriller formula as his other books which Hitchock devised 50 years ago - a 24 hours chase with the protagonist (with girl) pursued by both the cops and the baddies while they follow a trail of clues in an attempt to solve all the puzzles before an imminent deadline that threatens with catastophy. There is also the obligatory completely mad bad guy leaving a trail of dead bodies.

The formula aspect doesn't make it bad, it's just worn itself out a bit. While the Da Vinci Code created a sensation, we can hardly expect to achieve the same sensation by repeating the formula for a third time. On the good side, the book does make us question certain assumptions we might have about Masonry and the origins of Washington D.C, and inspires thought about the true nature of spirituality. If you understand what the secret is, then reading Dans book will put a smile on your face. If you don't, then the ending will be anti-climatic, as many reviews have pointed out. That's because any search for a "Holy Grail" is going end up as an anti-climax - a point which Douglas Adams made in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" with the number 42 being the answer to everything. The answer is not something which can grasped conceptually, but is more a kind of enlightenment. At the end of the book, the author showed Langdon struggling to understand this, perhaps as a symbol of the position we all now find ourselves in - on the verge of being enlightened...

I don't believe Brown is right in saying that the secret was deliberately hidden -- that the Bible uses code words to cloak the real meaning. I see the bible more as struggling to convey the meaning, but lacking the language and concepts to do so, and thus appearing metaphoric.

However, "The Lost Symbol" is great story, with a important message, and overflowing with fascinating historical references that had me running to the computer every five minutes and Googling them up to find out if they were true or not. Nine times out of ten they were true and I learned some astonishing facts about freemasonry and Washington D.C.s architecture.

It is undoubtedly a good read!

On the negative side, the characters seemed more wooden when compared to those in his earlier works, especially towards the end where Solomon, one of the main characters, acts as if nothing has happened after what ought to have been a tarumatic ordeal. He had been in and out of sensory deprivation tank, had his hand chopped off, witnessed his son come back from the dead, only to die horrifically minutes in front of him -- all within 24 hours! I get the impression that the author didn't want to bother so much with the characters at the end, but rather focus on concluding the theme of the book.
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