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Customer Review

41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not so much 'The Lost Symbol' more 'The Lost Plot', 16 Sept. 2009
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This review is from: The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon) (Hardcover)
I had a very strong sense of deja-vu reading this book. Robert Langdon becomes embroiled in trying the uncover the secrets of the Freemasons by deciphering the coded messages contained within the closely guarded Masonic Pyramid whilst on a jaunt around the major landmarks of Washington DC in order to save his long time friend and Master Mason who has been held hostage by the villain of the piece, whilst accompanied by the hostage's brilliant scientist sister. Does this all sound a bit familiar? Well it should, because it's basically the Da Vinci code with the Roman Catholic church substituted for the Freemasons, moved from Paris and London to Washington DC. There are the same coded symbols, mathematical puzzles, and lectures on artistic symbolism that we know so well. The plot is also something of a conjuring trick, because we realise at the end that there is no great secret. The solution of the coded pyramid takes us to what is basically a rather trite conclusion and appears to be already known to Peter Solomon, the guardian of the Masonic Pyramid. Therefore, when all is revealed the whole plot becomes a bit of a 'so what'. A very disappointing conclusion.

The book contains a lot of factual information and descriptions of buildings in Washington DC, reading in many places like a guide book and pages from Wikipedia. The Washington DC tourist board will no doubt be raising a few glasses to Mr Brown. Not being very familar with the lay out of central Wasington DC, a map included in the front of the book would have been useful to me.

There has been a lot of criticism of Brown's writing style, which is no doubt very sensationalist with lots of hyperbole and over the top descriptions and adjectives. However, the result is undoubtedly a great pager turner despite the fact that it ultimately leads absolutely nowhere. As usual characterisation isn't a very strong point. Robert Langdon's two dimensional cardboard cut-out character in tweed jacket and suede loafers only serves to make the main villain, the deranged and tatooed Mal'akh, seem uneven more implausible. The vertically challenged CIA Director is almost as equally unbelievable. In fact, the whole plotting is really pretty unbelievable! Towards the end of the book Robert Langdon survives a near death experience which would have put most people in a hospital bed for a few days at least, but not our tweed-jacket and chino-clad symbol cracking super sleuth! Oh, no! He just dries himself off and resumes his relentless charge around Washington DC, together with Peter Solomon who almost as miraculously levers himself out of his wheel chair minus a hand. The identity of the villain Mal'akh, which turns out to be a major twist in the story, is telegraphed in the extreme. Was there anyone who didn't work this out??

I note there are some lists of 'great' (or not so great!) Dan Brown sentences complied from his previous works. From this novel three favourites I managed to find were;
P285 - "The Upper West Side apartment offered breathtaking views of Central Park. Andros has chosen it because the sea of green outside his window reminded him of his lost view of the Adriatic." I can picture the similarity only too readily: the sun, the sand, the sea, the tavernas etc..... In any case as Andros went to the Greek Islands I assume he actually meant the Aegean or Ionian Seas.
P314 - "That's why science has advanced more in the last five years than the last five thousand." Can anyone remember the dark days of 2004? Really, Dan, are you 'aving a laugh!??
P440 - "According to Nola's spec sheet, the UH60 had a chassis-mounted, laser-sighted, six-gigahertz magnetron with a fifty-dB-gain horn that yielded a ten giga-Watt pulse." Blimey! I wonder if I can get one of those on E-Bay!????

In conclusion, it is the rather familiar formula which has made DB such a popular author. Very readable, very unbelievable, with a very anti-climatic ending, involving secret code-breaking, artistic symbolism, pyramids and (again) Sir Isaac Newton.

For the next installment, I'm putting my money on Robert Langdon charging around London (replete in tweed jacket, loafers and Mickey Mouse watch....of course) in search of Lord Lucan, deciphering hidden clues on Cleopatra's Needle and the National Gallery that will lead him to Central America, the lost treasures of the Aztecs and Lord Lucan himself living in a cardboard box at the top of Chichen Itza temples. Remember.....you first heard it here!
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Sep 2009 15:17:59 BDT
Lisa says:
Love this review - laughed out loud at work!

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2009 19:01:47 BDT
Spud says:
Me too! :D

Posted on 25 Sep 2009 12:22:15 BDT
Mrs M says:
Spot on review, excellent job made me laugh

Posted on 26 Sep 2009 11:28:10 BDT
love this review, nearly as good as the book ! Keep it up

Posted on 26 Sep 2009 17:58:17 BDT
SecretSweets says:
I burst into a fit of laughter when I read your review. Now people at work think I'm a nut case and it's all your fault! Keep it up! :))))

Posted on 27 Sep 2009 00:54:23 BDT
Brian Wogan says:
I was going to write my own review of this trash but you've said everything I wanted to, much better than I could have. Cheers! Perhaps you can sort my Mrs out for me too?

Posted on 2 Oct 2009 08:39:42 BDT
F. Simons says:
thank you - I was beginning to think I was alone in not liking this book at all.. struggled all the way through - don't want a lecture. I am really looking foward to your book on Lord Lucan, now that sounds really interesting!!! p.s. no luck on ebay!

Posted on 15 Oct 2009 12:26:23 BDT
Excellent review - hits the mark perfectly. Boy, was this a disappointing book !

Posted on 13 Feb 2010 21:50:48 GMT
Clarinda says:
loved this review- I totally agree with everything u said, I just can't bring myself to review this book, not after the pain of reading it

Posted on 11 Jan 2011 13:11:56 GMT
Brilliant review and very funny!
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