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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2014
I can't believe Mr Brown got this published and find it hard to describe how threadbare it is compared to his previous work. He relies on his usual 'super interesting mystery to be solved' formula, but unfortunately abjectly fails to find one this time round. Having decided on his particularly weak mystery he then founders around trying to create a storyline around it.

Most of his explanations about the origins of words and phrases are interesting so one star for this but the rest of the book is so contrived to fit the mystery that it is painful to read. The book also spends an inordinate amount of time portraying the Masons in the United States as the most altruistic organisation on the face of the planet. So much so that I wonder if Mr Brown was somehow encouraged to portray them this way: I felt that I was being preached at in some sections of the book.

When I finished this one, and I really struggled, I felt I had wasted my time and would have spent it better decorating. For me it had a particularly laboured and unsatisfying end so I won't be reading any more of Mr Brown's efforts until he gets over his 'suck up to the Masons' and 'lets all be good Christians' phase and spends a bit more time finding a genuine/plausible mystery.

Post script - having just finished a Clive Cussler "Dirk Pitt" thriller (I read anything) I had a light bulb moment and felt the need to add to the above. Clive writes out and out fiction and readers know and accept his tales of fabulous hidden treasures are simply good yarns. Dan, on the other hand tries desperately hard to get readers to believe his mysteries are somehow factually based, thus severely limiting his scope to write a rollicking adventure anyone wants to read. He is caught between writing something exciting and a desire to keep his image as a 'higher brow' author. Higher brow is fine when you actually have decent plausible mysteries (i.e. Da Vinci Code) to explore, but it falls flat when you don't, as in the case. I suggest Dan needs to choose between non fiction/fiction and if he chooses the latter, loosen up, go with his imagination and write a more interesting and dare I say less pretentious rollicking yarn.
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on 4 October 2009
I found this book truly awful and the last 50 odd pages not only unnecessary to the plot but almost unreadable. It was pure preaching - God and America, or rather, America and God.
So what if we have previous characters? They added nothing to the atmosphere. Robert Langdon remains a cipher, no other characterisations are any better. I tried to root for the villain but he turned out as boring as the rest.
I did learn at least one thing - what a circumpunct is. No doubt that will be a great thing in later life.
Personally, I think it would have been far better for everyone if the threatened broadcast had got through and nailed a lot of truly unpleasant people, high places or not.
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on 16 September 2009
Like many, I reserved my copy of Dan Brown's long awaited sequel to The Da Vinci Code back in March. Yesterday the book fell through my letterbox and I pounced on it and proceeded, I plead guilty, to race my way through it in under 24 hours. The book is fantastic, the plot is well developed in the main and Robert Langdon continues to exude his appeal as the bookish Professor of symbols. My criticism however, lies in the plot and Langdon's interaction with other characters.

The plot is markedly similar in feeling to the Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons - I felt that in the demand for a new book, Brown has merely recycled some parts of his previous book and included them in this one. Don't get me wrong, the recycled goods are sparkly and new, but readers who know The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons well will be aware that they'll have the occasional flashback to the older book whilst reading the new one. Brown knows his symbols and uses them to great effect in this novel, but there's just something that doesn't entirely fit. By the end of the book, Washington D.C feels almost like the Vatican. The basic premise, as it was in The Da Vinci Code, was that all is not as it seems. Newton and his band of brothers created symbols implanted everywhere and those with the relevant skill set can treat them and explore the knowledge within. A great plot that leaves the reader exhilarated throughout the book, the first time they read it.

The beauty of The Da Vinci Code was that it was really very plausible. Millions of us flocked to the internet to look up everything in it that caught our interest. The thrill was amplified by the fact that a lot turned out to be true, if Google is accurate. However, the fact that the same situation is true in The Lost Symbol left me feeling as though the situation should have been changed, the book written differently - a case of been there and done that. The book reads, in large sections, like a tourist map of Washington, with Langdon and his friends as the guides. Langdon, with one encouraging word from another character, launches into huge drawn out explanations of know-it-all fact, leading the reader to feel as though they are in the Lecture Theatre being taught. This feeling was minimised in The Da Vinci Code, to the extent that one can read it over and over without feeling as though they're learning. The same cannot be said of The Lost Symbol - it's a very large lecture, an enjoyable one though.

The refreshing mix of fact and fiction left me feeling refreshed and exhilarated for The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, but in The Lost Symbol, I feel that the amount of fact in the novel, and therefore the amount of Langdon's explanations, was too much, and so it blurred the lines between fact and fiction and almost became a sequence of facts, linked together by Langdon's narrative and the situations created in the plot. One wonders if Dan Brown is a fiction writer or someone who has an excellent researcher whom he has relied upon a little heavily in writing this book. Obviously, following the sheer success of the previous book, there must have been a large amount of pressure to make it bigger, better, more complex. He's done this, but sadly, the narrative is strained by all the factual explanations to the point where the reader is aware they're being lectured.

The other criticism I had of the book is Langdon's character, particularly his character's involvement in the plot. I get the feeling that our dear Professor Langdon may fall prey to what I call the Jessica Fletcher Syndrome. Where a character is serialised, it can get to the point where the reader sees the writer struggling to come up with innovative situations to place their character in and so the plots get more and more outlandish until CIA Directors are taking a Symbols expert and sending him into buildings with CIA Agents, whilst naming him "one of the team". The other worrying claim was that Langdon was the "only person in the world" with the expertise to solve the puzzle - what happens if he dies...will the age old Masonic groups crumble, will government cease to work? In Dan Brown's world, it seems they would, which is troublesome. In previous novels, what made Langdon so good was that he felt as though he was out of his depth, relying on his instincts and education. In this book, he's a lot more of a celebrity, complete with being recognised. Much like the famous J.B. Fletcher. The same happened in Murder, She Wrote...wherever Jessica went, murder followed in increasingly bizarre ways. Given Brown's recent statement that he has around 23 more ideas for books involving Langdon, it seem's we may be subjected to the diluting of a great character over the next couple of decades. The great test of a writer, I believe, is that he or she knows when to stop writing a character; knows when all they set out to do has been accomplished and that playing with the character further would result in the degradation of it. I fear that Dan Brown will fall into this trap with Langdon.

Aside from those two issues, I really enjoyed this book. It was fast paced with a great plot, although sometimes overly complex, and a good twist near the end. I read it non-stop and loved each moment of it, despite my misgivings. I would read it again, but ultimately felt that it was a bit forced. When reading The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, it felt natural and that they had been written with absolute devotion. With The Lost Symbol, I felt that it was more of an "I have to write another book" situation, rather than a "I'd really enjoy writing another one". I think long time Dan Brown fans will ultimately prefer the older novels such as Digital Fortress, Deception Point, Angels & Demons, and of course, the tour de force that is The Da Vinci Code.
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on 21 November 2016
The Lost Symbol which is the 3rd in the Robert Langdon series is a thriller set in Washington DC, where yet again Robert Langdon is mixed in with something bizzare - seriously that man really needs to have better contacts! If you enjoy Dan Brown's books already then rest assured this book does not disappoint.

If you haven't read any of Dan Brown's books then pick up the whole series from Amazon, sit in a comfy chair and get immersed in these amazing books. You're welcome!
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on 11 January 2011
I did quite like the Da Vinci Code, although I thought Angels & Demons was better - both of them were enjoyable, better-than-average thriller pulp. But this was just rubbish - I easily saw through the "clever" writer's device and figured out almost immediately who Mal'akh actually was. The Noetic mumbo jumbo left me completely cold and the ending was also pretty dreadful - a Bible? Seriously? It was really like a Dan-Brown-by-numbers: Sexy scientist performing top secret experiments? Check! Barely-human fanatic baddie with superhuman strength? Check! Dangerous secret protected by misunderstood and ritualistic brotherhood? Check! Confusion about who's on whose side? Check! Links between religion and science? CHECK! Langdon's claustrophobia to be overcome due to desperate escape through narrow spaces? CHECK CHECK CHECK! Sigh. On the other hand, it was something to read while I was housebound with a flu-riddled kid and it had a few compelling moments. So, not the worst book I've ever read (hence the second star) but definitely the worst Dan Brown book.
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on 3 April 2011
This much maligned and underrated Dan Brown novel is without doubt, as far as this reader is concerned, his finest hour.
This book does for Washington DC, what Angels & Demons did for Rome, and what The Da Vinci Code did for Paris, in the sense that it is a mystical unveiling of the buildings often only appreciated for their aesthetic value. However, The Lost Symbol is no mere tourist guidebook with a difference, it is a roller coaster ride through the hidden mysteries underlying what is commonly perceived by the eye.
To dispel any preconceived notions one would have about the subject matter, The Lost Symbol does not allude to Masonic conspiracy theory ideas about one world government, or any of the frequently cited notions that frequently appear on the blogosphere, on the placards of the constant demonstrators in various world capitals.
The novel itself centers around mankind's quest for meaning and purpose, in the form of what was known back then, what is known today, what is known by the select, and why this knowledge can be dangerous. Holding the novel together is a bizarre antagonist who appears to be a fusion of all the occultation one can imagine, and while something of a far-fetched character, is nonetheless an interesting antagonist.
The pace of the novel is gripping and unrelenting, and there are several instances where one abandons all hope entirely for the protagonists. Getting through this novel with your nerves in tact is a feat worthy of the wisdom of the ancients.
In response to criticisms previously posted, this reader did not find the novel in any way predictable. In many ways, this is one of the most unpredictable novels this reader has ever read.
The underlying themes of the novel only serve to inspire greater interest in a variety of fields, not just Freemasonry. The novel contains startling insights into Noetic Science, lost knowledge, and US history that is often neglected or overlooked, yet it lies in plain sight. As with previous Dan Brown novels, the reader will almost certainly take home a wealth of new knowledge on word origins and symbolism, with many of the new insights seeming startlingly obvious, despite their lack of recognition.
The best advice one could give is to avoid all spoilers, and approach this novel without preconceived notions. You cannot prepare for where it will take you.
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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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on 5 January 2010
A brief warning from me before you undertake the mammoth task of reading the lastest saga.

The pace of the book is at such a tediously dull pace that you have to fight the urge from halfway through to skip pages or speed read in the hope that something of interest happens. I must admit towards the end of this oversized 'textbook' I could resist the urge no more.

The big reveal moments of the supposed twists in the tale are so obvious that they are already a huge let down before you even finish the chapter.

And talking of chapters is there any need for 133 of them plus a prologue and epilogue. This is certainly written more like a screenplay with every thought going into the inevitable transfer to film and the even bigger pay day for Mr Brown.

If you want to be Lectured in irrelevant subjects by very weak characters, over a extremely thin plotline then this is the book for you. Otherwise I would save your pennies and wait for a true page turner to be released instead.

A very big thumbs down from me.
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on 9 September 2014
not sure why this got bad re views as it is so brilliant. Fast paced, page turning and a typical amazing book from Dan Brown. I almost didn't buy it from some of the reviews but so pleased I did. This is a must read book and knocks spots of Da Vinci code. I haven't quite got to the end and I so hope Robert Langdon survives and there will be more stories involving him. .If you don't buy any other book, buy this one!
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on 10 January 2010
I am a new Dan Brown reader and although have seen the Da Vinci Code on film have never before read one of his novels. I really found this book interesting, it gave me an insight into masonic rituals and I learnt many things that I didn't know. I really enjoyed the chase but must say was a little disappointed with the 'twist'. This being said I have no trouble with recommending this read to anyone. I will definately be reading another of his novels.
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