Thursday, February 11, 2010

Much ado about a word

Why is Dan Brown so obsessed with Freemasonry, Ancient frescos, weird rituals dripping with blood and the like? As in his previous books, The Lost Symbol is brimming with the ingredients listed above. The lead character from many of Brown's earlier books, Robert Langdon is seen decoding seemingly impossible codes with relevant ease. The book starts off with Langdon traveling to Washington DC as per the instructions of his close friend Peter Solomon. Sounds familiar? ‘The Da Vinci Code’ starts off in a similar manner. On reaching Washington DC, Langdon, through no fault of his own, gets pulled into a web of crime & intrigue. Does it ring a bell? Yes; Da Vinci Code again!

The purpose of Langdon's visit is to lecture at The Capitol in Washington DC. Instead of an audience, Langdon finds Peter's severed hand tattooed into a symbolic Hand of the Mysteries, and pointing straight up at the fresco - The Apotheosis of Washington. Upon learning of Peter's abduction, Langdon is determined to find the kidnapper (Mal'akh) and get Peter back. The ransom demanded by Mal'akh is not money. He threatens to kill Peter if Langdon does not uncover the Ancient Mysteries. The book couldn’t have gotten more far-fetched!

Langdon's lady friend in this book comes in the form of Peter's sister - Katherine Solomon, who is a renowned scientist. With CIA on their heels, Langdon and Katherine have to decode the mystery of the great Masonic pyramid as well as save Peter's life. There is a lot of reference to Masons, Masonic rituals, secret passages below the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, The House of the Temple and many of famous landmarks in Washington DC. The description of the kidnapper, Mal'akh is quite gory, presumably intended to gross out the reader. He is described as a very muscular man with tattoos all over his body except the top of his shaved head. Mal'akh's intention is to learn the Lost Word and complete his transformation into a godlike state.

After about 3/4ths of the book, the ‘Word’ is introduced. There is so much importance and hype given to uncovering the ‘Word’ that the reader is quite curious to know what ‘word’ could be worth killing for. The reader’s patience is tested until Brown finally reveals what the famous word actually is. Quite frankly, after so much of hype, I wanted to wring Brown’s neck!

The only thing that I’ll remember the book for is an amazing twist in the tale that totally catches the reader off guard.