Posted by: kcgadiyar | October 3, 2009

Book Review: The Lost Symbol


I wanted to buy “The Lost Symbol” the day it was released, but the price of 700 bucks seemed too steep, and as a rule i generally wait for the paperback version of books. Finally, when in Mangalore, my librarian offered me a 25% discount on purchase, so “The Lost Symbol” made its way to my bookshelf and has now become the first hardcover (brand-new, not second hand) book in my collection.

The plot of the book follows the exact same pattern as both “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code”. The bare bones of all 3 plots are the exact same, Robert Langdon (who i now picture as Tom Hanks thanks to the 2 movies) has to solve clues scattered across a city by an ancient secret society while accompanied by a female companion who is a relative of his friend (who has either been captured or murdered) and being chased by a man who mutilates himself because of his belief in a higher power. The only difference this time being that the city is Washington D.C. and the secret society are the Freemasons.

As can be seen, the plot has a “Been there, done that” feel to it. And there in lies the paradox of the book, despite the plot blueprint being the same as his previous 2 books, despite there being a dozen contrived coincidences, despite the tremendous leaps of faith we as readers are required to take at some points in the book, despite everything, I have to say that this book is a bloody damn good page-turner and very hard to put down (I was up till 3 not wanting to sleep until i finished it). In fact, from the time the first clues are shown, as a reader, we are now in competition with Langdon to try and decipher them before he can.

This book may in fact be the first “Interactive novel” i have ever read. The book forces you to look things up online as Langdon remembers the paintings, sculptures etc. At one point in the book Langdon even says “Google George Washington Zeus” and i actually did. This added a lot to the reading experience.

After rubbing Christianity the wrong way with his last book, Dan Brown seems to have taken a more measured approach this time. The Freemasons are held in the highest esteem throughout this book, common misconceptions about the masons are discussed, dissected and cleared. A lot of references are made to the apocalypse, Noetic Science, Circumpuncts and the mystical meanings of pyramids. There is even a reference to 2012 and the weight of a persons soul thrown in for good measure.

Overall, the book is a really tight thriller, sure there are some plot twists for the sake of having plot twists and some fuzzy logic used, but that is why we have willing suspension of disbelief. And the negatives are easily outweighed by the positives. And as a reader, this book was a rewarding experience, introducing new ciphers, magic squares and more such concepts.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5. Read the book, you won’t be disappointed. Much better book than the imitations which had sprung up in between.



  1. I usually let the dust settle down before picking up any best-seller. Despite your great reviews!

    And today I managed to lay my hands on the book. Half-way through, I must agree, he’s managed to keep it taut so far.

  2. Ok, totally agree with your review. The book was un-putdownable. I was up till 4 in the morning to finish it. And in this book, I felt that Dan Brown committed fewer gaffes (Deception point was hard to digest with NSA not knowing about P Vs NP, solvable Vs unsolvable problems).

    Though there were ideas like measuring the weight or mass of “soul” with a machine that a few 10 digits after the decimal which were a bit far-fetched.

    But he makes an interesting point regarding the “lost word”. When something is heard or read, is it the the string of sounds/symbols that we are concerned about or is the meaning that it points to? If it’s the meaning, then it’s an experience. But is this experience pointed to by only one word ? Equally, does a word point to only one experience ?

    There’s a branch of study known as the mImAmsa in the Indic traditions that deals with analysis of the words and what they can point to. I am not sure if we have something similar in case of every other religion.

    • Didn’t know that. Thanks for directing me towards this, as you know, i like finding out interesting stuff like this.

  3. In the previous comment it should be Digital Fortress and not Deception point.


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