Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown
Doubleday, c2009. 509 p. Fiction

All hail Da Vinci Code enthusiasts, Robert Langdon’s back. The famous symbologist of Dan Brown’s Parisian adventure now finds himself embroiled in another mega-thriller and this time the setting is Washington D.C. and the Grand Masonic Lodge, home to the highest order of the Freemasons.

Conspiracy theorists should gleefully devour this dramatic suspense novel based on the Masons, their primordial history and their rituals of cloaked secrecy. However, the ranks of the Masons consist of many a well-known historical figure, Isaac Newton and George Washington included, and both these revered men figure prominently in the book. Encoded messages, an ancient pyramid, CIA involvement and the requisite raging psychopath ensure that Langdon is on the run the entire novel. The appearance of a lovely scientist adds a romantic element and her research into Noetics and apotheosis—the idea that men can become gods—will cause raised eyebrows in some and a satisfied nod in others. But, a quest for ultimate power will leave someone dead.

It’s a blending of fact and fiction, the mystical and the scientific and it’s difficult to distinguish between the two—which is exactly Brown’s point. He's done his research though, and that might be what took so long to bring Langdon back in the game. Be sure to read the Fact page, which carefully notes that “all organizations in this novel exist…all rituals, science, artwork, and monuments are real.” Now that certainly ups the ante. There’s even a three line shout out to Mormonism the local community might find interesting. In the end though, despite Brown's respectful (at times almost reverential) tone, I can’t help wondering what the Masons will think of all this.


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