The motion picture industry got the order all wrong. The first book of what has become (so far) the Robert Langdon Trilogy was Angels and Demons. That was followed by The DaVinci Code. The third book of the trilogy is The Lost Symbol. Tom Hanks as Bob Langdon? Spot on! Author Dan Brown, the imaginative mind behind these three sometimes controversial books, has written other novels (Deception Point and Digital Fortress), but neither of these garnered the attention nor raised quite so many eyebrows as the Robert Langdon Symbologist books.
Never mind that they all give the same disclaimer, “This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental.”
If you struggle with this disclaimer as have so many who have read Mr. Brown’s books, let me spell it out for you. Here’s what it means; here’s what he’s saying: “NONE OF THIS IS REAL. I MADE IT UP!” If you’re still struggling with this, or you still find the meaning unclear, perhaps it’s time for you to go back to those Golden Books. Like Angels and Demons, and The DaVinci Code, Mr. Brown has once again told a rousing good tale. It is a page turner of the highest order and will keep any reader glued to their chair for a good night’s reading, or longer, depending on how fast a reader you are. But it IS fiction. Not a word of it is true.
Which is a good thing, because Mr. Brown proceeds from two faulty premises throughout all three of the manuscripts. First, the writer assumes that the Holy Roman Church (the word ‘catholic’: L. catholicus literally means ‘universal’) is representative of the universal worldwide Christian church. It is not. Second, writing from the apparent position of an agnostic or perhaps atheistic point of view, the writer first prefers, and then dismisses the spiritual understanding of the very faith and supportive writings (i.e., the Bible), believing that a humanistic intellectual theoretical understanding is preferable.
But then, I must remind myself that “this book is a work of fiction” and nowhere claims to be a theological treatise, nor the writer anything but a clever story teller.
In The Lost Symbol, we are reintroduced to Harvard Symbology Professor, Author, Public Speaker, Folk Hero and all around Good Guy, Robert Langdon, whose specialized field of obscure knowledge once again comes to the rescue and saves the world, putting him on the fast track to catch up with another fictional universe savior, James Tiberius Kirk. This time, Langdon’s quest is to decipher the mysterious Freemason’s Pyramid, in time to save the girl, rescue his friend, and secure national security.
Even though Langdon is an old hand at this, and we know that somehow he’ll pull it off without being converted, Brown tosses in a few monkey wrenches that caught this reviewer completely by surprise. One such wrench so blindsided me that I almost just set the book aside out of displeasure for this ‘novel’ twist. Instead, more out of stubbornness than anything else, I persevered to the end only to find the clever plot twist un-twisted by an even more clever story device. Telling you even that much walks the thin line of almost giving you too much information and transforming (key plot related word) this review into a spoiler.
The Lost Symbol, © 2009 by Dan Brown, DoubleDay and Random House is available locally at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, and wherever good books are sold, and at their respective online centers and in Kindle® format at Amazon.com. I read my copy on a Sony PRS 300 pocket e-book reader.
If only because Dan Brown needs to move on from the Catholic Church and find someone else to turn into a ‘work of fiction,’ The Lost Symbol gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.