Thursday, April 15

Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol

When a prominent freemason is kidnapped, his friend’s only hope of saving him is to find and unravel the code on an ancient Masonic icon, which the kidnapper believes will provide him with a map that identifies the location of a tool of magnificent power.
Though he is a firm sceptic as to the existence of this map he undertakes the task which leads him on a frantic quest through Washington D C, from its most public buildings to its hidden chambers and secret tunnels. His steps are dogged the entire way by powerful government agencies that are willing to sacrifice his friend’s life in order to maintain national security.
It will come as no surprise that he succeeds in breaking the code, the kidnapper is eventually foiled, the ancient Masonic secret is revealed and the tool of power left safely in place.
There has been enormous criticism of Dan Brown’s literary ability and I think I can safely say that I would agree with most of it. His writing is pedestrian, the characters are walking clichés and the ultimate solution to the puzzle is an anticlimactic disappointment. This is a shame because his ideas are great and, in the hands of a more accomplished writer, could become true works of art.
Plot twists are so heavily foreshadowed that even a reader skimming the pages (which I did not) would be able to predict where the story is heading. And for a world leader in symbology the hero is remarkably obtuse. But perhaps I am missing the point. Maybe the clues and plot twists are supposed to be obvious to the reader so that they can feel insightful and intelligent by deciphering them before the expert character does.
The inclusion of a map of the relevant parts of Washing DC would have been helpful to those readers with no first hand knowledge of the city.
My assessment, in a nutshell, this is a nice idea ruined by amateurish execution. But, let’s be honest, he’s not the first mediocre author whose career has flourished due to unaccountable popular acclaim. I just wish he would collaborate with somebody of more advanced writing skills. I’m sure the result would be the fun clue solving adventure he envisions his work as.-Lynn

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