The Lost Symbol

Extremely busy with work. Not like I am sitting day-in day-out at work, still its pretty hectic. Living with room mates mean you get precious little time to write. Get home from work. Get some dinner. Watch TV/movie/both (we got a TV, a PC and a laptop!), browse, read, fool around, fight and viola its 2 AM! Sleep late and go to work. Repeat until weekend (I started out in Pascal, all you flashy kids would never know the repeat-until loop unless you started out with Fortran)! Anyway, my writing has been supplanted to a large extent by reading. That brings us finally to the point! I got my pre-ordered copy of the Lost Symbol by Dan Brown on 15th, the release day. Devoured it in one sitting, despite being pretty hammered on the head that day!

Lost Symbol is a cookie cutter Robert Langdon book. Its interesting but, way too formulaic. May be I am getting that feeling as I saw Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons back to back just around a month back. Still, you can predict how the story is going. A unique out of the world villain, wise old mentors, intelligent lady sidekick, looot of lectures, skeptical Langdon (way too skeptical and comes of as a jackass at times!), and of course conspiracy theory!

After taking up the Priory of Sion and the Illuminati, Dan Brown's subject is a real fraternity this time. The Freemasons. Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation with branches (or lodges as they call) across the world. Look up the Wikipedia article. Very interesting.

Langdon's mentor and prominent Freemason, Peter Solomon, who has been kidnapped by a mysterious Malakh. Malakh demans Langdon to find the secret guarded by the Freemason's in return for his friend's life. He is joined by Peter Solomon's sister, Katherine Solomon, in the whirlwind of a chase. CIA also gets involved in the plot and it starts to thicken like a jam! I am not blowing any suspense here. Go read the book!

The book is an absolute page turner in spite of being predictable. Interesting aspects are discussed like the current state of organized religion, principles of freemasonry, and noetic science. The plot moves at a brisk pace with quite a lot of turns. For me the greatest disappointment was the ending. You feel like: to protect this, why do they have to be so fucking secretive? Its unlike the ending on Da Vinci Code and the even more dramatic Angels & Demons. Very underwhelming to say the least.

A lot of has been written about Dan Brown's literary style. Personally, I really don't get the accusations. The man is no Hemingway, and no one is claiming that! Think of Dan Brown books as Hollywood blockbusters. Heavy on action, value for money! No one is expecting a Booker/Pulitzer prize for his book. That said, there is a lot of merit in the topics he has put forward. Many intellectuals snark as soon as they hear noetic science or psychic powers. The core idea: God is within you, merits a serious book from a good storyteller. Sad thing is, talented authors are polarized these days. The nutter believers with their pseudos and stark atheists with their pseudos.

Trivia: Famous Indian Freemasons! Check out the following list!
  • Dadabhoy Nowroji Tata
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • W.C. Bannerjee
  • President Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
  • Sir Syed Ahmed Khan
  • Justice S Padmanabhan
  • Dr. Badruddin Tyabji
The entire list is available here.