THE LOST SYMBOL (Robert Langdon #3)

Author: DAN BROWN

Publication:  2009

Genre:  Thriller, Mystery, Conspiracy

Language: English

Narrator: Third person Omniscient Narrator. The  narrator is reliable and  records the thoughts and emotions of all of characters. More emphasis is placed on Langdon, the hero, and Mal’akh, the villain, than the other characters.

Theme:  A prevalent theme throughout this novel is the connection between the Masons and the founding of America.

Main Characters: Robert Langdon, Mal’akh, Peter Solomon, Katherine Solomon

Book Summary

A man bent on becoming a deity of darkness attempted to reveal the secrets of the centuries old establishment of the Masons and block advancement in Noetic Science in the novel The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown. Professor Robert Langdon believed he had been called to Washington by his best friend Peter Solomon to give a lecture. Instead, he found himself in the middle of a race with time to solve the mysteries of the Masonic Pyramid. He must decode the pyramid in order to save his friend and, possibly, the future of the nation from this mad man who wants to destroy knowledge and increase the power of darkness.

Langdon was surprised to receive a last minute phone call from the assistant of his friend, Peter Solomon, asking Langdon to give a lecture in the Capitol Building that evening. Instead of a packed lecture hall, Langdon arrived at the Capitol to find an empty room. As Langdon tried to determine what was happening, the severed hand of Peter appeared in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. This hand was tattooed and arranged in the form of the Hand of Mysteries, an ancient symbol depicting an invitation. Before he knew what was happening, Langdon had been hijacked by the leader of the CIA’s office of Security to help find and decode the Masonic Pyramid. The CIA had received a tip that Langdon was the only one who could decode the pyramid. Though he did not realize it, Langdon had been tricked by the stranger, Mal’akh, who had called him pretending to be Peter’s assistant into bringing a box with him that Peter had left with Langdon for safekeeping. Langdon later learned this box contained the capstone of the pyramid, the piece needed to decode the engravings of the pyramid.

Meanwhile, the man named Mal’akh, who had kidnapped Peter, charmed Peter’s sister Katherine into trusting him. Katherine, a Noetic Scientist, was making breakthroughs in the science of determining the power of the human mind. Because he believed he would be rewarded by the dark forces by destroying her work, Mal’akh blew up Katherine’s lab. He attempted to kill her, but she was able to escape and join Langdon in his efforts to save Peter.

Because the CIA does not have saving Peter’s life as its first priority, Katherine and Langdon are able to get away from the CIA with the help of William Bellemay, the Architect of the Capitol and a friend of Peter. They try to decode the pyramid as they out run the CIA. Just as they are caught, Langdon and Katherine make a call to Mal’akh’s phone. They believe that Peter has been freed because they talk to a security guard who claims to be at the house. The CIA leader allowed them to go to Mal’akh’s house. As it turned out, they had been tricked again by Mal’akh. Mal’akh took them hostage and killed the CIA agent who was sent with them. Langdon was put in a sensory deprivation chamber and forced to tell Mal’akh the location to which he believed the Masonic Pyramid was pointing him. Mal’akh took blood from Katherine, leaving her to die. Then, he took Peter to the Temple Room of the House of the Temple. Mal’akh intended to sacrifice himself there.

In the Temple Room, Mal’akh demanded that Peter give him the Lost Word so he could write it on the top of his head, the only spot of his body that was not tattooed. Peter gave him a symbol to write there, and Mal’akh went on with his ritual believing that Peter had told him the truth. Just before Mal’akh told Peter that Peter was the one who would kill him, he also told Peter that he was Zachary, Peter’s son. Peter had believed that Zachary was dead.

Peter was sorrowful, then angry. Instead of stabbing his son with the knife he was given, Peter jabbed the blade into the stone altar breaking its blade. Mal’akh died when a helicopter was brought over the skylight in the Temple Room in order to kill Mal’akh’s laptop and keep a video Mal’akh had made of his own initiation into the Masons from becoming public. When the helicopter pilot tried to pull the copter away from the building its strut hit the skylight and broke it. Mal’akh was impaled by pieces of glass from the broken skylight. Instead of the joyous reception he expected when he died, Mal’akh went into a place of darkness and fear.

Because of his dedication to Peter, Peter showed Langdon at the end of the novel where the Ancient Mysteries, also known as the Lost Word, were buried. He explained that the Mysteries were actually a copy of the Bible buried in the capstone of the Washington Monument. The last image in the novel is that of Katherine and Langdon watching the sun rise over the Washington Monument, a sign that light always wins over darkness.

Characters List

Robert Langdon: A professor of symbology at Harvard University and the protagonist of the novel.

Mal’akh: A Mason whose body is covered with tattoos and the novel’s main antagonist.

Peter Solomon: A Smithsonian secretary, billionaire philanthropist, Freemason, father of Zachary Solomon, and close friend of Robert Langdon.

Katherine Solomon: Noetic scientist, sister of Peter Solomon, aunt of Zachary Solomon.

Trish Dunne: Katherine’s metasystems analyst.

Isabel Solomon: mother of Peter and Katherine Solomon and grandmother of Zachary Solomon.

Warren Bellamy: Architect of the Capitol and fellow Freemason to Peter Solomon.

Inoue Sato: the second-generation Japanese-American Director of CIA’s Office of Security

Reverend Colin Galloway: Dean of Washington National Cathedral and fellow Freemason to Peter Solomon and Warren Bellamy.

Trent Anderson: Capitol police chief.

Jonas Faukman: Langdon’s New York editor

Nola Kaye: CIA analyst.

Buy The Lost Symbol at Half Price from Amazon

Book Review

Robert Langdon, the protagonist of both “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” turns up at the Capitol for a meeting with his former colleague Peter Solomon. It just so happens that Solomon has been kidnapped…and his severed hand – marked with strange symbols – has been left behind as a warning. Langdon quickly ascertains that Solomon was on the trail of recovering the Washington Pyramid, an ancient Freemason artifact that holds the key to unlocking unspeakable power.

Meanwhile, Solomon’s sister Katherine works as a specialist in Noetic Science – essentially, the study of psychic abilities and how they affect the material world. When a hideously tattooed Masonic cultist breaks into her laboratory – destroying her research and attempting to kill her – she is inadvertently thrust into Langdon’s search for answers.

As the book progresses, Langdon discovers that the Pyramid contains a code leading to the “Ancient Mysteries” – a reserve of knowledge somehow linked to the Noetic Science that Katherine has been studying. He follows the clues around Washington D.C. in true “National Treasure” style, unscrambling a series of puzzles that lead to the Ancient Mysteries.

So what’s the big revelation? The answer is stunning. According to Brown, the truth of the Ancient Mysteries is that “man is God.” The vault of secret wisdom is, in fact, none other than the…Bible.

Here is where “The Lost Symbol” outstrips its predecessors. Brown cunningly avoids making controversial statements designed to polarize the religious community – in fact, the fictional Langdon even makes an offhand mention of how his book on the Sacred Feminine (a key “Da Vinci Code” concept) caused a stir among some book groups. Of course, Brown hastily continues, it wasn’t meant to spark such ill feeling.

As the final pages of “The Lost Symbol” make clear, Brown believes that there is indeed spiritual wisdom contained in the Bible…but that the Church has twisted the underlying meaning of the Scriptures. He cites familiar Christian passages to support his “theory” that man is a god-in-embryo: “The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” is understood to mean “the body is merely a vessel of the god-force.” “The Kingdom of God is within you” is interpreted as “man himself is God.” Even Christian words such as “atonement” are given twisted meanings: according to Brown, “atonement” really means “at-one-ment” – essentially, man becoming a deity in his own right. The Hebrew word “Elohim” – a plural form of God’s name that Christians understand to be referencing the Trinity – is construed to mean that all the individuals in the world are parts of the same God consciousness.

But that’s not all. He goes on to argue that this concept is found in American symbols as well. “E Pluribus Unum” – Latin for “one out of many” – is read to mean that there is one unifying God-force-spirit that proceeds from the collective minds of humanity.

If I did not understand the real meaning of the Biblical passages Brown cites – or have an understanding of our Founding Fathers’ beliefs – I’d be sold on Brown’s theory. He is persuasive, convincing, authoritative, and direct…unashamedly proclaiming his message that all religions essentially worship the same God, the “God within.” He doesn’t deny the reality of a spiritual world – not at all – but instead assumes that God is somehow an emanation of humankind’s united consciousness.

From a literary standpoint, the book is excellent. It’s a smart, sophisticated thriller that clips along at a breakneck pace. The symbol search is ingeniously conceived…it’s fascinating to follow Langdon and Katherine as they try to solve the mystery before time runs out. But Brown’s lastest book is far, far more than just an adventure story…”The Lost Symbol” is a savvy work that will likely undermine the faith of Christians for months and years to come.

***

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