Monday, October 18, 2010
The Lost Symbol (It's still lost.)
For almost five hundred pages, this book was an action and intellectual thrill ride. But then it wasn’t. The problem? A promise not kept. The big idea is that hidden somewhere in Washington D.C. is the secret to unlocking the Ancient Mysteries of mankind, a secret guarded by the Masons since the founding of our nation.
The good guys want the secret to remain hidden, while the bad guy wants to find it and destroy it so the Mysteries will be lost forever. But over the course of the book the good guys come to the conclusion that the time has finally come for this lost knowledge to be revealed.
Now, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. If these Mysteries were all they were cracked up to be, the knowledge would change the world (at least the world occupied by Robert Langdon) and Dan Brown’s future books would have to be set in an alternate reality. But I was led to expect that the secret, referred to in the title as a Lost Symbol and the text as a Lost Word, would at least be uncovered - if only to Langdon and his allies.
No such luck. In the end, they are certain they’ve discovered where this thing is hidden. But it happens to be in a place inaccessible by normal means. So that’s it. They’re sure the secret is there, but since they can't get at it they just walk away. Ho hum.
To atone for this letdown, Brown’s characters try to explain the basis of these Mysteries, but the attempt falls flat. In the final chapters, the book devolves into a mishmash of religious/scientific/metaphysical doubletalk, and instead of ending, the story just peters out.
Is a good book with a lousy ending still a good book? Tough call.