Book Thoughts: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol

Despite the work that is on my schedule, I make an explicit point of not doing work (unless I find it fun), once I leave the office. I feel like sitting in a computer lab from 7:30am to 6:00pm entitles me to some personal time without feeling too guilty about it. And as you can guess, I have continued with my habit of devouring books when I can get my hands on them (courtesy care packages, the wonderful secondhand supermarket in Mombasa and the extensive volunteer lending system). My most recent dish was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and for those who don’t care to read a bit more, my overall impression is that it’s a good book, a good read, but you don’t need to buy it if you don’t want to.

I appreciate Dan Brown for a few reasons and The Lost Symbol is a continuation of Mr. Brown’s style that I appreciate. First, being a, “history guy,” I like anything that gets people even remotely interested in historical subjects. At all. Much like my praise for the Harry Potter series, which got kids to simply read in the first place (despite it blatantly rip-off without crediting some of my favorite classic-fantasy authors), if Mr. Brown can write a thriller and throw in some relatively decent historical angles which get people wondering where society came from and where it’s going, good on him!

I do get a little unnerved though when people thus assume that because they are reading a story presented with historical foundations, the history must be true! This is not so much Mr. Brown’s fault, as I feel he does have an agenda as to which viewpoint he believes in, but because he is writing a fictional novel he can take a bit more literary freedom in presenting selected pieces of history and craftily weaving those pieces together without needing to truly justify the interlinks to a level that would satisfy a thesis review board. Without getting too specific (and therefore doing myself exactly what Mr. Brown does in his novels), a story in which it is the Masons protecting these Ancient Mysteries alone (as it is presented at least) completely disregards other cultures such as those in Eastern hemisphere which themselves may have ancient orders and ancient mysteries. Long story short, because Mr. Brown is ultimately telling a story, he can present his, “history,” with such a singularity that it may lead the reader to believe it is the only explanation of the events. However, I do not think he is intentionally trying to mislead his readers, I merely think some readers may take him too seriously because he is a very captivating author.

I do like some of the particular themes he uses to captivate his audience in the The Lost Symbol particularly. First off, the technology is very interesting: items such as thermal residue imaging, EMP guns and liquid breathing are all very real technological advances that may be announced in trade journals and specialist publications, but just never make it to the public’s attention. Being a techie, I like anything that gets people to realize the world around them is far more interesting technologically than their TV remotes and cell phones.

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2 responses to “Book Thoughts: Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol

  1. Noah Briggs

    Speaking of future tech – Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility may just be nothing more than a prototype light-shifting camouflage cover currently under development somewhere.

  2. sam w

    if you’re looking for a next book recommendation – I got Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum for my brother for christmas (based on the fact that he likes Dan Brown) – and he loved it.