View Full Version : MobileRead (annex) Discussion: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (spoliers)


pilotbob
09-18-2009, 05:39 PM
Per Daffy's suggestion we have an (annex) to the book club for this month. It seems like alot of people are reading this book. Lets talk about it.

If you want to talk about Dan Brown please choose another thread.

;)

BOb

berniej
09-18-2009, 08:02 PM
I'm not finished with the book yet but one thing's for sure -- I often consult Google while reading it to get a better feel of what's happening in the story :)

Right now, I'm googling "melencolia I" to verify how it was described in the story.

jaxx6166
09-18-2009, 08:23 PM
LOL. I did the same thing...and I will also admit to guiltily dialing Peter Solomon's phone number to hear his voice mail.

I'm always a sucker for conspiracy theories. My only regret so far was the pain in the ass that it's been to flip back and forth between pages as Langdon uncovers the symbols. It's not exactly easy to line things up side by side on an eReader yet....Asus book get here soon :-)

ccpraveen
09-18-2009, 11:32 PM
SPOILER ALERT WITHOUT TOO MUCH SPECIFICS

Ok, I finished reading Lost Symbol.

Here is a quick impression.

All in all, its a GOOD read, but it may be me and all the hype that this book generated, I do not give an EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS rating to this book.

And altogether I guess it gives a much needed elixir to the troubled times today, giving people hope and a general ground to forget their mutual issues and misconceptions, to forgive and to live together as a collective one, respecting each other and their rights to peacefully co exist.

Maybe the author tried to make amendments with all the earlier controversies that he created, but without sounding too appeasing, the book tries to generate goodwill and harmony among all the major religious beliefs.

One should not expect ground breaking revelations escalating to myth-bursting heights, but definitely thought provoking and all in all a happy ending.

Regards everybody

daffy4u
09-19-2009, 01:02 AM
Per Daffy's suggestion we have an (annex) to the book club for this month. It seems like alot of people are reading this book. Lets talk about it.

If you want to talk about Dan Brown please choose another thread.

;)

BOb

Wow, I promise to only use my power for good! ;) I guess I better start reading! :p

Thanks BOb!

BeccaAnn
09-20-2009, 01:48 AM
I enjoyed the book. Yes, it followed a formula but then I wasn't looking to read the story for any other reason than for enjoyment. IMO, it is the worst of the Langdon trilogy, I enjoyed the first two much better. And unlike the first two, I won't buy the illustrated hback because I don't think pictures will help with the story (the first two had more art in them and seeing pictures did helped). Will I reread the book like I do with the majority of my books, probably not, but still a worthwhile read.
As to why I won't reread it, I'm not sure. I do think that it has been given a lot of hype for the type of book it is. I also know that for some reason, if National Treasure 1 & 2 were in book format, I would enjoy them more than The Lost Symbol. Something about the plot of NT draws me more than TLS and I can't put my finger on it; which is wierd because I believe that NT was supposed to be a TLS knockoff.
At least the Roman Catholic church shouldn't have a reason to dislike the book so much (except about the part that humans are like gods).

berniej
09-20-2009, 07:17 PM
Finished reading the book yesterday and it felt like I went through a mashup of "Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons". Did it find the book interesting? Yes! I seem to have loved the tidbits of trivia that was interspersed among the story. Will I be re-reading the book? Hell no! As I've said, I felt as if I already read the book and finishing it was like re-reading his earlier works ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Did I like the book? Yes! But not enough to overly analyze its contents. Is it a "good read"? Definitely!

Superlucky
09-21-2009, 05:30 AM
Frankly, I'm astonished that anyone who enjoyed A & D and TDVC found this book at all satisfying. Those books may have been terribly written, but I couldn't put them down. I kept having to force myself to finish TLS. There just were no surprises. The reveal on the antagonist was actually tedious because I knew who he was several hundred pages before the big "revelation", as did everyone but the characters themselves. The conspiracy theory angle was dull this time because he never made me really believe that the Masons could posses anything of interest.

Admittedly I have complained about DB's annoying use of deus ex machinas (jumping out of an helicopter - really?), but now I admit that any plot contrivance, no matter how absurd, is better than page after page of dialogue (including an entire lecture!) about new-age philosophy.

Patricia
09-21-2009, 06:14 AM
I agree with everyone who finds the plot very similar to its predecessors.
Also there are huge gaps.

SPOILER ALERT
Zachary Solomon appears to die in prison. The villain has got hold of young Soloman's personal fortune.
Now, on hearing about young Solomon's death in prison, didn't it occur to his father, Peter Solomon, to wind up his son's estate, trace the money and see where it had gone? After all, in the absence of a will, he would be his son's heir. And Peter Solomon has already spoken of the family fortune as needing to be used responsibly.
You would think that he would check it out. On finding that the fortune had been transferred hours before his son's death, he would surely have tried to trace the person who had acquired it.

Superlucky
09-21-2009, 06:28 AM
I agree with everyone who finds the plot very similar to its predecessors.
Also there are huge gaps.

SPOILER ALERT
Zachary Solomon appears to die in prison. The villain has got hold of young Soloman's personal fortune.
Now, on hearing about young Solomon's death in prison, didn't it occur to his father, Peter Solomon, to wind up his son's estate, trace the money and see where it had gone? After all, in the absence of a will, he would be his son's heir. And Peter Solomon has already spoken of the family fortune as needing to be used responsibly.
You would think that he would check it out. On finding that the fortune had been transferred hours before his son's death, he would surely have tried to trace the person who had acquired it.

How about running around town with a recently severed hand. I'm thinking the act of chopping off a hand sans anesthetic and then cauterizing the wound would result in shock (especially combined with the other trauma). If it wasn't cauterized, then he would have bled to death.

However, these things (and the hundreds more we could mention) are nits. It's a Dan Brown novel. You volunteer to sacrifice credibility (and almost every other literary virtue) at the altar of an exciting plot. The problem with this book is that after making the necessary sacrifices, the reader gets nothing in return.

mores
09-24-2009, 06:05 PM
And altogether I guess it gives a much needed elixir to the troubled times today, giving people hope and a general ground to forget their mutual issues and misconceptions, to forgive and to live together as a collective one, respecting each other and their rights to peacefully co exist. I am probably not the world's sharpest reader, but what you mention just occured to me on the last couple of pages.

It was a good read, but it felt rather forced, to me, as if the author was not enjoying himself.

The end was a let-down, and while I did yearn to continue reading during the day, after I finished it I think that all the hype is unjustified.

Yet, I must say that the idea of there not being a "god" in the traditional, religious preachings does appeal to me.

dmaul1114
09-24-2009, 07:08 PM
I'm maybe a quarter or a bit more into it. I'm enjoying it--not as much as Angel's & Demons or The DaVinci Code yet, but it's a fun read so far.

His books aren't serious literature by any means, but I like reading some disposable fiction just like I enjoy a good popcorn movie--nice way to shut off the brain and unwind after a long day of work.

columbus
09-25-2009, 04:25 AM
I've posted before that these days I read only to be entertained, which A&D and TDVC certainly did, page turners even with their poor execution.

I found the lost symbol exceedingly boring, apart from a brief section 3/4 of the way through. For me it was full of unnecessary irrelevancies and I had to force myself to finish it.

I agree with mores comment above:-
but it felt rather forced, to me, as if the author was not enjoying himself.

Other than this I thought not only was he not enjoying it but maybe was just producing something to cover the advances.

For me a less than one star read.

HarryT
09-25-2009, 04:30 AM
I enjoyed it. Not great literature, but a fun read, and full of extremely interesting "trivia".

Superlucky
09-25-2009, 01:08 PM
I enjoyed it. Not great literature, but a fun read, and full of extremely interesting "trivia".

Really? The "trivia" seemed like the same new-age pseudoscience that I've been hearing for years.

Bilbo1967
09-25-2009, 01:10 PM
Really? The "trivia" seemed like the same new-age pseudoscience that I've been hearing for years.

Yep - dressing up that recycled tosh as some kind of lost secret is pretty irresponsible in my view.

HarryT
09-26-2009, 04:52 AM
Really? The "trivia" seemed like the same new-age pseudoscience that I've been hearing for years.

Are you American? I'm not, and know very little about Washington DC, and all the facts about the city (eg the statue of George Washington as Zeus) I found to be extremely interesting. I'm not referring to the "new age" stuff - that is indeed tosh.

Patricia
09-26-2009, 05:05 AM
I agree with Harry that the incidental facts are rather interesting. But it is a pity, to my mind, that they are not really integrated into the novel.

Superlucky
09-26-2009, 06:37 AM
Are you American? I'm not, and know very little about Washington DC, and all the facts about the city (eg the statue of George Washington as Zeus) I found to be extremely interesting. I'm not referring to the "new age" stuff - that is indeed tosh.

Yeah, which probably added to my disappointment. I was expecting to find out some interesting things about the capitol, but ended up being underwhelmed.

Sparrow
09-26-2009, 02:46 PM
I agree with Harry that the incidental facts are rather interesting. But it is a pity, to my mind, that they are not really integrated into the novel.

There was a note in my edition:
"Names, characters, businesses, organisations, places, events, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental." ;)

The only other book by Brown I've read is the Da Vinci Code. I thought TLS was an easy, entertaining read. Like others, I thought the 'secret' identity of the baddie was obvious all along. Some of the elements were decidedly clunky - e.g. the pitch black Void outside the Cube lab. And the last few chapters was a load of tedious waffle imho. But, overall, the pacing was fast enough to avoid dwelling on the weaker aspects; and it was heartening to see everyone make such rapid (almost miraculous :eek: ) recoveries from their various ordeals. :)

As a throw-away thriller, I'd say it was 7.5 out of 10.

Patricia
09-26-2009, 03:15 PM
As a throw-away thriller, I'd say it was 7.5 out of 10.

I would agree with Sparrow if this were the first Dan Brown that I had read. However, the repetitious elements from earlier Dan Brown novels are very disappointing, for me.

And would the C.I.A. really let people loose without medical checks, (towards the end of the novel)? Quite a lot of it simply beggars belief, as far as I am concerned. Someone has lot an awful lot of blood, and isn't carted off to a hospital. And this in a culture where the risk of being sued is an occupational hazard... Je ne croix pas.

mikelvdb
10-01-2009, 02:22 AM
quotes:
-a Masonic pyramid containing a code that unlocks an ancient secret to "unfathomable power."

-Robert Langdon, is back, risking his life to crack a dangerous mystery

I enjoyed the book but I still wonder why is the 'mystery' dangerous and need to be protected in such a difficult way.

maggie*
10-07-2009, 06:34 PM
I didn't enjoy The Lost Symbol very much... I was bored... And I did enjoy The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, I know it's not literature but was entertaining.

I agree with Harry that the best part was all the trivia about Washington D.C. and it's historic landmarks, maybe next time I go to the States I try to visit.:cool:

But as for the actual plot... It was weak... And the rhythm was terrible... :(

m*

Rodry
10-07-2009, 09:07 PM
To those saying that "The Lost Symbol" is NOT literature: Would you tell us what is it, if not literature? Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all booksellers have placed this book under "Literature & Fiction". Are they wrong? Please write to them indicating the correct classification. Their staff don't include people as qualified as you. Help them, please.

mwheinz
10-07-2009, 11:21 PM
I have to say that, as an honest-to-god Freemason I found the book both relieving and annoying. Relieving in that Langdon's opinions about the masons were surprisingly accurate and sympathetic. Annoying because it was yet another silly mash-up of old nonsense claiming that we're hiding something from the rest of the human race. (At least it wasn't the "National Treasure"!)

I also have to say that I simply could not read "Angels and Demons" - the science in there was so excruciatingly bad I simply could not read more than a few chapters. By comparison, the descriptions of masonic symbolism and its influence on Washington DC in "The Lost Symbol" were surprisingly accurate.

By the way - if you want to know what being a Freemason is really all about, Google for the Shriners, Shrine Clowns and the Shrine Hospitals. As far as I'm concerned, those are what it's all about.

mwheinz
10-07-2009, 11:29 PM
Are you American? I'm not, and know very little about Washington DC, and all the facts about the city (eg the statue of George Washington as Zeus) I found to be extremely interesting.

As far as I can tell, you can take all that trivia as accurate. It is certainly true that many of the Founding Fathers were Masons and that Masonic symbolism is all over colonial America. What Langdon didn't mention, however, is that there were Masons on the other side of the war, too.

Superlucky
10-08-2009, 06:52 AM
To those saying that "The Lost Symbol" is NOT literature: Would you tell us what is it, if not literature? Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all booksellers have placed this book under "Literature & Fiction". Are they wrong? Please write to them indicating the correct classification. Their staff don't include people as qualified as you. Help them, please.

I think people are referring to the most common usage of the word "literature": writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.

Dan Brown's novels do not meet this definition of literature. They do meet the definition of "Fiction", hence their placement in "Literature & Fiction". Even the label "Literature & Fiction" implies that there is a difference between literature and mere fiction.

It's nothing to get your hackles up about. You can defend Dan Brown's literary prowess all you like, but no one's going to agree with you. ;)

mores
10-08-2009, 07:36 AM
I enjoyed the book but I still wonder why is the 'mystery' dangerous and need to be protected in such a difficult way.Maybe it is the "fact" that there is no God as we know it. Revealing this to the world would make religion, as we now know it, obsolete.
That said, I can't immagine that "a bible" would be the tool to reveal this "fact", unless it was some kind of special bible. But it doesn't say that ... so actually all this hunting, killing and what not is pretty useless.

mwheinz
10-08-2009, 08:34 AM
That said, I can't immagine that "a bible" would be the tool to reveal this "fact", unless it was some kind of special bible.

You need to bone up on your gnostic heresies. In modern literature we talk about the "sub text" - the idea of hidden layers of meaning is a common one, and an old one. Thus, on the surface the story of Noah is straightforward. To a kabbalist (a jewish mystic) it raises questions: why was the ark exactly those measurements? Why a dove? Why a raven? What kind of twig did the bird throw down? What is the hidden meaning behind these symbols?

And so on. It's the same thing as when people accuse the masonic square-and-compass of being either a secret Star of David or (alternately) a disguise for a horned devil.

But it doesn't say that ... so actually all this hunting, killing and what not is pretty useless.

I agree... almost... but what occurred to me was two things: First, that Solomon couldn't have had any more idea than Langdon what the pyramid was really all about. Second, he had sworn a multi-generational oath to protect the secret.

It's quite possible he lied to Langdon that the treasure was a masonic bible.

I haven't looked at my Masonic bible in years. I'll have to dig it out and check it for secrets.

amjbrown
10-08-2009, 08:51 AM
Great idea to bend the "free" rule to discuss this amongst the MR community. This is essentially a cross post from the "Please give a writer harder to put down than Dan Brown" thread, as I think the contributors here will enjoy the linked review. Original thread here... http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55466

Thanks to that thread I bought (and read) the latest Dan Brown. And I was very pleased to be able to do so many miles from home on a business trip, upload it to my reader and enjoy it on the flight home (best place for a Dan Brown imho :) ).

I have three points:

(i) Dan Brown can spin a yarn. His four page chapters, each with a cliff hanger might be highly formulaic, but it is a formula that works. It is very hard not to start chapter (n+1) as soon (n) is done. And when (n) is around 150, you've finished

(ii) Dan Brown wants you to know how much research he has done. The only way he can do this is by pretty much quoting it word for word. Michael Criteon did exactly the same thing. It doesn't make great prose, but some of it is pretty interesting.

(iii) Having read the book, the funniest thing I have read in the last three weeks is the UK Spectator magazines reveiw of it. For those of you that don't get it, here's a link...http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/5356496/too-much-information.thtml but comments like Freemasons have been getting steadily less glamorous since their apotheosis in The Magic Flute. Nowadays, one thinks of them in connection with short-sleeved, polyester shirt-and-tie sets, pens in the top pocket, sock-suspenders and the expression ‘My lady wife’. I honestly can’t see them guarding the secrets of the universe. and His attempts at characterisation never go much beyond ‘Systems security specialist, Mark Zoubianis, had always prided himself on his ability to multi-task.’gives you an idea where it's going (make sure you read all four pages!).


I enjoyed the original thread and recommend it. I read a really fun, trashy novel as a direct consequence of that debate, plus I've picked up a couple of new authors to look out for.

Equally the comments here about the definition of literature and merits or otherwise of Dan Brown's style are highly entertaining!

amjb

maggie*
10-08-2009, 05:38 PM
I think people are referring to the most common usage of the word "literature": writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.

Dan Brown's novels do not meet this definition of literature. They do meet the definition of "Fiction", hence their placement in "Literature & Fiction". Even the label "Literature & Fiction" implies that there is a difference between literature and mere fiction.

It's nothing to get your hackles up about. You can defend Dan Brown's literary prowess all you like, but no one's going to agree with you. ;)

Thank you superlucky, you caught my meaning exactly.:) Both kind of books have it's place on my PRS, that doesn´t mean they are the same.

No need to get all worked up over a light discussion...

m*

maggie*
10-08-2009, 05:53 PM
(iii) Having read the book, the funniest thing I have read in the last three weeks is the UK Spectator magazines reveiw of it. For those of you that don't get it, here's a link...http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/5356496/too-much-information.thtml but comments like and gives you an idea where it's going (make sure you read all four pages!).

amjb

Thanks for the recomendation of the Spectator critic, it's hilarious... :rofl:

I wish I was able to summarize things like that...

"But Brown’s attention is elsewhere, largely on writing paragraphs which the DC tourist board can reproduce unamended, and perhaps already has. (...) I wonder how much of the prose he has read in recent years has been written by estate agents. He certainly seems very keen on square-footage. ‘The Capitol’s massive footprint measures more than 750 feet in length and 350 feet deep.’ Two pages later, ‘The museum is a massive, zigzag-shaped edifice constructed of five interconnected pods … a six-hundred-thousand square feet alien world.’ Another couple of pages later, ‘The Capitol Visitor Center … reportedly provided over a half-million square feet of space for exhibits, restaurants, and meeting halls.’ By page 85, he is still at it: ‘The Apotheosis of Washington — a 4,664-square-foot fresco that covers the canopy of the Capitol Rotunda — was completed in 1865 by Constantino Brumidi.’ "

mores
10-09-2009, 03:06 AM
You need to bone up on your gnostic heresies. Say what? English, dude, we speak english here.
*opens second browser window with wikipedia*
*finds out what the individual words mean yet fails to figure out the combination*
:)

In modern literature we talk about the "sub text" - the idea of hidden layers of meaning is a common one, and an old one. Thus, on the surface the story of Noah is straightforward. To a kabbalist (a jewish mystic) it raises questions: why was the ark exactly those measurements? Why a dove? Why a raven? What kind of twig did the bird throw down? What is the hidden meaning behind these symbols? Ah, got it!

I haven't looked at my Masonic bible in years. I'll have to dig it out and check it for secrets.:rofl:

mwheinz
10-09-2009, 09:37 AM
Ah, got it!

:)

We tend to think that conspiracy theories are a modern thing - 9/11 truthers, Obama birthers, the JFK assassination and so on. The truth is that people seem to have a deep seated need to believe that there is a secret truth that will make their lives make sense - and that someone is hiding it.

kalitara
10-09-2009, 10:09 AM
I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to. I'll wait until the price comes down.

After I read and loved The DaVinci Code, I read Angels & Demons. Same exact plot. Rather disappointing.

Patricia
10-09-2009, 12:45 PM
You need to bone up on your gnostic heresies.


We have Archbishop Wake's collection of forbidden Gospels in our upload section. These are books that failed to make it into the final edit for the New Testament canon.
LRF:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18064
PRC:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18065
IMP:
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18066

And if you wish to look at other Gnostic texts, may I recommend The Gnostic Society Library site:
http://www.gnosis.org/library.html
This has translations of the Nag Hammadi texts, the Dead Sea scrolls and other material.

MickeyC
10-10-2009, 04:24 PM
I live near DC and it was a treat, after reading the chapter where the hand is found pointing to the top of the Rotunda, to drive into the city and take the tour of the Capitol. Also, I drive by King Street metro all the time.

But I thought the book was based on an oddly weak premise; that American security was in threatened by the release of video tapes that show Masons acting like, well Masons. If Clinton was able to engage in oral sex in the Oval Office and nothing disastrous happened; drinking wine from a skull seems pretty tame.

Superlucky
10-10-2009, 04:36 PM
But I thought the book was based on an oddly weak premise; that American security was in threatened by the release of video tapes that show Masons acting like, well Masons.

Masons are not exactly great at keeping their rituals a secret. I'm pretty sure there's a YouTube video. Everyone knows about the weird practices of the Yale Skull and Bones society and (almost) nobody cares. Creepy rituals just aren't that scary in this day and age.

This is the main reason the book was so horrible. The supposed secrets have been out in the open forever, and there was absolutely nothing to be gained by knowing them.

mores
10-10-2009, 05:00 PM
The Video was, I think, just the reason why the CIA got involved.

mwheinz
10-10-2009, 05:14 PM
Masons are not exactly great at keeping their rituals a secret. I'm pretty sure there's a YouTube video.

Indeed. In the US, each the masons in each state are independent and some of them actually sell videos of their rituals. (Not mine, though - we're old school.)

Personally, I wish our rituals were a little more like the ones I saw in a British documentary - they looked seriously cool.

The supposed secrets have been out in the open forever, and there was absolutely nothing to be gained by knowing them.

Good point. I just googled the secret passphrase of a master mason and it took me to the Free Dictionary's page on Freemasonry.

Which is sad, really.

daffy4u
11-12-2009, 11:20 PM
How about running around town with a recently severed hand. I'm thinking the act of chopping off a hand sans anesthetic and then cauterizing the wound would result in shock (especially combined with the other trauma). If it wasn't cauterized, then he would have bled to death.


I FINALLY finished this wretched book,. It has taken me weeks... I had to force myself because I really was not enjoying it.

I was thinking the exact same thing about the severed hand, the repeated drownings in the deprivation tank, near total exsanguination, along with the revelation of who the bad guy really was and all the deaths of innocents. Why was everyone so skippy, talky and touristy at the end.

I thought Angels & Demons was a good story, The DaVinci Code a fun and fascinating romp but this one was just tedious.

David Munch
11-13-2009, 05:25 AM
It was okay. TDVC was better IMO, and I probably won't be reading it again for the next 10 years.

Rootman
01-15-2010, 12:12 PM
I kept waiting for a post script at the very end. Something like Langdon really brushing off all that he was told at the Washington monument and closing the door and

"little did he notice the faint etching beneath the spiral staircase that matched the (pick one - capstone, pyramid, ring). Little did he know how close he really stood to revealing the real secret treasure that laid hundreds of feet beneath the staircases last step, accessible only by (pressing / holding / turning the capstone / pyramid / ring) and removing the cover of the release mechanism that opened the access hatch to the real treasure. The Masonic treasure was still safe, that is until next time."

Good read, slow in the end, could of left off a few of the last chapters. Didn't see the antagonist's identity coming till it happened. Worth the $8 I paid but would not read it again.

Raduz
01-15-2010, 06:35 PM
Lost Symbol...read it, hated it with passion at the end. It was absolutely worst read of 2009 for me. And I rather liked The Da Vinci Code.

patomonk
12-28-2010, 01:35 AM
To those saying that "The Lost Symbol" is NOT literature: Would you tell us what is it, if not literature? Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all booksellers have placed this book under "Literature & Fiction". Are they wrong? Please write to them indicating the correct classification. Their staff don't include people as qualified as you. Help them, please.

Literature and fiction. Two categories: this is fiction, not literature.