Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Lost Symbol

I loved Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons for the same reason(s) I like Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens (Great Expectations) and Robert Louis Stevenson - the uncanny ability to weave a fictional story around historical events and characters. In utmost honesty, I liked Angels and Demons more than the Da Vinci Code, though the latter had more shock value. Less said about D. Brown's Digital Fortress and Deception Point, the better as, they are worser than the masala movies that Dr. Vijay gives out.

I digress. In his latest book, Brown returns to his favorite topics - Symbology, Pagan and Christian origins and of course an esoteric cult, here the Freemasons. The book starts quite in the Da Vinci mode, with Langdon being brought into a crime scene, him trying to evade authorities, a few twists and turns and the final denouement, followed by a fill in the blanks session between lead characters. To me, having spent almost 6-7 hours at a stretch to complete the book, it felt like a huge letdown. Highlight the next para for spoilers:

The plot itself is very reminiscent of the Da Vinci - there it was Jacques Saunière, here it is Peter Solomon. And you feel that book has too many parallels and you would not notice this, had the plot been thicker and more interesting like, the da Vinci Code. The character of Mal' akh is quite a mix of the psychotic Ghost from dVC and the Hassasin from A&D. The only new thing in this book is that P. Solomon is alive till the end, while Leonardo Vetra and Jacques Saunière were killed in the previous book. And to please the crowd that he displeased in his previous outings, here Brown plays to the religious galleries. I was amused to find that Brown was liberally using the Advaitam, propounded by Sankara (since there were multiple Sankara's, he is referred by his popular name, Adi-Sankara, who, single handedly established the shanmata and stopped the rampant spread of Mimamsa and Jainism and Buddhism which was the case in South India - read Ponniyin Selvan for another historical-fictional work by Kalki). Brown expounds on the asAvAdhithyO brahma | brahmai vAhamasmi concept and towards the latter portion of the book, ends up preaching to the choir (for most of the tambrahm crowd).

If you have not read the dVC (which is going to be a remote possibility) or its been a long while since you read the book, give this one a try and you shall be happy you did. Else read the book some months down the line when the paperback edition is released.

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