Dan Brown's latest epic adventure sets off at a much slower pace than either of Langdon's previous escapades: The Da Vinci Code and its predecessor Angels & Demons.
It is a grand scale quest that features all of the elements you would expect from any book in this literary sub genre which Brown has almost single-handedly created. There is the psychotic bad guy, the friend in danger, the hero in an unexpected situation which sends him into danger to solve a puzzle only he can answer, the accomplice who is there to help explain the plot to the readers and provide a possible love interest, an ancient secret and of course a mysterious governmental connection.
There is a marked difference between The Lost Symbol and Langdon's earlier adventures, something that is reflected in the style of the book's pacing. Whereas the previous novels rushed along at a helter skelter pace with the symbology used as a background and a basis for the adventure, in The Lost Symbol Brown lectures and theologises more, even employing flashbacks as a tool to explain plot nuances which detracts from the story by slowing the pace down. I found I had read half the book before the pace was at the levels experienced in his previous novels. Personally, I think it was the author's way of answering earlier criticism about his writing style and grammar. A better way to deal with this may have been to concentrate more on conversation, prose and the peripheral characters and less on the science, as most of the lauded authors deal with human emotions rather than examine in minute detail science, myth, superstition and multifaith beliefs. However, I only read bestsellers, not write them...
Despite the book's slow start, once I was gripped by the story it held my attention far tighter than I held the book itself. I enjoyed the romp around Washington and was pleased to discover that while I did guess the treasure's location correctly I was caught out by another twist in the book. I am very much of the opinion that if I can guess the complete ending of the book correctly before getting halfway through then I am reading a book written by someone who is clever enough to gain from me the books price but not clever enough to warrant purchase of their next publication!
One can almost sympathise with the author who has had the unenviable task of following up one of the fastest-selling novels of all time. This may answer the delay in writing The Lost Symbol. However the reasons could be myriad with court cases, book signings and film premieres all competing for his attention and time. Plus he was in a position to take his time and create a book which would reply to the many critics of his writing style.
This book will sell many copies based on the public love for The Da Vinci Code, yet the real indicator of how popular this book is with the buying public will be the response to the next novel from the author. Sorry, no pressure... Let's just hope we don't have to wait another six years?
When all is said and done I enjoyed The Last Symbol and, while it is not as fast paced as The Da Vinci Code, I'm sure it will brilliantly carry on the torch for Professor Langdon and Dan Brown.