Friday, February 26, 2010

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Lost SymbolJust the other day, I was out falconing with my good friend and vassal, the 4th Baron of Smyth-Bullard, when he happened to mention my blog.  "You know, Your Grace," said he, "I've been following your electronic journal, and I quite enjoy it.  But I do have a question."  At this point I casually removed my hand from the hilt of my sword, to encourage further candor, and gestured for him to continue.  "Well, it is only that you never seem to dislike any of the books you review - and I for one love to see a bad author savaged in print by a master of vicious sarcasm such as Your Grace." 

"Capital point, Bobo," I replied (for such was his nickname at the Old School), "I shall see to it forthwith!"  And so, without further ado (and a special dedication to my chum Bobo), enjoy the following review of Dan Brown's latest insipid potboiler, The Lost Symbol... 

This is difficult for me to write, for two reasons.  First, I am loath to give any attention whatsoever to a talentless hack posing as a writer.  Second, I am frankly ashamed to admit that I actually read this piece of garbage.  Let me explain by noting that my time at the library that week was curtailed by an important appointment, and the selection was sparse indeed.  The book was a new release, and having read Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, I figured it would be a relatively painless way to kill a few hours.  I was so wrong.  As it turned out, I could have spent a less painful few hours trying to kill myself.

I now realize that Brown's books result in cumulative damage - each one is more hazardous than the last.  The DaVinci Code?  Relatively harmless, if pretentious, fluff.  Angels and Demons upped the ante for inane absurdity with a plot that posited antimatter... in the Vatican!  The latest opus demonstrates that Brown's hero, symbology Professor Robert Langdon, sees more action than Jessica Fletcher - which makes sense because that kind of stuff happens to college professors all the time.  (Just the other day, I heard, Noam Chomsky singlehandely foiled a bunch of Christian Scientists trying to blow up Mount Rushmore with a viral meme.)  The suspension of disbelief required by the sum total of these stories is more than ridiculous - its insulting.

I won't waste any time on the "plot", which is essentially a retread of the earlier books.  This time, the intrepid Langdon is again called in to consult on a violent crime, associated with - wait for it - a symbolic clue to a hidden treasure.  Here it's Freemasons instead of Templars, but the song remains the same - a pretty girl, a twisted villain (tattooed with arcane symbols all over his body!), another scavenger hunt for the "Lost Treasure" of the Masons.  More "astounding" plot twists, that only a reader in a persistent vegetative state could fail to see coming.  And a panoply of shallow, monodimensional supporting characters that might as well be identified as "Plot point #2" or "Comic Interlude #5".  It's like a book-length Betty Crocker recipe.

Here's something else - Gee, Dan, do you recall a little picture that came out a few years ago?  Nicholas Cage, scholar, pretty girl, Freemasons, Washington DC, lost treasure?  In fact, I think it was called National Treasure, wasn't it?  Yes, yes it was.  News flash, Dan - its been done before!  And as bad as that movie was (not to mention the sequel), your book is worse. 

At least National Treasure had a national treasure - a big cave packed full of neat stuff made out of solid gold.  When it comes to eventually finding the long sought object of history's desire, you always disappoint.  When I read a long, poorly written book about finding the Holy Grail, I damn well want to see a cup at the end of it.  And when I struggle fruitlessly through this latest tome about the lost treasure of the Freemasons, I expect to see some gold, not some con about the wisdom of the Bible.

Finally, stay the Hell away from science, Dan - you don't know anything about it, and since your books are not being marketed as Science Fiction, your know-nothing insights about noetics, telepathy, antimatter, hypersonic planes, and genetics have no place in the narrative.  Keep your gullible enthusiasm over "cutting-edge science" to yourself.  In fact, please keep all further writing that you do out of the public sphere.  I beg you.
Normally, I would include a link here to allow one to buy this book on Amazon.  Not this time. 

(Readers will note the use of a special rating for this book.  This indicates an insult to the reader so grievous, that it can only be satisfied on the Field of Honor.  I'm talking to you, Dan Brown.)

1 comment:

  1. Capital job, Your Grace! A veritable cavalcade of whimsy, what?

    I remain.
    Your humble servant, etc.,