I read this when the book became all the rage years and years ago, but after I finished reading ‘The Lost Symbol’, I ended up skimming through it again just for kicks so this will be a short review.
I really liked it. As in, I really unapologetically liked it. It’s a lot better than ‘The Lost Symbol’ largely due to the fact that all the Dan Brown archetypes are executed well:
- The pacing was faster and the suspenseful cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter don’t feel like sudden, forced brakes in the plot.
- At the end of the story, the Secret Society isn’t exposed in its entirety by the actions of one man and there’s still sufficient mystery to at least justify the longevity and authority of the Society.
- The dark secret that governs the family’s behaviour and history has real weight to it and isn’t eye-roll inducing.
- All the cryptic clues were very clever, especially the second last one.
- The Hindering Law Enforcement Figure didn’t feel contrived and had real motives of his own. I particularly liked that Fache was intensely Catholic, it was a nice touch.
- The Female Love Interest is also described to be a healthy, robust brunette, just like in ‘The Lost Symbol’ so Dan Brown obviously has a type. But Sophie and Robert are much more balanced in intelligence and competency so the Female Love Interest feels less like a Damsel in Distress.
- Whether it’s actually historically accurate or just pandering to conspiracy theories is a whole separate can of worms but you can’t deny that any discussion on Jesus is not a fascinating topic choice. The continual discussion over whether the Holy Grail should be exposed is nice and balanced.
So help me, Dan Brown may be my guilty pleasure. It’s all good fun. Nothing is threatening or intellectually stimulating, and all the Robert Langdon books are the same, and that’s the appeal. At least you can’t accuse him of inconsistency.
On Another Note
The casting was done so well for this movie. Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Ian McKellan, Paul Bettany was A+ casting and perfect for each of the characters. Pity the film was so forgettable.
I also love Dan Brown’s unashamed descriptions on Robert Langdon, I love every single sentence describing Robert Langdon because Dan Brown describes him like this:
The past year had taken a heavy toll on him, but he didn’t appreciate seeing proof in the mirror. His usually sharp blue eyes looked hazy and drawn tonight. A dark stubble was shrouding his strong jaw and dimpled chin. Around his temples, the grey highlights were advancing, making their way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair. Although his female colleagues insisted the grey only accentuated his bookish appeal, Langdon knew better.
Then there’s this little scene where the hostess introduced him in a lecture by reading about what was written about him in magazine:
‘Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe as “chocolate for the ears”.’
The hall erupted in laughter.
Langdon forced an awkward smile. He knew what came next – some ridiculous line about ‘Harrison Ford in Harris tweed’ – and because this evening he had figured it was finally safe again to wear his Harris tweed and Burberry turtleneck, he began to take action.
To remind everyone, Dan Brown looks like this:
There’s also this amazing section from Wikipedia:
I can’t get enough of it. I’m actually tossing up if I should buy ‘Inferno’ and ‘Angels and Demons’ just so I can read more descriptions of Robert Langdon.