Dan Brown Cavorts with Angels, Da Vinci, Free Masons, and Now Dante!
May 2013 Book Review
Robert Langdon is coming back!
For those who recognize the name but cannot exactly place why it is so familiar, let me reintroduce one of my favorite characters, favorite authors, and favorite series. Robert Langdon is the protagonist of such literary blockbusters as The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, and–as of May 14, 2013–in Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno.
The new novel promises to continue Dan Brown’s enthralling historical/religious fiction series. Rumors have the novel centering on Dante and his epic masterpiece the Divine Comedy. Langdon will be back in Italy, so get ready!
In honor of Dan Brown’s latest novel, May’s book review will focus on the three previous books in the series: Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol.
Note: Dan Brown has also written two other novels, Deception Point and Digital Fortress. These are more sci-fi thrillers that do not feature symbologist Robert Langdon. They have an entirely different feel than the history/science blend that Dan Brown is typically known for.
Angels & Demons
This novel is often mistaken as the sequel to The Da Vinci Code, because it became recognized and popular only after The Da Vinci Code became widely successful. Also, it was the second movie adaption made and not the first. Nevertheless, the truth is Angel & Demons was the first and is one of the few books I have read multiple times.
I love this book. It has action, intrigue, and that amazing blend of religious and scientific theory that has made Robert Langdon one of my favorite fictional characters to follow. Short chapters, quick action, frequent insight into the villain’s mindset, and just a hint of romantic tension make Dan Brown’s series in general a wonderful read.
My particular affinity for this novel arises from my fascination with the Catholic Church and the underlying secret societies and conflicts. Thus, the arrival of the Illuminati had me instantly hooked. I also read this novel before I visited Vatican City and re-read it again afterwards. The novel and its depth make it even more remarkable if you can place the novel’s descriptions with your own experiences and images. Also, being a chemistry major/buff, the theoretical description of the material at CERN sparked my immediate curiosity, making me wonder to what extent the fictional product eventually could become realized.
Illuminati, CERN, Pope Elections, Murder throughout Vatican City, Ambigrams, Assassins, and a revelation ending that took me completely by surprise. I know the movie was terrible, but the novel will not disappoint.
The Da Vinci Code
This is the bestseller that has received the most critical acclaim. It continues the blending of science, religious, and historical themes into a fast-paced action thriller. This time the focus is on Leonardo da Vinci and the Holy Grail. Okay, I’m hooked again.
A murder in the Louvre starts this whole adventure, and Langdon is required to solve the case. Soon, he and the curator’s daughter get caught up in a centuries-long battle between rival religious groups over the true nature of Jesus Christ’s relationship with Mary Magdalene and its cover-up. Ultimately, the entire enterprise turns into a quest for the Holy Grail while trying not to be murdered.
A great, wonderful novel with lots of criticism. Even though it’s fiction, the level of research and actual ideas and references within The Da Vinci Code lead to a very believable story that will make you, at the very least, question the truth of what happened during the life of Jesus Christ. Regardless of faith and denomination, the ideas of love, gender equality, and power resonate, making me wonder if the world would be better off believing in the fiction and not the reality. Also, Silas is an amazing villain. I’ll be honest, the Albino Serial Killer fascinates me.
Priory of Sion, Opus Dei, Templars, da Vinci, art, and a quest for the Holy Grail make this a novel to read at least once. The depth and discussion of ideas and conflicts are what enhance this novel’s complexity. The combinations that cause such intrigue, something the movie adaptation was never quite able to capture.
The Lost Symbol
Dan Brown’s most recent novel prior to Inferno is also my favorite of the series, and I attribute my affinity for the novel largely to the topics addressed within its pages. First of all, I am a huge fan of Freemasonry and the impact that secret societies have/had on the American founding. It is no secret that many founding fathers were Free Masons, but the number and extent of their influence is quite remarkable even into modern times.
Nearly every national fraternity has Free Mason influence in its organization, history, and rituals. In theory, most fraternal men have been participating in Freemasonry-lite, and I would urge any Fraternity Man™ to visit one of the two oldest Free Mason temples in the United States. The first is the Massachusetts Grand Lodge right off of Boston Commons, and the second is the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, which is located downtown right across from Philadelphia City Hall. Both have tours for free or for nominal amounts.
Rather than running around Europe or Rome, Langdon is home in America and discovering new mysteries in Washington D.C. and the surrounding metropolis. From the basements of Congress to the unknown depths of the Smithsonian Museums, this novel follows the traces of serial killer intent on discovering the most powerful secret of Free Masonry.
The blending of noetic science, a relatively new field of science with old secret societies and secrets, is fun and surprisingly fun. The themes of knowledge and true power as well as the nature of God and Science establish the worth and re-readability of this novel.
Congress, George Washington, the Smithsonian, Free Masons, The True Word, murder, D.C., and so much more. The Lost Symbol provides an alternative look into American history and our nation’s capital.
Remember: Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno is now on shelves. Read it before the spoilers or eventual movie ruin it.
Ali Hasanali is a contributing writer to Hobbes Lives and is the author of Prythvii: The Forgotten Heirs. He also dabbles in law and can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute without switching the stickers.