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The Lost Symbol, provisionally known as The Solomon Key, is the third entry in Dan Brown's novel series starring Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. This time, the story explores the mysteries of the Freemasons and is set in Washington D.C.. Langdon is invited to D.C. by an old friend and mentor (and also not-so-secretly a top-rung Mason), only to discover that he has been an Unwitting Pawn, manipulated by what seems to be a raving lunatic who kidnapped said mentor and now blackmails Langdon into solving the Freemasons' puzzles for him. The final prize in the game is the fabled treasure of Ancient Mysteries, which, Langdon insists, is immaterial but he doesn't have much choice. As if that wasn't complicated enough, the CIA shows up and demands the very same things of Langdon... except that they couldn't care less about his mentor's safety.

A movie has been announced for release in 2012

The novel contains examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Langdon.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Mal'akh needs Langdon's skills so he takes Peter hostage.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The book, and by extension Langdon, go through great lengths to disprove many common misconceptions and conspiracies about Freemasons.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Freemasons. And no, there is no Ancient Conspiracy here, neither imaginary nor real.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Considering his previous two adventures, Langdon is really the last person in the world who should find it hard to believe that an ancient society is protecting a dangerous and powerful secret with hidden codes.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Big Bad's master plan is to sacrifice his body so he can ascend and lead the Forces of Evil in destroying mankind. Since Dan Brown's previous novels have generally taken place in "the real world" (ancient conspiracies and shoddy historical accuracy aside), you'd normally wouldn't count on it, except this novel throws in all that stuff about mental energies and the Noosphere being real.
  • As You Know: Practically Langdon's catchphrase.
  • Badass Bookworm: Langdon. Lampshaded when a security guard takes one look at Langdon and wonders how he managed elude the French police in loafers.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Peter Solomon.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Peter and Katherine, in a way.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Zachary does this to Peter when he reveals his true identity.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Except that FBI never shows up at all. And CIA is revealed to be not that bad themselves.
  • Continuity Nod: There are several references to Langdon's past adventures in the previous books.
  • Claustrophobia: Langdon's fear of confined spaces is abused by the villain for an ingenious torture method. And then, It Got Worse.
  • Dan Browned (of course): So, so much. Try the confusion between the meninges and the brain itself late in the book, for one.
  • Depraved Bisexual - While depraved asexual at the time of the story, a throwaway line mentions that Mal'akh used to occasionally enjoy the company of young men in addition to women. Pretty much a classic example of this trope as making Mal'akh bi doesn't serve any purpose other than to making him even "stranger".
  • Did Not Do the Research - "transgendering."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Zachary's Calling the Old Man Out moment at the end turns everything he's done to Peter into this; Zachary's horrendous decision-making shamed his family and he squandered most of his wealth until he landed in prison, but apparently he turned to all of this because a.) his father refused to bribe a warden to get him released early to teach Zachary the meaning of responsibility, a lesson he badly needed, b.) Zachary changed his mind about the short-sighted decision between wealth or wisdom he made as a young man, and c.) the fact that Peter did not recognize Zachary, after Zachary had taken steroids, shaved his head, gotten tattoos, etc, etc.
    • Zachary's first beef was his having to decide between A. a pot of money right there and then, and B. the wisdom of the ancients revealed several years down the road plus that pot of money complete with interest, which included his dad's Good Ole Boy Network Approval, in whatever he planned to do. Zach grudgingly admits he hadn't thought things through at the time.
    • He was eighteen, whaddya expect? Makes one wonder what he had to face growing up.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him - Inverted; Langdon doesn't realize Sato is a woman until they meet face to face, and she demands that she stop calling him "sir."
  • Eureka Moment: Quite a few.
  • Flash Back: There's at least one every other chapter.
  • Fridge Logic: It's mentioned that Sato was born in the Manzanar internment camp during World War II, and that because of it she "had never forgotten the horrors of war, or the perils of insufficient military intelligence." The problem with that? If she was born in Manzanar, she would have been THREE when the war was over. It's possible her parents could have told her about it later, but still.
  • Gender Neutral Writing: Used to conceal the fact that Sato is actually a woman.
  • Girl of the Novel: Notably averted, as the lead female character, Katherine Solomon, is fifty and her relationship with Langdon is a long-standing friendship. But she's still attractive.
  • I Have Your Wife: In this case, "I have your best friend/brother."
  • Idiot Ball: It's been passed around a few times.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Averted. In order to find what she's looking for on the net, Katherine has to link together hijacks other peoples' search engines and has them work together through parallel processing. After that, she still has to sort out the junk from the useful stuff.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Langdon's editor finds out where he is, his reaction is along the lines of "Oh god, not AGAIN".
  • Luke, You Are My Father: It's revealed that the main antagonist is actually Peter Solomon's son Zachary.
  • MacGuffin
  • Mad Lib Thriller Title
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bellamy when he realizes what Sato really wants.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Big Bad has these. Namely, Mal'akh a corrupted form of the name Moloch. Also Dr. Abaddon Who happens to be the bad guy's psychiatrist alter ego.
  • Oh Crap: Mal'akh's reaction once he crosses over.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: After being rescued from imprisonment and torture, including having his hand forcibly amputated, kidnap victim Peter Solomon does not go into shock or collapse from loss of blood but instead indulges in a bit of light sightseeing and the delivery of several pages' worth of exposition.
  • Red Herring: That mysterious redacted document that Katherine finds turns out to be a CIA forum discussion about the meaning of Kryptos' true meaning, which happened to contain the exact same keywords she was looking for.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Well, duh, it's a Dan Brown novel. Let's start with Mal'akh, more commonly known as Moloch...
  • Samus Is a Girl: Inoue Sato.
  • Self-Deprecation: The last plot twist in Digital Fortress is reused, and Langdon notes that he read about it in a "mediocre thriller".
  • Straw Feminist: A light version in the form a student who complains about the lack of women in the Freemasons.
    • it's slightly more irritating that Dan Brown feels the need to explicitly identify her as a member of the Women's Center, and portrays her to be irrationally objecting to Langdon's lecture, when she's really just calling him out for the statement that the Masons "do not discriminate in any way."
  • Washington DC
  • "What?" Cliffhanger