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Friday, November 13, 2009


Friends, it’s been almost a month since I have delivered an installment of this saga. The delay was mostly due to my move. You can’t move and absorb the mysteries of The Lost Symbol, because the human psyche is only capable of so much. So if you need a refresher, here are parts one, two, three, four, and five.

When we last left them . . . Mal’akh had gotten everything he wanted and had Katherine and HSRL in the basement of his evil lair. Katherine was hooked up to something you mind find at an evil bloodbank . . . a machine that slowly drained her dry. And HSRL WAS DEAD! We saw his body sink to the bottom of the tank, like one of those little pirate chests they put in fishtanks.

Now, back to the action.

Chapters 109-110

CIA director Inoue “Evil Yoda” Sato and her crack team have swooped down on Mal’akh’s Palace of Fun. Sato commands one of her minions to find the computer. Said minion goes to the desk and stares at it in bafflement. It LOOKS like a computer should be there, but there is none! Where could it be? What kind of evil mastermind has a computer that you can just PICK UP AND CARRY AWAY? What kind of monster are they DEALING with?

Sato tells him it was a laptop, makes mental note to stop hiring people from the room with the rounded scissors. No wonder she is so cranky and wizened!

In the rumpus room in the furnished basement, Katherine is still hooked up to the bleeding machine, and RL is apparently STILL NOT DEAD. As he clings to life, he runs through some Latin phrases. This is the kind of thing he usually does while trying to run from a hail of bullets while wearing loafers, or trying to escape a major national monument in loafers, or trying to get away from a swooping helicopter in loafers . . . but since there isn’t a lot to do at the bottom of a tank as your brain is about to explode, going through Latin phrases is as good a way to pass the time as any.

Chapter 111

We flashback to what seems like a scene from Stupid Harvard* (but it’s actually Stupid Phillips Exeter Academy, which is a feeder school for Stupid Harvard—and from what I can tell, from there it’s pretty much a straight line to Sato’s team—IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW). Here again we see the overeager arm raising, the giddy excitement at slide shows, the shouting out of names of countries and other nouns.

At the heart of the action is Peter Solomon, who’s there to tell these dim bulbs about the wonders of the Smithsonian. In the process, one of the students confronts Peter and wants to know if he is a Mason. She has Googled him! This one will go far! He admits that yes, he is a Mason. But aren’t the Masons some kind of creepy, weirdo organization of creepy weirdos? Not so, says Peter.

DB proceeds to slice up and plate the juicy fact-meat that he so loves to serve. We learn that the Masons are awesome and not weird at all, and that everything you know is wrong. So there, suckers.

Chapter 112

Downstairs, the CIA is disconnecting Katherine from the bleeding machine, so if you were worried about that, don’t be.

Meanwhile, wretched, crab-like Sato is descending into the hidden basement, where one of her agents is pointing out HSRL’s tweed coat and loafers, which are on the floor! His uniform! His loafers! Then she approaches the tank and looks through the plexiglass and sees a FLOATING, SUBMERGED HSRL!

Now, I know what you are thinking . . . you are thinking, “HSRL has been in that tank for a while, totally submerged, so he MUST be dead. He MUST be.” But Sato knows different. She knows that he is alive. HOW he is alive—well, we’ll get to that in a minute. But think about this. You’ve found HSRL in a tank of liquid in a hidden basement. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had stumbled upon this scene, I would have turned to my idiot agent and said, “We’re going to go back upstairs and cement over that door. Then I’m buying YOU a chocolate milk and you’re going to promise me never to tell anyone about this.” But DB knows best and doesn’t give in to baser instincts like these. So instead we are given a scene of a naked HSRL, born again, blinded by light, and mistaking the face of Sato for the face of God.

And now . . . the science. DB is not precious with this next section. It moves with the grace of a ballgown trimmed in hammers, but we must get through it to understand the bit about the tank. That tank was filled with oxygenated perfluorocarbons, a new technology known as Total Liquid Ventilation (TLV). Yes, breathable liquid! The science goes on for about two more pages, which contain the only known quasi-academic reference to the 1989 movie “The Abyss.”

Then we get a full HSRL rebirthing scene, and as soon as he is out—he’s talking Latin. I’m not going to lie—Chapter 112 is a bruiser. But no one said this would be easy.

Chapters 113-124

Katherine, of course, believes that she has just seen HSRL die, so she is as surprised as any when he shows up all drippy and towely. “How?” she asks. Sato is about to do the whole “oxygenated perfluorocarbons, have you seen The Abyss?” thing again when Katherine pulls a “Just shut up and hold me!” (To HSRL, not Sato.) HSRL has, once again, not saved her. Our hero is beloafered and an easy bleeder, and he doesn’t rescue much, but he knows his Latin!

While in the tank, he realized that Mal’akh is after the MAGIC WORD! That’s what this has all been about! He’s run off with the pyramid, but RL figures out that he is going to Heredom (which is Greek, actually). Heredom is a mythical mountain in Scotland! But it’s ALSO the nickname of a building in Washington DC!

In the interests of time, I realize I must seriously condense what happens from here on in.

While becoming an initiate in the Masons, bald, shaven Mal’akh was wearing a wig. And in that wig . . . WAS A CAMERA! Yes, the wig cam captured it all, and Mal’akh has edited it together into the most badass and viral Youtube video since Keyboard Cat. This video shows half of Washington drinking what looks like blood out of what looks like a skull, committing what looks like murder, throwing what look like dead bodies into coffins. But, DB goes to great lengths to explain, this is all playacting and the Masons are pretty much the most awesome organization, ever. If this were the prom, you know how there’s always one couple in the middle of the floor that makes out the WHOLE DANCE, even during the fast songs? Well, if you could replace that couple with DB and the Masons, and the prom was The Lost Symbol . . . then HSRL would be the DJ. I think. All you need to know is that THE MASONS ARE AWSEOME EVEN THOUGH THEY SEEM REALLY WEIRD.

So forget Peter Solomon. Who cares if he dies? This wig cam video must be stopped!

Meanwhile, Mal’akh is wheeling Peter Solomon around DC in a wheelchair. Peter has been rebirthed about three times tonight. Having stolen the magical pyramid, soaked Peter in a tank and severed his hand, tattooed himself, fed Trish Dunne to the giant squid, killed a few guards, hooked Katherine up to the bleeding machine, and pickled HSRL . . . the extremely prolific Mal’akh is now about to conclude his evening by getting the magic word he has so longed for. Then all he has to do is tattoo it on his head, prepare the creepy sacrificial table in the skylight of the Heredom, and use the ACTUAL BIBLICAL KNIFE from the story of Abraham and Isaac that he has obtained from ebay. But WHO IS TO DIE?

Meanwhile, HSRL is zooming around the streets of DC, shouting directions from the backseat, and Sato sits in a helicopter, gnawing at her horrible talons. People are running from every possible direction. It’s BEDLAM. Cats and dogs living together, etc.

You aren’t going to believe this, but Mal’akh? Is PETER SOLOMON’S LOST SON ZAC. Except now he’s crazy and tattooed and he wants Peter to sacrifice him just like Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son in the Bible and Peter is all oh nooooooo. But it’s okay, because the helicopter crashes through the skylight and kills Mal’akh with a zillion shards of glass, but not before Mal’akh can hang on for a few scenes of WTF? Because, to be fair, he has gone to a LOT of effort.

Oh, and the wig cam video goes out! Except, it doesn’t! Because Sato stops it with some helicopter-fu! HSRL runs in at the end and is all, “Hey, guys.”

Chapter 125

Key lines between Katherine and HSRL:

Katherine walked up and embraced him warmly. “How can I ever thank you?”

He laughed. “You know I didn’t do anything, right?”

And there you go.

Chapters 126-130

It’s a symbolpalooza! I can’t really remember any of it, but you’re going to LOVE it!

Chapter 131

We learn that many great thinkers were convinced that the Bible contained the Ancient Mysteries, but not in the literal words—that the words on the pages were codes, and that the Bible is comprised of heavy-handed and useless story covering up something much more important and interesting. I get the feeling that DB is trying to tell me something, but I am not biting, reader.

Chapters 132-Epilogue

HRSL gets the best tour of Washington DC, ever, because Peter Solomon can apparently get in anywhere. Like, if he wanted to see the President’s underwear drawer, he could see it. He exacts a kind of passive-aggressive revenge on HSRL by blindfolding him and taking him to enclosed spaces and up high stairs and on to scary balconies, all under the pretense of showing him a good time, which is pretty slick in my opinion. Also, he seems to have recovered from his son’s second death and his own hand-severing/rebirthing pretty well, but then again, it has been four hours or something.

Anyway, we get to see that Washington DC has a lot of high, dark, creepy spaces, and apparently the founding fathers had WAY too much time on their hands . . . which is surprising, considering that they were busy creating a whole new country, and laws, and currency and everything. But they also took the time to make a whole PUZZLE CITY that no one knows about!

Oh, and by the way, the lost word is actually a lost symbol, and that lost symbol is a circle with a dot inside of it. But there also is a word, and that word is buried in the cornerstone of the Washington Monument. That’s the answer. You’re welcome.


* See Part Two to learn about Stupid Harvard, which is where HSRL teaches. I know this means it should have been SHSRL all along, but it is too late now.

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Blogger Andy said...

hahahahahha! Epic and hilarious Maureen! Please do this for all his books lol. I was totally thinking "Didn't he JUST have his hand cut off?" when peter solomon was shipping HSRL all around Washington. But I guess the masons have magical healing powers too :D

12:42 AM  
Blogger Maria D'Isidoro said...

Oh dear ceiling cat, that is the BEST Most-Horrible_Thing_Ever that i have ever not read. Thank you MJ!!!

12:51 AM  
Blogger lightforms said...

This whole story could have been prevented by some politeness and courtesy at that dinner party. Like a polite exchange: Hello, I am your son. I change my mind and accept your gift. Thanks, goodbye!

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Ahh, thank you mj! I actually really liked the book (I'm a big believer of God within us/as us). But your readers guide so totally enhanced the experience and helped me laugh at the rather overdone parts of the book. I haven't read any of your work beyond this yet but plan on borrowing some of your books from my daughter, who loves them. Thanks for sharing your writing skills with us on this humorous journey for the Lost Symbol.

1:53 AM  
Blogger Jennila said...

I say you post ALL of your summaries on The Lost Symbol's Wikipedia page. (Some would call it vandalizing, I call it improving it...)

AWESOME. and way better than the book I'm sure.

3:09 AM  
Blogger The Brain Lair (KB) said...

That was amazing. I want to do book reviews this awesome and funny! I am actually thankful to DB because you were able to do this!

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Dreamerized said...


That is all. :)

Except for this: MJ <3


5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:07 AM  
Blogger Ms. E said...

The Masons are the best thing ever? Sounds like DB must be one of them...or wants to be.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Maureen your books are just amazing and i cant wait to get into another one of your books so far the only ine ive read is 13 little blue envelopes .

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Alexandra said...

You know I quite possibly snorted a rice crispie through my nose...through my NOSE! I was laughing and choking so much reading this...reading? It took me three attempts to get to the end.

Damn! But you are one funny Lady! I'm certifying this blog with a "warning" notice (going out friends-virally as we speak) something to the effect: do not read while eating one's breakfast soggies least one snort cereal everywhere.

This is what reading NaNo notices does for me. Thanks for the experience. Life will never be the same again.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous bookharlot said...

Awesome, but you forgot the most awesome part. HSRL told Mal'akh the WRONG magical word and totally pwned him! Oh, the irony!

7:35 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Yay!! I guessed the breathable liquid thingy. I wonder whether Mal'akh ever stopped to consider whether it would be simpler just to shoot HSRL? I would.

Thank you so much.

I am almost (but, thankfully, not quite) tempted to read the original for comparison purposes.

If we suggest other books we'd like you to read on our behalf, andwrite guides for, will you do it??

7:58 PM  
Blogger Juliette Dominguez said...

The Best

Thank you, MJ! You absolutely rock. You deserve a Handequin of your every own.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Maura said...

ROFL!! I read this sorry book last month for my book club (none of us liked it). I'm going to have them all read your review - it will definitely make up for having read the original.

And thanks for your NaNoWriMo peptalk - that's how I found your blog.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Hollishillis said...

I only read the first chapter your reviewed and the last but WOW I think that's all I ever needd to read to know that this book is AWESOME.

Thanks Maureen.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Jodie said...

Fan freaking tastic! I especially like how the reason HSRL does not die is because of a new science product being right in the tank he is shoved into. That almost beats out Charles Dickens amazing coincidences.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh thank you! I actually got 3/4 of the way through the book but then Dan Brown lost me when I realised I was just reading about flashbacks and lectures. The Lost Symbol is no longer lost to me. - Rah xo

1:57 PM  
Blogger Miss Midwesterly said...

Oh, mj. you brave, brave soul, you.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! I just had to drop by to say that the Total liquid ventilation isnt, and wasnt, a new technology. In the book it says its been around for some while.. used by new-age people mostly.. but that the tecnhnology is quite unknown, but it isnt new.. Oh okay, bye

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read all of LS before reading your guide. Thinking now I should have read yours first since at one time I actually said out loud "GET TO THE POINT." To which my husband rasies his eyebrows and says "you know the book can't hear you right?"

Has anyone counted how many times DB uses esoteric in this book? I think it must be some kind of record.

Luckily I finally got a copy of Going Bovine, so my brain will soon be scrubbed of all that is confusing and overdone. And if that doesn't do it I'll just re-read Suite Scarlett.

Thanks MJ!!!

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laughed so hard reading this :) I was still confused, though. For example, didn't evil dude shoot that guy in jail? then it turns out he is that guy? and peter solomon is all creepy and I so expected him to try and kill HSRL or something, for another chapter of useless action that makes you wonder if Dan Brown wasn't just trying to fill up a few extra pages... and then, nothing? end? That is so anti- climatic.

9:14 AM  

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