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Some new revelations regarding the likely content of Dan Brown's next book have come to light, and this time they are directly from the man himself (although not actually intended as hints to the new book I'm sure). I'm happy to report that a number of his statements appear to confirm a few of my 'educated guesses' as to the content of The Solomon Key (found in my book The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key). The new hints come as part of Brown's detailed witness statement in response to Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's plagiarism claim (over their book Holy Blood, Holy Grail), currently before the courts in London.
Firstly, there are statements which confirm some of the more obvious topics in the next book. One is that Robert Langdon will be the chief character, and indeed will be for a number of his future novels: "...the protagonist of Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon) who also appears in The Da Vinci Code and in my next, as yet unpublished, book...I intend to make Robert Langdon my primary character for years to come ". Another is that Freemasonry is central to the story: " All of this research and reading about the Illuminati led me also to learning more about Freemasons. This research was something I would come back to when I started to write and research The Da Vinci Code and also the book which I am currently writing."
Beyond that, there are further clues to his sources, and therefore the likely content of The Solomon Key. Notably, Brown points out his interest in links between secret societies and the U.S. Treasury, the conspiratorial "New World Order", as well as the iconography of the Great Seal (also found on the Dollar Bill). In doing so, he also confirms my suspicion that his novels are based in the conflict between religion and science:
Upon my return home, I started looking into the Illuminati, and what I found was material for a great thriller. I read conspiracy theories on the Illuminati that included infiltration of the British Parliament and U.S. Treasury, secret involvement with the Masons, affiliation with covert satanic cults, a plan for a New World Order....for example, the design of the Great Seal on the U.S. dollar bill includes an illustration of a pyramid - an object which arguably has nothing to do with American history.
Some historians feel the Great Seal's 'shining delta' is symbolic of the Illuminati's desire to bring about 'enlightened change' from the myth of religion to the truth of science.
In my book, I point out the likelihood that Brown will use the theme of the Founding Fathers being based in the Masonic, Deist and Utopian tradition - individuals like Franklin who were more for science than religion - and creating the United States as a haven away from the strictures of Catholicism on the European continent. Indeed, Brown says directly that he has a "fascination with the interplay between science and religion."
There is also a hint that he may go further into the Templar tradition in the next book, and may use the Oak Island 'money pit' as the tie-in to the new material:
Brown also details his fascination with the Masonic associations of the Founding Fathers, right through to the influence of Masonic groups on modern-day politics. He even explicitly points out his interest in Skull and Bones, a society I predicted he would use:
I have asked myself why all this clandestine material interests me. At a fundamental level my interest in secret societies came from growing up in New England, surrounded by the clandestine clubs of Ivy League universities, the Masonic lodges of the Founding Fathers, and the hidden hallways of early government power. I see New England as having a long tradition of elite private clubs, fraternities, and secrecy - indeed, my third Robert Langdon novel (a work in progress) is set within the Masons. I have always found the concept of secret societies, codes, and means of communication fascinating. In my youth I was very aware of the Skull & Bones club at Yale. I had good friends who were members of Harvard's secret "finals" clubs. In the town where I grew up, there was a Masonic lodge, and nobody could (or would) tell me what happened behind those closed doors. All of this secrecy captivated me as a young man.
Research on previous novels may also be convenient for a new story based in Washington, D.C. In the original synopsis for TDVC, Brown had Sauniere's murder carried out in the same manner as the symbolic Masonic murder of 'Hiram Abiff', which he later exchanged for the Vitruvian Man symbolism - might he use this in the new book? For Deception Point, Brown says his wife Blythe investigated a number of subjects, including "the architecture of the White House". Interestingly though, he says that halfway through this book he began feeling bored, as he was no longer keen on politics as a subject.
The possibility of Albert Pike and Scottish Rite Freemasonry being topics in the new novel (and therefore the "House of the Temple" in Washington, D.C. being used as a location) has also grown more likely, with the admission by Brown that even before he wrote The Da Vinci Code he was in possession of Pike's monumental Masonic guidebook, Morals and Dogma. As I point out in my book, this topic leads in many surprising directions - even to the early history of the Ku Klux Klan!
Also of note was Dan Brown's admission that a lot of his primary research on The Da Vinci Code came from a book by Robert Lomas and Chris Knight, titled The Hiram Key, despite it not being mentioned in TDVC as a number of other books were (on Teabing's bookshelf). I noted in my book that Brown seemed to have used a lot of The Hiram Key, a book I was quite familiar with - and pointed out the likely parts of the book which he could continue using in his sequel (some of which pertain directly to the words 'The Solomon Key'). Perhaps we should pay attention when Brown says that this book "examines the role of the Masons and the Knights Templar in excavating and then hiding a cache of early Christian writings"? Why so? Because he says these writings were excavated from beneath "Temple of Solomon".
One source that I didn't note is Rule by Secrecy by Jim Marrs. A noted "conspiracy" book (replete with a fantastical 'alien' agenda), Brown says that he consulted this book "late in the writing" of TDVC. While this book touches on subjects in TDVC (such as the Priory of Sion), it also goes heavily into Masonic/Illuminati involvement in political and financial conspiracies (including such staples as the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderbergers etc). As such, it's likely Brown will use some of these elements in the new novel (though not the 'alien' topic, as he says he found it "somewhat silly").
However, another source that I did correctly surmise is the Masonic writer Manly Hall, who wrote about an 'Order of the Quest' who were determined to settle in America as a part of their plan to create a Utopia. In his witness statement, Dan Brown explains how his wife Blythe marks particular passages when researching his books, one of those being The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (notably, the new 'Readers Edition' published by Tarcher Penguin, which wasn't released until after TDVC came out). Blythe has marked it, and yet Brown says it "was published too late for me to have made use of it in the writing of The Da Vinci Code." There can be only one conclusion from that - Hall's book will be used in the new novel.
In terms of style, Brown also affirms much of my 'deconstruction' of the secrets to his success. "My favourite theme," he writes, "[is] codes and treasure hunts. My books are all treasure hunts of sorts". Another key ingredient, which he says was something he hit on in Angels and Demons, is the use of "hidden information and secret societies". Brown also mentions the importance of each book being "location driven" (because they give Robert Langdon the opportunity to "teach" the reader on secrets of history and architecture), occurring at fast pace (usually within 24 hours), and the doling out of "nuggets" of surprising information throughout the book - a technique he describes as the "academic lecture" by Langdon, through which the reader is drawn into the book further and further. This was precisely my point when I described Brown's success as largely arising out of his use of 'hidden history', giving the reader the feeling of "I didn't learn that in school". In Brown's words, "many of the aforementioned themes from The Da Vinci Code fall in a category I often call "secret history" - those parts of mankind's past that allegedly have been lost or have bcome muddied by time, historical revision, or subversion."
I'm now more confident than ever that my investigation of the topics in The Solomon Key is very close to the mark. If you're interested in more details on many of the above topics - not to mention a whole lot more - pick up my book The Guide to Dan Brown's The Solomon Key (or at least read the sample chapter on site here). I wonder, can I be taken to court for reverse plagiarism...