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After almost five years of delays, the publication date and (new) title of Dan Brown’s sequel to his blockbuster The Da Vinci Code has been announced. No longer is it going to be The Solomon Key; instead, the title is The Lost Symbol, and it will hit bookstores on September 15 this year (already available for pre-order and in the Top 10 at Amazon US and UK, at absolutely mad prices for a hardcover):

The Lost Symbol will have a first printing of 5 million copies, and it will once again feature Dan Brown’s unforgettable protagonist, Robert Langdon. The announcement was made today by Sonny Mehta, Chairman and Editor in Chief of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

“This is a great day for readers and booksellers,” said Mehta.”The Lost Symbol is a brilliant and compelling thriller. Dan Brown’s prodigious talent for storytelling, infused with history, codes and intrigue, is on full display in this new book. This is one of the most anticipated publications in recent history, and it was well worth the wait.”

Brown’s longtime editor, Jason Kaufman, Vice President and Executive Editor at Doubleday said, “Nothing ever is as it first appears in a Dan Brown novel. This book’s narrative takes place in a twelve-hour period, and from the first page, Dan’s readers will feel the thrill of discovery as they follow Robert Langdon through a masterful and unexpected new landscape. The Lost Symbol is full of surprises.”

“This novel has been a strange and wonderful journey,” said Brown. “Weaving five years of research into the story’s twelve-hour timeframe was an exhilarating challenge. Robert Langdon’s life clearly moves a lot faster than mine.”

Of course, having written a book called The Guide to Dan Brown’s The Solomon Key, I’m a bit disappointed with the title change. Not least, because it makes me feel that I’ve misled readers (though to be fair to myself, the title was my publisher’s decision, not mine). However, it is worth noting that The Solomon Key was not a guess. It was always planned as the title until recently – ‘The Solomon Key’ was announced as the title by Brown’s publisher back in 2005, he has website domains for that title listed under his name until 2016, and he has maintained a trademark claim on the title since 2004, updating it most recently in December 2008.

The question is: Brown has changed the title of the book. Will he change the content as well? That would be a bold move, considering that his publisher has run website competitions which overtly stated many of the topics to be discussed in the DVC sequel, and Brown’s website has also stated the setting (both of which I expanded upon in my book). On the other hand, both my book, and things like the National Treasure movies and Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Fate, may have stolen much of Brown’s thunder when it comes to revealing hidden aspects of American history – so he still could have been tempted to change the setting and themes on that basis. Though today’s press release keeps the book’s themes secret, perhaps the most revealing part is Dan Brown’s statement that he had weaved “five years of research” into the book. This would suggest that many of the original topics are in the book, rather than a late change of theme in the last couple of years.

One more mystery worth contemplating: last year, Brown’s then-publisher Stephen Rubin (who originally announced the title The Solomon Key a few years previous) talked to the press, saying “Dan Brown has a very specific release date for the publication of his new book, and when the book is published, his readers will see why.” Now, it’s only been a few hours since I’ve heard the publication date of September 15th, but at this stage I can’t see the significance of the release date (the only possibilities I’ve thought of thus far couldn’t be considered obvious: the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows, the birth date of William Howard Taft, the founding date of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and some of the more significant Nuremberg Laws instituted by the Nazi regime in 1935 and the adoption of the swastika on the German flag). Was Brown originally aiming at a date linked to the Presidential election or inauguration (which would have tied into the originally-claimed topics in The Solomon Key), but simply missed the boat? Or have I missed something significant about September 15?

In any case, I do apologise to anybody who feels misled by my book. I’m pretty sure though that, regardless of the title and content of Brown’s upcoming novel, The Guide to Dan Brown’s The Solomon Key provides a fascinating look at the ‘hidden history’ of U.S. history which stands by itself as a fun read. I’d be inclined to say as well that it still provides some good background to the material likely to be in The Lost Symbol. Peruse the articles on my Dan Brown-related site The Cryptex for plenty of free content on these topics – for example:

Feel free to share your thoughts on the new title, and likely content, in the comments.

Update: It has been pointed out to me that the significance of the September 15 release date could well be that the Constitutional Convention voted to approve the U.S. Constitution on that day in 1787. Not only would this tie in with the original topics announced as being in Brown’s next book, it’s also a neat 222 years since that day – seems a likely candidate. Thanks Clay.