Digital Fortress: A Thriller
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Product Description

In most thrillers, "hardware" consists of big guns, airplanes, military vehicles, and weapons that make things explode. Dan Brown has written a thriller for those of us who like our hardware with disc drives and who rate our heroes by big brainpower rather than big firepower. It's an Internet user's spy novel where the good guys and bad guys struggle over secrets somewhat more intellectual than just where the secret formula is hidden--they have to gain understanding of what the secret formula actually is.

In this case, the secret formula is a new means of encryption, capable of changing the balance of international power. Part of the fun is that the book takes the reader along into an understanding of encryption technologies. You'll find yourself better understanding the political battles over such real-life technologies as the Clipper Chip and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software even though the book looks at the issues through the eyes of fiction.

Although there's enough globehopping in this book for James Bond, the real battleground is cyberspace, because that's where the "bomb" (or rather, the new encryption algorithm) will explode. Yes, there are a few flaws in the plot if you look too closely, but the cleverness and the sheer fun of it all more than make up for them. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and a lot of high, gee-whiz-level information about encryption, code breaking, and the role they play in international politics. Set aside the whole afternoon and evening for it and have finger food on hand for supper--you may want to read this one straight through.

When the NSA's invincible code-breaking machine encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant, beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage--not by guns or bombs -- but by a code so complex that if released would cripple U.S. intelligence. Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides, she finds herself fighting not only for her country but for her life, and in the end, for the life of the man she loves.

Customer Reviews:

  • Good Lord! It's Appalling!
    I picked this up as a holiday read... and boy, what complete junk it is. It fails on pretty much every level. It fails as a thriller because it employs every stupid clich¨¦ plot device known to man: the good guy is the bad guy; the senior manager is behind it all; the girl is very clever & beautiful but terrifyingly stupid when it comes to closing doors and hatches. It fails as a technology book because it is so moronically poorly researched. The tech component is about 1% reality and 99% made up junk. Soldering mainframe components under the desk? Snigger....

    Frankly, I'd rather be forced to eat this book than ever read it again. Its easy to see why all the books PRIOR to Da Vinci Code were unsuccessful.
    ...more info
  • If there were less stars.....
    I listened to this rather than read it but I can't imagine that the print version could be worse. If anyone has abused themselves by listening and reading it I would question their ability to maintain membership in the human race. I weep for the narrator, hopefully he collected hazard pay.
    ...more info
  • Very good but not his best.
    I liked this book very much. He's done better work but I still thoroughly enjoyed this. In my opinion if you like Dan Brown's writing you will enjoy this book....more info
  • So bad... so very very bad...
    Oh my... Talk about riding the wave. This book must have been written in Dan Brown's spare time while flying around signing his one of his best sellers. This should never have made it to press.

    IF you read the book and believe anything found within it you must not be reading this on a computer. Basic knowledge would have precluded you from any belief in this book.

    IF I had it to do over again I would have bought any other book sitting near this one... actually I would have opt'ed for sitting on a flight, in coach, with nothing to do for 8 hours rather than have to read this book again. I only finished it in the hopes it would get better. It didn't......more info
  • Not So Thrilling
    Other books have shown that Dan Brown is capable of of a far better effort than the one to be found in Digital Fortress, a thoroughly disappointing book. It certainly had the makings of an interesting read but Dan Brown never really rolled them into a coherent whole. Indeed, Dan Brown gave little indication tht he even tried to do so.

    It begins with a fairly promising subject matter and the basics of interesting character development. Regrettably, beginning is as far as it goes. The ostensibly intelligent characters prove to be dull and addicted to doing stupid things. Those stupid things compel clumsy manipulations of the increasingly disjointed plot.

    The childish disorder was vexing, almost a threat to serenity. It was a relief to be done with it. ...more info
  • Hilariously stupid!
    It would be easier to explain "What Dan Brown got right" rather than to list things he got wrong...

    The characters are completely ridiculous in this story. They are supposedly very intelligent but every step of the way they act like dimwits. Especially Susan (main character), who is relegated to expository device for the benefit of the challenged reader. Don't tell me your heroine is a genius and then show her constantly confused and overwhelmed by the simplest of concepts, just so someone can can try to explain technobabble nonsense to her (=the reader). That's hack writing if I ever saw it.

    I wonder why everyone is calling her a young woman though? In my copy she is said to be 38 years old? Is this a misprint? I mean, it would surely explain a few things if she is really supposed to be 18 years old instead. And if we drop her IQ about 100 points from the stated 170, things really start to fall into place...

    The plot itself is a swiss cheese. It makes your head hurt if you try to backtrace later. Very little makes sense.

    Locations (Spain and NSA building) are obviously inventions of Dan Brown's mind and not based on reality, but they are not really that exciting either.

    Let's just not talk about the main backdrop (computers and cryptography), even though Mr.Brown himself has compulsive masochistic tendencies to draw attention to his nonsense inventions.

    And the supposed linguistic genius repeats some folk-etymology ("without wax") and have mastered "six asian dialects". Dialects? More correct to say Spanish, Italian, and French are dialects, than to suggest Chinese Mandarin and Japanese are dialects...And he knows Kanji language, hehehe.

    One hilarious blooper is that Mr.Brown claims that Shichigosan is "the seven deities of good luck". Shichi-go-san literally means seven-five-three and is a celebration of children of these ages held on November 15th. I think someone was pulling his leg. Maybe the same people as the so-called "ex-NSA agents" (prankstering kids most likely)....more info
  • I got to page 7...
    Let me preface this by saying that I loved "DaVinci Code" in all its clich¨¦d glory. I know the "DaVinci Code" is far from being a literary masterpiece, but it serves its purpose. I thought it was interesting and well researched, and it made me like Dan Brown. Now since I liked "the code", and since the copy of "Digital Fortress" I started to read is my roommate's (whose literary taste I respet), I was expecting to be entertained. I was not. I had a "deja read"...A female cryptographer and a college professor! You are kidding right? One college professor having an Indiana Jones life, ok Mr. Brown I buy it...Now two! (Or I don't know how ever many books he has written or will write about the same characters) Two! Last time I checked my college professors, though pretty interesting and smart people, never jumped off planes and headed to Europe to solve life threatening mysteries.
    Now I know its only a book and its fiction. So, I'm trying to work through my realism issues, trying to let myself be caught in the beautiful pages of fiction, but I can't. Why? well because this book is horribly predictable, which forced me to quit, and I never quit a book (I was one of the only people in my high school who actually read Kafka and not the cliff notes). I quit! But that makes no difference because I have a pretty good idea how this book goes. Let me sum up what I think happens: both characters are unknowingly working in the same case which may or may not damage/streghten their romantic relationship. They will travel through Europe and connect all findings with some ancient European mystery. The bad guys are messing with "us" in an attempt to protect some sacred ancient tradition tied into some modern institution. These bad guys will stop at nothing to silence our- not so buff but extremely brainy heroes, so that the mystery remains a mystery. In the end the heroes will solve it all with the help of math and history, and will leave happily ever after. Not bad for only finishing 7 pages huh?...more info
  • Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read........
    I really enjoyed DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons however as the title states, this book is horrible. I don't need to restate what others have shared already - just do yourself a favor and move along, nothing to see here.... ...more info
  • Awesome
    Well I had heard a lot about The Davinci code so I decided that I would check Dan Brown out. The first book I read from him was Digital Fortress and I absolutely loved it! It had a great story line with plenty of twists and turns. I also like Brown's chapters. They are short and always leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what will happen. Really hard book to put down. Loved it and I recommend it to anyone who wants a good read. Probably my favorite Dan Brown book (of the four)...more info
  • Bad, bad,bad.
    Does Dan Brown hate Spain?. I've never seen so many topics and half-lies together.Besides, the story is boring and not able at all of keeping a minimal attention spam. I finished it by sheer will, but it wasn't worthwhile. My advice: Try to avoid this book.It could be infectious....more info
  • ok
    It has a very interesting topic, but I can't say that it was as good as his other books....more info
  • It sucks!
    Since the book has 100+ chapters, although most are incredibly short (say, 1 or 2 pages), I will adopt a similar approach to this review.

    Chapter 1: I was given this book by a friend a couple of years ago, who suggested I read it. It stayed on my bookshelf unread until earlier this week. I think I looked at it too soon.

    Chapter 2: Some of the characters here are supposed to be experts in cryptography, but they do a horrible job at making passwords. I was able to guess a couple of them, and one is only a single character! The love interest of the main cryptographer keeps writing the phrase "without wax," whose meaning eludes the cryptographer over the whole book. Um, we're in the age of the Internet, people.....

    Chapter 3: The technical premise of the book (the NSA has some super computer that can crack all codes.. even those whose design it doesn't know?!?) is laughable.

    Chapter 125: If an ad is going to be made encouraging people to recycle paper, they should use a lot of copies of this book in the ad, because that is certainly the best use that can be made of Digital Fortress. ...more info
  • Excellent, Fast-paced read
    If you like Dan Brown's quick style, you will love this book. It is very suspenseful, and quick paced. It would make a great movie....more info
  • I bought this book after reading the da Vinci Code. It was the last one I read and by now his formula for writing books was bad
    I bought this book after reading the da Vinci Code. It was the last one I read and by now his formula for writing books was not working.

    Regardless, the ultimate downfall of this book is BAD WRITING. The characters are flat and annoying. Their actions are contradictory to their personalities -- for no other purpose than to move the 'plot' along. I think Dan Brown has a Word-a-Day calendar and he uses that new vocabulary word several times in the 10-15 pages of writing he produces that day. Words such as 'andalusian' are used several times in a 3 'chapter' span and then never again surface throughout the book.

    Most frustratingly, Dan Brown apparently never learned similes are functional and get the point across, but should not be used often as they can be extremely annoying and counterproductive to getting a point across. Towards the end of the book all these sentences are seriously used in less than 2 full pages:
    - "The commander rose through the trap door LIKE Lazarus back from the dead."
    - "Freon was flowing downward through the smoldering TRANSLTR LIKE oxygenated blood."
    - "Susan was standing before him, damp and tousled, in his blazer. She looked LIKE a freshman coed who'd been caught in the rain. He felt LIKE the senior who'd lent her his varsity sweater." [nice double simile, huh?]
    - "Her gaze was LIKE ice -- the softness was gone. Susan Fletcher stood rigid LIKE an immovable statue." [another one] "The puddle of blood beneath Hale's body had spread across the carpet LIKE an oil spill."

    Believe it or not, there are more in this 2 page space, but I'll stop here. Yes, the writing is THAT groan-inducingly bad. These two classics in the book make me laugh every time I think of them -- "Like in a cheap hollywood movie, the lights went out in the bathroom just as she heard the scream," and "any more interesting than last night and I'll never walk again."

    Ultimately, I did finish the book. BUT I WAS DISAPPOINTED....more info
  • If I could rate it lower, I would...
    I'm honestly surprised by the number of people who are reviewing this book in a wildly positive fashion. Frankly, if I were Dan Brown, I'd be mortified that this book is still out there for public perusal. The characters are presented as experts in a highly mathematical field, but when presented with a stupidly obvious puzzle they are left blinking stupidly at each other by simple mathematical concepts like Prime numbers.

    There are many twists and turns, as others have said, but the premise is flimsy and the results are awkward. All in all, this was NOT a good book....more info
  • worst book ever
    Seven of us listened to the audio version of this book on a car trip to the Boundary Waters. The only enjoyment we received was laughing at the cringe-inducing narrative.

    As a friend said, "It is repetitive, redundant, and repetitive."

    I will waste no more time thinking about this work....more info
  • Bad, bad,bad.
    Does Dan Brown hate Spain?. I've never seen so many topics and half-lies together.Besides, the story is boring and not able at all of keeping a minimal attention spam. I finished it by sheer will, but it wasn't worthwhile. My advice: Try to avoid this book.It could be infectious....more info
  • Diana's review
    This book is amazing. I had to buy it for my dad so he could read it because I liked it so much!!! I can't wait untill the next book to come out because I'm sure it will great too....more info
  • Incredibly silly
    Yes, this book is a page turner. You read along because you hope the nonsense get less and turns into something which make sense.

    On the technology level, the book is hilareous. Altough a 3 million CPU computer to break codes using brute force could very well be reality, and even putting such a decoder in an infinite loop might be possible, the explanation of the design demonstrates complete lack of knowledge. Contrary to popular Star Trek scenes when computers burn out if they are overloaded, modern processors DO get hotter at higher load. But to assume that cooling systems are inadequate in such a design is nonsense. And making it a vital part of the plot that the building is pitch dark because of power shortage is disturbing. Why would that happen. The USA government was on too tight a budget to invest in emergency lighting?

    Of course the FTP, X-eleven (X11) and PEM (PAM) firewalls are nonsense as well. Those names are just pulled out of some Unix glossary and used without knowing what they mean and not even using the correct spelling. In a novel where technoly plays such an important role, the reader must have the feeling that the plot is viable. Even if it is fiction, it should not be fantasy.

    But the worst part is at the very end of the book. Half of the book deals with the hunt for a ring. Fine, if at the end turns out that the ring was a red herring. One can live with that if that is the way how a story is composed. But to come up in the last 20 pages with lines of orphan code which contain an encrypted message is too much. Which lines? Which program? Isn't the plot of the book based upon the fact that the worm is ENCRYPTED? How in heaven can someone distinguish orphan lines from the other parts of the code?

    It really looks like Dan Brown counted the pages, found that he only had to write 20 more to satisfy the publisher, and came up with the weakest imaginable solution to end this plot.

    The book is a insult to everyone with basic computer knowledge or an IQ over 70.

    Hans Linkels...more info
  • I really really liked it!
    I can't imagine why there are so many bad reviews of this book. The writing IMO was good, the dialogue and story were great! It was a definite thriller for me, it had good plot twists, and had a good suspenseful War Games type of ending. What more could you ask for?
    ...more info
  • the first unbelievable performance
    Ensei Tankado is a brilliant cryptographer who used to work for the NSA (National Security Agency). However, when his conscience tweaked him about his work, he was ousted and publicly humiliated so he created the unbreakable code that none of NSA's computers could touch. Then, he offers to sell it to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, in the very first chapter of this book, he dies of a heart attack while vacationing in Spain.

    Well, actually, no. You see, he was killed. And he kind of figured out that someone was trying to kill him, so he takes a ring that he wears, which has some codes on it and passes it on to the passersby who are attempting to help him. One of them takes the ring, buth as no idea what it is and so the NSA sends a professor of languages to recover the ring.

    Hmmm .... this is starting to sound familiar: A professor of some musty and not very useful skill is plunged into a world of cloak and dagger? where did I see this before??? OH! Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons have the exact same premise! And just like those, this book has incredible action and a resolution within 24 hours that will just blow your mind. In line with the subject - cryptography - we learn a little bit about the subject but then are underwhelmed when the whole smart defense and intelligence industries cannot solve the simple problems that are posed for them while the outside - professor - and his girlfriend come up with all the answers.

    If you like misdirection and answers to questions that are really just questions of their own, then this book and its fast pace will really excite you. In my own case, I thought this was just as overwrought as his other "thrillers". It is good for a quick read at the beach, or for a long-delayed flight, but I would not spend any serious reading time on it.

    The convoluted plot line involves all kinds of secrets, people with agendas, hidden agendas, and hidden agendas that are hidden from the agendas. There are many preposterous scenes and events and in the end the good side wins - or does it? The book does pose some serious questions about privacy rights vs the responsibility of governments to protect their people, but it deals with this issue by having caricatures spout off lines that no one could possibly believe. We also have the case where a brilliant man who is approaching retirement throws his life away because he is secretly in love with a young woman different than his wife and all kinds of fun sexual peccadillos are conducted by a bunch of other characters who are never developed into anything but caricatures.
    ...more info
  • Don't waste your time.
    Bad, very bad. I could not finish the book, which is very rare for me.

    So many problems in the technology and facts. Poor story line....more info
  • Not Too Impressed
    While all of Brown's books are very entertaining I found Digital Fortress to be slow and monotonous. I felt as though Brown was trying to fill up space in several scenes especially at the end. He goes at length to describe the simplest things creating a lot of overkill. With The Davinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point I never wanted to skip chapters just to avoid reading something I had already read. I found myself constantly avoiding the urge to "fast forward". Not one of Brown's best and I certainly would not call it a page turner. ...more info
  • Terrible. Just terrible.
    No depth, no character development, totally predictable, absurd 'twists'; ultimately, a chore to finish.

    Awful....more info
  • Poor.
    You can not compare to other Brown's. In this case is a poor story with no rithmn and very predictable end....more info