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.

Digital Fortress is the best and most realistic techno-thriller to reach the market in years. Dan Brown's ability to paint in living color the gray area between personal freedom vs. National security is awesome. The story line is so good, readers will feel a chilling thrill a minute as the book makes one think who is truly the terrorist and who is actually freedom's guardian.

Customer Reviews:

  • 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
  • What year is it?
    The era of this book has me confused. On page 114 David uses pesetas in Spain. Spain has been on the Euro using the real currency since Jan 1, 2002. Was this book written back in time? Just a question............more info
  • Lord, this is awful
    Between the stereotyped characters, the clunky narration, the errors in technical fact, and the lack of any sense of suspense there is much not to like here. The quality of the narration does not, unfortunately, do enough to redeem the material....more info
  • It's a rehash
    I liked it better the first time I read it. When it was called Deception Point. Same plot theme, same character types, just set in a new location. Therefore, it was incredibly predictable....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
  • 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
  • Dan Brown Does It Again!
    From the Back Cover:
    "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 and 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 ingeniously complex that if released it would cripple U.S. intelligence. Caught in an accelerating tempest of secrecy and lies, Susan Fletcher battles to save the agency she believes in. Betrayed on all sides, she finds herself fighting not only for her country but also for her life, and in the end, for the man she loves".

    My Thoughts:
    I absolutely loved this book! Despite the fact that it lacks the religious intrigue found in the "Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons"; "Digital Fortress" is a high energy techno-thriller that maintains Dan Brown as the king of page turners. "Digital Fortress" explores information age terrorism, and presents the question to readers: "Do national security efforts end up costing individual's their privacy"? Taken inside one of our government's most powerful agencies: The National Security Agency (NSA), readers are introduced to TRANSLTR: a super computer that is able to intercept and decode terrorist and private citizen email communications. While there are many within the NSA who believe that this machine serves as the ultimate protection against terrorist attacks; there are others like Ensei Tankado (a former NSA agent) who feel that the machine violates individual privacy rights. To show his opposition, Tankado creates an unbreakable algorithm called Digital Fortress that completely incapacitates the machine, and which could permanently cripple the NSA. As characteristic of Dan Brown novels, the action starts in the first chapter as the creator of Digital Fortress and holder of its' code is murdered in Seville. From that moment on, the reader is taken on an adventure into a world where things are not always what they seem. As usual, the most intriguing thing about the novel is that Brown uses factual information as the foundation for this remarkable story. He mentions a quiet thank you to "the two faceless ex-NSA cryptographers who made invaluable contributions via anonymous remailers". "Digital Fortress" like other Brown novels, generates an uneasy feeling within the reader that I found to be truly addictive. This novel kept me guessing until the very end. It is definitely a MUST READ!
    ...more info
  • good, not his best
    An interesting book and I'm happy to have read it. Simply not his best work....more info
  • Digital Fortress
    Dan Brown did a superb job with this book. It delves deeply into the world of computer technology. Its plot moves you across the multitudes of computer levels and also across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. Obviously Brown has traveled to Spain, or at least he made a very good impression of it if he didn't. His investigations into computer technology were as good as one can expect. A very good page turner. Charles A. Reap, Jr., author, "Devil's Game," and "My Friend Sam."...more info
  • The future of cyberspace
    The Margin
    I'm not into computers, too old. I can search the web, use word processing and send email, that's about it. But this book captured my attention and got me to thinking--what if?
    I don't know why it doesn't have a higher rating on Amazon. Digital Fortress has all the makings of good thriller, with intrigue, mystery and some computer enlightenment thrown in.

    Marvin Wiebener, Author of The Margin...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
  • 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
  • Fantastic Idea Ruined by Shoddy Execution
    This book is a technological thriller that would make a good movie, but the book needs serious revision.

    It bungles even the most basic concepts in in cryptography and computer science. I don't believe that the author has written his first "Hello world!" program; he demonstrates no understanding. Now I can usually suspend disbelief for a good story, but with each chapter the technological aspects become more ludicrous. If you are technical, don't bother with this book.

    The technology annoying, but a non-technical might not be so annoyed. However, the book falls short in many other ways.

    It should have explored the conflict between national security and privacy, but it sidesteps the issue in favor of action.

    It should have explored issues of good and evil and power and corruption, but it avoids them with shallow character development.

    It should have delved into legal and political issues surrounding cryptography and espionage, but in a glaring omission, it avoids them altogether.

    And finally, the climax takes forever. It's so obvious and easily anticipated that it is a chore to finish. Then in the end, the falling action isn't really satisfying.

    One star, disappointing, with a bonus star for a lot of unrealized potential....more info
  • A Reeker
    This is a piece of absolute trash. Dan Brown's writing skills are exceedingly limited, but at least Angels and Demons, and Da Vinci made a modicum of sense. Digital Fortress is a trackless waste that starts nowhere and goes nowhere. Save your money!!!...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
  • Almost...
    I would give this book a five star rating had it not been that I have to compare it to Dan Brown's other book. In itself, I found this really exciting, but with the expectations set high after reading "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Deamons" it did not meet the grade. However, this might be an unfair comparison, and I would highly recommend it.

    As a little twist, I recommend reading Simon Singh's "The Code Book" first. This is an even better book, and will give you a deeper understanding of Brown's book. Not that you need a deep understanding of a book like this......more info
  • Wow! Interesting and boring at the same time
    The book started out interesting enough. The author started going quickly. After I got further into the book and realized that these characters were very flat and making errors along the way that made no logical sense in the real world, the one question that kept going through my mind was "Is this book over yet?". I found myself skipping ahead pages at a time knowing that I am not missing much of anything.

    I recommend skipping this book. It is a disappointment and does not keep the reader engaged....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'm a computer nut to begin with so this was just my cup of tea.
    I enjoyed this book so much. I have been building computers and playing with them for years and this book was just my cup of tea. Thank you Dan Brown for your vivid imagination....more info
  • Not about the story, but about the disk
    There are enough reviews about the storyline here to satisfy anyone's curiosity. I thought it was good enough.
    My comments are about the audiobook version of the story, by produced by Audio Renaissance. Let's start with 'I'm a over-the-road truck driver' and work mostly at night. Seeing things while driving down the road, at night, bouncing around, is not easy.

    The numbers on the disks are WAY TOO SMALL; disk 1 is nowhere as easy as DISK 1 (I can't manipulate the text enough here to really illustrate how frustrating this is) to read. I need to be able to see them quickly and easily so my attention is not diverted nor focused too long.
    There is NO SIGNAL or SIGN that a disk has ended - except hearing parts of the book you've already heard. Other companies state "This is the end of disk..." or have some other easily identifiable signal.
    There is NO INTRO to each disk. It just starts and you have to hope that it's actually the next one. Other companies intro each disk "This is disk..." and at least one re-reads the last sentence of the last disk! Huzzah to that!
    The TRACKS ARE TOO LONG meaning that, if you miss hearing just one word clearly (and it's important to the story) you might have to listen to the last five-to-ten minutes of the disk again. One company puts 99 or 100 tracks on each disk. It's heaven to back up no more than a minute or three to catch anything missed.

    Otherwise, it was pretty good....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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Sounds like it was written by a high school kid
    I enjoyed Dan Brown's previous books, but Digital Fortress was a complete waste of time. The basic story could have been good, but the majority of the plot twists and turns were sophomoric, at best. It read like a love-struck high school kid was writing a novel for a composition class. Don't waste your time. Enjoy Angels and Demons, along with The DaVinci Code, and let it go at that....more info
  • The only book I've never finished reading - it is that bad
    After reading (and loving) the DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons I figured Dan Brown is a great author and wanted to read his other books.

    Wow! What a disappointment it was to read this!

    This is the worst book I have ever read! The only one in my collection of over 300 books that I have not completed reading.

    I have been in the data security business for a very long time and was using PGP when it was DOS based, controversial and Phil Zimmerman was being dragged to the courts by the federal government.
    The gross inaccuracies, the painfully wrong descriptions of technology and processes and the (what appeared to me) uncomfortable writing made me unable to continue reading the book.

    Dan Brown has written masterpieces with the DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons but this one is his black sheep and best be forgotten....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
  • 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
  • If you love computers and....
    As a computer junky.... this book was right up my alley. I loved it. Dan Brown always surprises me with his endings....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
  • Good Idea, Bad Writing.
    My first encounter with Dan Brown came with the infamous "Da Vinci Code" which is apparently one of the biggest selling books in history. I read it and I loved it; I didn't see the criticisms that I had heard about Dan's writing and in fact defended it at every opportunity. I was blinded. Blinded by the hype and the sheer ferocity of the media spotlight, I adored this book before even reading it. Now, two years later and I decided to give one of Dan Browns other books a go thinking it would be equally as brilliant. The difference between then and now being, I have now regained my sight and see the criticisms for what they are; the truth.

    I don't usually like being patronised. In reality if anyone in person were to deliberately or unintentionally patronise me I would disapprove and tell them so. Unfortunately I can't tell Dan Brown personally, but I can touch upon it in my review. When we read a book we expect the writer to be subtle in their approach and allow the reader to pick up on the important bits as they go along.

    Most books I have read do this perfectly; they gradually release information about a characters history, appearance and personality. That in my world is good writing and treats the reader equally to themselves in regards to intelligence and character recognition. Dan Brown doesn't do this, he doesn't see his readers as able to pick up subtleties, therefore decides to dedicate almost entire chapters to each characters description. The worst thing about it is in regards to personality, this does not stay consistent to each character which becomes quite frustrating.

    He also thinks that the overuse of similes and random use of what some would consider "long" or "complicated" words are a way of heightening his novel to a higher level of academic fiction. The introductions of these words are used in my view quite magniloquently. He presents these words in a way of "look at me and my vocabulary" which I see as just absurd.

    The funniest thing about this book is the front and back cover. Why? Well on the copy I have it has on the front a praising comment from fellow author Nelson Demille which states "Pure genius... Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest and most accomplished writers in the country." This is the only quote we see endorsing this book and we're not even sure it's in reference to this particular novel. On the back, however, are very funnily comments praising "Da Vinci Code." Forgive me if I'm confused here but isn't this book called "Digital Fortress?" No positive media reviews for this book it seems, and the trend is continued.

    The story itself is OK, nothing overly brilliant and I must say it did keep me entertained to a degree. I just wouldn't recommend it, and that's a shame as I was hoping for more....more info
  • "Where's a nuclear physicist when you need one!"
    "Where's a nuclear physicist when you need one!" says one of the characters on page 422. I have been waiting all my life for someone to say that. Now here it is in a best-selling thriller. Actually, the quote is "Where's a nuclear [f-word deleted]ing physicist when you need one!" Unfortunately, the author failed to find one himself in time to correct the factual errors that he needlessly inserted into this book. He asserts through his characters that the atomic bombs dropped in World War II, one on Hiroshima and the other on Nagasaki, were uranium bombs and that one bomb used uranium-235 and the other uranium-238. At the risk of sounding like a know-it-all, the author is wrong. The second bomb, the one dropped on Nagasaki was a plutonium-239 bomb, not uranium as the author asserts. Also, you can make an atomic bomb out of uranium-235 but not uranium-238.

    I purchased this book at JFK prior to a nine-hour transatlantic flight. It served its purpose, to get me to Europe. However, I would not recommend it. It is not particularly well-written in terms of plausibility of plot, characters, or technical content. Maybe the movie will be better. ...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
  • Plum gone rotten
    Brown wrote two doppelgangers that copy the structure and style of this book: "Angels and Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code". And those two were better by far. Once again, Brown writes about a woman who is both a genius and graced with a supermodel's body. Her other half is a very attractive, intelligent professor (they're always professors).

    The language is a thin butter of overused clich¨¦s scraped over too many details of what the characters look like and how they function on a daily basis. The reader isn't allowed to use their imaginations because Brown is too busy nailing down every person, place and thing with exact and dreary verbiage.

    I'm not a Brown-basher. I enjoyed "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" for their entertainment value. But, perhaps I can only stomach two Brown books before the novelty wears off, and this was the third that pushed me to the brink. Had I read "The Da Vinci Code" third, I may be complaining about it instead. But I'm not. ...more info
  • This book warrants somewhere between 0 and -5 stars !
    This book brings back bad memories of the movie "Twister" - when a motorized vehicle crashes in the front door and then out the back door of a house as it tumbles across the road. I have never read a book that was more ridiculous and yet, at the same time -- more entertaining. My husband and I laughed hysterically for hours reminiscing about one absurd episode after another. From the boyfriend who hangs by his fingertips from a window sill in a cathedral tower before climbing back inside to escape the mercenary killer that he trips down the stairs and over his head with a candlestick to a taxi and a Vespa that spin in circles in a pool of oil, crash through the wall of an airplane hanger and just keep-on-going. Oh gawd - my sides are aching. Someone really ought to make a fortune on an "Airplane"-like movie version of this ludicrous novel. ...more info