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Digital Fortress - Dan Brown

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      24.09.2013 07:14
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      Hello everyone! This is going to be my first review in this site, I wanted it to be about something I really liked, and the first thing that came into my mind was this book: The Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown.

      Many people had told me not to read this: they said the book was awful, terrible, and that it would be nothing but a waste of time if I put my hands on it. Unfortunately, I followed their advice and decided not to buy it: there was plenty of books in the world and I wasn't going to expend my money in something not worth it. Some years later, I was having a walk at a flea market in my town and I saw it for just one pound... just ONE pound. I mean, it was too good to simply ignore it, so I ended up buying it.

      What's it about? Digital Fortress takes place in the NSA's cryptology department, Crypto, where a secret and super-expensive computer called TRANSLATR is hiding underground. Its task is conceptually easy: it breaks codes. Nowadays, every single person has the ability to communicate with anyone they wish to by just sending a single e-mail, and when this e-mail is sent by a terrorist, Crypto, using the TRANSLATR, decodes it. One day, though, TRANSLATR encounters a new and complex code that it cannot break, called the Digital Fortress, presumably created by a former NSA worker: Ensei Tankado. Tankado blackmails the NSA: they reveal the existence of TRANSLATR or he will sell the algorithm of Digital Fortress, making TRANSLATR useless.

      I have to say that, surprisingly, I enjoyed reading it. In fact, I loved it. I can't say that it's the same as Inferno or the DaVinci code, 'cause I'd be lying, but I have to admit it's a really good book. The thing I liked the most is that it has lots of plot twists, and good ones, I have to say.

      But despite being a really good book and enjoying it a lot, there's something awful about it: Seville. You may not notice it, but for me, as a spaniard, the bits set in the spanish city were the worst in the book. And why? Many American people think that Spain it's part of the Third World or something, they might believe that we are poor people living in misery, I don't know, but the description of the city and it's inhabitants makes the reader imagine that. And it's completely different from reality, I mean, we are a civilized country, just the same like everyone in Europe. I just don't understand why Brown decided to describe Seville in that way, but he got it completely wrong.

      But, well, if we ignore the Seville bits (which is kind of hard to me), Digital Fortress is a good book. You should read it, it won't disappoint you.

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        16.12.2012 13:50

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        A great addition to the Dan Brown collection.

        I'm a big Dan Brown fan and have now read all but one of his books, "The Da Vinci Code" for being his best work yet. Digital Fortress however has become a close second.

        I was given the book as a gift by my fiancée who knew I hadn't yet read it, from reading the blurb I knew it was another of Brown's work that I would no doubt enjoy. His ability to grip the reader with clever well thought out plots make this book a real page turner. I finished the whole book within a few days during a work week which for me is unusual.

        I wont go into the storyline as that is available anywhere and you may well already know it, it does though involve deep characters, a great tempo to the plot and interesting dialogue about codes which I thoroughly enjoyed. It keeps to the usual Brown style of his author titles, for me it gripped me immediately and always left me wanting to keep going, "just another page" before bed.

        People's taste in books is varied, but if you are a fan of Brown's work, or are buying this for someone who is then I'm sure they wont be disappointed.

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        05.11.2012 12:37
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        A pretty good read

        I was lent this book by someone at work and in all honesty I thought it looked very boring and not my type of thing at all, so it was some time before I actually bothered to try reading it, and only then out of politeness to the person who had lent it to me! However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and I actually very much enjoyed reading it and found it to be quite a page turner!

        In a nutshell, the story is about our main character, Susan, who works for a large code breaking organisation in America known as the NSA. Her job is to break codes and encryptions in order to intercept terrorist activity and she is called into the office one day by her boss who has come across what seems to be an unbreakable code. The fear is that this new type of code could become available worldwide and make the NSA's vital work against crime and terrorism nigh on impossible. This starts a whole series of events involving Susan's own attempts at solving the problem, her partner David's attempts to find the 'key' which will unlock it and several other subplots along the way.

        Whilst the subject matter, to me, is not hugely thrilling I found it to be an entertaining read and it really kept me interested as well as rooting for the main characters. It manages to give enough information about the subject of code breaking to allow you to understand in simple terms without being complicated and losing your interest. In parts it was kind of far fetched and things seemed to work out just too perfectly but it is just a story after all!

        All in all it is the kind of book that many people would enjoy and is quite an easy read.

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        25.01.2012 08:38
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        Brown's novel that pre-dates Robert Langdon, but doesn't pre-date his poor writing

        Dan Brown may not be the best writer around, but he does know how to find something exciting to write about. Sadly, this puts me in a difficult position, as I love a good story, even as I struggle to cope with poor writing. But having read and love-hated Brown's three Robert Langdon novels, I was intrigued as to what he has done outside that character.

        This brought me to "Digital Fortress". The title is the name given to an electronic code that even the National Security Agency's amazing code-breaking computer cannot break and which, slightly embarrassingly, has been written by a former NSA programmer. There is a pass key available that can break the code, but unfortunately the programmer, Ensei Tankado, has just died suddenly and given away the clue to a complete stranger.

        The NSA takes a two pronged attack to solve the mystery. They send David Becker to Spain to try and reclaim the ring. In the meantime, Susan Fletcher is called into the NSA's Cryptology department to try and solve the problem internally. However, it seems that the code is not just a code, but is also a virus set to destroy the NSA's ability to monitor the world's E-Mail.

        Despite the book pre-dating Brown's creation of Robert Langdon, many of the aspects of his later novels appear here. Tankado has set clues that the NSA has to break in order to kill his virus and save the NSA's ability to crack codes. There is also the chasing around a city searching for something, although in this case, the two storylines involve separate characters, as Becker tries to find the various people that, improbably, Tankado's ring has been passed onto.

        As usual, Brown writes to a very good pace, with the switching between the storylines working well at keeping the pace high. He also frequently writes in short chapters, similar to the style employed by James Paterson, which helps keep the pages turning over fairly quickly and also encourages the reader to move on for one more chapter before putting the book down. That said, writing a decent, well-paced story has never been Brown's weak point. However, all of his weak points, as well as his stronger ones, are apparent in this novel.

        Brown's writing style is fluid and very simple. He rarely gets bogged down in too much technical language, even when talking about technical concepts. This also helps with the pacing, but sometimes the way he has characters explain things does come across as being a little patronising to me, but may not seem to those with no knowledge of the subject. But it seems that he insists on explaining even simple concepts and solutions to clues in this way, as if he's trying to show off the knowledge he has.

        As with his Robert Langdon novels, it is these solutions to the clues that were the book's major weakness for me. The characters here are supposed to be the smartest code breakers that the NSA has, but they seem horribly inept when it comes to solving codes. There are a couple of clues so obvious that you almost want to shout the answer to the characters as they miss what seems to have been right in front of them for ages.

        Brown's other failing is that the characters are dreadfully weak. The romantic sub-plot between Becker and Fletcher is sweet enough and helps derive some motivation, but this only becomes apparent later on and I'd largely stopped caring by that point. It seems that Fletcher was only written as a woman to give Commander Strathmore some form of motivation, but their relationship is also never explored enough for the reader to become immersed in it deeply enough to be all that bothered about what happens to him.

        Essentially, "Digital Fortress" turned out to be all I had expected from Dan Brown; well paced but not well written and occasionally exciting without ever being all that enticing. A quick look on Amazon tells its own story, with more than 1000 copies of the book available for a penny plus postage, with even the postage costs making it a waste of money. Fortunately, should you need something to light a fire with, or something which is so bad it will make impending dental surgery or a turbulence filled flight seem comparatively good, Dan brown is the most frequently donated author to charity shops, so you can pick a copy up for a few pence. But, believe me, you'll find yourself wishing you hadn't.

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          12.01.2012 12:41
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          A good read but not up to his usual standards

          I have read several of Dan Browns books and have loved them all. They are generally gripping and unputdownable and extremely well researched.

          I have just finished Digital Fortress, based around computers, viruses and algorithms in the US governments code-breaking department. I don't like going into too much detail about plots as I don't wat to give anything away to future readers of the book!

          The overall premise sounded interesting to me but I was soon lost with all the technical descriptions and terminology! Some of it was so confusing I had to read paragraphs several times to understand it properly.

          This didn't, however, detract from my enjoyment of the book. Again, it is very fast paced and thrilling, with lots of intrigue and suspense. Although I thought that, towards the end, it started dragging a bit...there is only so much material you can get out of someone being trapped in a room for an entire novel! And there were also some connections/relationships between characters that were quite far-fetched. Whilst I expect this in thriller novels, I do like it to be at least understandable. Why would a government agency send the boyfriend of an employee on a top-secret mission?

          In summary then, whilst I did enjoy Digital Fortress, it certainly isn't my favourite Dan Brown novel and not his best written either and I'm glad I only borrowed it rather than spending my hard-earned cash on it. But if what you're after is a couple of days of getting lost in an easy to read book then give it a go.

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            10.04.2011 20:47
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            One of the best books I've read, couldn't recommend it more highly.

            I must confess this is the first Dan Brown book I've ever read so I started reading it open minded, not knowing what to expect. I had, however, heard that he is a fantastic story writer, I just didn't realise quite how accurate that was.

            The beginning of the books gets straight to the point, you aren't waiting for the story to develop, it arrives on the very first page. However as with some stories, it doesn't leave you feeling as if you don't know the characters. It's as if you've read 50 pages previously and know the characters well. This leaves you hooked from the start.

            The story line has so many twists and turns I'm surprised Dan Brown wasn't left dizzy. As soon as you feel you've got a grip on what's going to happen, it changes and you are forever left surprised. There were many times I thought I knew where the plot was headed but never was I close, personally I think that's a sign of a good book, providing it doesn't leave you disappointed where it ended up!

            The story line of this book is one that you can imagine happening in real life, for me this made it all the more fascinating to think that this could occur and we'd probably never know about it.

            Once I finished this book, I was left in awe at Dan Brown, I will certainly be reading more of this books.

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              14.04.2010 21:36
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              A good read overall

              I had started reading 'Digital Fortress' by Dan Brown about a year ago, but never got round to finishing it. Then I lent it to someone else, but regretted doing so, because what I had read so far (about 70 or so pages in) had been brilliant. But life was too busy at that time and thus I ended up lending it to someone else, not knowing when I might get it back!

              Therefore as I started reading it again about a week ago (and I did re-read the beginning) I was expecting to be in for a real treat, as I remembered how good it had been the first time round. However what I found was a book that was moderately enthralling only, and that the beginning was probably where the strengths of this book lay.

              The 'Digital Fortress' is about Susan Fletcher, who works for the top secret National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. When the mighty code-breaking machine of the NSA fails to work one day, Susan Fletcher is called out of bed in the early hours of the morning by her boss and the Deputy Director of Operations of the NSA, in order to find out what has gone wrong, and how to protect the nation from what may be a national threat.

              What Susan finds out is that US intelligence is in fact under threat and to add to the complications she discovers that the man she loves has become entangled in the mess. It is up to Susan and a select few members of the NSA to untangle the code in order to save the country, but slowly it becomes apparent that all is not what it seems...

              The book had a brilliant opening. It was exciting, mysterious and a real page-turner. I instantly liked Susan - she was clearly super intelligent, sexy, logical and yet also seemed like a good, likeable person. Her being called to the NSA for what seemed like an emergency right in the first couple of chapters made the story open at an exciting and fast pace. There was also a big air of mystery surrounding the NSA - we are told that not everyone even knows about the NSA and what they do, all because the less people that do know, the more protected national intelligence is.

              As Susan gets herself out of bed following her phone call with her boss, and makes her way to work, the narrator (third person) explains the importance of the NSA and how transmissions including phone calls, emails, texts and all other forms of communication can be intercepted in order to protect the country. Emails in particular are valuable sources of information that can lead to stopping terrorists or any other underhand activity. However, due to the creation of encryption keys, emails can only be intercepted by breaking the key specific to the email. i.e breaking the code. The use of a mighty machine by the NSA, the TRANSLTR, is the code busting piece of kit the government relies on. It is when the TRANSLTR comes under threat that Susan's help is needed, and also unseemingly, Susan's boyfriend.

              You can see from the storyline that this is a very unique and exciting plot for a book (or even a movie!). I found all the details very well connected and I just wanted to know what would happen, how would Susan stop what seemed to be corruption of the TRANSLTR, why was her boyfriend involved, and who and why was behind all this? I was also intrigued by the concept of the NSA, and how they might be watching over all forms of communication. In fact, an interesting argument is presented quite a few times in the book about the ethics of such interception by the government.

              Whilst there was a massive amount of potential for this story, the middle of the book, and in fact the bulk of it, ruined it for me a little. It just got a little too 'busy' and thus messy for me. I could just about understand what was happening at times. I am not sure if this is a failure of the narration or if this just didn't go down well when written on paper. The bits I am referring to seemed as though they may have looked a lot better on screen for example, with enough happening visually to explain clearly to the audience the message being conveyed. It's just that on paper, as words, there seemed to be too much happening and I found myself getting tired and feeling like I was putting in too much effort to understand. It's a shame, because the book had opened so well.

              However, it definitely got better and the end exceeded my now flailing expectations. There are enough twists and turns towards the end to keep anyone guessing as to what's going on and therefore it is the beginning and the end of this book I enjoyed the most.

              The structure of the book was well suited to the story. Each chapter was short, and therefore the book had over 100 chapters in total! This sounds like a lot but it worked well, as there was so much going on all the time and splitting it up into readable and understandable chapters made it a bit easier to visualise everything.

              The length of the book came to just over 500 pages. Whilst I enjoyed the majority of these, I do feel it could have been a little shorter, as like I said, it did seem to get a bit messy at times in the middle and I wonder if simplifying things and thus shortening it a bit could have helped?

              To summarise, I am glad I read this book and I would recommend to anyone that likes a thriller every now and again!

              You can buy 'Digital Fortress' for £4.99 (new) or £0.01 (used) (plus p+p) from Amazon.

              Thanks for reading!

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                14.01.2010 18:33
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                A good book to read if you have a large block of time to read it all in.

                After reading a wide range of genres from different authers, this was the first book i read of Dan Browns, and suprisingly, i actually enjoyed the book. Although it can be long winded, the book has a detailed and well planned plot, and deceptive characters will keep you reading on. In my opinion, the middle of the book holds the most gripping part of the plot, which switches from one character to another, and the loose ends in each part are tied up in the last couple of chapters. The themes and settings at first are hard to grasp, but within a couple of chapters, you are not only reading a gripping book, but you actually find yourself learning quite a bit. One problem i found was not with the actuall writing, but as it is quite a large book, and you find your self unable to stop reading, it will be quite time consuming to read it all in one go. Although the ending is unexpected, the middle of the book will be quite predictable for some who have read simlar books.The ending for some will be quite a letdown depending on which characters you take a shine to, although the last part is gripping but most suprising and inexpected.

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                  07.01.2010 15:15
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                  Overall worth investing time into reading

                  'The Digital Fortress' written by Dan Brown focuses on The National Security Agency(NSA). A former employee by the name of Ensei Tankado, has created a code called Digital Fortress that is unbreakable by the agency's super expensive computer. No code had ever not been dechiphered by this machine, but now this code stands between the NSA's secret files and every hacker in the world.

                  That's the premise, and now it's up to Susan Fletcher, her fiance David Becker, and Susan's boss Strathmore to stop this code before it becomes public. However, to make matters worse, not only can the agency not crack this code, but the one man who did know about it and created it, Ensei Tankando, is dead. He did however have an insurance policy in the event of his death. The only clues are not much to go on and the investigation begins.

                  Digital Fortress was Dan Brown's first novel, published back in 1998 and of all the novels by Dan Brown I've read I think this is one of my favourites as I didn't get particularly lost or confused with it as much as the others. It is pretty simple to read, or at least I thought so. There are over about 430 pages and numerous chapters that it's split into so doesn't drag on forever. I prefer books with a lot of chapters as it breaks things up a bit and is more interesting. I certainly didn't lose interest with this book anyway.

                  One of the things I have to say I did find a little off-putting though was the way he would jump from character to character and never really stick with one character for too long which can be a bit confusing perhaps.

                  I don't think you will be disappointed with the twists and turns in this novel however and they are pretty intriguing.

                  Overall I enjoyed the book a lot and there were no long discussion points like in the Da Vinci code about religion or whatever. The story is allowed to flow in this book and keeps you drawn in.

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                  15.10.2009 13:17
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                  If you are a Dan Brown fan you will enjoy this book.

                  Dan Brown - Digital Fortress

                  This book is fast paced and will just keep you turining those pages!
                  It is no where near the standard of most of his other books, but is still a good read and if you are a Dan Brown fan you will definitly enjoy it.

                  Susan Fletcher a brilliant cryptographer working in the governments most secrective agency, simply named the National Security Agency (NSA), is called in late to work on a saturday, to assist the director of the Crypto with a problem that only he trusts her with. The TRANSLTR, a brilliant code breaking machine, as Susan discovers, is stuck in a loop created by Ensei Tankando (a former NSA employee); which has the potential to bring down the NSA firewalls and expose all of the US governments data to all of the world!

                  This book takes you from the heart of spain where Susan's partner David Becker (a brilliant linguist) is racing to find a number left by Tankando, which will stop the loop that the billion pound TRANSLTR super computer is stuck on. To the financial districts of Tokoyo where millions of pounds are at stake for a few lucky Japense business men, right to the heart of Washington, and the NSA headquaters itself.

                  A good read, well worth it.

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                  05.10.2009 11:33
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                  It's a race against time to stop all the NSA secrets from being revealed....

                  I can still remember a good few years ago now, when nobody had ever heard of author, Dan Brown. He was just another hack thriller writer who had gone under the radar without making any kind of a splash. Then came The Da Vinci Code with all the scandal and controversy that came with it (and how much of that was a Dan Brown marketing and P.R exercise, one wonders) and suddenly Brown became an overnight success and a household name. It is fortunate too, that this rise to fame coincided with a sudden public reinterest with reading, following the meteoric success of the Harry Potter novels, which saw sales of Brown's Da Vinci Code soar beyond most people's belief.

                  Now, Dan Brown is considered to be one of the hot authors of the moment but the big questions on everyone's lips are how long can he ride this wave of success spawned from the reputation of just one book and how long will it be before the public becomes disillusioned by these shallow boys own adventure stories and before Brown once more falls back into the shadows of obscurity? With the release of his latest novel and all the hype that has come with it, a long-awaited sequel to Angels And Demons and Da Vinci, it seems that the answer to the latter might be later rather than sooner. For now though, Brown remains the Mc Donalds of the literary market.

                  Digital Fortress is Brown's first novel that has been reissued and re-released following the success of THAT BOOK. As such it is a little rough around the edges and a little bit unbelievable at times but still manages to entertain and thrill it's readers which is all Brown seemingly has ever wanted to do. Deep in the heart of the NSA is a super-computer that can break any code and is the source for much of the world's military inelligence. A shamed ex-employee of the NSA has come up with an unbreakable code that threatens to make this super-computer redundant and is holding the NSA to ransom with a threat to release this code to the public hence eliminating any chance they might have to eavesdrop on hostile foreign elements. And so begins a race against time to discover the pass-key that will render this unbreakable code itself redundant. Except there is one problem....it's creator is dead from a heart attack in Spain and the pass-key has been encrypted. Suddenly everything begins to get a bit more complicated.....

                  There is much to the plot than this (actually when you examine it not THAT much more...) but this is the bare bones. The main leading characters are Susan Fletcher, a brilliant mind and an expert in code-breaking who works for the Cryptology section of the NSA and her civillian fiancee, David Becker, a College Professor who is sent to Spain by Susan's boss to seek and locate the missing pass-key which may or may not be contained in the engraving on a certain gold ring. It is a race against time that carries plenty of tension and keeps the fast-paced plot constantly moving and essentially this makes for a moderately convincing thriller. But don't expect anything too amazing as this is standard Dan Brown fare- all thriller with very little filler. It is an exceptionally easy read, a holiday book as all his novels are, and there is nothing at all here paticulary challenging.

                  Fellow reviewers have asserted that if you don't have a basic knowledge of computer programming or mathematics, then you might feel a bit lost and bogged down in all the jargon. I would disagree in the sense that if you DO have any knowledge of this field then you will probably be laughing all the way through at all the errors and technical nonsense that Brown spurts in an attempt to gain some credubility and convince readers he knows what he's talking about!

                  Likewise some fans have accused those who will not touch Dan Brown as being snobbish readers, but again I disagree. There is nothing snobbish about wanting to avoid Brown as, in all honesty- and I can say this because I quite like Brown for what he is...a no-frills author who churns out pulp- there is very little approaching genuine talent evident in his books and they are basically about as satisfying as a Big Mac and Fries. That is not to say they are not enjoyable because they are, but there has never been anything wrong either about wanting to read books of more substance.

                  This novel, like all his work, is all about what you see is what you get and the end result is not much but it's fun while it lasts and sometimes that IS all you want from a book! There is a subtle message here about public privacy and some good isues are briefly raised and questions asked in an attempt to make Digital Fortress slightly more high-brow but much of this is buried under the hurriedness of the plot and a rush to keep the story moving. And that is perhaps the biggest shame.... that this has the potential to have been so much more!

                  My favourite Dan Brown book so far remains Angels And Demons, featuring recurring character, Robert Langdon pre-Da Vinci, though Digital Fortress is still good and a much better thriller than Deception Point, his second novel. But don't go into this with any pre-expectations and you won't be disappointed. Treat it like it is, a book to read when you have nothing else to do and a few hours to kill and you'll get a distinctly-average thriller with some real high moments and everything you have come to expect from a Dan Brown novel just a little less refined. And, for a first novel, you can't really expect much more than that...

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                  28.09.2009 11:34
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                  Not un-put-downable, but definitely holds the reader's interest throughout

                  'Digital Fortress' is a book that was written by Dan 'the Da Vinci Code' Brown somewhat before (I think in 2004; it's a little difficult for me to tell because it's been re-released in so many new editions since it was first published) he really hit the big time with his better known series of 'religious symbology / conspiracy theory' thrillers.

                  Conveniently, Corgi, the UK publishers responsible for the mass-market paperback issues of 'Da Vinci Code' that are currently cluttering up second-hand bookshops everywhere, have issued a reprint of 'Digital Fortress' with a very similar cover design to the Da Vinci Code books, which means that if you've say, temporarily forgotten what Dan Brown's name is, if you have a mental picture of the cover of 'the Da Vinci Code', you can still find earlier books of Dan Brown's simply by seeking them out based on what they look like.

                  (They're all so similar that actually, some level of confusion is rife:
                  for example there's another 'earlier-Brown' called 'Deception Point' that I - probably - haven't read yet, but which looks so much like all the popular versions of his other books (in terms of cover art, typeface used on the cover etc.) that I'm really having to think very hard to make sure I'm writing a review for the correct novel at this point. But I digress.)

                  'Digital Fortress' is a basically conspiracy story based on computers and the US government's monitoring of online communications. Instead of being an expert in religious symbolism, one the two main characters in 'Digital Fortress', - who, incidentally is named Susan - though still an expert in her field, specializes in code-breaking for a (fictitious?) secret US government body known as the National Security Agency. Our heroine is not only drop-dead gorgeous - men will kill, quite literally, for the love of lovely, lovely Susan! If that's not giving too much away of the plot - but has an amazing computer-brain, the genuis powers of which we are told a lot about, but which aren't really demonstrated in the story at any point. Susan, in a definite trend I've noted, having - to date - read three of Dan Brown's novels, is a wonderfully beautiful, genius, GENIUS scientifically-brained heorine who gets a great big build-up in the story but who for some reason in practice, gets to do the sum total of bugger all in terms of contributing anything useful - or, indeed dead brainy - to the plot.

                  That is all left to - this University guy that Susan's dating, who gets sent by the NSA to - some Spanish city, ostensibly to track down a code that will fix a virus problem that some Japanese guy has infected the NSA's main computer with. There are plot twists and turns admittedly, but that's basically it. Added interest comes from an assassin who's sent after University guy, who's also trying to intercept the code; he has some high-tech gadjets at his disposal, but nothing too fancy really - actually thinking about it, it's just a computerized pair of specs like Tom Cruise's team had in the first 'Mission Impossible' film.

                  This is the slight problem with 'Digital Fortress'. The descriptions of technology come across a bit as Michael-Crichton-lite, for unlike Michael ('Jurassic Park') Crichton, who appears to really understand and is certainly able to expand upon the potential applications of modern technology - convincingly for the reader, at the very least, in science-fiction terms - unfortunately this is not really Dan Brown's strong suit. He seems far more 'comfortable' when he is describing city layouts and architecture (which may explain why so much of the action is set in an olde-worlde part of Spain) than he does when dealing with the more techincal aspects of the plot.

                  The book is overall a good read, and if the 'technology' in 'Digital Fortress' does turn out to be based almost entirely on smoke-and-mirrors, the story still stands up well as a decent thriller - even if it's not as thought-provoking a story as it might appear to be at the outset.

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                    29.01.2009 04:41

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                    Read the book to confirm my review.

                    Digital Fortress is a book that gets into the plot almost right away, unlike other fiction where the author narrates a whole lot before getting on the real story. I am certainly not a very patient reader who will read/wait forever for the plot to start and get interesting. But this book had me hooked on almost instantaneously. This was one and probably the only positive aspect of this book! The rest of the story has been heavily weighed down by lots of factual errors and the thoughtlessness of some characters (who are supposed to be the smartest blokes on earth).
                    Some examples:
                    1. NSA, which in many ways is an authority higher than CIA and FBI, doesn't seem to have any employees working on weekends;
                    2. NSA's Cryptography department and building seems to constitute of only about 5-10 employees;
                    3. NSA doesn't have its own translators!? Does it employ some college-language professors on contract basis!?
                    4. Emergency services seem non-existential in NSA although the 2-billion dollar computer TRANSLTR is undergoing a melt-down - no one ventures around NSA's cryptography department throughout the night of the proceedings;
                    5. NSA employees can take devices home!? Hale took the keyboards home to add a chip in them and trap the password entered!
                    6. The databank doesn't have a backup!!! Turning off the databank takes 30 mintues!!!
                    7. Susan never questions the fact that there is a printout lying by Hale's side when the rest of Node 3 office is out of power; And the fact that all the while before he died he was trying to impress upon her how he is innocent and then suddenly he has this bout of remorse;
                    8. It takes ages for the head of cryptography department to realize that there are 16 blocks of 4 characters and that 16 x 4 = 64 and that its a perfect square! It takes a language professor to make her see that! Further it takes even longer for her to realize the PRIME DIFFERENCE in ELEMENTS of the atomic bombs... blah blah blah! How dumb can she be!?
                    9. Cant believe that NSA has a personnel like Jaba working as their chief sys sec - an impatient nerd who cant stop wagging his tongue in the moment of crisis!!!
                    My take on this book: borrow it to read, but don't buy it!

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                    05.01.2009 17:47
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                    Quite a good book

                    Like most people who tackle Digital Fortress by Dan Brown these days, they loved the Da Vinci Code and want more of the same. This book satisfies the need to a certain degree with some mysteries, some crimes, some twists and turns and a few (but not many) thrills. Overall I was not particularly impressed with this book and I'm glad I borrowed it from a friend rather than buying it myself.

                    The plot is very typical. There is a murder. The murdered man makes a last ditch attempt to reveal a code as he is dying. The code holds a secret. If the code is published them bad things will happen. Two ordinary people must save the world! That's it in a nut shell!

                    Digital Fortress is similar in genre to Dan Brown's other books but without the very strong religious element of Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code. I think it was this religious element that I enjoyed and I found lacking in Digital Fortress. The story revolves around code breaking. If this is an area that interests you, I am sure you will enjoy this book as a gentle read. There are a few murders, a few nerve-wracking chases and people working against the clock.

                    I am not a fan of Dan Brown's writing style generally. I think it is pretty poor and I know that I can write creatively to much the same standard with very little effort at all. However, he can tell a good yarn and I love the fact that with his books your mind is constantly wandering trying to solve the mysteries along the way.

                    OVERALL: A good story told in a mediocre way.

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                      21.12.2008 23:45
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                      Another Dan Brown book. Oh yay.

                      ---26-10-2008---

                      ---Boredom strikes---

                      I currently feel like I am trapped in an old Shreddies advert. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones where you get half way through your day then and ugly little blue monster thing starts drumming on your stomach screaming "hunger strikes". I am not hungry, however. The little blue monster thing is drumming on my head in a rather repetitive manner telling me how bored I am. I have no internet access, no petrol, no money and I still have 5 days to go till pay day. I have watched all the DVD's I own, played all the games and doodled as much as humanly possible.

                      What has came of my current inability to do anything? I shall tell you. Since it costs nothing to walk round to the tattooists, I now know exactly what I want for my next tattoo and that it will cost me about £500. I also know that the artist I want to do it is no longer in my city, adding travelling costs to that £500. Basically Ryan = even more depressed than he was just being bored.

                      In a last ditch attempt to cure my boredom I decided I would go to my shelf and pick up one of the books I had not read. Luckily for me it worked. Unfortunately, I picked it up right at the start of my weekend. It is now the end of my weekend and I can't actually remember doing anything but sitting in my bed reading, which is brilliant and everything...but now I'm finished it and I'm bored again. So I figure I shall review it.

                      ---A bowl full of fun---

                      For my Christmas a few years ago I was given three books by Dan Brown. From the shameless self promotion plastered over the first and last four or five pages of each of the books, I noticed there were in fact four Dan Brown books out there. Since I also got a book token that Christmas, I decided I might as well finish the collection so I bought Digital Fortress for a £6.99 (paperback). It's probably much cheaper on E-bay now, but I can't confirm that since I am writing with no net to check my facts. Grr.

                      After reading the Da Vinci Code, Deception Point and Angels and Demons (all in the wrong order, I might add, since the shameless promotion failed to supply me with the order in which they were written) I picked up Digital Fortress. Having enjoyed the previous three books, I assumed I'd get right into this one. Then a funny thing happened. I read the first page and threw the book down in what I can only describe as disgust, never to pick it up again for a good couple of years. Till the other day.

                      ---A wheat-a-bix a day...---

                      We begin in Spain with the death of Ensei Tankado. We do not know how he died, or who he is. Only that he has made a terrible mistake. He is holding out his hand, trying to give a message to the people he is around but no one understands.

                      Next we meet Susan Fletcher and David Becker. They are engaged and about to have their weekend get away totally ruined by work. But its ok, they are both incredibly hot and very smart. They deserve to have a couple of problems thrown at them.

                      Susan Fletcher is a top Code Breaker for the NSA and David Becker is a Teacher. A very good teacher though. Yay for him. The both of them are about to be thrown head first into a race against time. A seemingly unbreakable code has been found and is about to be published worldwide. So what? That was my first response. Brown soon gets across the devastating impact this could have.

                      What follows is the usual web of lies, high speed chases and murder left right and centre. Trust no one and all that. I don't sound too enthusiastic do I? Read on, I shall explain why.

                      ---Are you a crunchy nut?---

                      Digital Fortress is another suspense + codes + action = yay type novel from Dan Brown. My original disgust stemmed from the fact that Dan Brown who is constantly hailed as being original (or so the many pages of compliments from various sources tells me) is far from it. By the time I opened up his fourth book, I had picked up on the fact that the stories he had furnished me with were, in fact, all the same. Ok, so he had changed the names and the places, but the very basics of it were all the same. Start off with a mysterious death, bring in some person (or people) who, rather inevitably, are stunningly gorgeous (and decidedly heterosexual) and don't really want to be involved in the plot, throw them around a bit, make them solve a few puzzles, then turn it all on its head near the end making sure the bad guy is the one you've spent the whole story bigging up. Ensure that you almost kill the love interest then forget to mention them for a few pages near the end. Mix in a giant vat of "oh bugger off" near the end when you reunite the living love interest and bake till golden Dan Brown.

                      Mr Brown also has a bad habit of changing his mind about characters near the end of the book, presumably to facilitate a few more pages of "suspense". Digital fortress in particular goes through the whole story confirming time after time how brilliantly intelligent the characters are and that they are the best code breakers on the planet. Then at the end of the story, one last code was to be broken. I could have told you how to break it. My gran could have googled the answer and she doesn't even know how to work the toaster at the best of times. Then we come to a room full of great minds. Great minds who are absolutely stumped. Great minds who find it amazing that some of the words in the code have...wait for it... more than one meaning!!! We get a few pages of the characters reading over the code, taking the completely wrong meaning from it. Meanwhile you will be sat there wondering how on gods green earth this bunch of amazing intellectuals have managed to skipped right past the most simple meaning and went right for the most absurd. Ask my flatmate, I was shouting. I was shouting AT A BOOK. Frustrating, no?

                      It becomes more frustrating considering Brown treats you more like you have a brain for the best part of the story then just uses goo goo ga ga noises at you to finish the story. Not wise, but another trademark of Mr Brown.

                      ---It's Grrrreat---

                      Brown constantly receives criticism from some rather intellectual people for not being the best writer out there. Stephen Fry (comedian, writer and my future husband) spits on his name constantly and rather amusingly. Nick Hornby (my favourite author and future husband) also has some harsh words to say about Mr Brown if you peruse his polysyllabic spree. As much as it pains me to say it and as much as I just had a rampant bitch about Mr Brown, I would have to spurn both of my husbands points of view. I do actually think that Mr Brown is a rather good writer, just not one with a terribly wide scope.

                      The stories he writes are engaging, well planned, full of information and descriptions that could rival that of the best authors out there. His downfall is always that he doesn't venture out of his genre but isn't smart enough to have a recurring character. At least if he did, it would come as less of a betrayal when you pick up the next book and find it relies so obviously on the same formula as the previous ones that are not linked in the slightest. The only reason I was able to sail through Da Vinci code and Angels and Demons was due to them being linked by the character. Deception point was brilliant, but I noted the similarities. Digital Fortress was just a step too far in the same old direction.

                      ---Nothing but the good stuff---

                      I shall try and focus now on the good points of the book. As usual with Mr Brown, the story is far fetched but still very believable. The reason for this is the meticulous attention to detail Mr Brown seems to pay. A lot of fact is incorporated into his stories, woven carefully through the fiction to give it an edge. It also gives a good little glimpse at code breaking methods which may (or may not) draw you in further.

                      Cover wise, it fits in perfectly with the rest of his stories so they will look perfectly pretty, if not slightly obsessive sitting on your bookshelf.

                      Overall, it is a still very well written and captivating story. Just not in the usual way. It's a bit of fun. A book to read on holiday. The textual equivalent of watching a run of the mill action flick.

                      I would have to suggest you DO give Digital Fortress some of your time though. As long as you don't read it with the others, you should be fine. Don't expect to go away feeling enlightened about the world. Just embrace it for what it is. A nice little distraction from reality with a very slightly higher I.Q. than Eastenders.

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