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Publisher's Summary

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 it 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.
©1998 Dan Brown (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In this fast-paced, plausible tale, Brown blurs the line between good and evil enough to delight patriots and paranoids alike." (Publishers Weekly)
"Digital Fortress is the best and most realistic techno-thriller to reach the market in years....A chilling thrill a minute." (The Midwest Book Review)
"Exciting...will rivet cyber-minded readers." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,696
  • 4 Stars
    1,333
  • 3 Stars
    663
  • 2 Stars
    158
  • 1 Stars
    108

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,384
  • 4 Stars
    672
  • 3 Stars
    214
  • 2 Stars
    28
  • 1 Stars
    20

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,132
  • 4 Stars
    707
  • 3 Stars
    356
  • 2 Stars
    82
  • 1 Stars
    53
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Meh...

I enjoy reading Dan Brown; I find his books are based on interesting ideas and concepts, and Digital Fortress is no exception.

I noted in my review of "Angels and Demons" that Brown's story-telling improves between that book and "The Da Vinci Code". "Digital Fortress", written before "Angels and Demons" further proves that sentiment. Heather from Fullerton's comment that it's "not quite as sophisticated" is spot on.

The book starts off well enough, and it was ticking along fine until towards the end, when the characters - and therefore the story line - seemed inexplicably struck dumb.

I read this book basically because it's written by Dan Brown, and I was curious to see what else he has written; as I said off the top, I find the ideas and concepts he writes about quite interesting.

But if you're debating whether or not to get this book, I would say spend your money on something else - even another (later) Dan Brown book!

59 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Don't read what you know

Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed Da Vinci code and its prequel, so I was optimistic about this read. Unfortunately, I was horribly disappointed. I am not sure if the culprit is Mr. Brown's lack of knowledge about this subject (compared to the subject matter of Da Vinci) or my relative depth of knowledge about it (I happen to run data centers for a living) but I was extremely disappointed in the book.

The characters were interesting and the basic concept to start with was OK, but from there it degenerated rapidly. By the end of the book I was figuring things out quicker than most of the characters (always a bad sign) and the majority of the plot line had become completely unbelievable. As with all techo-thrillers, the bottom line is that when the machine is run-amok or in horrible danger... simply turn the thing off. Since this solution is so elegantly simple, writers from Asimov to Star Trek have been inventing convulted ways to keep their machines from being turned off, and even more convulted reasons why those mechanisms would be built. Just in case Mr. Brown decides to write in this genre again, here are some good rules of thumb:
1) Rule #1 of data center design - The EPO (emergency power off) is always located at a controlled and secure location near the exits (there can be multiple, after all) to the data center... not 3 stories below the data center in some goofy catacombe of generators and cooling equipment.
2) Rule #1 of computer system design - If your $3 billion computer runs so hot it can explode... put a $10 temperature sensor in it so it can shut itself down to keep that from happening accidentally.
3) Rule #1 of being an international assassin - silencers don't work very well on revolvers, sound escapes from between the cylinder and the barrel.

37 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't try it

One of the worst books I've ever read. The technological background is not weak, it's ridiculous. Anyone that has a minimum understanding of software engineering will find difficult to finish the book. Cryptography-related descriptions and explanations are childish. The plot is paper-thin, character motivation is unbelievable...

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Irene
  • Sanford, NC, USA
  • 05-22-05

Not that Bad

Although some have gave this book a poor rating - the book is not that bad. When you have read enough books the plot in this was easily solved and not much guess work; however the story was good and still enjoyable. It kept my interest and that's important.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Colorado Springs, CO, USA
  • 05-23-07

Vintage

This is a pre-DaVinci Code novel, by Dan Brown, which centers around a deadly virus which has infected the National Security Agency's Data bank, and thier code breaking behemoth 'T.R.A.N.S.L.A.T.O.R.' His main character, Susan Fletcher, is the head cryptographer for the NSA, and is called in on a Saturday by her boss, The Deputy Director of the NSA, Trevor Strathmore. Turns out that Strathmore ran a computer algorithem, in an attempt to see if their decrypter, TRANSLATOR, could decipher it. The algorithem was called Digital Fortress, and problem is that this algorithem has a purpose, which is to destroy the protective filters guarding the NSA Databank. Strathmore relies on Susan to find the identity of a mystery man, who has the key to stop the coming disaster. This is vintage Brown! Like his other books, Digital Fortress takes place in the course of a 24 hour period. There is a Dan Brown guarantee which insures the reader that the NSA does exsist. There is an assassin (Hulahot), a love interest (David Becker), suprise heroes and villians to spare, and the fast paced action that Brown fans have come to expect. This is a must read for fans of Dan Brown, or if you are in the mood for a fast paced thriller!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Imaginative and Creative!

Where does Digital Fortress rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

This book ranks among the best that I have listened to thus far. It has a creative storyline and most of all, it was read very well by the narrator. I didn't get lost or sleepy as can sometimes happen without good narrators.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character has got to be Susan Fletcher. I do have to admit that this is a biased choice as she is a very accomplished woman and holds a significant position in a highly secure organization. She holds many responsibilities but most of all she is well respected by men in the organization. She is someone that I respect and commend being a woman who is also accomplished and can relate to her with respect to the characteristics revealed.

What about Paul Michael???s performance did you like?

He read the book with great enthusiasm and interest. I could hear it in his voice. This brought out all of the suspense and drama into the arena of performance rather than just feeling as though he was reading it because he had to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There had to be many moments but the end brought me great relief. After all of the events that brought the blood pressure up and the heart racing, it was nice to relax and hear the end worked out in a calm and relaxing atmosphere, and informative and educational as well.

Any additional comments?

Although the book was written in 1998, it still held its modern relevance within 2011 when I listened to it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • 09-20-06

Don't buy

I wish I had read the other reviews before buying this book. I'm a fan of Dan Brown's other books but this one is pretty bad for all the reasons mentioned in the other reviews. If you know anything at all about computers or math, turn your brain off as you read.

Btw if you do manage to get through the book, do yourself a favor and skip the last half hour or so. Reading the painstaking walkthrough of a google search and all the breathless "deductions" the characters go through nearly drove me to a life of crime.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining

You can definately see that Dan Brown has improved his writing skills immensely from Digital Fortress to the Da Vinci Code. That being said, it's not like the guy was writing 6th grade papers when this was written.

It is a well thought out and entertaining story containing just enough information for you to care about the main characters but not get bogged down with their personal histories. The story welds these histories with a proper amount of action to keep you listening. Dan Brown is a master of leaving those end of chapter Cliff hangers that keep you in your car out in the parking lot wanting to see how a situation or problem will turn out.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Satisfying Entertainment

National security, international intrigue, ideal love, unrequited love, computer genius, insane genius, and code puzzles are all glittering threads in this luminous tapestry woven skillfully by Dan Brown and brought to life by the impressive vocal characterizations of Paul Michael. Written several years prior to The Da Vinci Code and not quite as sophisticated, Digital Fortress is nonetheless an elegant creation and a satisfying entertainment.

20 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • Ellicott City, MD, USA
  • 06-20-04

Do Not Read This Book...It is Terrible

Let me begin by stating that I have never before written a review for any book, and I have listened to many. However, "Digital Fortress" was one of the worst books that I have listened to in a very long time, so I wanted to warn other readers to not waste their money or book credits. I could not believe that this was the same writer who created the Davinci Code, which was intelligent and clever. In stark contrast, Digital Fortress had a completely predictable plot and the writing was very poor. Much of the book is the characters saying the same thing over and over again, to the point of the annoyance of the reader. As predictable as the overall plot was, the ending was even more so. Avoid this book if at all possible!!

58 of 79 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • 07-26-06

Bad Science Bad Writing Bad Book

But well read the two stars ar eentirely for the naration if the reader had been less skilled I'd have given up. If I'd been trying to read it I'd probably have burned the book and given thought to burning Dan brown as well.

So what's so bad.

It starts okay, the characters are cliches genius linguist in the Indiana Jones mold (yes I know he was an archeologist) meets genius cryptographer that looks like she stepped off a catwalk (Jessica Alba would probably play her in the movie she's very smart but never uses those brains for anything.)

Any way they hook up and fall in love then get involved with a secret government project to secretly decript everyones e-mails. (this isn't really a spoiler you get this much on the back cover)

Okay so the action moves on for reasons tha tonly become apparently late on and don't really work the hero is sent to France to get hold of a mcguffin. Meanwhile the gf is set to do clever things with computers in an I.T. section where RSI is the least of her worries.

Okay so the plots bad and cliche, the characters aren't even cardboard they're paper thin and the environment are'ne hugely exciting even a cool IT suite is still a set of desks with a pc on the top.

Coincidence piles on coincidence on a large wobbly stack that is neither structurally sound or that interesting to watch being built.
Supposedly clever people act stupidly and miss things even the reader (who''s meant to be a lot less bright than these guys) has figured out and then the hero well meaing untrained amatuer that he is points out of all the things in this book this constant making everyone dumb so the hero seems start is the most irritating.

For the author and the book no stars for the reader 2 stars for heroic efforts at turd polishing.

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jeremy
  • 11-29-11

A good read for geek thrill seekers.

I enjoyed the concept of book, although a plot line was a touch predictable. I would have like to have seen a little character building.
None the less I found I really enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • 03-05-11

Don't believe the critics!

Despite what the poor reviews say, this book is not as bad as most people make out.

Yes, it has the typical Dan Brown flaws - poorly verified facts, a tendency to be glib and a mostly predictable plot. Still, there are enough twists to make it an interesting yarn and some good charactors.

I also absolutely love the epilogue where Ensei Tankando's dad has to bury him - it reminded me Theoden in the Two Towers. The depiction of the obnoxious little punk is also quite good, and you almost feel he deserves his fate (almost...)

Anyhow, if you're after a bit of light listening / stg for the trip to work, you could do worse than this book although do try 'Angels and Demons' 1st...

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 11-07-10

recommended reading

a different direction from Dan Brown but still a very good listen.
If you like Dan Brown's books you will enjoy this

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • 10-24-05

Unbelievably Bad!

This book is laughably bad!

From the corny hero decription 'seven foot tall with a rugged jaw and stealy blue eyes' etc, you know the kind of cliche drival at the start of the book, to the assassin who goes around killing characters for absolutely no reason midway, finally to the ridiculous end - five letter password - the baddy who's in love with Susan the heroin - can you guess the password?

Terrible.

14 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alan Bevan
  • 07-28-18

Great book

Love it, nearly as good as deception point. Love how he makes you like each character and tells it from their point

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C C Williamson
  • 07-10-18

so exciting, will listen again and again. More pl

thus was so hard to put down, luckily I listen in the car. dammed exciting to the end

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jane
  • 06-06-18

digital fortress

yet another fantastic Dan Brown book! not to be missed. highly recommended and well written

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jacob L.
  • 05-21-18

A good first draft of Dan Browns trade mark style

lacks the punch of the Robert Langdon stories but is still enjoyable. story has dated a little but I'm not sure that is a bad thing as the style is a little nostalgic.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Pam
  • 04-09-18

Excellent narrator

Story was riveting but the endless deysil6a bit irritating. Narrator was brilliant -one of the best I have listened to with his ability to assume different voices and accents.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nancy Brown
  • 04-23-18

Great story with a touch of nostalgia

In this story provides a great opportunity to learn more about the digital world from a point in the past which gives it an interesting nostalgia. A real page turner and read very well by Paul Michael.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • andy
  • 10-27-17

Excruciatingly boring

The plot was predictable, but unlike other Dan Brown books it advances achingly, labouring over small details again and again despite their obviousness. As usual with most fiction works the IT references are hilariously inaccurate. This seems to be a book with no effort or research put into it.