Digital Fortress: A Thriller

by Dan Brown

Paper Book, 2000




St. Martin's Griffin (2000), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages


Fiction. Thriller. HTML: Before the multi-million, runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown set his razor-sharp research and storytelling skills on the most powerful intelligence organization on earth‚??the National Security Agency (NSA)‚??in this thrilling novel, Digital Fortress. 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 for her life, and in the end, for the life of the man she loves. From the underground hallways of power to the skyscrapers of Tokyo to the towering cathedrals of Spain, a desperate race unfolds. It is a battle for survival‚??a crucial bid to destroy a creation of inconceivable impregnable code-writing formula that threatens to obliterate the post-cold war balance of power. Fore… (more)

Original publication date




0312263120 / 9780312263126


(5176 ratings; 3.2)

Media reviews

A crescendo of murder, infernos, and explosions... Brown's skill... will rivet cyber-minded readers.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lauawill
Once you realize that this is a farce and not a thriller, it's a very enjoyable book. It's fun to laugh at the characters' abject stupidity, especially the supposedly-brilliant hero and heroine, who can't see the clues that are right in front of them.
LibraryThing member pamd
I found the incredible computer innacuracies very irritating.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Just awful. The book lost credibility with me fast. It involves a contemporary consultant to the CIA who is supposed to not ever heard of the NSA. I'd heard of the NSA--as someone casually interested in public policy--decades ago. A very well-researched book on the agency, The Puzzle Palace, was
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published in the 80s. There is a note at the front of the Digital Fortress claiming Brown consulted with anonymous sources in the agency for his novel. If Brown actually had, you'd think they might have told him right off that his hero would have to be a dolt never to have heard of the NRA, and certainly wouldn't be consulted by the CIA. A minor thing? Perhaps. But coming so early in a not-very-well-written book, it killed it for me.
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LibraryThing member glitrbug
Good thing I bought my copy at the Thrift store. On page 23 you find out the Commander has a thing for his golden girl. No surprise when he sends her professor boyfriend on a mission he plans will be the death of him. Page 85 graphically gives away the pass-key. The only reason to finish the book
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is to find out what the boyfriend meant by "without wax." Could have Googled for that. The book was copywrited in 1998 but must have been written a good deal earlier if Mr. Brown thought people didn't know about the NSA or use better security than this on their own job. When was the last time you were allowed to use a password that wasn't a minimum of 6 alpha-numeric characters with a combination of upper and lower case letters? Who hires someone that hates your agency and then lets him come in on the weekend unsupervised? This plot is way to simple for someone who devoured all the Sherlock Holmes books in grade school instead of the easy readers they call YA books now.
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LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
If the roundly reviled The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons are examples of Dan Brown at his most polished, you can only imagine how bad he was during his early career.

Actually, you can imagine, or you can read Digital Fortress and find out for yourself. But I don't recommend it. Where the
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Langdon books spill their secrets two acts too soon to anyone with a basic knowledge of French, or of Latin roots, Digital Fortress boasts a simplistic play on words that crumbles, fortune cookie-like, to anyone who knows Spanish. Yes. Spanish. Like right and left hooks from Butterbean, the plot twists come molasses-slow and predictable. Where The Da Vinci Code was at least a fun ride with some lazy narration and gaping plot holes, Digital Fortress isn't even a guilty pleasure; only a guilty purchase.

I could go on, but I won't. Let me just say, in closing, that Digital Fortress was so stupid, my ears popped every time I opened the book.
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LibraryThing member jensenc
Nice twist on the story of David and Bathsheba; otherwise:- Poor representation of computers, networks, and the inner workings of the NSA.- People in this book are extraordinary geniuses and complete morons depending on what moves the story forward or what creates suspense.- The characters are not
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believable (neither is the story itself).
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LibraryThing member StefanY
Based upon how very little I'd heard about Dan Brown's two non-Robert Langdon books, I went into this one with very low expectations. However, Digital Fortress is a fairly well-written and entertaining novel. The main storyline is based upon a hush-hush operation within the NSA to obtain and or
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destroy the only existing copies of a pass-key that, if made public, could enable the use of an encryption program that would create coded messages that would be entirely unbreakable thereby rendering the NSA obsolete and allowing undecipherable communications between terrorist organizations and crime rings throughout the world. The storyline takes place mainly in two separate locations: the top two members of the encryption team trying to break the program and track down the pass-key from headquarters and in Spain where the search is on for any possible physical pass-key possessed by the recently deceased creator of the program.

This is a pretty fast-paced novel with lots of action on both fronts. As usual with a Dan Brown novel, things get a bit unbelievable at times, but that's what part of what makes them fun. He has created an interesting cast of characters and circumstances that really keep the storyline moving along at his usual break-neck pace. I had fun reading Digital Fortress and would recommend it to fans of Mr. Browns other works and also to those who enjoy thrillers along the lines of James Patterson if you haven't yet read any of Dan Brown's other works.
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LibraryThing member dmilor
This has some of the most unbelievably bad writing I've ever read on computing.

Apparently (according to my wife) my reading of this book was accompanied by frequent snorts of derision. Another review mentioned geeks would like it. In my opinion real geeks will cry if they read this.
LibraryThing member KendraRenee
not his best. and now that I've read four of his books, I've finally realized they're basically all the SAME FREAKING PLOT. Some out-of-this-world BEAUtiful woman who's also--wow! ACTually smart!--teaming up with an attractive, intelligent man to save the United States from impending DOOM... and
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the seemingly innocent good guy at the beginning always turns out to be an irredemptively evil bastard by the end. No, thank you. Dan Brown, you have ceased to impress me.
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LibraryThing member NPJacobsen
Early Dan Brown, before Robert Langdon, but just as good. The main characters in this book are David Becker, professor of foreign language at Georgetown University (model for Robert Langdon?), and Susan Fletcher, brilliant and beautiful head cryptographer at the NSA and fiancé of David. The plot
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revolves around a presumably unbreakable code that was going to be released to the public free of charge, essentially putting the National Security Agency out of business as any message could be sent in the open without fear of being translated. David Becker goes to Seville, Spain, to try and track down the man who wrote the code to find the kill phrase while Susan works at her end to try and break the copy of the code the NSA received. This book has the same action, tension, history, geography and architecture and plot twists as I have come to expect (and enjoy) from Dan Brown. Also, there is just enough about cryptography to satisfy a math geek like me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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LibraryThing member etimme
This book was plodding and predictable, but at least it read quickly. I think I'm also a little offended at how far back Dan Brown has put the struggle for strong female characters in literature. Susan Fletcher has an off-the-charts IQ combined with a leadership role in a technical field typically
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dominated by men, both of which take a back seat to her huge rack and incredible ass, as well as her total lack of common sense. It's a good thing she has men to tell her what to do.
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LibraryThing member Brandie
Okay, seriously ... all I can say is after reading this book, I realize why he wasn't famous until DaVinci Code. I didn't really like it. It was boring, predictable and I apparently can figure things out much faster than top NSA agents.
LibraryThing member dave_newton
If there was a way I could remove stars from anybody else's rating I would do it. This book was *horrible*.

Looking for cliches for your next fifth-grade writing project? Want weak, sodden dialog? Want to force yourself through 429 pages of a 150-page book? Knock yourself out: if you do it'll save
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you the trouble of having the book do it.

I generally shun popular fiction like _The Da Vinci Code_ and having read _Digital Fortress_ I am avoiding it like the plague, which would be more pleasant and have the decency to kill me when it was done with me so the memories would not scar me for the rest of my days.

I did not care for this book.
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LibraryThing member elmyra
Of all the books Dan Brown has spewed forth, this is the one I hate with a particular passion. See, I don't mind if you mix pagan feminism in with Christianity (well, I do, but I'm willing to let it go), but I have serious problems with an author raising issues such as privacy, the right of the
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state to interfere in the lives of individuals, and security in a post 9-11 world and giving them such poor, one-sided, unquestioning treatment. If you sell to millions, you (should) have a responsibility to at least provide balanced coverage in your writing. And yes, I know most people don't, but this book really is on a level down there with the Sun newspaper.

As with all Dan Brown novels I've read, derogatory comments about lack of characterisation and naffness of plot apply.

I would rate this book, but that would mean actually giving it half a star and I feel that it far too much.
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LibraryThing member dvf1976
This book made me dumber.

I didn't like how the book made computer metaphors (Firewalls don't work that way!)

I didn't like how the book made cryptographers such idiots (I've spoken to some folks who know their way around an encryption algorithm and I'm *NOT* smarter than them).

I don't like
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omniscient narrators. It just seems lazy. Show me by actions, not by telling me.

I didn't like that a Canadian measured someone in pounds (They use the metric system).

There are codes that can't be broken. (They're called one-way pads)

The technical errors in this book make me suspicious of other Dan Brown books.
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LibraryThing member jre
Another ill-researched novel packed with material the general public has no business having thrust at them from popular best-sell lists. Right in the footsteps of Da DaVinci Code, Eh.

Thank you, Dan, for making a world of proletarians think that somehow, they're just that much more special and
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LibraryThing member adam.bullen
I read this book after i read TDC, it is a good story but a little predictable for my tastes.
LibraryThing member capetowncanada
I really liked Da Vinci Code so I wanted to try another Dan Brown book but this was a dissapointment. It is fast paced but you can pridict just about everything before it happens. I also thought there would be a half dozen or more codes that the reader was going to be able to ponder. There's like
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four....and there dumb.
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LibraryThing member MsBeautiful
Not as good as his others, Depends on your interest in computers
LibraryThing member aaronz82
I had a good time reading this book. At times it was pretty clever with good cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. To me, there were a couple negatives - 1) a couple loose ends that weren't tied up, & 2) a bunch of typos throughout the book.
LibraryThing member catnw15
Even if you're not techno-savvy, this book is still amazing. Has the ability to hook you and keep you up till all hours.
LibraryThing member eduscapes
The DaVinci Code was so interesting that I thought I'd go back and read the other novels by Dan Brown. This thriller focuses on intelligence gathering and code-breaking.
LibraryThing member Clurb
Poor. Awful plot, awfully written with no redeeming features.
LibraryThing member skillz
interesting and fast-paced. typical dan brown novel. worth a read.
LibraryThing member grendell
"Digital Fortress" by Dan Brown - Fast-paced techno-thriller with lots of twists. Kept me on the edge of my seat to the last page. -----------
Having already read "The Davinci Code" and Angels & Demons" I decided to give "Digital Fortress" a read. Mr. Brown does not disappoint... this book was just
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as fast-paced and full of twists as his other books. I couldn't put it down! I work with computers so the tech-speak made the book more intersting to me. Others may be put off by that but he explains everything as you go so non-techies can get it too. I think I actually learned some things about number theory and cryptography from this book! The book is about the National Security Agency (NSA) and basically their search for domninance in the encryption algorithm market - so they can snoop everyones' email. In this pursuit things don't go quite as planned and the underlying love story adds another level of intrigue to the whole story. The characters are well written and I felt like I knew the main character, Susan Fletcher the NSA's lead crypotographer. I don't want to spoil the story for those of you that haven't read it so I'll stop there. Once again Mr. Brown's writing is enthralling I read this straight through in a day! There is a code on the last page... I haven't deciphered it yet but that's my task for today!
--- I read some of the other comments and I just want to say this is FICTION and is allowed to be full of government conspiracy theories and as one-sided as Mr. Brown sees fit. I really don't think he was trying to make an anti-political statement; but considering the recent NON-FICTION news related to the NSA intercepting all of our phone logs recently I think the book was may have a modicum of truth.

***Update: I figured out the code! It took me a while because I missed the obvious. I posted the answer on my blog if you're interested. (Nyxnekhbet on
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