BOOK REVIEW: Digital Fortress – by Dan Brown


Title: Digital Fortress
Author: Dan Brown
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
First published: 1998
Finished reading: December 27th 2013
Pages: 510
Rating 2

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards ? If we’re the guards of society, then who will watch us and make sure that we’re not dangerous?”


I think I just un-became a Dan Brown fan. I know Digital Fortress is his first book, but it made me wonder how on earth he was able to get his second one published. The only reason I read Digital Fortress to the end was because I kept believing that it must get better eventually. It didn’t. To be honest, I’m surprised it was that bad, especially when you keep in mind Brown is so highly praised by millions. Even though I’m not a specialist in cryptology and computers (I’m just a simple philologist), I noticed a lot of errors, and the plot and characters were not believable. Take the end as an example: a bunch of the brightest people in the US cannot see straight away the puzzle Tankado left them was about chemical elements and afterwards take 20 minutes to figure out what’s the prime difference between Uranium-235 and Uranium-238? Yeah, right. Be wise and keep away from this one.


The National Security Agency NSA has a new computer, the TRANSLTR, which can decipher any code and unlock its secret message. A lot of people would see it as a breach of privacy, but it also helps prevent terrorist attacks. And more importantly, nobody outside NSA knows the computer exists.. Yet. A former NSA employee Tankado treathens to publish a new programm (Digital Fortress) which code is unbreakable. It’s up to Commander Strathmore to stop him. With the help of the ´perfect´ couple Susan Fletcher – the head Cryptographer at the NSA – and David Becker – a foreign-language specialist- Strathmore tries to get the special password to stop Digital Fortress from ruining the future of NSA.

David is send to Seville to find the ring Tankado was wearing, supposedly with the code ingraved. While he tries to get it, he is chased by a hitman, and is forced to do some heroic acts to survive. Susan meanwhile is trying to find out the identity of the only other person that has code, North Dakota. They both find out that things are not as they seem, and certain persons can’t be trusted… And the TRANSLTR is in bigger trouble than most are willing to see.


While his later work still might be worth the read, I suggest staying away from Digital Fortress. Both the plot and characters are barely believable, and I just couldn’t enjoy this one. Luckily I read other books like The Da Vinci Code first before reading this one, or else I would have never continued reading Dan Brown‘s work…

11 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Digital Fortress – by Dan Brown

  1. His latest, Inferno was horrific as well. I, too, kept reading thinking surely it was going to get better, but it didn’t. It was like he wrote it because he had to, without having time to put much thought into it.

    I’m enjoying your reviews. Thanks for the follow – I’ll follow back 😀


    • Ah, good to know about Inferno! I was already wondering if that one would be worth reading and I guess I’ll just save my time and read something else… I guess Brown is only writing for the money nowadays; I’m not sure why people just keep buying his books. Thanks for the follow, I will be keeping an eye out for your posts! 🙂


      • Definitely, if you haven’t already bought it, don’t waste your money. It was badly written and riddled with contrivances and history lessons, told in narration, which sounded almost as though they were copy/pasted from a textbook.

        Yes, that’s how much I enjoyed it. haha


      • Sounds *lovely*, thanks for letting me know. I’ll consider myself lucky that I didn’t buy myself I copy yet then hehe. I guess it seems like Brown cannot invent something new and just recycles his old story lines over and over again…


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  3. I read it and wasn’t impressed. The guy is formulaic, which is fine by me, as long as it’s a formula that works. And for me? It worked excellently in Angels and Demons, and The Da Vinci Code. It was The Lost Symbol that destroyed this guy’s books for me. To this day, I haven’t dragged myself to the point of even remotely wanting to read Inferno as yet.


    • True, those two books aren’t bad at all. It’s a shame he didn’t step up his game and try at least improve his formula in other books… Inferno for now is on my do-not-touch list.


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