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Tetraktys Perfect Paperback – September 2, 2009
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Code-breaking, forgeries, murder, romance, ancient Greek cults brought to life, three-letter agencies defending national security---what more could one want? A compelling tale, well told! --Professor Ronald L. Rivest, M.I.T., the R in RSA<br /><br />Juels, chief scientist at RSA Laboratories in Bedford, is best known for highlighting the vulnerability of radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, through his technical articles. But in his first work of fiction, Tetraktys, Juels adds more than a measure of James Bond and Jack Ryan to his expositions on ciphers and factoring. Tetraktys ... adds Juels to the handful of security specialists using fiction to hash out potential security hacking scenarios for coming years. --Mark Baard, The Boston Globe
Code-breaking, forgeries, murder, romance, ancient Greek cults brought to life, three-letter agencies defending national security---what more could one want? A compelling tale, well told! --Professor Ronald L. Rivest, M.I.T., the R in RSA
About the Author
Dr. Ari Juels is Chief Scientist of RSA Laboratories. His many research publications touch on topics ranging from cryptography to genetic algorithms, with a particular emphasis on security for biometrics, RFID tags (wireless microchips), storage systems, and electronic voting. MIT s Technology Review Magazine named Juels one of the world s top 100 technology innovators under the age of 35 in 2004. In 2007, Computerworld honored him in its 40 Under 40 list. Juels studied Latin Literature and Mathematics at Amherst College and Oxford University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley.
Top customer reviews
Also didn't like the style of writing itself. People compare it to Dan Brown's books, at least Brown gets one right, he can keep an interesting and thrilling ambiance. Trust me, this one doesn't.
The story was entertaining enough, but at the end I feel unsatisfied. I don't know what the antagonists goal really was, the protagonist really didn't do anything to save the day and in fact the entire book was left feeling like I was reading a story not of the hero, but of the person at the coffee shop the hero passed once in the story.
That all said, the book wasn't horrible, not like Z4AK.
The plot line seemed to take a good while to develop, and I felt the ending was too abrupt and simple. It was somewhat of a letdown reading the last two chapters of this book. The main plot was finished, but the author left enough out there to allow for a sequel if this book did well.
I also found the character development to be somewhat lacking. I really did not form any attachment to any of the characters (save for a minor attachment to the main character's girlfriend).
Overall and enjoyable read, but could have been so much more.
The book, which might be the world's first cryptographic thriller, tells the story of Ambrose Jerusalem, a gifted computer security expert, still haunted by his father's death, a few months shy of his doctorate, who has a beautiful and loving girlfriend, and a bright future ahead of him. This is until the government gets involved and Jerusalem's plans are put on hold when the NSA asks him to join them to track down a strange and disturbing series of computer breaches.
Tetraktys, like similar thrillers, has its standard set of characters; from corrupt State Department and World Bank officials, a dashing protagonist with a long-suffering girlfriend, to mysterious and obscure terrorist groups. This terrorist group is in the book is comprised of followers of Pythagoras.
As to the title, a tetraktys is a triangular figure of ten points arranged in four rows, with one, two, three, and four points in each row. It is a mystical symbol and was most important to the followers of Pythagoras. While mainly known as the creator of the Pythagorean theorem, Pythagoras of Samos was an influential Greek mathematician and founder of the religious movement of Pythagoreanism. Those wanting more information can watch a video about the symbol.
As to the storyline, the NSA is trying to recruit Ambrose as they feel that the terrorists, who form a secret cult of followers of Pythagoras have broken the RSA public-key algorithm. Breaking RSA is something that is not expected for many decades, but if a revolution in factoring numbers were to occur sooner, RSA's demise could happen that much quicker. And if RSA was indeed broken by the antagonists, it would undermine the security of nearly every government and financial institution worldwide and create utter anarchy.
A good part of the book centers on the cult of Pythagoras. Its followers believe that truth and reality can only be understood via their system of numbers. The NSA needs Jerusalem's assistance as he is one of the few people who have the mathematical, classical and philosophical background to help them. It is he who ultimately connects the dots that the Pythagoreans have left, which leads to the books dramatic conclusion.
The book is a most enjoyable read and one is hard pressed to put it down once they start reading it. The reader gets a good understanding of who Pythagoras was and his worldview via Juels weaving of Pythagorean philosophy into the storyline.
While the book is not autobiographical, there are many similarities between Ambrose Jerusalem and Ari Juels. From identical initials, to their lives in events in Berkeley and Cambridge, to RSA and more.
For a first book of fiction, Tetraktys is a great read. As a novelist, Juels style approaches that of Umberto Eco, in that he weaves numerous areas of thought into an integrated story. Like Eco's works, Tetraktys has an arcane historical figure as part of it storyline, and an intricate plot that takes the reader on many, and some unexpected, turns. While not as complex and difficult to read as Eco, Tetraktys is a remarkable work of fiction for someone with a doctorate in computer science, not literature.
The book though does have some gaps, but that could be expected for a first novel. The reader is never sure what the Pythagoreans are really after or why they have resurfaced, and one of the characters is killed, for reasons that are not apparent. Readers who want more information can visit the Tetraktys web site.
As to the books protagonist, Ambrose Jerusalem is to Juels what Jack Ryan is to Tom Clancy, meaning that his adventures are just beginning, and that is a good thing.
For those interested in a cryptographic thriller, Tetraktys is an enjoyable read. The book interlaces Greek philosophy, mathematics, and modern crime into a cogent theme that is a compelling read. And if the exploits of Ambrose Jerusalem continue, we may have found the successor to Umberto Eco.
Most recent customer reviews
Juels knows his stuff. He knows his security, and he knows his cryptography. This was, honestly, the first thriller I read where the tech talk isn't a...Read more