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Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The complete backstory on Jack Ryan working for the CIA, 14 Jan. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Patriot Games (Paperback)
On vacation in London, Jack Ryan stops a terrorist attack by the Ulster Liberation Army on the Prince and Princess of Wales and their infant son. When the leader of the attack escapes from custody, Ryan and his family become targets. To defend them, Ryan goes to see his old friends at the C.I.A. and tells them he wants back in. The climax of the book is another attack on the terrorists at Ryan's own home where the Prince and Princess are dinner guests. "Patriot Games" is an atypical Tom Clancy novel in that is the Jack Ryan book least reliant on cutting edge technology, dealing more with the consequences of Jack's choices for his family and his career.
In is interesting to read this 1987 book knowing that filming it turned Tom Clancy against selling the movie rights of his books to Hollywood (although apparently the powers that be can have their own way with the Jack Ryan character). The problem, of course, was the final scene. In the film, Harrison Ford's character kills Sean Miller at the end of an exciting fistfight on a speeding boat. In the book, Jack Ryan does not shoot his gun at the fatal moment so that he can tell his newborn son, "Your father isn't a murderer." Clancy's conservative inclinations are well known, but forcing him into a fascist stereotype really misses the point, especially when it tries to make his hero some sort of a reactionary.
"Patriot Games" takes back several years before the events described in "The Hunt for Red October," where the Sir John Ryan backstory is certainly alluded to at a couple of points. I wondered if maybe Clancy had simply written this novel first but could not get it published, yet one of the strengths of his work over the years has been the detailed backgrounds on the various characters (the best examples are probably Red Wegener and Ding Chavez in "Clear and Present Danger," where the complete backgrounds are given although one is a minor character in the novel and the other goes on to be a main supporting character). One of the reason I always liked this book is because of the pure audacity of making members of the Royal Family main supporting characters, especially Prince Charles, who has continued to pop up from time to time.
This is the book where Clancy dropped the annoying subtitles used in his first two novels. In retrospect "Patriot Games" is a much more intimate novel than what is follows. Certainly the threat is much more personal, targeting Ryan and his family. With Clancy's tendency to tell stories where nuclear war is a distinct possibility, this becomes an atypical effort, similar to "Without Remorse," which supplies the complete backstory on John Clark. Another reason for the feeling of intimacy is that Clancy's novels have tended to get longer and longer. Final note: people who have read these book in the "correct chronological order" find "Red October" to be something of a step backwards, so the best advice remains to read them in the order they were written
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