On holiday in London, Jack Ryan, historian, teacher and former marine, gets in the way of a terrorist attack. When the terrorist he captured escapes custody and his family is attacked Ryan joins the CIA, where he uses his intelligence and his ability as an analyst to track down the terrorists, who are planning a fresh attack on the target Ryan saved.
Despite being thirty years old, Patriot Games never feels dated as it follows Jack Ryan’s efforts to do the right thing while protecting his family. Jack Ryan is a well realised character with a conscience and flaws, all of which make him as realistic as any to be found within the pages of a book; contrasting him are the terrorists, who have a deadly goal and are prepared to kill anyone that gets in their way to achieve it – they are not rabid, indiscriminate killers, though, they’re intelligent and they have a plan.
While there’s no doubt who we’re supposed to root for, Tom Clancy has done a good job of showing that terrorists are not all mindless, suicidal bombers, which makes them all the more frightening. He also shows the work done quietly, out of the spotlight, by the security services who fight such men and woman on a daily business.
In this age of increased terrorist activity, Patriot Games gives an important insight into the war being fought to protect us all.