Patriot Games

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tom Clancy’s new novel, appearing while his second book, RED STORM RISING, is still on best-seller lists, is set several years before the action of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, the book which unexpectedly made the insurance broker from Maryland a top-selling author. In PATRIOT GAMES, Jack Ryan, the hero of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, becomes the next target of a Marxist-Leninist Irish-liberation splinter group, the Ulster Liberation Army (ULA), after he disrupts their attack on whom he later discovers are the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Clancy’s writing is even surer than in his previous two novels: Gone are the rapid shifts in setting that, while conveying simultaneity of action, occasionally became confusing. The narrative flows smoothly, carrying along the reader unwilling to set down the book. Characters are more rounded here; Jack Ryan is given not only attributes--such as his fear of flying--but also motivations. He is not simply a heroic marine who reacted instinctively in a combatlike situation; he is an Irish-American, the son of a policeman, who resents the lawlessness of the Irish nationalist terrorist groups. The story seems plausible, and one is fascinated both by the plans of the ULA and by the steady analysis made by both Ryan and the British as they try to anticipate the ULA’s next move.

One might cavil, in the light of the Iran-contra hearings, at the unremittingly positive view of government officials, but it is pleasant to read occasionally about characters whose moral standards and codes of honor are strong. Clancy’s purpose is to entertain, and he does.

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Typical of a good thriller, Patriot Games has an exciting beginning that reveals Ryan as a man capable of dramatic and decisive...

(The entire section is 186 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

It is unfortunate that the topic of Patriot Games is as contemporary now as it was when the novel was written. A discussion of its...

(The entire section is 502 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Terrorism is at the heart of Patriot Games. CIA officer Jack Ryan stumbles upon a plot to kidnap the Prince and Princess of Wales and...

(The entire section is 224 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Terrorism is such a fact of modern life that it figures in numerous novels about international relations; its tendency to victimize people...

(The entire section is 590 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Jack Ryan is a significant character in The Hunt for Red October (1984; see separate entry), The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988;...

(The entire section is 110 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Patriot Games was made into a motion picture and released by Paramount in 1992. It was produced by Mace Neufeld and Robert Rehme and...

(The entire section is 144 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Anderson, Patrick. “King of the ’Techno-Thriller.’” The New York Times Magazine, May 1, 1988, 54.

Cowley, Jason. “He Is the Most Popular Novelist on Earth.” New Statesman 130 (September 24, 2001): 2.

Greenberg, Martin H., ed. The Tom Clancy Companion. New York: Berkley Books, 1992.

Grossman, Lev. “Ten Questions for Tom Clancy.” Time 160 (July 29, 2002): 8.

Phillips, Christopher. “Red October’s Tom Clancy: After the Hunt.” Saturday Evening Post 263, no. 6 (September/October, 1991): 16-19.

Ryan, William F. “The Genesis of the Techno-Thriller.” Virginia Quarterly Review 69, no. 1 (Winter, 1991): 24 41.

Struckel, Katie. “A Conversation with Tom Clancy.” Writer’s Digest 81 (January, 2001): 20.

Terdoslavich, William. The Jack Ryan Agenda: Policy and Politics in the Novels of Tom Clancy—An Unauthorized Analysis. New York: Forge, 2005.

“The Tom Clancy Effect?” The Atlantic Monthly 294 (November, 2004): 59.