Tom Clancy is an iconic name for many reasons.
Whether you discovered Clancy through his many written works, or are a seasoned veteran of his branded video games, it would be hard not to have stumbled across one of Clancy’s works.
My first taste of Clancy came from the latter, being an avid fan of the challenging Splinter Cell series of games, as well as my exposure to some of his other franchises like Ghost Recon, H.A.W.X., and the painstakingly horrible EndWar game.
Clancy is best known for creating some of the greatest military-espionage heroes on the planet, including Jack Ryan and John Clark. He also created such classics as The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and The Sum of All Fears.
However, we’re not analyzing any of those properties today, unfortunately.
I’m delving into a novel inspired by the Ghost Recon franchise of video games, written by David Michaels, who is best known for adapting many of Clancy’s video game creations into novel form.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon (the novelization) follows Capt. Scott Mitchell over the course of 10 years, as he quickly moves up the ranks following successful missions in the South Philippines and North Waziristan, to become a Captain in the Ghost division.
We’re guided knee deep into Scott’s life, learning about his relationship with his fellow comrades, his family, and his relationship with the war.
He’s written to be a very capable soldier who never leaves a man behind on the battlefield; he’s practically spoon fed to us as the embodiment of a true American war hero.
As the story progresses, we get a glimpse into the eyes of several other characters, who all serve a part in the “grander” story that develops.
Scott and his Ghost team are sent to Xiamen, China, to prevent a potential ‘World War Three’ scenario from happening. It’s here when he discovers a figure from his past is working with the enemy. Scott must put his personal differences aside in order to complete the mission and get his team out alive and unseen (and don’t forget, save the god damn world!).
The story does takes shot at balancing a number of team players, but that is part of why the overall story falls short.
There are way too many characters all vying for a chance to tell their bit of the story that it drags the overall story down. Elements that are meant to be devoted to action and combat are dragged down to a grinding halt as the chapter takes a momentary break to find out what the sniper on the cliff is thinking about the mission. Like who cares?
The book advertised that there was going to be a big ‘twist’ in the novel that would take the form of an eventual betrayal by someone from Scott’s past, but this betrayal was predictable from the start to the readers. The only person who didn’t see it coming was Scott, the protagonist.
There was so much room to throw in a red herring and I was left feeling very disappointed by the end result. I know this story attempted to juggle multiple characters’ perspectives, but you can’t give away the traitor in question within the first 50 pages of a 300 page novel!
I recommend reading Icebound by Dean Koontz. In that book, we’re presented with a story told from the perspective of about eight characters, building up our anticipation for who may be the secret traitor of the group, then throwing us for a loop in the last hundred pages that was excellent.
Anyway back to this novel, while there were a number of negatives, I felt that Michaels still did a good job writing the action scenes, character dialogue between characters, and delivering an overall well-researched explanation of basic weaponry and military jargon throughout.
I felt that the big action scenes in the Philippines and North Waziristan were the strongest action scenes in the novel – especially the latter, which felt like a much more true-to-life interpretation of a battle scenario from Ghost Recon games I’ve played in the past.
However, the big climactic battle in China turned out to be very underwhelming, and began to drag on for far too long at the end as the story tried to juggle it’s characters to decide who could best tell the story.
I do very much want to read Michaels’ interpretation of Splinter Cell. When I can secure a copy, I feel reading it will definitely help me decide if I want to pursue reading any more work by this author.
Final Score: 2 out of 5