Thanks to bestselling author Grant Blackwood, Jack Ryan Jr. is no longer just the “other” character set in the popular universe created by Tom Clancy.
Under Blackwood’s watchful eye, Jack Junior has really flourished and grown into his own. While the last book in this series fell short of expectations, Tom Clancy Duty and Honor is a fun, fast read that is rich in Jack Ryan universe history.
When an attack on Jack’s life fails, mostly due to good luck on Ryan’s part, the First Son recognizes he’s a target of someone…but who?
His suspicions about someone coming after him are confirmed when a police officer, who intuitively knows there’s more to Jack’s story than meets the eye, warns him that someone fitting his description, driving a car similar to the one he owns, who lived in his building, was murdered. Jack knows an innocent man died, but still can’t figure out why someone would want him dead.
There’s a chance that someone is motivated by political revenge. Jack’s father, John Patrick Ryan Sr. is, after all, the President of the United States of America. But there’s also the possibility that this is fallout from his ties to The Campus-–a secret, off-the-books clandestine service–-where, until recently, Jack was a field operative.
On leave from The Campus, which essentially means he was sent home and told to think about his future, Jack has no resources to aid his investigation. He’s also bitter about the circumstances (the events of which took place in previous books, including Tom Clancy Commander in Chief and Under Fire, both of which came out in 2015) leading to his time off.
Eventually, Jack comes to the conclusion that everything must be related to a job he did while with The Campus that involved an Iranian national. What he uncovers, though, is a much bigger, sinister plot by a shadowy, evil man looking to leave his mark on the world.
It’s up to Jack Ryan Jr. to stop him in time–that is, if he’s not too late already.
I love that this book contains tie-ins from other Jack Ryan and Jack Ryan Jr. novels. That adds a richness to the vast fictional universe that Tom Clancy created, and is a real treat for longtime fans. Blackwood does a nice job name-dropping past characters and events, making everything feel relevant and connected.
The best thing, though, that Blackwood did is write a book that is under five hundred pages long.
Look, someone needs to say this, so I will. The Jack Ryan series is phenomenal, but the books are just too darn long. Anytime you pick up a book and can’t decide if you should curl it to workout your bicep or read it, it’s too much.
Mark Greaney’s Tom Clancy Commander in Chief was a good, solid read. But at 736 pages, it’s several hundred pages too long. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can sustain a high-energy style of writing for that amount of pages. That’s almost like reading two books!
When I opened my review copy of Tom Clancy Duty and Honor, I quickly noted that it looked thinner and felt lighter than the previous two novels in this series (for the record, Under Fire is 512 pages long). I immediately flipped to the back, looked down, and smiled when I saw it’s only 425 pages in length.
That, in all honesty, is the perfect length. Tom Clancy Duty and Honor starts off fast and never slows down; Blackwood nailed the pacing. The story is intriguing and entertaining, but simple enough that it’s easy to follow–which I can’t say for some of the other Jack Ryan novels.
The drawback, if there is one, is that some people will inevitably point out that not everything in this book is probable or realistic. I’m always annoyed when people do that, because, well, it’s sort of a given that things will be over-the-top.
These books, like action movies, are written to entertain. Don’t be the guy shaking your head during Fast & Furious 6 when Vin Diesel (Dom) flies over the section of the highway divider to catch Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) before smashing into the windshield of a car which conveniently broke their fall.
We all know that’s not possible. Just shut up, clap your hands, and continue eating your popcorn. The same rule applies here. If you spend too much time either trying to figure out how the President’s son is able to live his life without a Secret Service protective detail or complaining about how unrealistic that is, you’re going to miss a fine thriller.
Between his collaboration with James Rollins (War Hawk) and Tom Clancy Duty and Honor, Grant Blackwood is batting 1.000 with two home runs this year. Whatever he writes next (rumor has it he’s working on a new series of his own), I’ll happily stand in line to read it!
Tom Clancy Duty and Honor is the twenty-first book written in the Jack Ryan Universe. While reading each book will certainly provide the reader with a better understanding of the characters, each novel is written to stand alone. Even if you’ve never read one of Tom Clancy’s books, seen the movies based on his characters, or played the video games with his name on them, you can pick this up and jump right in.
Author: Grant Blackwood
Pages: 425 (Hardcover)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: June 14, 2016 (Order now!)