Literature: Patriot Games

The second Jack Ryan novel written by Tom Clancy, and the second one chronologically (until Without Remorse, it was the first chronologically). The book was published in 1987, and takes place in 1981.

Historian and former Marine Jack Ryan is on a working vacation with his wife and daughter, when he witnesses Irish terrorists ambushing a car in broad daylight. Acting on instinct, Ryan quickly subdues one of the terrorists and kills the other, getting shot in the process. Later on, he learns that the terrorists' would-be victims were the Prince and Princess of Wales, along with their son. Ryan is suddenly catapulted into the limelight of the world stage for his heroism, but also becomes a political target for the Ulster Liberation Army because of his actions. In particular, the terrorist that he captured, Sean Miller, makes it his personal mission to kill Ryan for foiling his mission.

Intended to be the first of the Jack Ryan series, it was initially only alluded to in what actually was the first book of the series, The Hunt for Red October. After Red October's success though, Clancy decided to publish Ryan's prior feats in another book. Among the characters introduced in this novel was Robby Jackson, formerly a Mauve Shirt in Red October, RetConned now to be Ryan's best friend.

The novel was later adapted into a film of the same name, starring Harrison Ford as Ryan and Sean Bean as Sean Miller.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Anonymous Ringer: While the royal family is only referred to by title, it's virtually impossible not to realize that Ryan saves the lives of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and Prince William while he was still an infant.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The CIA personnel are able to make some solid guesses on how many people are in a desert camp by measuring how many of the tents have heaters running - even in the summer time, deserts get rather cold at night. Thus, they are able to tell when a camp takes on many new residents who take care to avoid being seen by the Spy Satellites, which they infer to be the ULA operatives being trained in secret when combined with various other clues.
  • Badass Bookworm: Chronologically, this is the first instance of Jack Ryan actually leaping into action to save the day.
  • Badass Bystander: Ryan was initially discussing where he and Cathy would have dinner when they were rudely interrupted by an Irish terrorist attack.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Sean Miller and Kevin O'Donnell.
  • Black Best Friend: Robby Jackson was introduced in this novel as Ryan's friend.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Sean Miller's lawyer attempts to trip up Ryan during the trial by berating him for not doing this to the terrorist he killed.note 
  • British Royal Guards: Come running to the scene after Ryan subdues the terrorists. One of them, seeing Ryan standing in the middle of the street with a pistol, nearly runs him through with his bayonet before a police sergeant stops him from doing so.
  • Busman's Holiday: Jack Ryan, fighting off terrorists even after hours.
  • Buxom Is Better: An analyst is able to determine that an unidentified female has to have at least a C Cup, because otherwise, the satellite image wouldn't have been able to depict her cleavage.
  • The Chessmaster: Kevin O'Donnell, leader of the Ulster Liberation Army, plans his attacks as such.
  • Closest Thing We Got: When the ULA attacks the ferry that Sean Miller is being transported on to his future prison, the only medical expert on the scene is a veterinarian who has no experience treating gunshot wounds. At least two people end up dying because of this, though the rest do survive.
  • Continuity Nod: The only other novel published at the time, The Hunt for Red October, alludes to the events that are portrayed in this one.
  • Convenient Misfire: Ryan is able to stop the first assassination attempt, as one of the ULA terrorists has a jammed AK-47. Instead, Ryan and the terrorist shoot at each other with pistols, Ryan kills the terrorist, the terrorist only manages to shoot him in the shoulder. Discussed later, in that the terrorist had taped the magazines end-to-end, which made a jam upon switching the magazines more likely.
  • Crusading Widower: Ryan re-joins the CIA in response to the nearly-fatal attack on his wife and child.
  • Dumb Muscle: Eamon "Ned" Clark, a former PIRA killer, is selected for the first attempt to kill Ryan. He was picked largely because his only true strength was his loyalty, and would be unable to tell the authorities very much in the event that he were captured.
  • Enemy Civil War
    • O'Donnell's ultimate goal was the elimination of the PIRA leadership and then replacing them as the leader.
    • Also happens to Alex Dobbens and his men during the second attempt to kill Ryan and his family.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: The ULA terrorist Sean Miller notes that anti-terrorist forces have to be lucky every time, while terrorists only have to do so once, in a nod to a similar comment made in the aftermath of the Real Life Brighton hotel bombing.
  • False Flag Operation: The attempt to kill Ryan and his family on American soil is ultimately this, as it ends up being mistaken as a PIRA operation.
  • Freudian Threat: After capturing one of the terrorists, Robby Jackson points a shotgun at his groin and threatens to "make a girl out of" him if he doesn't talk.
  • Gilligan Cut: Used frequently to show how intelligence only goes so far in explaining what you can see. On both the good guys and the bad guys sides, they frequently make assumptions based off their surveillance and intelligence, only to have the narrative immediately show that they are incorrect, usually for reasons beyond their control.
  • Heroic BSOD: Ryan succumbs to this immediately after saving the Prince and Princess of Wales, realizing that he killed a man (albeit a terrorist) with his own hands.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: As the FBI and MI-5 note, the Ulster Liberation Army's motives are completely unknown; they break every "rule" that the PIRA has followed (don't attack the royal family, don't operate on American soil), with no clear end goal. Turns out, O'Donnell simply wants to do enough damage to the PIRA and eliminate their leadership so that he can take over.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: A variant is discussed by O'Donnell and his intelligence officer. The intel man scoffs when O'Donnell says that security around the royals will be impenetrable for a while due to their previous mission, and O'Donnell replies by reminding him that they are trying to kidnap them, not kill them, which is vastly more difficult. O'Donnell then points out that if he just wanted to kill them, they would already be dead.
  • Interquel: Originally a Prequel to The Hunt for Red October, it became this with the publishing of Without Remorse.
  • It's Personal:
    • Sean Miller's entire crusade throughout the novel to kill Ryan. While he is chastised for it by O'Donnell a few times, he is ultimately allowed to continue on since the missions still further the ULA's goals. Of course, Miller does become more and more unstable as he fails, eventually culminating with killing Alex Dobbens for rightly calling his failures out after he allows Ryan and the Prince of Wales to escape.
    • There's also the fact that Ryan joins the CIA to investigate the attack on Cathy and Sally.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: Cathy has Jack buy some rather nice English suits during their trip to England. It's extended on and commented on throughout many of the subsequent novels.
  • Knight Fever: Ryan is knighted as a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order for his heroic deeds. It's commented on that due to Jack being a US citizen, the title would be more honorary than actual. The precedent of Americans being knighted by way of award from the UK (usually war heroes) is also mentioned to justify it.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Friendly joke version: Jack is presented with the Order of the Purple Target after he returns to the Navy Academy. When it's pinned it on him, the narrative notes that the joke medal was pinned on Jack's shoulder so the target part of the medal is roughly over where he was shot.
  • The Mole: The ULA's primary informant within the British government, who is responsible for making possible virtually all of their major missions, is Geoffrey Watkins. They also have various moles within the PIRA, from the days when O'Donnell was their counter-intelligence chief.
  • Moscow Centre: With their smallest role in any of the novels before Teeth of the Tiger, Ryan is probed by a KGB "legal" spook for possible recruitment during a seminar at Georgetown. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun later in Cardinal of the Kremlin.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: At the end of the novel, with Sean Miller in custody, Ryan is all set to take his gun and personally execute Miller. As it happens, the gun was previously safed by Sergeant Breckinridge, and he ended up avoiding committing murder, for the better for his sanity.
  • Oh Crap!: Jack's reaction to seeing news of Miller's escape on CNN.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Particularly subverted in the case of Ryan. While he got shot in the shoulder, it ended up shattering several of his bones and barely missing the brachial nerve cluster, which would have rendered his entire left arm useless, on top of nearly bleeding to death on the street. He ends up spending the next month or two in a massive plaster cast that limits his ability to do very much.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Near the end of the novel, after escaping the ULA attack on his home, Ryan absentmindedly shoves a loaded semi-auto pistol down his waistband, with the safety off and the hammer cocked. Gunny Breckenridge takes the gun out, puts the safety on and gives it back.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Sean Miller thinks completely racist thoughts about the black revolutionaries his group allies with in the US.
  • Prequel: To The Hunt for Red October.
  • Prison Rape: Miller is brutally assaulted by a fellow inmate. Aside from a brief "Thanks" to the guard who rescues him, he shows no sign of being affected by it.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Ulster Liberation Army to the Provisional IRA.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: After the second attempt on his life by the ULA, Prince Charles decides that he's had enough of simply standing around like a target and actually works to apprehend the terrorists.
  • Scary Black Man: Invoked by Robby Jackson in order to intimidate a terrorist, who had very unwisely dropped the N-Bomb towards Robby's wife.
  • Scotireland: The ULA takes advantage of Americans' tendency to fall for this trope, as it is hard for an American ear to tell the difference between a Scottish and Irish accent.
  • Semper Fi: Marines get a fair showing in the novel, from Ryan himself being a former Second Lieutenant, to Royal Marines standing on ceremony in London, to US Marines standing guard at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
  • Spy Satellites:
    • Averted in a zig zag fashion. When CIA intelligence analysts use a spy satellite to figure out which of several camps belongs to a rogue faction of the IRA, they are forced to use a still picture and to make some rather ambitious inferences to determine that the camp belongs to the bad guys - the camera can't show them faces. On the other hand, when an DGSE platoon raids the camp at night, the infrared spy satellite watching the action appears to give a perfect 'camera in the sky' view of the action. On the other hand, the raiders complete their mission in a matter of a few minutes.
    • The novel and the movie actually focus on the limitations of the spy satellites, noting that the terrorists know when they will fly overhead and thus they hide any suspicious activity. They are only able to get those ambiguous satellite photos by re-routing the satellites to fly over at a new time.
    • And the raid on the terrorist camp is deliberately timed to take place when a satellite is overhead, so that the guys back at the CIA can watch it, in real time.
    • The satellites are able to tell when a previously dormant camp has taken on quite a few new (secret) occupants, despite their taking care not to be out when the satellites are overhead. Deserts get rather cold at nightnote , so the satellites can easily tell when heaters are being used in more tents than usual.
  • The Starscream: During his stint as the PIRA's counter-intelligence chief, O'Donnell actively purged members whose political views differed from his own. When he ended up being found out, he founded the ULA in an attempt to kill the PIRA's leadership and take their place.
  • Western Terrorists: The IRA and ULA notwithstanding, there's also Alex Dobbens and his group of revolutionaries on US soil.