Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Patriot Games

Go To

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 1983-84 note .

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:

  • Absent Animal Companion: In this novel, Jack got his daughter a Labrador named Ernie. It does not appear in any later book, though a comment in Red Rabbit, the next book in chronological (If not publication) order, implied that the dog stayed in America when the Ryan family moved to London for a year or so. No explanation is given for why they aren't reunited with the dog when they moved back to Annapolis.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: Terrorist Sean Miller has a grudge against Sgt. Highland, so he makes a point of shooting him in the gut and leaving to die in slow agony instead of killing him outright. Ironically, this means Highland survives long enough for medical help to arrive and save his life.
  • 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, Princess Diana, and the then-infant Prince William.
  • Ascended Extra: Robby Jackson, who had a tiny role in The Hunt for Red October as one of several outsider viewpoint characters, has a much bigger role here and is established as one of Jack Ryan's closest friends.
  • 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.
    • These same analysts are also able to confirm the presence of a specific terrorist group at one camp by comparing details gleaned from a satellite photo showing a woman in camp to profiles of known female terrorists. The French are sufficiently persuaded to launch a commando raid in response; the woman's body is positively identified in the raid's aftermath.
  • 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.
  • Becoming the Mask: The Mole in the British Government is a lover of classic books. As is Dennis Cooley. While it works well for their cover, Dennis is an expert in the field, and The Mole does actually love the collection of said books.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Sean Miller and Kevin O'Donnell.
  • 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 
  • Breather Episode: Chapter 7, "Speedbird home", nothing more suspenseful than Jack's in-flight nerves.
  • 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 Beauty Standard: 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 Cavalry: A combination of the U.S. Marines, Coast Guard, FBI, Delta Force, and Maryland state troopers all show up to take on the terrorists at the end of the novel.
  • 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.
  • Covert Distress Code: After Cooley flees his bookshop, someone fakes a wrong-number phone call to the ULA's mole in the British government and speaks in code to alert him that the British police are on to him, but to remain in place. Scotland Yard already has the mole under surveillance, but they can't prove anything because the code used real names and phone extensions from other people who work in the building, so on paper the call appears perfectly innocent.
  • Crusading Widow: Ryan re-joins the CIA in response to the nearly-fatal attack on his wife and child.
  • Dirty Communists: The ULA is Maoist, fanatically so. Their ultimate goal is to take over the IRA and remake it into a movement more in line with their ideology.
  • Dodge by Braking: Cathy Ryan is driving home with Sally when a van pulls up next to her and the sliding door opens:
    "There was a man kneeling, holding something. There came a chilling moment of realization. She stomped her foot on the brake a fraction of a second before she saw the white flash."
    • Although they're still badly injured in the crash that follows, it is unanimously agreed by the first responders that her actions threw off Miller's aim—he himself admits that he isn't sure about his shots—and ultimately saved their lives.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Cathy, who hates her husband's hunting habit, refuses to take instruction from Sgt. Major Breckenridge, and thinks the Special Air Service commando assigned to bodyguard her and Sally in London is "some kind of pilot[.]"
  • Driven to Suicide: Geoffrey Watkins, after the ULA terrorists are arrested.
  • 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.
  • Enemy Mine: Alluded to against the ULA. Both the British government and the PIRA want them dead. During an unofficial meeting between members of the two groups, it's suggested that if the British ever develop enough intelligence on the ULA but can't pursue them, the PIRA would be happy to take their intelligence and do the job for them. Several British and Americans are tempted to accept the offer, but the opportunity never materializes.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Alex Dobbens is uncomfortable about the attack on Ryan's wife and daughter, but not uncomfortable enough to turn down the money the ULA is offering. When the ULA hires him again for the attack on the Ryan house, he only agrees to go along if Cathy, Sally, and the Ryans' maid (who is also black) are not targeted. This is when Miller begins to believe that Alex is sentimental and therefore untrustworthy.
    • Also from the PIRA, though this is more about professionalism than morality: they refuse to target the British royal family, knowing that such an attack would be counterproductive and only cost them public support. This is one of the differences between them and the ULA, with the ULA chief believing that such an act would not only catapult him into the leadership of the Movement (after his men kill the current leaders), but also force a much more hardline, hostile antagonism towards the British, replacing the low-level terrorist warfare with outright war.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Miller is completely unable to understand why anybody would commit any altruistic action, and tends to either dismiss it as fake or the person who committed as being "soft".
  • The Evil Genius: Alexander Dobbens has a keen mind for strategy, and proves key to helping Sean and the rest of the ULA organize attacks in the US and hide from law enforcement. Unfortunately for him, Sean simply views him as a pompous know-it-all and kills him after being chewed out one time too many.
  • Evil is Petty: The reason Miller goes on a crusade to kill Ryan and his family? Because Ryan broke his perfect record.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: The ULA terrorist Kevin O'Donnell 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.
  • Exact Words: Ryan walks a fine line during his testimony in court when the prosecutor accuses him of being a CIA agent and he denies it. He did write a report for the CIA and worked at CIA headquarters in Langley while doing it, but as he later admits to his friends and wife:
    "I told the truth — barely. All my checks came through Mitre Corporation. Some sort of bookkeeping thing, and Mitre had the consulting contract...That's where the checks came from. That's who I was working for. But CIA was where I was working at."
  • Expy: A very subtle one. As noted above, the Prince and Princess of Wales are never named, but clearly are Charles and Diana. Equally, the Queen is not directly named, but the description clearly matches Queen Elizabeth. However, when Ryan watches the Key Ceremony at the Tower of London, the soldiers refer to "Queen Anne's keys." In the Key Ceremony, the soldiers name the current monarch. While many readers likely assume they are talking about the historical Queen Anne from the early 18th Century, in fact the dialog tells us that in the Ryanverse, England is ruled by an Elizabeth expy named Anne.
  • 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. Which was the goal: the idea being that the political wing of the PIRA, Sinn Fein, would be in the US to make the case that they didn't attack the Prince and Princess of Wales, but that they would be implicated in attempting to kill the family of the man who stopped the operation, causing great embarrassment for the PIRA leaders.
  • Freudian Threat: After capturing Cooley, Robby Jackson points a shotgun at his groin and threatens to "make a girl out of" him if he doesn't talk.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: While he was always in with the ULA, Dennis Cooley was nothing more than a bookish Non-Action Guy who ferried information to O'Donnell while running a bookstore. When he's forced to flee after finding a wire in his shop, he becomes a dangerous gunman who's part of the squad Miller leads in his attack on the Ryan residence.
  • 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.
    • Also used to show how intelligence can show so much, but only so much. One point of data that Ryan reviews is a car going from one terrorist camp to another, the second known to be a PIRA camp. He assumes that this means that the first camp could be the ULA camp he's been looking for. As shown earlier in the narrative, he's correct, but because he has no other data to support the claim, he can't follow up on it.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Invoked in-universe. During Sean Miller's brief stint in prison, he's brutally assaulted by a pair of ordinary criminals, an incident that was arranged by the warden. The anti-terrorism officer assigned to Miller's case arrives just in time to save him, and is infuriated with the jailer for his behavior. Miller, however, assumes that the entire thing was a good-cop-bad-cop ploy in order to make him grateful and willing to talk to the officer, which explains his lack of remorse when he later tries to kill him in cold blood.
  • 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. He comes out of it in part by talking the Prince of Wales out of his depression at not having been more heroic during the same attack.
    • Ryan has another one later when his wife and daughter are attacked, but it only lasts until he decides he's going to join the CIA to help hunt down the terrorists.
  • 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. The repeated attempts to kidnap the Prince and Princess of Wales are to establish a "masterstroke", a legendarily daring and successful show of force to prove that he is worthy of the leadership.
  • Human Shield: While visiting Jack in the hospital, the Prince Of Wales berates himself for not handling the gunmen himself, but Jack informs him that trying to do so would have likely gotten himself and his family killed and that he actually did the right thing by serving as this for them.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Ball: Multiple examples, but hosting the Prince and Princess of Wales at the home of the person responsible for breaking up the ULA attack is probably chief among them. This is made particularly egregious given that they know that the ULA has left their camp. A later example is when the ULA's safehouse is discovered, and Ryan immediately moves on to the discussion of dinner, rather than "my guests and I should go somewhere safe." Again later, when a police car is shot with a machine gun and yet nobody gives a second thought to calling the evening off.
  • 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.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Sargent-Major Breckenridge pulls one of these when Ryan finally has Miller at his mercy. Breckenridge says he was perfectly willing to cover for Ryan if he had gone through with it, but "if you'd really wanted to kill him, you would have remembered to cock [the gun]. Lieutenant, I had you figured out a long time ago." Ryan himself wonders if Breckenridge is right.
  • I Gave My Word: Cathy is upset that Jack didn't tell her that the consulting work he did earlier was for the CIA, and he says he gave his word to keep it a secret. It annoys her even more, since normally her husband's insistence on keeping his word is one of the things she loves about him.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Cathy is in the second trimester of her pregnancy when she and Sally are injured in a car accident caused by Miller. Meanwhile, the Princess of Wales announces her second pregnancy during the dinner at the Ryan's house shortly before Miller and his cronies attack.
  • 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.
    • Miller also shoots Sgt. Bob Highland, the guard who saved him from Prison Rape, twice in the gut specifically to make it a slow and painful death. He wrongfully blamed Highland for having set up the rape as part of a Good Cop routine in the first place. Highland survives, though he has to learn to walk again.
    • There's also the fact that Ryan joins the CIA to investigate the attack on Cathy and Sally.
    • Discussed between Ryan and his supervisor Marty Cantor. After Ryan discovers the location of a French terrorist group, the information is passed on to the French government, which swiftly captures them and executes them after a military trial. The entire event leaves Ryan deeply troubled, which Marty points out wouldn't be true if the terrorists had been ULA. Ryan responds that that's personal and he can't be expected to feel the same way about it, a point Cantor refuses to concede. Every terrorist attack is personal to somebody.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Kevin O'Donnell may be the leader of the ULA, but it's his high-ranking flunky Sean who Jack has a beef with.
  • Jerkass: Miller is a massive example. He's a homophobic, racist, ungrateful egotist who refuses to acknowledge or learn from his mistakes, and is incapable of recognizing altruism as anything other than weakness or some elaborate plan against him.
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Servant: The terrorists mistake Sissy Jackson for the Ryans' maid. It's a fatal mistake, because they fail to realize that there's just one more person in the Ryan home, and Robby Jackson is able to get the drop on them, completely unraveling the otherwise well-planned, well-executed mission.
  • 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.
  • Mysterious Backer: One of the few things known about the ULA is that they're being heavily bankrolled and supported, though it's not clear by whom. The backer is eventually revealed to be the Libyan government, which hosts the ULA's training camp and provides them with protection and funding: the Libyans do the same for a number of other terrorists, and are interested in establishing a similar relationship with Alex Dobbens' group. It's hinted that the Soviet Bloc may, in turn, be behind the Libyans: the two are shown to have a close relationship, many of the Libyan-based terrorists have communist leanings, and Kevin O'Donnell is believed to have had plastic surgery done in a state hospital in the USSR.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Discussed: it's one of the biggest problems with work as a CIA analyst. When Ryan is looking through intelligence reports for information on the ULA, Cantor tells him that it's almost statistically certain that one of them is a vital lead. "But you probably have two or three hundred such reports, and only one matters."
  • 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 Sar-Major Breckinridge, and he ended up avoiding committing murder, the better for his sanity. Breckinridge says Ryan would have remembered to cock the gun if he'd really wanted to go through with it. Ryan's not so sure.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Joe Muller, Cathy's father, blames Jack for what happens to her and Sally.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Jack's reaction to seeing news of Miller's escape on CNN.
    • "Shorty's" reaction to Robby holding a shotgun on him.
      "The terrorist's eyes crossed almost comically on the business end of the Remington shotgun...He realized that he was, after all, the wrong man for this kind of job."
  • 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.
  • Only Sane Man: Dobbens is the most competent and sane of the villains, since Miller is batshit crazy, Cooley is in a self-righteous fury over MI5 forcing him to abandon his books, and O'Donnell is completely blind to Miller's downward spiral.
  • Overranked Soldier: Kevin O'Donnell inwardly scoffs that the commander of the PIRA's Belfast unit is known by the rank of "Brigadier", when he has less than a thousand men under him.note 
  • 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.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: Jack is surprised and upset to learn that he is being groomed to take Cantor's place as Greer's lead analyst and executive assistant.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Sean Miller thinks completely racist thoughts about the black revolutionaries his group allies with in the US, and has similarly homophobic thoughts about the men who raped him in prison. Dennis Cooley also has no problem with throwing racist remarks around when Sissy's been taken hostage, which comes back to bite him when her furious husband comes after him with a shotgun.
  • Post-Injury Desk Job: Jack is introduced to Robbie when the latter is temporarily reassigned to teach at Annapolis while his broken leg heals after his plane's ejector seat malfunctioned.
  • 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 little sign of being affected by it. Until he escapes and shoots the guard who saved him in the gut to make it a slow, painful death. Turns out he believed the guard had arranged it the whole time.
  • Properly Paranoid: Before leaving the PIRA to start his own splinter group, Kevin O'Donnell was their head of counterintelligence and internal security. A PIRA leader discreetly tells a representative from MI-5 that O'Donnell was cast out for being a little too overzealous in his spy-hunting, but Ryan, reviewing O'Donnell's dossier, reads a memorandum from British intelligence confirming that over half of the people O'Donnell had killed really were informants of some kind (albeit not all of them).
  • The Radio Dies First: When they rescue Miller the ULA disables the radios (and engines) on the ferry transporting him to the Isle of Wight. However they forget about the radio in the police van transporting him on the ferry, which saves Sgt. Highland's life and possibly the entire ferry, as they are able to call in help much sooner.
  • 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, working the radar on the patrol boat (he is a naval officer, after all).
  • Scary Black Man: Invoked by Robby Jackson in order to intimidate Dennis Cooley, who had very unwisely dropped the N-Bomb towards Robby's wife.
    "Jack listened to his friend in amazement. Robby never talked like this. But it was convincing. Jack believed that he'd do it."
  • Scotireland: The ULA takes advantage of Americans' tendency to fall for this trope, as it is hard for most Americans to tell the difference between a Scottish and Irish accent, so they pretend to be Scottish when entering the US with no one there the wiser at first.
  • 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 zigzag 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 a 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 actually focuses 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 night,note  so the satellites can easily tell when heaters are being used in more tents than usual.
  • Spy Speak:
    • When one of Cooley's agents delivers intel he needs to courier to Ireland, they ask if a book is an Xth edition he picked up in Y, with X indicating the importance level of the information being handed over, and Y being the county in Ireland it needs to go to.
    • Cooley, forced to abandon his bookshop, phones a number and deliberately asks for someone who isn't there.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Constantly. Jack foils a major terrorist attack, gets shot for his trouble, and ends up in the hospital for a month recovering, and still needs another two months before he can properly use his arm again. The US produces reams of intelligence information, but lacks the funding and staff to actually analyze it all, and as a result, important information goes unnoticed until it's too late. Even at the end, when Jack and company manage to free themselves from the terrorist clutches, they run away, because all they need to do to win is to get the primary objective (the Prince of Wales) away from the bad guys, and the tactical situation (3 armed men with 3 unarmed women and a child against an unknown number of terrorists) is adverse in the extreme.
  • This Is Reality: While analyzing the ULA's founding and development, Jack reflects that the idea of members of the PIRA and INLAnote  receiving military training in in the Soviet Union has been bandied about so much that it's lost credibility, and "it didn't need to be something that dramatic" - the terrorists could have simply worked out the basics of urban combat tactics themselves, or read about them in books.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Sgt. Highland rescues Miller from a Prison Rape. Miller is so twisted that he is unable to comprehend someone would rescue him out of sheer altruism and concludes Highland set him up for it, and shoots him in the stomach to make him bleed out slowly.
  • Veteran Instructor: Sgt. Major Noah Breckenridge, a thirty-year veteran of the Marine Corps now teaching basic marksmanship at the Naval Academy. Ryan notes that his mere presence is an unspoken challenge to all the cadets: "don't even think of becoming a Marine officer unless you are fit to command a man like that."
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Several of the British characters reflect that the PIRA is dependent on donations from Irish expatriates in the United States, and their fundraisers are always careful not to mention that, "as committed Marxist-Leninists, their vision of a free Ireland was that of another Cuba", which would not go over well with their American sympathizers.
  • Western Terrorists:
    • The IRA and ULA notwithstanding, there's also Alex Dobbens and his group of black revolutionaries on US soil.
    • Action Directe is a French radical left-wing terrorist group whose Libyan training camp Jack Ryan identifies while looking for the ULA. Similar groups are alluded to in West Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, which was indeed true at the time.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Because of the personal nature of the final confrontation, after Miller kills Alex, the rest of the book tends to focus on Jack's perspective, with brief interludes of the Baltimore PD raiding the getaway cargo ship. As a result, while it's clear that the ULA is more or less completely rounded up or killed by the end of the book, it's not clear who is part of the last group to be captured, other than Miller. O'Donnell, for example, is not mentioned again after Alex dies. Later books make it clear that the entirety of the ULA (with the exception of the deep cover agents in the PIRA) were sentenced to death and killed.
  • Wham Line: When Jack asks his nurse and the officer protecting him who was in the Rolls Royce that was being ambushed, the stunned pair (who didn't realize that he didn't know) inform him:
    "The Prince and Princess Of Wales. And their new baby."
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Invoked by Jack Ryan, when identifying a female French terrorist who's later executed by her government thanks to the intelligence he develops, something that troubles him greatly. He admits he wouldn't be nearly as bothered if she were male and ugly. Dobbens also expresses distaste about killing women (and children). His vocal insistence upon not doing this is a contributing factor as to why Miller kills him.