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Literature / Splinter Cell

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Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a 2004 novel told in the first person by author Raymond Benson, writing under the pseudonym David Michaels. The novel is based on the video game series Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, the creation of which was endorsed by author Tom Clancy. The series chronicles the adventures and the stealth actions of the fictional character Sam Fisher.

After the book was published in 2004, Raymond Benson announced that he had written it, using the pseudonym David Michaels. Benson is best known for being the official author of the James Bond series of novels from 1997 to 2002. In 2005, a second book by Benson was released entitled Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Operation Barracuda. After the completion of that book, a new author was hired to continue the series under the same pseudonym.

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The book follows Sam Fisher on several unrelated adventures to the games, though they sometimes take place between them, as he struggles to deal with various terrorist and criminal organizations. The books show a different side of Sam Fisher's life with more focus on his domestic relationships, downtime, and his weariness about being a Splinter Cell. It also details elements of how Third Echelon works and takes a Tom Clancy-esque thoroughness to it.

The book was followed by six others:

  • Splinter Cell
  • Operation: Barracuda
  • Checkmate
  • Fallout
  • Conviction
  • Endgame
  • Blacklist: Aftermath


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These books contain the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: A Downplayed Trope example with Katia Loenstern. She's a Krav Magra instructor and a former soldier herself (for Israel) but retired.
  • Action Survivor: Sarah becomes one of these after the events of the first book.
  • Arms Dealer: The primary M.O. of the Shop. They sell hyper-advanced arms to terrorists, revolutionaries, and tin pot dictatorships while having no political allegiance themselves.
  • Attempted Rape: Sarah suffers one of these in Splinter Cell but is protected by Eli, not that she cares given he's the reason she's been kidnapped in the first place.
  • Batman Gambit: In Splinter Cell, Sam formulates a war between the Shadows and the Shop in order to weaken both organizations.
  • Big Bad: Nasir Tarighian is the mastermind behind the Shadows. Andrei Zdrok is the head of the Shop. Later books usually have a Villain of the Week.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The Shadows and the Shop duel for the status of Big Bad in the first book.
    • General Tsun and General Zdrok are behind the events of Operation: Barracuda.
  • Black and White Morality: Heroic American operative versus a collection of arms dealers, terrorists, and renegade generals.
  • BFG: The Super-Gun, which is the terrorists weapon aimed at Baghdad and then Israel.
  • Bumbling Dad: Sam has this sort of relationship with Sarah. He tries to be supportive but he's much better at killing terrorists than looking after a college age girl.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: General Prokofiev's wife does not take his adultery well. She executes the Shop leader before Sam is able to capture him.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Sarah suffers this at the hands of the Shop. They use pliers on her teeth and fingers.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The United States causally bombs the terrorist's compound, killing everyone inside.
  • The Cracker: Igor Kasperov in Blacklist: Aftermath was one of these for the Russians before turning straight.
  • Dark Action Girl: Blacklist: Aftermath's Viktoria Kolosov is a particularly dangerous example of such.
  • Darker and Edgier: The books tend to be much more realistic and hard-edged than the games. Averted compared to Double Agent and Conviction where Sam is much darker as well as his superiors much more nebulous.
  • Dirty Communists: General Tsun is a Chinese variant of this, intending to use a nuclear warhead on Taiwan.
  • The Dragon: Ahmed Mohammed is this for Nasir Tarighian in Splinter Cell. Becomes Dragon Ascendant when he betrays Nasir and tries to turn the super-gun at Israel.
  • General Ripper: Another common foe for Sam to face over the course of the books.
    • General Tsun is a quintessential example of such. In Operation: Barracuda, he intends to conquer Tawain and is willing to start WW 3 as well as nuke the island in order to achieve victory.
  • Enemy Civil War: Sam fosters one between the Shop and the Shadows. The Shadows then turn on each other at the end.
  • Enemy Mine: Sam isn't fond of the Lucky Dragons Triad for obvious reasons but works with them against General Tsun.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: One of the interrogators laments they don't get to do these after Abu Gharaib.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A rare example of such in the Splinter Cell series. The Lucky Dragons are horrified at the plans of General Tsun to take over Tawain.
  • Evil Plan: As befitting a Tom Clancy spinoff, the villains usually have one of these going on.
    • A much less sophisticated one by General Tsun than the one in the original Splinter Cell. General Tsun wishes to invade Tawain while blackmailing the United States into standing down with an underwater nuclear weapon hidden in a submarine. The fact this could lead to WW 3 if the United States doesn't back down doesn't seem to have occurred to him.
  • Expanded Universe: Serves as one of these for the Splinter Cell universe. It creates numerous conspiracies, secret organizations, and groups which Sam has to deal with.
  • Expy: The Shadows are basically Al-Qaeda on steroids. It also is a semi-decent stand-in for ISIL (but said organization didn't exist at the time of publication).
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Sarah has no intention of forgiving Eli despite his apology and surrender. Given he helped murder her friend, this is understandable.
  • Hero Killer: The Shop has eliminated two other Splinter Cells at the start of the series.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The computer virus in Blacklist has the potential to destroy the entirety of the Western economy.
  • Honey Trap: Sarah Burns (Sam's daughter) falls prey to one of these in Israel.
  • I Have Your Wife: Kidnapping Igor Kasperov's daughter is their method to try to influence him in Blacklist.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In Splinter Cell, how the Shadows view Nasir's attempts to justify his desire to destroy Iraq as a plan to defeat America. This is due to the fact he is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he has a hatred for the latter and wants revenge against them versus America or Israel.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Sam's attitude toward Katia Loenstern. Sadly, he's proven correct.
  • Karma Houdini: Splinter Cell's General Zdrok is a Downplayed Trope example as he manages to escape but loses much of his fortune in the process.
  • May–December Romance: Katia wants to start one up with Sam, even though she's 35 and he's 47.
  • The Mole: Mike Chang is secretly working for the Lucky Dragons Triad in Operation: Barracuda. It is one-upped when it's revealed Hendricks, who oversees Third Echelon for the US government, is also working for the Shop.
  • Morality Pet: Sarah Fisher's primary role in the books, much like the games, but even bigger.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: A frequent opponent in the books with groups like the Shadows, the Shop, and others opposed by Sam.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Sam Fisher destroys one of Third Echelon's best leads when he tells General Prokofiev's wife about his adultery and she promptly kills him.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The events of the books named after the games have nothing to do with the events of the game. They're just prequels.
  • Perp Sweating: Mike Chang is subjected to this by Third Echelon when he's captured in Operation: Barracuda. With good reason as he's a spy for the Shop.
  • Reality Ensues: Once Sam locates the enemy fortress and delivers its coordinates to the US military, they take care of it with a missile strike.
  • Red Baron: "The Snow Maiden is the villain in Blacklist: Aftermath.''
  • Renegade Russian: One of Sam's most frequent opponents in the books.
    • The Shop is an Arms Dealer faction that cells advanced weapons to terrorists across the world.
    • A Renegade Russian faction intends to use a computer virus to cripple the United States in Blacklist.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Shop really has no reason to pursue Sam as aggressively as they do and doing so results in them shooting themselves in the foot.
    • Tarighian's hatred of Iraq results in the Shadows turning against him.
  • Reality Ensues: Being the girlfriend of a spy who has been identified by a terrorist organization is not a healthy thing to be. As Katia finds out, unfortunately.
    • Even though they helped prevent WW 3, those Lucky Dragons caught by Red China are executed for treason.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Splinter Cells Nasir Tarighian's desire to destroy Iran for their role in the Iran-Iraq War. This despite the fact he's become an anti-Western terrorist.
  • Spy Fiction: Halfway between the Stale Beer and Martini flavor. Sam is a Badass Normal super-spy with ultra-stealth skills but he lives in a Stale Beer world.
  • The Starscream: Ahmed kills Nasir and takes over the Shadows...for about ten minutes.
  • Stuffed In A Fridge: Katia Loenstern is shot in the back while in an embrace with Sam.
    • Carly Saint John is killed by Mike Chang in order to protect his status as The Mole.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Carly Saint John for Frances Cohen and Anna Grimsdottir. This is so she can be killed.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Mike Chang killing Carly Saint John then running, basically hanging a sign over his head he's the The Mole.
  • Triads and Tongs: The Lucky Dragons are one of the smaller ones in Hong Kong but still powerful.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Tarighian's main goal is to use a weapon of mass destruction, codenamed "The Babylon Phoenix", against the city of Baghdad, Iraq, as a revenge for the actions taken by Iraq against Iran during the 1980s. While there really wasn't much of a benefit to The Shadows at the time, Tarighian attempted to sell the scheme to his organization by claiming that it would also create further disorder in Iraq, and in the Middle East. This disorder would inevitable cause the people to turn against 'the West', namely the United States, since Iraq was currently under their watch.
  • We Can Rule Together: Sam receives this sort of offer toward the end from Hendricks in Operation: Barracuda.
  • You Just Told Me: No Tooth, one of the Shadows, ends up revealing Basaran is Nasir Tarighian due to painkillers and some head games by the interrogator.


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