I am continuing my slow read through the Clancy Series, in the chronology of Jack Ryan’s career.  So far, this is a pure joy.

Just finished the “Cardinal of the Kremlin”.  Even though “Red October” is my personal favorite, (see my comment under the previous Clancy post), I have to admit—this one is even better written.  The novel moves at a brisk pace.  The details of espionage, political intrigue and technical warfare are amazing in their detail and scope and as convincing today as they were in 1988 when the book came out.  He uses the advantages of omniscient voice fully.

To me, the amazing part is his development of the characters.  In this novel, Clancy has overcome the limitations of omniscient voice and a plot-driven structure.  The characters are fully fleshed out.  The reader is placed deeply into the minds of these people.  I really felt the emotions behind every action, every decision.

This novel reads even better for me today than it did 22 years ago.  It has stood the test of time.  It forces me to re-think my own assumptions.  I realize that all the books in the series can’t be expected to equal this, but “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” is a story I am particularly glad to have taken up a second time.


Filed under Suspense, Writing style

6 responses to “TOM CLANCY REVISITED

  1. Bill Swartz

    Has the book really been out that long? How time flies. I remember enjoying the characters when I read it (blank) years ago, but I do not remember them developing much. Each was already in place at the beginning of the novel, but what then? What real character development is there actually?

    • As far as the series is concerned, Jack Ryan is further developed, as are the two Foleys and a few other characters. What I meant to convey was the development of characters within the book itself. They have pasts and futures, ambitions and obstacles, emotions and responses. Clancy gets you into their heads so deeply that the reader can identify and empathize. Imagine seeing the world through the eyes of a KGB chairman, a Russian hero turned traitor, his interrogator, a Russian colonel, our protagonist Jack Ryan, his superiors, and even the President himself—a veiled play on Reagan.

      This is much easier to do in a first person structure or in third person limited. In both of those, you see the entire novel through one character’s mind and eyes and have plenty of time to internalize your connection. This novel succeeds in doing this with multiple characters, using an omniscient structure. I find that amazing. For those of you who have read Clancy and been disappointed and for those who have dismissed him as “commercial,” I recommend “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.”

  2. Janet Case

    Well, I prefer literary fiction, and that’s what I write, but you’ve convinced me to give Clancy a try. Do you recommend all his books this highly?

    • No, Janet. First of all, I haven’t worked my way through the entire series for a very long time, so I must plead ignorance. I did read the most recent “Teeth of the Tiger” and enjoyed it, but could not in all honesty place it in a class anywhere near “The Hunt for Red October” and “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.” I think those two will appeal to your writerly instincts.

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