Patriot Games

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This article is about the 1987 novel. For other uses, see Patriot Games (disambiguation).
Patriot Games
First edition
Author Tom Clancy
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Ryan universe
Genre Thriller novel
Publisher Putnam
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 540 pp
ISBN 0-399-13241-4
OCLC 15316611
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3553.L245 P38 1987
Preceded by Without Remorse
Followed by Red Rabbit

Patriot Games (1987) is a novel by Tom Clancy. It is chronologically the first book (predating the events in The Hunt for Red October) focusing on CIA analyst Jack Ryan, the main character in many of Clancy's novels. It is the indirect sequel to Without Remorse.


In London, Jack Ryan saves the Prince and Princess of Wales, along with their infant firstborn son, from an Irish terrorist group called Ulster Liberation Army (ULA) during a kidnapping attempt on the Mall. Sean Miller, a ULA terrorist captured by Ryan, is sentenced to life imprisonment for killing the royal driver. However, he is freed by ULA members while being transported to prison. The ULA, assisted by an African-American terrorist group, later goes after Ryan and his family, partially as an act of revenge, but primarily because they seek to reduce American support for the rival Provisional Irish Republican Army. The assassin sent to kill Ryan is intercepted before he manages to complete his task, but his expectant wife, Cathy, and daughter, Sally, are injured when Miller causes their car to crash on a freeway. They are flown by helicopter to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

After the attack on his family, Jack accepts an offer from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to start working as an analyst at the agency's headquarters. Later, the Prince and Princess of Wales come to visit Ryan in America. This gives the ULA another opportunity to conduct another operation—they plan to kill Ryan and his family and kidnap the Royal Family. The attack ultimately fails: after a firefight and a flight, Ryan, his friend Robby Jackson, and the Prince, with the help of Marines and sailors from the U.S. Naval Academy and local police, manage to apprehend and subdue the terrorists. The ultimate fate of the terrorists is not stated in the book. Ryan arrives at Bethesda after the final arrest to be with Cathy for the birth of their son, who will be godparented by Robby Jackson and his wife, as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

In Clancy's later novel The Sum of All Fears, it is mentioned in passing that Miller and his colleagues were sentenced to death and executed for their crimes. Jack Ryan, Jr., the son born at the novel's close, follows his father into the CIA, and becomes a central character in Clancy's first post-President-Ryan novel, The Teeth of the Tiger.

Film adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted as a feature film in 1992. It stars Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan and Sean Bean as Sean Miller. Among the most significant changes were that the Prince of Wales is replaced as the terrorists' target with "Lord Holmes", the Queen Mother's cousin and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and Sean Miller is motivated by personal revenge against Ryan, who fatally shoots Miller's younger brother in the opening scene. Other major changes are that the US-based African-American terror group does not appear at all, the first assassination attempt of Ryan occurs on the street near the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, a scene that does not occur in the novel, and the ending scene is changed to show mortal combat between Jack Ryan and Sean Miller on a speedboat which results in Miller's death. In the novel, no such fight occurs between the two characters and Miller is captured alive.

Preceded by
Without Remorse (set 1971)
Introduces CIA operative
John Clark
Jack Ryan universe books Chronologically
Central Figure: Jack Ryan
Second Published
Succeeded by
Red Rabbit (set 1981)