Well, I don’t know how I missed it, but I did. The first new addition to the Ryanverse series since 2003, and me in the midst of catching up with the first 12 novels, and I completely missed any sort of advanced announcement or advertising for this release.
Although I was surprised by the announcement, it did cause me to self-reflect a bit on the story and writing of Tom Clancy. For those not familiar, here is a quick update:
|PUBLISHED ORDER||STORYLINE ORDER|
|The Hunt for Red October (1984)||Without Remorse|
|Patriot Games (1987)||Patriot Games|
|The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)||The Red Rabbit|
|Clear and Present Danger (1989)||The Hunt for Red October|
|The Sum of All Fears (1991)||The Cardinal of the Kremlin|
|Without Remorse (1993)||Clear and Present Danger|
|Debt of Honor (1994)||The Sum of All Fears|
|Executive Orders (1996)||Debt of Honor|
|Rainbow Six (1998)||Executive Orders|
|The Bear and the Dragon (2000)||Rainbow Six|
|The Red Rabbit (2002)||The Bear and the Dragon|
|The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)||The Teeth of the Tiger|
My introduction to Clancy occurred through the novel Rainbow Six, which I picked up for $1 at the local library book sale, and only then because I had heard they made a video game inspired by the plot. I was hooked and during the course of the next year I acquired the remainder of the series through similar means. After jumping around a bit in the series, reading in the order I acquired them, I was able to finally to commit myself to reading through the series following the storyline order. This change was a vast improvement in following the characters and plot themes from book to book, much the same was it is easier to follow a serialized television show when viewed from the beginning of the season throughout.
It is a unique experience to follow an author so closely and over such a large span of time to have the ability to evaluate their writing style and monitor the evolution of the author over the course of his career. To put it in perspective, Tom Clancy released his most popular novel, and the first in the Ryanverse series, The Hunt for Red October the year before I was even born.
One of the aspects of Clancy’s writing that most impressed me, regardless of which decade he was published, was his ability to allude to past of future events in books he hadn’t even written yet. Often, two characters will reconnect in a story and will reminisce for a bit, discussing events that occurred in a previous novel, but when I check the published order vs. the storyline order I discover the events the characters are fantasizing about weren’t even written yet. It is that sort of foresight that, I believe, makes this series so successful for Clancy. Perhaps many times more successful than if each novel was a standalone plot line.
Clancy’s most recent addition to modern literature is called Dead or Alive and although it departs greatly from his previous pattern of releasing a book every year or two since the mid 80′s, many are hopeful that he hasn’t lost his touch. Personally, I tend to agree with the majority of his fans assessment in that Clancy’s writing style seems to have become more commercialized of late. The early books were written during a different political environment, which I won’t pretend to be an expert on, but I think that feeling comes through those novels. There was a sense of subtlety and finesse that seems to be diminished in the books from this decade. Perhaps that is owed to the increased strain on a humans attention span and our desire for cheap action flicks. (and by the way, none of the movies do justice to the strength and nuance of the novels)
Dead or Alive seems, from the description, to be a culmination of sorts. A teaming up of the superhero characters like Jack Ryan, John Clark, Domingo Chavez, and Jack Ryan Jr. The synopsis reminds me of a Justice Leage-type story and I find myself hoping Clancy can avoid many of the clichéd themes often associated with the “team-up.”
And although I don’t know how much this will help, but I have never seen a book with its own trailer:
Dead or Alive hit shelves December 7th this year, so if you still are looking for that last-minute Christmas gift perhaps you just found it.
For me, I don’t think I will wait to find this one in the $1 book sale at the local library.