a Tom Clancy novel by Grant Blackwood
has the return of Jack Ryan Jr. as the protagonist. Since
Tom Clancy’s death his legacy is carried on with authors
Mark Greaney and Grant Blackwood. Both continue the intense,
thrilling, and realistic plots that Tom Clancy was known for.
Whereas Clancy included a lot of technology in his stories,
in this book Blackwood emphasizes the intelligence world.
Blackwood noted, “I was proud to work with Tom on Dead
Or Alive. This very successful book kept the franchise
moving forward. I am keenly aware of the tradition I have
been tasked with. Besides being a fan and reader, while writing
Dead Or Alive I got steeped in the Clancy universe
as a writer. Jack Ryan Junior’s drives and motivations
was something I understood from working with Clancy earlier.
Greaney, our editor, and I talked a lot about what happened
in the book written by Mark, and what I have Jack doing in
this book. We did not only dovetail but wanted to make sure
there were no contradictions, that it was a seamless change.
In the early stages of planning this book I told Mark, ‘here
is what I have in mind,’ to make sure it did not mess
him up with his next Clancy book. He read Under Fire as
I was going along so he has a good segue going into the next
book. I know the plan is for two books a year going forward
and we have not come to a decision if I will write another
The book centers on Jack Ryan Jr. who is coming into his own
as an operative. While on an intelligence mission in Tehran
Jack meets with his old high school friend, Seth Gregory.
Later Seth disappears and Jack is told he is a possible traitor.
It becomes imperative that he must choose between his loyalties
to his friend, Seth, or to his county. Pursuing the truth
leads Jack across Iran, through war-torn Caucasus, and deep
into territory controlled by the aggressive Russian Federation.
He is helped by an enigmatic Iranian woman, Ysabel, who becomes
a loyal partner. They race against the clock to determine
who is friend and who is foe.
The author wanted to write a book giving a shout out to the
unsung heroes, US intelligence agents. “I like to pay
homage to those on the cutting edge of this world. There is
this old saying in the intelligence business; things will
go wrong. It is how someone handles themselves when they go
off track that is a good judge of character. Jack Jr. realized
he could not dwell on the guilt. He is really good at adjusting
his course and moving forward, the hallmark of an intelligence
operative. The world of espionage is the “wilderness
of mirrors,” in that nothing is as it seems to be. The
motives, intentions, and methods are a minefield Jack must
navigate. This is often the case with real-world, high-stakes
The plot line has Jack Ryan Jr. delving deep into the Geo-political
world, bringing back memories of the Cold War. Russia’s
turbulent relationship with that region, the home of many
separatist groups is brought to the forefront. This scenario
has a Putin-like president of Russia forcefully trying to
exert his influence over the nation of Dagestan, while Jack
and others are attempting to assist in a successful coup.
A very compelling supporting cast of characters is introduced.
Ysabel Kashani has an American mother and an Iranian father.
She will become Jack’s new love interest and is described
as beautiful, brave, smart, independent, witty, and resourceful.
Jack wonders what motivates her to become an agent. Which
piece of “MICE” is the reason for her cooperation:
“money, ideology, compromise, or coercion?” He
realizes she is unlike any woman he has met before and that
her reasons are based on being a principled and loyal person.
Throughout the book she steps up to the plate to help and
rescue Jack, basically having his back.
The other character, Seth Gregory, is seen as cold-blooded,
driven, and at times reckless, a man on a mission. He is a
very complicated character whose motivations are based upon
a deep familial secret. Emotional issues that are connected
drive him to what he is attempting to accomplish. This leaves
Jack to wonder if Seth is the same person he knew in high
school or has he changed over time.
The author also wanted to give a heads up about the re-release
electronically of his original series. It is a collection
of three books whose main character is Briggs Tanner, an operative
much like Jack Ryan Jr. These books have a lot of political
intrigue and action.
Under Fire has a very intriguing story line. As with
any Tom Clancy novel it brings into focus current event issues.
Not only is it riveting and gripping but also has a very realistic