You would think that someone who is as huge a fan of Splinter Cell as I am, would have read these novels over and over by now. Truth is, I didn’t know if I’d like them or not as I’m not a fan of most Tom Clancy franchises whether in game or book form. Maybe I was afraid that the books would be typical of the Tom Clancy family and it would tarnish my opinion of the Splinter Cell games I hold in such high esteem. Or as what happens with many transitions from one medium to another, the charm and appeal of the games wouldn’t translate well to book form. So I’d buy these more for the gaming paraphernalia aspect and their “collectibility” than for their literary worth. Well at least I did until I read this book.
First off, I’ll say that this book was great. I should have been reading these ages ago instead of letting them collect dust on my shelf. These stories, told in the first person by Sam, are like a book form of the game and are just as fun to read as they are to play. The only real difference is that with a book, Sam becomes a more real character and you appreciate how isolated and lonely his lifestyle is more so than how the games portray him. I think that’s because in the games you don’t see Sam as a civilian. Between missions there’s no goggles and no weapons. Just a regular guy with a daughter and no social life. You also get a sense of the finer details and gritty hard work that his job entails. The attention to detail is fantastic as is the way that the action and suspense is handled.
I guess the biggest surprise I got from reading this book was just how human Sam is. In the game you’re a professional spy and trained soldier who operates with cold, calculating professionalism. In the book, Sam is all those things but he’s also a loving father and a lonely man. His daughter is prominent in the novel as an anchor to his humanity as well as playing a major part in the story itself. With that kind of depth and range of emotion, he endears himself more as a lead character and it makes the in-game stories more meaningful with all of the extra back story and personal history that the novels provide. All the while not contradicting anything but complementing the canon established by the games instead.
Great story with lots of action that has an incredible amount of detail. I’m totally hooked. It makes playing the games that much more fun and makes my anticipation of the next game and the next book even greater. Highly recommended!