lawrence520 (lawrence520) wrote,

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The Teeth of the Tiger, Book Challenge No. 8

Long, long ago, when the world was young and I was foolish, I got sucked into a roleplaying campaign run by artaxastra, under a system called Pendragon. The system was, to the surprise of absolutely no one, an Arthurian campaign. Young, innocent, and unused to the perfidy of gamemastering types that I was, I made the mistake of continuing to buy supplements with which to give the GM even more creative ways to kill us. I later learned that this was totally unncessary - she was more than capable of coming up with creative ways of killing us on her own.

But I digress. The point, with respect to the book challenge, is that Pendragon, like most RPG's, faced the problem of "What do you do when your player characters become so ridiculously powerful that nothing short of total apocalypse is remotely challenging?" (In Star Wars, this is known as the "Everybody wants to be a Jedi Master" problem, and artaxastra came up with a solution to that, too. But that is a story for another time). Pendragon solves the problem by being a generational game. You start out with a 14 year old squire, and by the time he works his way up to being a major fuedal lord, able to send armies to do his work at a whim, he also has children. And you play those wet behind the ears, low stats, no skills walking targets, and work your way up the ladder again.

Tom Clancy appears to have seized upon the same solution to his "Well, what the hell can I do with Jack Ryan now problem?" Sort of the opposite of the Vanyel problem - once you've taken your main character from a low-level, part-time, unpaid volunteer CIA analyst to President of the United States, there's really nowhere else to go. So, whaddya do?

You have him retire, kill off his best friend (off camera and with no real point - sorry, Robby) and start all over again with his newly graduated from college son and his two cousins. It is sort of entertaining, given that Jack Jr. is born at the very end of Patriot Games, the first Jack Ryan book, and now, 6 or 7 books later, he's finally old enough to be the hero of his own book.

And if you're wondering? Yeah, the book basically sucks. Even if you, like me, read the Jack Ryan novels as essentially escapist thriller crack, Teeth of the Tiger is pretty bad. (And no, I'm not going to explain the title, as it's pretty dumb. Find the dust jacket yourself). Even by these standards, the plot basically strains incredulity.

Spoiler alert - ah, who am I kidding? Other than Jason, no one on my friends' list is going to read this thing. Jason, read no further if you want to read this book.

Without going too far into it, Jack Ryan Jr. and his two cousins are hired onto America's new 00 branch, a private intelligence company with a license from the government to kill. (Only in America will the assassination branch be contracted out to the lowest bidder!) The means of assassination? You stab the bad guys in the ass with a disguised fountain pen, which injects a totally untraceable drug which causes heart failure. Why the ass? Because - and no lie, this is the rationale of the book - medical examiners hardly ever examine the backside of decedents who are undergoing autopsy.

OK, this is just where I leave the suspended disbelief train. I mean, in the course of this one book, the terrible trio ass-stick 4 guys in the early twenties to mid-forties. Uhm, children, the third or fourth young to middle aged terrorist that drops dead from a heart attack, with no prior symptoms? Is gonna raise some suspicions. Although I have to admit, running over one of the bad guys with a cable car? Relatively unprecedented, if not actually creative, yanno.

By Clancy standards? This is relatively mindless brain candy, with a heavier than normal dose of militaristic gung ho, the GOP are the Chosen People of the Lord philosophy of the Jack Ryan books. What can I say? I was in a curious mood. Next book is better, I promise!
Tags: book challenge

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