John Clark is a vetern CIA operative that Clancy fans are familiar with from earlier books. With an impeccable history of covert operations accomplished, he is assigned to head a new 'black' multi-national anti-terrorist unit code-named 'Rainbow' composed of elite commandos and special ops experts.

Shortly after the unit is formed, a series of terrorist attacks in Europe gives Rainbow an opportunity to prove its skill. The timing of the attacks seems suspicious, but an even more sinister plot is underway about which nobody is aware.

In the end, the Rainbow team prevails, of course (I won't spoil any of book for you). Since Clancy has become one of the best-selling authors, I guess he doesn't have to worry too much about length of his book. I liked this book; it lived up to Clancy's reputation for compelling and intricately woven plots. Lots of tech and espionage junk for people who like that type of thing.

Naturally, in a book set in the same world as nearly all of his previous fiction, there are many references to things characters had done in other books. These were usually briefly explained, but none of them are essential to the story, so the book stands well on its own.

On the other hand, many times I found myself reading a passage which reiterated and repeated something revealed earlier in the book. Clancy spends a lot of space impressing the reader with the expertise of the Rainbow teams, and explaining the bizarre motivations for the main antagonists' actions. I think the book would have been more compelling with the plot left essentially the same, but less space devoted to description and non-essential elements. I also noted a few editorial oversights, including one very obvious meaningless sentence.

Some of his earlier work such as The Cardinal in the Kremlin was equal to this effort in complexity, yet more compact. Overall, though, I heartily enjoyed this book. If you've never read Clancy, you might try one of his earlier books for an introduction, but if you're a Clancy fan like me, you'll enjoy this one.

1998-11-18