Cover Image: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Firewall

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Firewall

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This was my first time reading a spinoff of Clancy's books and I loved every minute of it. It gave me Alex Rider vibes and I can't wait to read the next book.
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I have been provided with an advance copy of the new Splinter Cell novel Firewall by James Swallow, published by Aconyte Books, so here is the honest review I promised in exchange for the book.

So here is an important disclaimer which is always important to put out there first. I have a casual work contact with Asmodee to demonstrate board games for them in stores and at conventions. Asmodee being the parent company of Aconyte the publisher.

I am going to try my best to not let that cloud my judgement in this review, but I accept that subconsciously it might.

What is Splinter Cell
Splinter Cell is a video game franchise published by Ubisoft, they are stealth action adventures endorsed by Tom Clancy. The first game was a breakout hit on the original Xbox, and has led to a series of novels and several sequel games, although there has not been a new game for 9 years at this point.

The franchise revolves around Sam Fisher, and operative for a mysterious NAS organisation called Third Echelon, later Fourth Echelon, and his work to keep the United States safe from various threats.

The Story
This story sees Sam Fisher team up with a new Fourth Echelon operative, his daughter Sarah, ass they work to destroy a sinister threat to the world in the form of the Gordian Sword, a piece of cyberwarfare technology that can bypass any cyber security in existence.

But going up against them, is an old foe of Sam’s a former Soviet assassin long thought dead by Sams own hand.

Thus starts a race against time to neutralise the billionaire trying to use the technology to remake the world in his own image, and the blunt tool of his Russian relic!

Conclusion
The book is a very good, whilst Tom Clancy’s actual involvement in the Splinter Cell series, is questionable and the quality of the previous books has been middling, this one has been written very very well.

Given that this is essentially a reboot of the series, being the first installment, novel or game in nine long years, it had a lot to live up to, and I am glad to say I think it pulled it off!

James’s writing is very much in the style of Tom Clancy, and to be frank, very little of his own style shone through. It was a well researched book and felt like a love letter to the Tom Clancy books of old, the main inspiration felt to be the Rainbow Six book he wrote in 1998, but that might be because it was the last Clancyverse novel I read!

If Splinter Cell is to come back, and I really hope it does, then this is a good first step in that journey.

A solid 4 out of 4 stars.
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Splinter Cell has been a franchise for as long back as I can remember, a staple of stealth action gaming that has become an iconic part of gaming. I remember the first time I played the original game, stepping into the shoes of Sam Fisher and his glowing green goggles to sneak my way through enemy strongholds. Taking a more realistic approach than other big name stealth espionage games (no giant robots here), Splinter Cell would force players to take their time, peek into rooms with cameras, disable alarm systems, and avoid combat at all costs. With that in mind, I was left wondering if this kind of experience could translate into a novel.

Splinter Cell: Firewall is my first time reading a Splinter Cell book, and as such I wasn't sure what to expect. Spending hours sneaking through enemy filled complexes can be fun from a game-play point of view, but would it be enjoyable to read? Well, it became pretty clear fairly quickly for me when I started reading the book that this is less of the steal sneaking experience I'd come to expect from the game, and more of an action espionage story that you'd find on the big screen. In short, it was a pretty damn exciting ride.

The story begins with three trainees being tasked wit finding and neutralising a target in an abandoned building in Germany. Drawn from different backgrounds, their identities hidden behind code-names, the three are being tested by a shadowy government organisation to see if they have what it takes to join them. Whilst two of the candidates are taken down by their target, their field evaluator Sam Fisher, the third manages to impress him enough to get a passing grade. This is where Sam gets his first big shock of the book, when he finds out he's just given a passing grade to his daughter, Sarah.

Whilst Sam is still dealing with the fact that he's given the green light for his own daughter to become a field agent (one of the last things he wanted), he and the rest of his team get sent on an important mission as a new threat has emerged on the global stage. A tech giant has been secretly developing a digital super weapon decades beyond anything else in existence; one that could change the face of the world. Not only that, but a deadly Russian assassin from Sam's past has returned. Now Sam has to face a ghost from his past, a deadly new threat to global security, and his own feelings around Sarah being out in the field.

Splinter Cell: Firewall was not the book that I was expecting. Instead of playing out like the slow, methodical games it read more like a big screen adventure, more in line with movies like the Mission Impossible series. Sam isn't alone in this adventure, he has a team with him, they get to travel the world, infiltrate multiple locations, get into shootout and chases, and there's a big global threat to deal with. It doesn't feel like James Swallow is trying to translate the games into a book, but to just tell a decent story within this universe; which is absolutely the best approach.

The book never once feels like it needs you to have played any of the games that have come before, even when dealing with returning characters or referencing things from the game. Swallow manages to make it all feel incredibly accessible, giving you the right amount of background when needed so that you understand character motivations and their pasts but not overwhelming you with stuff. Whilst I have played a few of the games I'm by no means an expert in the lore of this universe, but I never felt like I was missing out on anything, and there was never a moment where I felt the need to go and look anything up online to find out what I was missing.

Not only does Swallow do a great job at making the book accessible for new readers, but he manages to introduce some great new lore throughout the book too; and it was only after finishing and looking into it was I able to discover what was new to this book and what was from the games as he does that good a job. One of the best new additions to the Splinter Cell mythos is Aslanov, the Russian killer from Sam's past who has returned from the dead. Aslanov is an almost perfect villain for someone like Sam Fisher. Their pasts are tied together, they come from opposite sides, have similar skill sets, yet are so morally opposed. Sam fights to preserve life, and will kill is he really has to but doesn't take any pleasure in it, whilst Aslanov likes to get up close and personal, to kill people in the worst ways possible. He's one of those characters who you can actually call evil and it to apply to; and it makes his scenes in this book delightful to read.

It's not just the action and world travel that gets a focus in Splinter Cell: Firewall, however, as Sam and Sarah also get a decent amount of focus, especially in regards to their relationship and Sarah's decision to become a field agent. Sam is, as one would expect, a protective father, and he absolutely hates the idea of Sarah being put into dangerous situations. Of course, he's being a bit of a hypocrite as these are the exact kind of things he does on a regular basis. This brings the two of them into some conflict, and it makes for some of the more interesting moments in the book. These moments even made me kind of hate Sam at times too, especially when he'd go behind Sarah's back to try and get her off the team, treating her like a child instead of the competent adult she is. Its a side to the character I'd not seen before, and something that I'd love to see more of in the future.

This being my first forray into the Splinter Cell books, it was a really enjoyable read, one that brought back some fond memories of the game and made me want to go back and play some of them again. But even if you've not got any experience in this franchise, or even gaming in general, there's a lot to like here.
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So this was my first introduction to the Splinter Cell series and am already regretting why I havent been following this series. Action packed from page one and the pace and action never stops, it just keeps on and on.Extra cool gadgets, cyber attacks and raw power, my favourite definitely is the oil rig action packed scenes with the train sequence coming a close second. 
Definitely recommended to get the adrenaline roaring.
Action 4 stars
Characters 3.5 stars
Overall 4 stars
 Thank you Netgalley for providing me an ARC for my unbiased feedback
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Veteran Fourth Echelon agent Sam Fisher has a new mission recruiting and training the next generation of Splinter Cell operatives for the NSA’s covert action division, including his daughter Sarah. But when a lethal assassin from Fisher’s past returns from the dead on a mission of murder, father and daughter are thrust into a race against time as a sinister threat to global security is revealed.

This was my first Splinter Cell book and I enjoyed it so much that I have to go at some point and read the previous books. It was fast moving, riveting, plot twisting story and Sam Fisher was a great main character. This is a must read. 

Thanks to the publisher, the author and NetGalley for the advance reading copy.
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’ll start off by saying I’m a huge Splinter Cell fan. Loved the original games, and have played them all. Was extremely upset when Michael Ironside was removed as voice of Sam lol. Really looking forward to the reboot that’s suppose to be out this year. 

So in saying that I came into this book and was really expecting not to like it. The premise just seemed to go against everything Sam in the video game world would accept. 

But I also feel like the story made a good reason why Sarah followed in his father’s footsteps. Overall I really liked the book. I felt the story was entertaining. And continued on from the previous Splinter Cell books. I felt this writing was some of the best in the series. 

If you are a fan of Sam Fisher and the Splinter Cell universe,  it’s a good read.
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I have been a huge fan of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell franchise since I picked up the original game on launch day back in 2002. The characters of Sam Fisher, Irving Lambert, Anna Grímsdóttir, and the entirety of the fictional Splinter Cell team gripped me from the start. The tactical stealth gameplay revolutionary for the time and being inspired heavily by the Metal Gear series of video games. 20 years, 7 games, 7 novels, numerous graphic novel and comic tie ins, an upcoming Netflix original animated series, and a new video game remake in development later, and you would think you would have a long lasting successful franchise on your hands. That is very true, but what if I told you that all of that success (minus the upcoming remake and Netflix animated series) happened within the first 12 years of the franchise's existence? That's right, it's been 9 years since the last proper title in the Splinter Cell franchise. Good ole' Sam has made some appearances throughout the years since 2013 in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, and as a playable operative in Rainbow Six: Siege. That all changes on March 15th (March 1st for the digital version) when a new novel and chapter in the Splinter Cell universe is released named Splinter Cell: Firewall by James Swallow. Following is a spoiler free review of the novel which I just finished this morning.

Splinter Cell: Firewall Review

As I stated earlier it's been 9 years since the last entry in the Splinter Cell universe, so it was with great pleasure and excitement to be able to read through this novel. Starting off, prior knowledge of the Splinter Cell franchise is not needed to enjoy this novel. James Swallow does a fantastic job of explaining the backstory of the legacy and returning characters, as well as fleshing out the motivations and story of the newly introduced characters. With that being said however, there are some awesome easter eggs and references to the franchise as a whole for those like me that have been invested in this universe for close to 20 years. The story takes place 2 years following the events of the 2013 video game Splinter Cell: Blacklist and 4 years prior to Sam Fisher's appearance in Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Looking at the book's cover you see a young woman brandishing a firearm to her side, wearing tactical gear, with the series iconic multi-vision goggles over her head. The young woman happens to be Sarah Fisher, Sam's daughter. Now looking at the cover you may think that the novel's primary focus would be on Sarah. Remember, don't judge a book by it's cover because that couldn't be farther than the truth. This journey really highlight's Sam and Sarah's rocky relationship at it's forefront, however this book is just as much about Sam's personal journey as it is Sarah's or the rest of 4th Echelon. Charlie Cole returns from Blacklist in all of his normal aloof charm. Anna Grímsdóttir is back as the technical operations officer for 4th Echelon. James really nailed the voice and characterization of these characters. I could hear and imagine the low and gravely whisper of Sam's voice as he questioned Anna's tactical decisions. It was like visiting old friends again that I haven't seen in years. 

Without getting into spoiler territory, I wanted to talk about the villains a bit. Brody Teague could be confused with a Bond villain if you had to pick him out of a lineup. His character is selfish, ruthless, and a total man-child at times which you will love to hate. A villain from Sam's past, Dima Aslanov is scary in his motives and as shown in a flashback sequence willing to do whatever it takes to complete his mission. Splinter Cell's aren't known for their all out assaults (even though when a situation dictates it, they can hold their own), and James nailed the action scenes. Shooting out lights, flash bangs, concussion grenades, and everything else you can imagine from the past Splinter Cell universe is present. The biggest compliment I can give this novel is it's never boring. When they say time flies when you're having fun, that must be true because I don't know where the time went while reading this. 

Verdict

James Swallow knocked it out of the park with another great tie in novel to a fantastic series. As his previous work has shown writing Star Trek, Deus Ex, 24, and other various media tie in's he has taken the source material very seriously and crafted a story that is a great addition to the Splinter Cell canon. If you are a fan of spy thrillers, action, or a fan of the source material this is a must read. I wouldn't mind the Splinter Cell universe continuing in this format if it means we get more amazing stories like this one going forward. 

5 out of 5
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Just finished this adventure of a novel and all I can say is WOW. 

I've been a fan of the Splinter Cell Universe for over 15 years, and as a long-term fan…this new installment was exactly what was needed. The games have been on a hiatus as of late, and I won't lie when  I say I was a little weary of a new author taking over writing privileges from David Michaels (who authored the previous titles in the world of Splinter Cell Novels)….but James Swallow did a brilliant job. This book is an exhilarating ride. It has the perfect amount of world-building and history like the previous novels include when it comes to describing mission areas, spot-on character description, and so much NOSTALGIA. Fans of the series are going to absolutely love this installment. I became emotional near the end just for how much I adore the series and our beloved protagonist, Sam Fisher. The way Swallow describes not only the characteristics but also the banter and charm of many of the familiar characters …just feels so perfect. It's quite clear that Swallow is a huge fan of the series himself - he nailed it. It's nice to see the series headed in a new direction now (without spoilers) since our favorite man IS getting older…he's not the invincible agent that he once was, and in some parts that was made apparent to the reader (which makes perfect sense). I am so thrilled with how this novel was crafted, I wish I could re-read it again for the first time. 

This gives me so much excitement for the direction of the series in the future - for both the games and the upcoming Netflix adaptation. 
If you're a fan of the Splinter Cells series - RUN ….don’t walk ….to grab this one when it hits shelves on March 15th.
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A superbly written, rip-roaring, high-tech, action-adventure thriller. The characters were easy to invest in. Atmospheric, haunting and superbly plotted.
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As usual I want to start by thanking Netgalley and Aconyte books for allowing me access to this E-ARC to review. As with the recent Tom Clancy’s The Division ARC this has managed to flag up nostalgia but fan and old love of Splinter Cell which I may have let slide over the years. If you know me it’s no secret I like to game. Some games I hold dear for my firsts. Lion King on the Sega inducing rage quitting, Tomb Raider on the PS1 causing me a moral dilemma of do I really want to kill dinosaurs!? Splinter Cell is definitely up there, it introduced me to more stealth tied with action. I remember first playing it on the PS2 and being hooked. I did end up drifting a little to more fantasy themed games but I would still go back to Splinter Cell.
So by no means am I superfan but when I saw this title I did get excited – particularly with the addition of Sarah Fisher to the lineup and seeing James Swallow at the helm I knew it would be good. I was right.
 
Firewall sees Sam Fisher, legendary agent, team up with one of the newest NSA recruits, his own daughter, to save the world! Fourth Echelon veteran agent Sam Fisher has a new mission, recruiting and training the next generations of Splinter Cell operatives for the NSA’s covert action division, including his daughter Sarah. When a lethal assassin from Fisher’s past returns from the dead on a mission of murder, father and daughter are thrust into a race against time as a sinister threat to global security is revealed. A dangerous cyberwarfare technology known as Gordian Sword – capable of crashing airliners, destroying computer networks and plunging entire cities into darkness – is being auctioned off to whichever rogue state makes the highest bid. Sam and Sarah must call on their very singular set of skills to neutralize Gordian Sword and stop the weapon falling into the wrong hands – at any cost.
 
An action-packed page-turner Firewall is everything you could expect from a novel set in the Splinter Cell universe. The characterization within the novel is amazing, of the characters we know and love from the videogame universe they are true to themselves and we get a deeper glimpse into them in the prose format. The mixture of personalities is refreshing. The action is near non-stop from losing assassins in metropolitan cityscapes to navigating facilities. Swallow is a master at building tension within the narrative. As always I don’t want to spoil the plot too much, but I will say that it really feels like it could be within the game itself.

Most definitely a must read for fans of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell universe or high octane thrillers. It was amazing to see more lore developed for Sarah and the relationship with her father and other members of the Fourth Echelon. I also loved the questions the novel poses, the idea of doing what needs to be done, following orders, or doing what is right to the person's moral compass, as well as the progression and work on Sarah’s character. What also surprised me, in a good way, was the insight to Sam and Sarah’s relationship, and while not conventional, we are dealing with two generations of agents it still captured some tender moments for the pair.
 
Again, no spoilers, but the ending was also fantastic, it leaves a wonderful opening for more in this fantastic line as well as potential repercussions from the actions and choices of the characters in the story. I think every Splinter Cell fan likes Sam but I am extremely excited to see what happens next for Sarah and how Sam, no doubt, gets involved!
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As a huge fan of the Splinter Cell franchise, I was ecstatic when I learned a new book was coming out. Let me just say that Firewall was fantastic!!! It’s about the protagonist (Sam Fisher) teaching a new recruit who happens to be his only daughter Sarah the ropes of Fourth Echelon. They’re sent on a mission to stop a tech billionaire from selling a devastating cyber weapon to America’s enemies. Throw in a dangerous assassin from Sam’s past and we’ve got an amazing read!

The book had plenty of action as well as globetrotting. What a way to revive a legendary franchise. 5 stars!!!!
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Firewall is a tight, riveting thriller. Interesting characters, fascinating plotlines, and superb writing... this is a must read.
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I had never read a Splinter Cell book before Splinter Cell: Firewall. My only foray into the Splinter Cell world were a video game, which was my favorite many years ago. So, I jumped at the chance to read my first book in the Splinter Cell world. 

The characters were fairly new to me but I found myself liking them almost immediately.  This book had everything I love in a thriller: plenty of action, cool gadgets, dickhead villains, and a plot that is believable even if it is unlikely. 

James Swallow has written a book Tom Clancy fans and newcomers alike will enjoy. I know I did.

My sincere thanks to James Swallow, Aconyte Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of Splinter Cell: Firewall
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James Swallow brings back the legendary spy and assassin Sam Fisher with every bit of charisma and awesomeness of the Splinter Cell video games and books. As a huge fan of both, I was enthralled beyond words to see such exquisite rendition of the clandestine world of Splinter Cell universe with cool gadgets, cinematic-smooth action, and an audacious plot of a villain reminiscent of Bond baddies with a new take on weapon of mass destruction.
Set two years after the events of Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Sam Fisher is training and evaluating the next potential group of Splinter Cell operatives when he finds his next trainee is none other than his daughter, Sarah Fisher. He has to put his reservations on hold when his supposedly dead nemesis is found working for an evil mastermind with a plan to plunge the whole world into panic and carnage using state of the art quantum computing to breach any firewalls in all sorts of essential infrastructure around the world. Sam Fisher must face his demons while guiding his daughter to embrace her own demons that come with the dangerous job of a Splinter Cell agent.
Splinter Cell games have some of the finest combat sequences and truly deserve just as fantastic action on paper. Luckily, James Swallow is well-versed in writing pulse-pounding action sequences and he brings his craft to Splinter Cell: Firewall with authentic and exquisitely creative shootouts and hand-to-hand combat with a multitude of fascinating gadgets and weapons from the games. Even James Bond would be jealous of Fisher’s toolbox. 
The grand scope of the narrative is augmented by a personal stake for Sam Fisher to see this mission through. Even though Fisher has been around for a while, his foundation as a protagonist is explored and built upon even further to highlight his unique personality that makes him standout between so many other action heroes. Avoiding cliched pitfalls, James Swallow writes emotionally satisfying moments between father and daughter in such an unorthodox situation. Sarah Fisher as a Splinter Cell trainee has a wonderfully developed character arc that aptly sets her up for future stories without taking away any focus from Sam Fisher.  The deeply personal rivalry between Fisher and his nemesis adds a gritty edge to story, resulting in a fulfilling and spectacular finale. 
Splinter Cell: Firewall was one of my most awaited books for the upcoming year and even with such high expectations I was mesmerized by the stellar quality of storytelling. It’s everything a top-notch action-packed novel should be. 

Full review will be posted with a blurb image on: https://www.bestthrillerbooks.com
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Fans of the Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon series of games will recognise the shadowy world of these splinter cell operatives.  Throw in a megalomaniac with a nefarious agenda, and uber soldiers with the latest tech and you have an explosive story with all the ingredients necessary to keep you rooting for the good guys. 

Action thriller fans will enjoy this one.
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First of all, the book is really fast paced. As soon as I got the advance reader copy, all I did was trying to read the first page. And lo! I just couldn't stop reading the book!

I am already warning you. Seriously. The next moment I realised I was in the real world, it was already a few more than a hundred pages.

I am telling you why and how this book shook me like this. A videogame sci-fi was never this interesting with all (I am emphasizing on the "all") the characters having a sharp personality each and this is one of those good, smooth flowing books in which the story or the writing does not need to introduce each and every character separately or with a certain scene. Shooked. Because this is rare and, if done, it rarely works.

Part thrilling with sharp characters and part mystery as to how some things need some big answers, the first half do much of the talk the plot requires.

I was expecting the explanations and ,yes, more character development towards the second half. Was I disappointed? You bet.

And yes, some characters turn out to be quite someone who you never thought they would be. That's one of the best parts.

Trigger warning for police brutality.

Beware of the action packed writing. The characters just cannot calm down and that's how the book really shook me. I could only calm down when the book ended. An awesome book! You can easily pick up this book and read it in one sitting. That's how dangerously engaging the book is! I will be definitely waiting for the physical copy to come out.

Thank you, the publisher and the author, for the advance reading copy.
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