Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction is a novel written by David Michaels. The novel is an original story set in 2009/10 (two years before the Conviction game). It is not a novelization of the game Splinter Cell: Conviction, but rather a semi-prequel (covering some of Sam's time on the run between Double Agent and Conviction). The novel was released in 2009 and was followed by Splinter Cell: Endgame which covers events preceding the novel, but also covers the same events of the novel but from Ben Hansen (and team of Splinter Cell's) POV, and covers events past the novel. It was published by Penguin Group.
There is a scene in the story which describes Sam's appearance before the events of the story. He is described as having hid his identity with a scruffy beard, and by wearing a hoodie. This is a nod towards the early version of Conviction.
The story takes place approximately one and a half years since he went on the run from 3rd Echelon, although it is implied that at least some of this time "on the run" was his time with the JBA (which lead to Lambert's death). The story also takes place over eight months since Sam last saw Anna Grímsdóttir in person (Essentials). It is also stated to be one year since Sam started improvising gear with other equipment; cameras, mirrors, etc. (implying that he was cut off from third echelon equipment a year ago, around the time of Lambert's death). So the story takes place around late 2009/early 2010, approximately one and a half to two years before the events of the game (2011). The story may span from 2009 into 2010.
The NSA has a too-long list of high-ranking NSA officials who may have sold out the United States (i.e. moles). There have been quite a few moles coming out of NSA; including Agent Frasier, Mike Wu, Lawrence Williams, Allen Ames, Nicholas Andrew Kovac and Tom Reed.
The first thirteen chapters of Endgame (1/3 of the book) take place before the first chapter of the Conviction novel, portions of the last chapter and epilogue take place after the Conviction novel's epilogue.
One of the principle villains, Allen Ames escapes as confirmed in Endgame, leaving a possibility for a future sequel.
It is part of a series of books intended to "expand" the franchise, and tell of some of Sam's other operations.
Even though the book shares the same title as the game - Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, it does not share the same story or have any direct connection between the two (although certain plot elements were based loosely on the plot from the game ). Both are separate in terms of story. The novel is directly connected to Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Endgame.
It is unclear how much the Conviction/Endgame novels ties into the regular canon. If it is part of the same chronology of the games its unclear how details take place in relationship to the game, Splinter Cell: Conviction (including the rise of Tom Reed, and Grim's position). Chronologically the game takes place approximately two years after the novel (enough time for certain details in the game to develop). At least the games are considered part of the novel timeline (if not part of the game timeline).
The game gives backstory to both Ben Hansen and Maya Valentina who appear in Conviction game.
It is also unclear how many months the story takes place over, though the epilogue takes place three months after the main story.
The story takes place a little over eight months after Double Agent/Essentials (Sam mentions it has been over eight months since he last saw Anna Grímsdóttir in person).
Lawrence Williams is no longer director of Third Echelon, rather Grímsdóttir has become the Director, her boss is Nicholas Andrew Kovac, the NSA Deputy Director (until he is exposed).
There are some differences with some of the references to other sources;
-There are a few discrepancies in dialogue between Conviction novel and Endgame where conversations in both books overlap (conversations do not occur exactly the same).
-In the Conviction novel, Sam claims to Ben Hansen that Lambert asked him to kill him (although Ben Hansen sees through the "bluff") and denies it, Sam actually believes he had "murdered and betrayed Lambert". Lambert was killed during the time, Sam was "on the run" trying to discover multiple moles in the NSA (Kovac, Ames, etc). Sam already knows of these moles in the NSA (who he is working with Grímsdóttir to expose). This is similar to the idea that Sam knew of moles existing in the NSA in Double Agent (Xbox/PlayStation 2/GameCube/Wii) and Essentials (Lawrence Williams, Agent Frasier, etc)
-In Endgame novel, Ben Hansen seems to accept Sam Fisher's explanation (that he was "Lambert asked him to kill him") and goes with it (rather than denying it), and Sam's dialogue related to the comment is a bit longer than in the Conviction novel. The entire conversation occurs a bit differently between both novels.
-In the game, he wasn't aware of another mole, Tom Reed, and its discovered by Grim (Reed is not mentioned in the novel).
-His daughter's death is never mentioned (not necessarily a discrepancy, just not important to the events in the story, none of the characters have anything to do with his daughter's death). However, at one point in Endgame, Kimberly Gillespie mentions sleeping with Sam during a rough patch in his life. This can be interpreted as a subtle reference to Sarah's death. The previous novel Fallout, may occur between the time of Sarah's death and Double Agent, and Sam doesn't mention it in that book either.
At the end of the story, Sam is on vacation at Zahm's manor, and talks to Grim, who gives him the option of rejoining Third Echelon, but he refuses to make a decision. The last he is seen in Endgame he is vacationing at Zahm's manor.
The villain of Checkmate also has a character named Zhao, it is unclear if the Zhao in this book is related or not.