'On His Majesty's Secret Service' by Charlie Higson (2023)

mtmmtm United Kingdom
edited March 2023 in Literary 007 Posts: 14,786
https://www.ianfleming.com/higson-returns-with-brand-new-adventure/

A new Bond adventure written by Charlie Higson to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III: On His Majesty’s Secret Service will be published on May 4th, with all royalties going to support the work of the Literacy Trust.

Set in 2023, 'Bond is sent at the last minute to thwart an attempt to disrupt the Coronation by the wealthy, eccentric and self-styled Athelstan of Wessex, who is on a deadly mission of his own to teach the United Kingdom a lesson. Can Bond dismantle his shady plans and defeat his privately hired team of mercenaries?'

Waterstones have it as 144 pages, so seems to be about half the length of a standard Bond, perhaps more of a novella, but that seems good to me.
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Comments

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited March 2023 Posts: 17,611
    This is truly brilliant and exciting news! @MaxCasino had speculated only yesterday that the upcoming announcement Charlie Higson had trailed on Twitter could be Bond related and he was right!

    This will please many fans who often speculated why IFP didn't do the obvious and hire Higson to write an adult Bond novel (after his already proven track record with the successful 'Young Bond' series). This is certainly music to my ears as within the literary Bond I've always had a preference for the more traditional contemporary-set adult Bond novels in the Fleming-Amis-Gardner-Benson-Deaver mould.

    It's also great to have an adult Bond novel set in the present day again and tying it in to King Charles III's coronation with a spin on the On Her Majesty's Secret Service title (in its 60th year of publication no less) is a lovely touch. Higson had Young Bond foil an assassination attempt on the King in By Royal Command (2008) so this sounds like a timely variant of that earlier plot. It also calls to mind the plot by the crazed serial killer villain David Dragonpol (my namesake!) to assassinate Princess Diana and the princes William and Harry on a Royal Family visit to Euro Disney resort in Paris in John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993). It's interesting that Charles and his former wife Diana now both feature in the plots of two Bond novels set 30 years apart!

    Higson mustn't have had very long to write the novel considering HM Queen Elizabeth II only died on 8 September 2022 and King Charles III acceded to the throne that day. That may explain its shorter length as a Bond novel, as pointed out by @mtm above. It also marks the first time we've had adult Bond continuation novels in two consecutive years (after Horowitz's With A Mind to Kill in 2022) since the Raymond Benson novels ended in 2002. It's also great that the novel will benefit such a worthy charity as the National Literary Trust. So, it's great news all round!
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 1,350
    I somehow feel like something like this would be better served by a comic, but I don't mind a novella (and the upcoming comic run is called "King and Country", so maybe it will go in a similar direction).

    I haven't read the Young Bonds, but people seem to generally like Higson's writing, so I'm looking forward to it.

    It's definitily a smart marketing move and nice to see the people behind Bond trying a little bit to come/stay in the public consciousness.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited March 2023 Posts: 14,786
    Yes it feels like they looked at the Olympics opening ceremony film with Cmdr Craig and HRH and thought they'd get there first this time, doesn't it! Mind you, Eon don't have a 007 at the moment so there's not much they could do anyway.

    The idea of a 'self-styled Athelstan of Wessex' as the baddie looks at first glance like Johnny English-style silliness, but it's not much sillier than Blofeld wanting recognition as being the Count De Bleuchamp in the original OHMSS, so it's probably more Fleming than it seems! Higson is the writer who got closest to the feel of Fleming if you ask me; he got Fleming's slightly twisted and perverted sense of danger, and got the sometimes-silly and far-fetched aspect of his ideas just right. So to see how he tackles adult 007 will be great. Fingers crossed it's a prelude to a full return, but if not it should still be a good read. Presumably it will have a cover in the style of the new Fleming reprints by Webb & Webb, with a big '007' dominating it?

    Quite fun that it's 60 years since OHMSS 1 was published. And the book is actually set on the day it is published: that's lovely.
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Higson mustn't have had very long to write the novel considering HM Queen Elizabeth II only died on 8 September 2022 and King Charles III acceded to the throne that day. That may explain its shorter length as a Bond novel, as pointed out by @mtm above.

    Quote from Higson on that:
    “When Ian Fleming Publications came to me with the idea of writing an adult Bond story a little more than a month ago I was thrilled – until I realised it had to be ready for the coronation in May. Getting it written and turned around in such a short space of time was going to be as tense and heart-pounding as any Bond mission. Although, of course, nobody would actually be shooting at me.
    But I’ve been thinking about writing an adult Bond adventure ever since working on the Young Bond books, and he came bursting out of me with both fists flying. It was all I could do to keep up with him and get his story down on paper. Fleming famously wrote fast, and I channelled that energy. And now it’s so exciting for me to finally enter the world of grown-up Bond.
    Everything you want from a Bond story is in there – sex, violence, cars, a colourful villain with a nasty henchman, and of course, Bond himself, so well-known and yet so unknowable.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/secret-service-charlie-higson-james-bond-bond-national-literacy-trust-b2311556.html

    Not much more than a month ago! That's pretty impressive.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 12,814
    Nice news on many sides. And May.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited March 2023 Posts: 14,786
    I've just remembered there was an attempt for a coup in Germany only a few months ago by someone who thought themselves the rightful royal leader of the country which sounds equally silly but was a credible far right terror plot, so it's not even as silly as it may seem!
    Nice news on many sides. And May.

    I don't know if she's in it.
    :)

  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,842
    I have been enjoying reading the Young Bond books for the first time. And I have been wondering why Higson wasn't given the chance to write for an adult James Bond.
  • CharmianBondCharmianBond Pett Bottom, Kent
    Posts: 533
    Well obviously I'm ecstatic. SilverFin is what introduced me to James Bond and made me a fan for life and I've waxed lyrical on this forum about how good his novels are so I'm happy that he's gotten the opportunity to write for 'grown-up' Bond and maybe now the older Bond fans who sneered at the Young Bond novels can see what we've been talking about. I like that Horowitz wrote the Alex Rider books as Ian Fleming for kids and then Young Bond was made to compete with it and now finally they've both come back to the source.

    My only little bits of contention are the fact that it's set during the real life Coronation, which eh, personally not a fan and I feel it could come off a little cringy and at worst propaganda-y. Also minor spoilers for By Royal Command but Higson has already written 'James Bond foiling an assassination plot on the King', I don't know whether that's a help or a hindrance but we'll see.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited March 2023 Posts: 14,786
    My only little bits of contention are the fact that it's set during the real life Coronation, which eh, personally not a fan and I feel it could come off a little cringy and at worst propaganda-y.

    Yeah I know what you mean: hopefully any forelock-tugging is kept to a minimum. Happy & Glorious was fun in 2012 but fingers crossed this isn't too much of a re-run. I have faith in Higson that he'll take it seriously though: I think he respects Bond and Fleming too much. If it doesn't end with Bond turning down a medal or knighthood or something I'll be surprised :)
    If the King does turn up to somehow give Bond a hand funnily enough he won't be the first superspy he's assisted in print: when he was the Prince of Wales he gave Jack Ryan backup in Patriot Games!
  • Posts: 5,742
    The question I'm asking myself right now is : how are they going to translate the title in french (if they translate the book at all, which I don't know they will) ? After all, whether the sovereign is male or female, "Sa Majesté" is the same for either. But I have an idea : Why not Au Service Secret de Votre Majesté ? (On Your Majesty's Secret Service ?
  • Posts: 2,536
    Seems a bit on the gimmicky side for me, but I actually enjoyed the Young Bond novels. The quality remains to be seen, but needless to say he obviously wrote it in a relatively short space of time.
  • timdalton007timdalton007 North Alabama
    Posts: 153
    For those outside the UK wanting to pre-order it, the ever reliable Book Depository is taking pre-orders and does free worldwide shipping.

    https://www.bookdepository.com/On-His-Majestys-Secret-Service-Charlie-Higson/9781915797070
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 12,814
    mtm wrote: »
    I've just remembered there was an attempt for a coup in Germany only a few months ago by someone who thought themselves the rightful royal leader of the country which sounds equally silly but was a credible far right terror plot, so it's not even as silly as it may seem!
    Nice news on many sides. And May.

    I don't know if she's in it.
    :)

    She may!

  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 1,350
    mtm wrote: »
    I've just remembered there was an attempt for a coup in Germany only a few months ago by someone who thought themselves the rightful royal leader of the country which sounds equally silly but was a credible far right terror plot, so it's not even as silly as it may seem!
    Nice news on many sides. And May.

    I don't know if she's in it.
    :)

    Oh yeah, Heinrich XIII. Prince Reuss. He's pretty far off the actual former Emperial family Hohenzollern. They are also still around, but as far as I know stopped being outspoken Nazis somewhere in the 50s or 60s. The Reuss' are like a sideline to a family that used to rule small parts of Thuringia.
    The objectively funny thing about this family is that they - at some point - decided to name every man in the family Heinrich with an ordinal Latin number after the name and they re-start at I. every century. So this guy's grandfather was Prince Heinrich XXXIV. but his father actually was a Heinrich I. -but like the 8th Heinrich I Reuss in history. It's all very mad and quite Johnny English ("It's Heinrich!" "Which Heinrich" "The 13th." "He's been dead for 40 years!" "No, the new 13th." "We have a new 13th?" etc etc)
    The disturbing thing is that this guy in fact a figurehead of a terrorist strain of the Reichsbürger movement which is basically a specific German flavour of sovereign citizens, who claim the Federal Republic is illegitimate and the German Empire still exists and so on and so forth. His group planned a violent coup - they didn't get to start it, but had former and serving German Special Forces soldiers in their group, so they probably would have done some serious damage and they not been rumbled. He and his co-conspiritors have been in jail since about December...

    Anyway.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 3,956
    With my former “president” being indicted, I wonder if there will be a person meant to be modeled after him. Or if a similar subplot is in the story.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,850
    Maybe Bond will save the king, but leave Prince Andrew to his fate...
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 14,786
    mtm wrote: »
    I've just remembered there was an attempt for a coup in Germany only a few months ago by someone who thought themselves the rightful royal leader of the country which sounds equally silly but was a credible far right terror plot, so it's not even as silly as it may seem!
    Nice news on many sides. And May.

    I don't know if she's in it.
    :)

    Oh yeah, Heinrich XIII. Prince Reuss. He's pretty far off the actual former Emperial family Hohenzollern. They are also still around, but as far as I know stopped being outspoken Nazis somewhere in the 50s or 60s. The Reuss' are like a sideline to a family that used to rule small parts of Thuringia.
    The objectively funny thing about this family is that they - at some point - decided to name every man in the family Heinrich with an ordinal Latin number after the name and they re-start at I. every century. So this guy's grandfather was Prince Heinrich XXXIV. but his father actually was a Heinrich I. -but like the 8th Heinrich I Reuss in history. It's all very mad and quite Johnny English ("It's Heinrich!" "Which Heinrich" "The 13th." "He's been dead for 40 years!" "No, the new 13th." "We have a new 13th?" etc etc)
    The disturbing thing is that this guy in fact a figurehead of a terrorist strain of the Reichsbürger movement which is basically a specific German flavour of sovereign citizens, who claim the Federal Republic is illegitimate and the German Empire still exists and so on and so forth. His group planned a violent coup - they didn't get to start it, but had former and serving German Special Forces soldiers in their group, so they probably would have done some serious damage and they not been rumbled. He and his co-conspiritors have been in jail since about December...

    Anyway.

    Yeah it's quite a bizarre and dangerous story, quite like something Fleming would make up!
  • Posts: 9,665
    Wait they are doing a contemporary James Bond novel….

    To quote Sean connery’s 007

    “I must be dreaming”
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,400
    no Kindle for USA?
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited March 2023 Posts: 14,786
    no Kindle for USA?

    There's no ebook option on Amazon in the UK yet either as far as I can tell; I'm sure it'll just appear when it's published. It certainly says it'll be available as one.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,635
    mtm wrote: »
    I've just remembered there was an attempt for a coup in Germany only a few months ago by someone who thought themselves the rightful royal leader of the country which sounds equally silly but was a credible far right terror plot, so it's not even as silly as it may seem!
    Nice news on many sides. And May.

    I don't know if she's in it.
    :)

    Oh yeah, Heinrich XIII. Prince Reuss. He's pretty far off the actual former Emperial family Hohenzollern. They are also still around, but as far as I know stopped being outspoken Nazis somewhere in the 50s or 60s. The Reuss' are like a sideline to a family that used to rule small parts of Thuringia.
    The objectively funny thing about this family is that they - at some point - decided to name every man in the family Heinrich with an ordinal Latin number after the name and they re-start at I. every century. So this guy's grandfather was Prince Heinrich XXXIV. but his father actually was a Heinrich I. -but like the 8th Heinrich I Reuss in history. It's all very mad and quite Johnny English ("It's Heinrich!" "Which Heinrich" "The 13th." "He's been dead for 40 years!" "No, the new 13th." "We have a new 13th?" etc etc)
    The disturbing thing is that this guy in fact a figurehead of a terrorist strain of the Reichsbürger movement which is basically a specific German flavour of sovereign citizens, who claim the Federal Republic is illegitimate and the German Empire still exists and so on and so forth. His group planned a violent coup - they didn't get to start it, but had former and serving German Special Forces soldiers in their group, so they probably would have done some serious damage and they not been rumbled. He and his co-conspiritors have been in jail since about December...

    Anyway.

    Fact is also that a twice- or even farther-removed cousin or nephew of his, who bears the name of Heinrich XIV. Prince Reuss, informed the media right afterwards that the rest of the family has been considering No. XIII to be completely off the rocker for quite some time. I'm much more concerned about an active judge at a Berlin administrative court, who also happened to have been a Bundestag deputy for the right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (with quite a number of neo-Nazis in their membership) also being part of the core group.
  • Posts: 9,665
    Wait where can I order it so we have the cover yet?
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,400
    mtm wrote: »
    no Kindle for USA?

    There's no ebook option on Amazon in the UK yet either as far as I can tell; I'm sure it'll just appear when it's published. It certainly says it'll be available as one.

    Really? Where does it show it will be avail as a Kindle download?
  • timdalton007timdalton007 North Alabama
    Posts: 153
    mtm wrote: »
    no Kindle for USA?

    There's no ebook option on Amazon in the UK yet either as far as I can tell; I'm sure it'll just appear when it's published. It certainly says it'll be available as one.

    Really? Where does it show it will be avail as a Kindle download?

    From the official release:

    “On His Majesty’s Secret Service will be available digitally as an eBook, as an audiobook (read by Charlie Higson), and as a hardback, online and in bookshops from 4 May. ”
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,400
    mtm wrote: »
    no Kindle for USA?

    There's no ebook option on Amazon in the UK yet either as far as I can tell; I'm sure it'll just appear when it's published. It certainly says it'll be available as one.

    Really? Where does it show it will be avail as a Kindle download?

    From the official release:

    “On His Majesty’s Secret Service will be available digitally as an eBook, as an audiobook (read by Charlie Higson), and as a hardback, online and in bookshops from 4 May. ”

    OK thanks. I would -assume- USA as well.
  • Posts: 9,665
    I Wonder if this will be the start of something like a Raymond benson run…. That would make me happy
  • Posts: 5,742
    Will there be a paperback edition someday in the future ? Given that it's for charity, I doubt it, but one never knows, right ?
  • KronsteenKronsteen Stockholm
    Posts: 783
    Risico007 wrote: »
    I Wonder if this will be the start of something like a Raymond benson run…. That would make me happy

    I wouldn't get my hopes up too much, this seems like a one-off event thing. But fingers crossed! It's nice that they're releasing Bond literature set in present day, so they clearly haven't abandoned the idea. Would love to see Charlie Higson write some adult Bond novels.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    edited April 2023 Posts: 2,850
    Now that Horowitz's run is over, there isn't a continuation author in place at the moment - this could be quite timely for Higson.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 14,786
    Kronsteen wrote: »
    Risico007 wrote: »
    I Wonder if this will be the start of something like a Raymond benson run…. That would make me happy

    I wouldn't get my hopes up too much, this seems like a one-off event thing. But fingers crossed! It's nice that they're releasing Bond literature set in present day, so they clearly haven't abandoned the idea. Would love to see Charlie Higson write some adult Bond novels.

    Yes I hope this will tempt him for more.
  • edited April 2023 Posts: 9,665
    Honestly I hope this isn’t a one off we live in a scary world with world war 3 seemingly around the corner (though my personal belief is we are in world war 3 currently but let’s not bring politics into this)…. Bond needs to come back into the modern world in the novels

    And frankly I am super excited for at least one novel but I want more darn it


    So I have a question is this Bond going to have the same loose continuity as Fleming’s bond (like Gardner and Benson) or will he be a fresh bond (like deaver and Sherwood)
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