Gardner's World: John Gardner's James Bond Continuation Novels (1981-1996) General Discussion

DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
edited December 2023 in Literary 007 Posts: 17,787
As today, 20 November 2023, marks what would have been John Gardner's 97th birthday I thought it was time we had a general discussion thread on the longest serving and most prolific James Bond continuation author. Between 1981 and 1996 John Gardner (1926-2007) wrote 14 original adult James Bond continuation novels and two film novelisations, namely Licence to Kill and GoldenEye. So this is the thread to ask any general questions about John Gardner's 15 year tenure as Bond author from 1981 to 1996 or to post any observations about his novels, novelisations, plots, characters, themes and so on.

Novels_John_Gardner4.jpg


Comments

  • He loved a SAAB.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,787
    He loved a SAAB.

    That he did.

  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 13,896
    I've only read Licence Renewed. I enjoyed it - enough to be interested in checking out more. Picked that one up at the local markets in 2008. Dust jacket with Chopping cover. I believe that's the 1st edition? Scored several smaller paperbacks around 2016 but have still yet to catalogue them and get em up on the shelf. Gut tells me I have about half of the Gardner novels already so will be fun to see which ones I have stored away and record their edition/publish dates etc. in the next few months.

    Also have a Saab Turbo keyring on the shelf. I like the idea of Bond having a more inconspicuous car.
  • Calvin Dyson has reviewed all the books on his YouTube channel.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited November 2023 Posts: 17,787
    Calvin Dyson has reviewed all the books on his YouTube channel.

    Yes, it was good to see the Gardner Bond novels being picked up by a famous name in the online Bond fan community. While his reviews weren't always the most positive he did really seem to like one of my favourites from Gardner, Never Send Flowers (1993), almost in spite of himself!

  • I can't quite decide if Gardner was a dull man or not. Having read a few of his books and having seen that clip. He seemed to try and impose some dullness on to Bond.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,787
    I can't quite decide if Gardner was a dull man or not. Having read a few of his books and having seen that clip. He seemed to try and impose some dullness on to Bond.

    If you look at his biography I think you'll find that it's anything but dull. I don't think he really dulled Bond's world in his novels but he did seek to make the Intelligence Services and the threats that faced them more in line with the real world and less in the realm of outrageous fantasy.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,787
    Here's a US radio interview with John Gardner from 16 October 1984 to get the ball rolling and a rare chance to hear JG in conversation:

  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    QBranch wrote: »
    I've only read Licence Renewed. I enjoyed it - enough to be interested in checking out more. Picked that one up at the local markets in 2008. Dust jacket with Chopping cover. I believe that's the 1st edition? Scored several smaller paperbacks around 2016 but have still yet to catalogue them and get em up on the shelf. Gut tells me I have about half of the Gardner novels already so will be fun to see which ones I have stored away and record their edition/publish dates etc. in the next few months.

    Also have a Saab Turbo keyring on the shelf. I like the idea of Bond having a more inconspicuous car.

    Look at the bottom of the spine of the dust jacket, what logo is it? I have the Book Club Associates (BCA) copy of Licence Renewed, which shares the chopping artwork with the Johnathan Cape (JC) 1st edition.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,787
    QBranch wrote: »
    I've only read Licence Renewed. I enjoyed it - enough to be interested in checking out more. Picked that one up at the local markets in 2008. Dust jacket with Chopping cover. I believe that's the 1st edition? Scored several smaller paperbacks around 2016 but have still yet to catalogue them and get em up on the shelf. Gut tells me I have about half of the Gardner novels already so will be fun to see which ones I have stored away and record their edition/publish dates etc. in the next few months.

    Also have a Saab Turbo keyring on the shelf. I like the idea of Bond having a more inconspicuous car.

    Look at the bottom of the spine of the dust jacket, what logo is it? I have the Book Club Associates (BCA) copy of Licence Renewed, which shares the chopping artwork with the Johnathan Cape (JC) 1st edition.

    Yes, there's that and the fact that the Book Club edition uses more glossy paper on its dust jacket as well as containing subtle differences to the Jonathan Cape Chopping cover art. I was lucky enough to buy a Gardner signed Cape first edition of Licence Renewed earlier in the year from eBay at a more reasonable price than is usually the case.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    QBranch wrote: »
    I've only read Licence Renewed. I enjoyed it - enough to be interested in checking out more. Picked that one up at the local markets in 2008. Dust jacket with Chopping cover. I believe that's the 1st edition? Scored several smaller paperbacks around 2016 but have still yet to catalogue them and get em up on the shelf. Gut tells me I have about half of the Gardner novels already so will be fun to see which ones I have stored away and record their edition/publish dates etc. in the next few months.

    Also have a Saab Turbo keyring on the shelf. I like the idea of Bond having a more inconspicuous car.

    Look at the bottom of the spine of the dust jacket, what logo is it? I have the Book Club Associates (BCA) copy of Licence Renewed, which shares the chopping artwork with the Johnathan Cape (JC) 1st edition.

    Yes, there's that and the fact that the Book Club edition uses more glossy paper on its dust jacket as well as containing subtle differences to the Jonathan Cape Chopping cover art. I was lucky enough to buy a Gardner signed Cape first edition of Licence Renewed earlier in the year from eBay at a more reasonable price than is usually the case.

    Good point. What are the other differences? I only have the BCA edition of Licence Renewed, I don't have the proper 1st Edition to compare.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 12,992
    Very good to hear that interview @Dragonpol. The two were familiar with each other, the interviewer was well-informed and didn't hesitate to ask questions on what he wasn't sure of. Also very interesting to hear Mr. Gardner mention near the end he has two computers: one for writing, and another to play adventure games and flight simulations.


    My first edition copy of Licence Renewed has a copyright page identical to this image.

    https://www.raptisrarebooks.com/product/licence-renewed-john-gardner-first-edition-rare/
    licence-renewed-john-gardner-first-edition-rare.jpg?fit=1000%2C853&ssl=1

    Later printings would be called out plus a different publisher noted on the spine as mentioned.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/875529310/james-bond-books-john-gardner-licence
    il_1588xN.2600431526_fgp2.jpg


    First Edition cover, hardcover has black boards.

    8273188691.jpg


    Book Club Edition cover, believe originally has brown boards as below.


    6602c3153a652e7c63fe89071e2c2ef8968c4ac8.pnj


    I also note still later hardcover versions with the Chopping cover, like the 2011 copy I have of For Special Services printed by Swordfish and Orion Publishing. Differences like the 007 label, other things like pictures of the following novels.

    2011 edition on top, bottom is 1982 First Edition. Books themselves both have black boards.
    4b732db3368891c8b26f481703716272109f4c71.jpg

  • For me, all the books range from below average to above average. I think that the middle books are quite good: Role of Honour, Nobody Lives For Ever and No Deals Mr. Bond make up his best work, but his worst was formulaic and convoluted. I used to place him quite low, but reading all his work it is easy to start respecting the consistency that which he churned this out
  • QBranchQBranch Always have an escape plan. Mine is watching James Bond films.
    Posts: 13,896
    @MajorDSmythe @Dragonpol @RichardTheBruce Thanks for the info, chaps. I'll get out my copy of LR and see what details are on it.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,104
    I view John Gardner as the Roger Moore of the Bond authors. He may not have made the best material, but he kept it going. In particular, 89-95, he helped Bond stay alive. I wish IFP would go back to his (and Raymond Benson) yearly book schedule. We came close with Kim Sherwood, with a year and a half for her books, (fingers crossed). IFP should do two books a year: one adult Bond book and a spinoff character. It’d be a interesting experiment, something I could see John Gardner doing, if he had the permission, at the time.
  • edited November 2023 Posts: 893
    Although I'm far from having read all of Gardner's novels, I often have difficulty finding the spirit of James Bond in them. Sure, there's a character named James Bond but, quite often, the stories lack something that makes them truly Bondian.

    However, I do need to confess my fascination for The Man from Barbarossa. Objectively, this may not be Gardner's best novel. On this note, I think Icebreaker and Nobody Lives for Ever are much stronger and engaging. Nevertheless, The Man from Barbarossa has something very unique about it.

    First of all, I love the geopolitical backdrop. While it would have been easier for Gardner to distance himself from the rapid evolutions in the Soviet Union and, let's say, to do what Eon was going to do at the time with Bond 17, focusing on Asia and future tech, I find it brilliant to have such time capsule. This story directly tackles what could have happened in the middle of the writing process, to the point it could have made the novel irrelevant if it was published a few months later. It's creatively quite courageous from Gardner and it makes the story very grounded and engaging.

    To have Bond carrying a more or less realistic mission, with a more or less real world threat, creating something close to John Le Carré's The Russia House and its movie adaptation, is very nice. On a more personal level, I really like to have a whole novel set in the USSR and I think Gardner is really good at using the setting.

    Secondly, I'm very fond of the high concept of Bond investigating a terrorist group that claims to bring war criminals to justice, before discovering it has a hidden political agenda. It's a very good concept that could be used on the big screen for future bad guys. To link such concept to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the massacre at Babi Yar is also a very strong idea, very Fleming in the spirit. The first chapter for example is one of the strongest of the novel, creating a mood that distinguishes it from other Gardner's novels.

    Obviously, beyond this high concept, The Man from Barbarossa's main antagonist is quite weak and it's a shame since Gardner could have made something brilliant with a Soviet military hardliner who plans to become the country's new strong leader. It doesn't help that he doesn't have a memorable name either.

    Still on a personal level, I do enjoy this novel because it's easy to imagine this Bond to be Timothy Dalton who is my favourite incarnation of the character on the big screen. The late Cold War backdrop, the real world threats, all of that quite encapsulate the spirit of the Dalton era in my mind and while the Bond 17 screenplays from '90 and '91 were quite different from that, it's easy to picture The Man from Barbarossa as a third Dalton story, based on TLD and LTK only. It does work all the more when you think about Michael France's GoldenEye script written for Dalton.

    In a way, it's a very cinematographic novel, especially when you saw movies from this time period that echoes this plot (The Russia House in particular). The early parts of the novel, when Bond is in London, works with Natkowitz, is confronted to French agents, it's all very good, very dynamic. Again, it reminds me of the scenes from The Russia House that involve CIA and MI6. While to have a team of foreign operatives may be redundant after Icebreaker, I like the concept enough to see it used again.
  • JGFan007JGFan007 Somewhere in the Midwest
    Posts: 12
    Not sure if this is the page to ask this question, but I have recently began reading Gardner's License Renewed and I came across a name I don't recall seeing before. I haven't went back and looked in a US printing of LR, but this time around I'm reading the UK printing of the novel. (I've read Gardner's series twice, only the US hardcovers).
    Anyway, early on in License Renewed, right after Bond is called in on Friday evening from his recently purchased cottage in the country and is briefed by MI5 on the terrorist Franco's movements in and out of the UK and his meetings with Murik. When Bond and M are left alone to discuss his upcoming operation, 007 makes the comment to M, basically saying that a terrorist and a scientist teaming up and developing some type of nuclear weapon has been a scenario they have feared for a long time. Bond mentions a fellow named Achmed Yastaff that he "took out" on a previous assignment. It sounds like this man was involved with hijacking nuclear weapons or something, I'm not sure. Was this Yastaff character in an old Fleming novel?
    I have only read a couple of Fleming's novels, unfortunately, but I am preparing to read his complete Bond series in order. So I am not familiar with most of his writing. However, a quick Google search returns nothing on Achmed Yastaff. It only brings back search results related to that very line, above, from License Renewed.
    So, is this just a meaningless reference? Yastaff was never explained or part of a previous novel?
    I purchased used copies of Casino Royale and Live and Let Die online, bc I want to read Fleming's old novels in order. But the seller accidentally sent a copy of Doctor No instead of CR. So it has been extremely difficult, to not break down and start reading those to books while I wait for a copy of CR lol. I have read bits and pieces of both so far and from what I have seen, I'm excited to dig into Fleming's series!

    BTW, in LR Gardner explains how the Double-O section was abolished in (probably) the early- to mid-70's. Different methods were introduced in the Secret Service, the license to kill was revoked, etc. Bond reflects that since those changes came about, he had only been sent on four different missions that had stirred any excitement in him like the ones from the glory days of the Cold War. It would be interesting if a writer filled in those gaps, added some stories to the Bond archives. Anyone have any suggestions on what would make for an interesting read? The time frame would probably be from 1975(-ish) until 1981, when the LR story takes place.
  • Am I right in thinking that in Licence Renewed Bond is an ageing agent with some grey in his hair,possiby late forties, but the later Gardner novels return to the "immortal" late thirties Bond?

    Basically, he's Roger Moore in Licence Renewed but then once Dalton was in the role he became a younger man again.
  • edited November 2023 Posts: 893
    Basically, he's Roger Moore in Licence Renewed but then once Dalton was in the role he became a younger man again.

    I always pictured NSNA Sean Connery in Licence Renewed and the other early Gardner novels (For Special Services and Icebreaker). In latter novels, I do pictures Dalton too. I didn't read all novels, but it was particularly the case with No Deals, Mr. Bond (that felt very close to TLD) and The Man From Barbarossa.
  • Yes, you're right about Connery. I suppose it's because Moore was Bond when it was published.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited November 2023 Posts: 17,787
    JGFan007 wrote: »
    Not sure if this is the page to ask this question, but I have recently began reading Gardner's License Renewed and I came across a name I don't recall seeing before. I haven't went back and looked in a US printing of LR, but this time around I'm reading the UK printing of the novel. (I've read Gardner's series twice, only the US hardcovers).
    Anyway, early on in License Renewed, right after Bond is called in on Friday evening from his recently purchased cottage in the country and is briefed by MI5 on the terrorist Franco's movements in and out of the UK and his meetings with Murik. When Bond and M are left alone to discuss his upcoming operation, 007 makes the comment to M, basically saying that a terrorist and a scientist teaming up and developing some type of nuclear weapon has been a scenario they have feared for a long time. Bond mentions a fellow named Achmed Yastaff that he "took out" on a previous assignment. It sounds like this man was involved with hijacking nuclear weapons or something, I'm not sure. Was this Yastaff character in an old Fleming novel?
    I have only read a couple of Fleming's novels, unfortunately, but I am preparing to read his complete Bond series in order. So I am not familiar with most of his writing. However, a quick Google search returns nothing on Achmed Yastaff. It only brings back search results related to that very line, above, from License Renewed.
    So, is this just a meaningless reference? Yastaff was never explained or part of a previous novel?
    I purchased used copies of Casino Royale and Live and Let Die online, bc I want to read Fleming's old novels in order. But the seller accidentally sent a copy of Doctor No instead of CR. So it has been extremely difficult, to not break down and start reading those to books while I wait for a copy of CR lol. I have read bits and pieces of both so far and from what I have seen, I'm excited to dig into Fleming's series!

    BTW, in LR Gardner explains how the Double-O section was abolished in (probably) the early- to mid-70's. Different methods were introduced in the Secret Service, the license to kill was revoked, etc. Bond reflects that since those changes came about, he had only been sent on four different missions that had stirred any excitement in him like the ones from the glory days of the Cold War. It would be interesting if a writer filled in those gaps, added some stories to the Bond archives. Anyone have any suggestions on what would make for an interesting read? The time frame would probably be from 1975(-ish) until 1981, when the LR story takes place.

    To answer your question, no, Achmed Yastaff was an unseen deceased character created by Gardner solely for Licence Renewed in order to give his Bond a bit of a backstory. I suppose it was to fill a bit of the gap since Bond's last reported mission in Colonel Sun. He doesn't appear in any of Ian Fleming's work. I like to think that's he makes up one of the four missions Bond had been on that Gardner references. I suppose it's quite topical now in the aftermath of the atrocities carried out by Al-Qaida, ISIS and others in more recent times. Gardner would return to the theme of quasi-Islamist terror in his Bond novel Win, Lose or Die (1989) which featured the terrorist organisation BAST (Brotherhood for Anarchy and Secret Terror) led by one Bassam Baradj.

    You might be interested in these articles which I wrote a good few years ago which cover some of this subject matter:

    https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-literary-james-bond-in-1970s.html?m=1

    https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/disbanding-of-double-o-section-first.html?m=1
  • JGFan007JGFan007 Somewhere in the Midwest
    Posts: 12
    Gardner writes that "minute" flecks of gray had just started to show in Bond's "dark" hair at the beginning of License Renewed, but I never got the impression that he was that "old." Certainly not Roger Moore or Connory NSNA old lol. While reading Gardner's novels, I felt that Brosnan fit his character best. Probably TND Brosnan, just slightly older than he was in GoldenEye.

    Gardner's Bond has a fairly physical role and the SAS "refresher" courses he is frequently sent off to in Hereford are mentioned often. I couldn't picture Moore or Connery, for example, going thru flight training on the Harrier as Bond does in Win, Lose or Die or the bizarre O-keep-a duel he challenges Brokenclaw to in the following novel.

    I didn't start reading the Gardner series with any particular Bond actor in mind, but I guess my brain just automatically went with Pierce Brosnan lol. That's just the temperament and personality Gardner's Bond conveys. Mixed with the necessary physical requirements. Dalton would possibly be the next closest option. Or Lazenby, if you wanted to go with an "older" Bond.

    Daniel Craig's Bond would not fit lol. Gardner's Bond has way too much dialogue and he has a sense of humor ha ha. Craig has, what? About 15 or 20 lines during his entire tenure in the films? Craig plays the role with a chip on his shoulder and he is on suspension or not sanctioned in hardly anything he does. Gardner's 007 breaks the rules sometimes and he goes on several missions where M warns him the government will deny him, but its usually at M's behest. And Bond usually seeks out M's blessing when he needs to go "rogue" or at least tries to keep him informed of his whereabouts. Actually, M is the one who breaks the rules in the series by still recognizing Bond as 007 and sending him out into the field on various assignments that are off the books.

    I don't think Roger or Sean would ever fit, especially by the end of the series. Bond has a pretty intense motorcycle chase in SeaFire and also takes flight in what sounds like a parahawk. And, in Cold or Cold Fall, he escapes a villian's mansion on a jet sky and later drops back in with a parachute. As a rough guess, 12 or 13 years after License Renewed (because Gardner seems to follow the same time frame as the year his novels are released), they both would be too old to visualize in those scenes lol.
  • JGFan007 wrote: »
    Gardner writes that "minute" flecks of gray had just started to show in Bond's "dark" hair at the beginning of License Renewed, but I never got the impression that he was that "old." Certainly not Roger Moore or Connory NSNA old lol. While reading Gardner's novels, I felt that Brosnan fit his character best. Probably TND Brosnan, just slightly older than he was in GoldenEye.

    Gardner's Bond has a fairly physical role and the SAS "refresher" courses he is frequently sent off to in Hereford are mentioned often. I couldn't picture Moore or Connery, for example, going thru flight training on the Harrier as Bond does in Win, Lose or Die or the bizarre O-keep-a duel he challenges Brokenclaw to in the following novel.
    Fair point, but the reason that Bond seems that old is a lot of the actions he does. He's sometimes complaining about people saying he's past-it and useless, he's much softer than the Fleming novels that naturally only be described with age, he's more keen to fall in love and go off with girls (we're presented with at least two Vesper/Tracy contenders) and he's also a direct continuation of Fleming's Bond, who was already close to retirement (45) in TMWTGG. The way he bickers with an out of character M also feels like a man who is frankly tired of all this, and also all the mistakes and times he is double-crossed also makes me feel he's a little bit older (mid-40s to early 50s)
    While I get that Brosnan was in his mid-40s during TND, he doesn't play like it, frankly because times have moved forward and people in their 40s are quite fit. Brosnan feels like he's at his peak in the TND, and Goldeneye was an origin story for him, like CR almost. Gardner's Bond feels no where near that level of his career (not to any of his detriment). The Connery-Moore run feels quite apt because of Connery's peaks in the character being parallel to many of Fleming's stories (continuing a little into Moore's run) and then films such as Moonraker, TSWLM, and FYEO bein Gardner's Bond. At which point Moore was already 50 but didn't seem to lag behind with stunts and fights.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 17,787
    Calvin Dyson's summing up of the John Gardner Bond continuation novels:

  • edited December 2023 Posts: 21
    Very interesting
  • edited January 2 Posts: 82
    Rating all the books I could get my hands on (spoilers):
    LR 5/10: Alright start for the series, however Bond girl, villain, and plot are really basic. I very much find the third act with all the title stuff quite low stakes and not very relevant: better if Murik went out on the plane I think.
    FSS: 7.5/10 I read this right after LALD and this has a really Fleming atmosphere about it. It's quite silly: there's the stuff about Felix's daughter, Blofeld's daughter and ice cream. But the twist is quite well handled and Walter Luxor is also quite a good henchman.
    I: 3/10 The double-crossing is horrific in this novel. The American's existence of a triple agent does nothing to serve the plot, and when's revealed to be good in the end it does nothing for the story. Bond is also incredibly emotional and illogical in this book: after one night, he cannot stand the thought of moving on with the mission without her which doesn't feel right. Even when he's trapped with her after being tortured I don't know why he doesn't consider bugs, especially after he's shown checking for them earlier in the story.
    RoH: 7/10 Percy Proud is probably the second best Bond girl of Gardner, I buy their relationship and chemistry, if their relationship end is a bit iffy. The plot is fine, although I do feel that the disarmament twist only existed because nobody though mutual disarmament was that bad a belief for SPECTRE. Quite enjoyable. One thing I noticed is that all the Bond girls have alliterative names, which is a bit weird.
    NBLF: 7.5/10 Great chase plot, feels like Gardner's Bond now. SPECTRE's plan is a bit convoluted though, and Nannie's motivations are a bit whack. She works for them sometimes, so they rigged the game for her, and made her kill the rival gangs? And what was that about "manipulating" SMERSH into kidnapping Moneypenny and May? Fun read despite this though, and a plot like this would have been a great final film for Craig.
    NDMB: 8/10 Really well done intelligence based plot which makes me feel the stakes. All the stuff in Ireland is quite fun, albeit the events in Hong Kong do slow the story a bit. I do wish Smolin was presented as straight from the start, and that Chernov was focused on more, and the double-cross of Norman Murray is one too much for me. But in the rest it is a really fun Gardner Bond story.
    S: 4/10 Don't enjoy it, especially the double climax at the end where in the last 5% they try to shove in a threat on the PM and the President. It is also a massive coincidence that the guy who happens to drive Bond back from the SAS training is a big part of the story, and I don't like how successful Scorpius is in the grand scheme of things. He's killed quite a few important politicians, and the whole thing feels like a failed mission, played off as a success.
    WLOD: 7.5/10 Quite an interesting story, and Bond does feel like a bit of a detective throughout the story, which makes this feel a bit like a classic Bond story. Not exactly a fan of the faked death of Beatrice though, and dead Russian agent on board that Bond slept with feels a bit of a callous inclusion. Part of me wishes that BAST was SPECTRE though, because BAST is supposed to be threatening and they don't really feel that way
    B: 6/10 The intelligence based plot is quite good and this almost feels a bit like Benson's HTTK in terms of chasing a military device. It's a bit broken with Brokenclaw's stock market motivations, which are quite cloudy and I don't understand, and again the double climax of the ritual is a bit bizarre. This is really one of the times I ask why doesn't he just kill Bond? Why do all this?
    TMFB: 4.5/10 This book is infuriating, because the end goal of the Scales of Justice is so hidden that the payoff isn't really there. And all that stuff with the airline that's told afterward would make for so much more of an interesting plot then what really is a story that drudges along.
    DiF: 5/10 No Deals but with 10 times the characters. A set of double agents working for MI6 are being killed off: exact same premise. This time though props for making Weisen a little bit more of a villain and not really clouding him. Same twist as before though, of the doubles is actually a triple and gets the rest trapped while Bond has to go and save them. The fake Harry Spraker is a cool-ish idea, until you realise it's the 90s and that they would surely have some sort of picture on file of him. Despite this, it's a great cast of henchmen, only let down by a weak Bond-Bond girl relationship. From the start of the book to her death, Easy doesn't feel like a Bond love. Crudely put, she seems a bit too "MeToo" for Bond (he implies that himself), and for Bond to try to put her in the category of Vesper and Tracy (and ignore people like Percy, Beatrice, even Harriet) rings hollow, especially because he goes off with Praxi straight afterwards.
    NSF: No rating (didn't get to read again) I've read it once and it was bizarre, with twins and EuroDisney and serial killers. It feels a bit out of place for a Bond story: I'm questioning why nobody from MI5 or Special Branch handles gets involved, and although Flicka is quite a good Bond girl, she does feel slightly out of place with the mostly UK plot (so I remember). Will edit when I reread
    SF: 5/10 A Nazi plot is feeling a bit outdated at this point. I mean the whole thing progresses oddly. Lady Trish would be quite an interesting Bond girl, if Bond wasn't taken, but the two henchwomen also are a bit weird. Tarn's plot is slightly nonsensical, and also relatively low stakes when you're talking about a potential 4th Reich. There's also the whole thing about faking his death: how's he going to get around that publicity nightmare of him being perfectly healthy and his wife being legit dead?
    Cold: No rating (unavailable)

    Average: 5.8/10
    One missed trick with Gardner was villains. Only Scorpius and Brokenclaw really deliver as strong crazy villains. I think Gardner would have done better with reoccurring organisations or villains because that kind of lends more credence to the weaker villains. Fleming used SMERSH and SPECTRE to this effect, and this raises the stakes because it becomes Bond vs the organisation, or at least one leg of it, rather than Bond vs a man.
    Another reason why the villains aren't as strong, as said in the video, is the doubt and double-crossing over who the main villain is. In this process Bond kind of feels passive, you don't see him discovering the mole, just you find out who the mole is when they have a gun to him.
    I do wish we got some overarching enemies. Something like BAST or even the Scales of Justice would be a lot better with past history. Even COLD, without reading it, would have been quite a finale if it was a previously established Gardner organisation
    In terms of Bond girls I also feel that Gardner puts too many love interests and Bond feel very easily tipped into love. Bond can't leave Rivke behind, he wants to marry Percy, the death of Harriet drives him to a tantrum like killing, Beatrice is a brunette Tracy, Chi-Chi Sue feels extremely close to Bond, there's the stuff with Easy, ignoring the fact Praxi says she loves him. And of course Flicka. And then all of this rings hollow when he doesn't really feel the impacts of their death later or he's gone by the next book.
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited January 22 Posts: 17,787
    Schlock Horror! - A James Bond Location...in Kilkenny?

  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited April 6 Posts: 17,787
    The theme song to The Liquidator (1965), the film version of John Gardner's first novel featuring Rod Taylor as Boysie Oakes:

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