The Gardner Novels

DB5DB5
edited September 2012 in Literary 007 Posts: 408
Which Gardner novels would you recommend? Which ones would you advise to "avoid at all costs?"
«134

Comments

  • Agent007391Agent007391 Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start
    edited September 2012 Posts: 7,854
    The first four or five are practically Bond gold, they're a lot like Fleming. After that, License to Kill is good, Win Lose or Die is good, The Man from Barbarossa is good, GoldenEye is good, and COLD (or Cold Fall here in the US) is actually a pretty good ending for Gardner, and he left on a high note. He knew when to quit, but he still wrote a good deal of crap anyway.
  • Lancaster007Lancaster007 Shrublands Health Clinic, England
    Posts: 1,874
    For me 'avoid ALL at all costs', but that's just me. Can't get on with Gardner, never read Benson. Stick with Fleming.
  • KronsteenKronsteen Stockholm
    Posts: 628
    Start from the beginning and see for yourself. I love Gardners novels, others dont.

    I tend to enjoy his later entries the most. Win, Lose or Die, Death is Forever and Brokenclaw are great Bond adventures.. But his best is still Licence Renewed so start with that!
  • Posts: 7,653
    Gardner has written some excellent Bond novels. So I would suggest start at the beginning and work your way through them. You'll find which ones are your taste and which ones are not.
    The same applies to the Benson & Higson series.

    Do not listen to others but find your own footing which makes discussing them your opinion instead the general opinion as voiced by others.
  • Posts: 5,344
    In addition to the Bond novels, you can also read The Secret Generations, a period piece about the creation of the SIS and the MI5. I think it would make for a fine TV mini-series (a Downton Abbey for the spy world, if you wish). The two other novels in the trilogy (Secret Houses and Secret Families), are not as good, IMHO.
  • doubleonothingdoubleonothing Los Angeles Moderator
    Posts: 864
    I like Gardner, but he's no Fleming. Not by a very big margin. Benson, I've only read one of his and I wish I hadn't. It was terrible.

    I quite liked Licence Renewed and Role of Honour. For Special Services wasn't bad.

    Honestly, though, Fleming wrote Bond and no-one else is really gonna match him.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited September 2012 Posts: 987
    With the exception of the dire Icebreaker John Gardner's early novels Licence Renewed, For Special Services, Role of Honour, Nobody Lives Forever and No Deals Mr Bond are all worth a look, after that they deteriorate rapidly and really not worth bothering with unless you're really keen.
    As has been said John Gardner is no Ian Fleming and he lacks the prose, detail and sense of place you get with the original novels, even so it's interesting to note just how many of his ideas made into the later Bond films in one form or another.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    saunders wrote:
    With the exception of the dire Icebreaker John Gardner's early novels Licence Renewed, For Special Services, Role of Honour, Nobody Lives Forever and No Deals Mr Bond are all worth a look, after that they deteriorate rapidly and really not worth bothering with unless you're really keen.
    As has been said John Gardner is no Ian Fleming and he lacks the prose, detail and sense of place you get with the original novels, even so it's interesting to note just how many of his ideas made into the later Bond films in one form or another.

    I think this is a pretty fair surmise of the Gardner era.

    Win, Lose or Die and Death is Forever of the later ones are worth a perusal but thats about it after No Deals Mr Bond.
  • DB5DB5
    Posts: 408
    I read "Nobody Lives Forever" and didn't care for it at all. Then tried "Icebreaker" and abandoned it half way through. I keep thinking maybe I'm just choosing the wrong ones. I've read all the Flemings, even "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Diamonds are Forever" were enjoyable for me. Amis' "Colonel Sun" was also a very enjoyable read. Are there any Gardner novels that come close to Fleming's Bond?
  • Posts: 406
    I've read Licence renewed, for special services and icebreaker and enjoyed them all got the next couple sitting to read just haven't got around to reading them yet
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited September 2012 Posts: 987
    DB5 wrote:
    I read "Nobody Lives Forever" and didn't care for it at all. Then tried "Icebreaker" and abandoned it half way through. I keep thinking maybe I'm just choosing the wrong ones. I've read all the Flemings, even "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Diamonds are Forever" were enjoyable for me. Amis' "Colonel Sun" was also a very enjoyable read. Are there any Gardner novels that come close to Fleming's Bond?

    Gardner's style is very different to Fleming's (future Bond author Raymond Benson once described Gardner's work as 'fast food' compared to Fleming's 'fine cuisine') and he intentionally sets out to write the books in his own voice rather than following the Kinglsley Amis approach of mimicking Fleming's style. The only Gardner book that could be remotely considered Fleming-esque would be his first book 'Licence Renewed', it has scenes and situations reminiscent of OHMSS and at least in this one he tries hard to keep the character of James Bond close to Fleming's original rather than the poetry quoting, limerick singing aberration of the later books.

  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited September 2012 Posts: 987
    Sorry deleted double post
  • Posts: 267
    Fellow Agents,
    The late great John Gardner was a fabulous writer who enjoyed considerable success during the '60s & '70s particularly with his amazing Boysie Oakes series and his heavyweight Herbie Kruger books. In literary circles, he was considered to be in the elite club populated by the likes of Deighton, Forsyth and John Le Care.
    He was seduced by IFP to take up the Bond mantle and to reboot the 007 and bring him into the '80s.
    Despite the fact that Gardner himself was not a huge Bond fan, in my opinion,he did a pretty good job with his first five ("Licence Renewed'' thru' to "Role OF Honour" ).
    They were certainly the equal of what I would describe as Fleming's middling efforts - the likes of "Thunderball", "Diamonds Are Forever" and "The Man With The Golden Gun". Albeit, he never scaled the heights achieved by Fleming with his best as personified by "From Russia With Love'" and "OHMSS".
    After his first five , I think Gardner tired of the project and started to feel trapped by his obligations but frankly, if Raymond Benson did describe Gardner's work as "fast food", I think it the literary equivalent of McDonalds criticising a cordon bleu chef.
    That said, as DB5 pointed out, the best continuation novel by a country mile is Kingsley Amis' "Colonel Sun". That one really is up there with Flemings finest and I would urge all Bond afficianados to spare no expense getting hold of a copy - you'll love it and it would make a great Daniel Craig movie!
    Regards,
    Bentley
  • I've read all the Fleming novels and have just started colonel Sun. As for Gardner, his books will be next up. I'll not be put off by some negative comments here. I'll read all in order and will persevere even if they aren't as good as I hope.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Bentley wrote:
    frankly, if Raymond Benson did describe Gardner's work as "fast food", I think it the literary equivalent of McDonalds criticising a cordon bleu chef.

    Youre not wrong there. I am tempted to class Bensons efforts as Pot Noodle compared to Gardner. Mind what room for manoeuvre does that leave me when describing Faulkes horrendous scribblings? Dog food perhaps?



  • Posts: 267
    TheWizardOfice said:
    Youre not wrong there. I am tempted to class Bensons efforts as Pot Noodle compared to Gardner. Mind what room for manoeuvre does that leave me when describing Faulkes horrendous scribblings? Dog food perhaps?



    [/quote]

    Fellow Agent,
    How right you are, DMC (with the exception of the first 60 pages) was utter dross!
    But then, to cap it all IFP went out and got Deaver to give us the horrendous CB!
    Why oh why, can't they simply get Higson, Daniel Silva or the fabulous Barry Eisler and have done with it?
    All three of the aforementioned know how to write this stuff and in the case of Higson, he has shown in spades that he completely understands Bond's DNA and can put great flesh on the bones.
    Instead we have Boyd working away on next years' effort - I hope he can save our hero from the literary abyss!
    Regards,
    Bentley
  • DB5DB5
    Posts: 408
    Bentley wrote:
    TheWizardOfice said:
    Youre not wrong there. I am tempted to class Bensons efforts as Pot Noodle compared to Gardner. Mind what room for manoeuvre does that leave me when describing Faulkes horrendous scribblings? Dog food perhaps?



    Fellow Agent,
    How right you are, DMC (with the exception of the first 60 pages) was utter dross!
    But then, to cap it all IFP went out and got Deaver to give us the horrendous CB!
    Why oh why, can't they simply get Higson, Daniel Silva or the fabulous Barry Eisler and have done with it?
    All three of the aforementioned know how to write this stuff and in the case of Higson, he has shown in spades that he completely understands Bond's DNA and can put great flesh on the bones.
    Instead we have Boyd working away on next years' effort - I hope he can save our hero from the literary abyss!
    Regards,
    Bentley
    [/quote]

    Yes, I also read Faulke's DMC and Deaver's CB. I didn't even think I should mention those two "works" in a discussion of James Bond novels. After Saunders' recommendation I went to the library intending to get Gardner's "Licence Renewed." Unfortunately they didn't have that book, although they had several other Gardner titles. So after looking at the book jackets of several I walked down a few rows and checked out Benson's "Zero Minus Ten." So far I think it's pretty good.

  • Alan007 wrote:
    I've read Licence renewed, for special services and icebreaker and enjoyed them all got the next couple sitting to read just haven't got around to reading them yet

    I'm reading License Renewed and off the bat it's great. It has the 'Fleming Sweep'.
  • Posts: 66
    I'm currently reading Scorpius; its OK, not as great as his earlier novels, it has its moments though. As others have already stated; the first three are the best.
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 4,622
    I like all the Gardner books, but one that I found particularly nasty was No Deals Mr. Bond.Bond was quite dangerous in this thriller, especially towards the end as he engages the villains.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Moderator
    Posts: 13,101
    I have not read all of the Gardner books, only some of them, but those that I have read, I enjoyed them. I'm going to single out Icebreaker as Gardner's best, and one of the best Bond books. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to getting to them in my literary Bondathon.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    I have not read all of the Gardner books, only some of them, but those that I have read, I enjoyed them. I'm going to single out Icebreaker as Gardner's best, and one of the best Bond books. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to getting to them in my literary Bondathon.

    Icebreaker is poor.

    Just how many Bond books have you read to make that statement? Devil May Care and Icebreaker?

  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Moderator
    edited April 2013 Posts: 13,101
    I have not read all of the Gardner books, only some of them, but those that I have read, I enjoyed them. I'm going to single out Icebreaker as Gardner's best, and one of the best Bond books. It goes without saying that I am looking forward to getting to them in my literary Bondathon.

    Icebreaker is poor.

    Just how many Bond books have you read to make that statement? Devil May Care and Icebreaker?

    By best, I mean best that I've read. And I happen to like Icebreaker. But to answer your question, I have read all the Fleming books, Colonel Sun, Licence Renewed, For Special Services, Icebreaker, Role Of Honour, No Deals Mr Bond, Death Is Forever, Seafire, High Time To Kill, Never Dream Of Dying, The Man With The Red Tattoo, Devil May Care & Carte Blanche. So that's more than 2, DMC and Icebreaker included.


    My current ranking can also be found here:
    http://www.mi6community.com/index.php?p=/discussion/145/which-bond-novel-are-you-reading-currently/p16#Item_467
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    If you really have read all the Fleming books you need to have long hard look inside your soul then and ask if you can live with yourself.

    Saying Icebreaker is the best Bond book would be laughable but just about excusable if we were just discussing the best Gardner.

    If you're throwing all of Flemings work into the mix and still standing by that statement then you lay yourself wide open for people to label you a moron.

    Even Dragonopol would probably agree and he thinks Never Send Flowers is the greatest work of prose in the English language.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Moderator
    edited April 2013 Posts: 13,101
    If people want to be so judgemental, that's their choice.

    We used to have a member here, well, on the old forums actually, who thought that Die Another Day was one of the best Bond films, if not his #1. The member I am talking about was Chandler Bong (MI6 veterans might remember him). Now I didn't agree with his opinions, whether he truly felt that about DAD, or he was just on one elaborate wind up, I don't know, but I wouldn't have called him names, we're adults and I respected his opinion.

    It's the same with the books. Even with Icebreaker, Fleming will probably have the top 5, maybe 6 places on my list. But I won't know until I've finished my ranking.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    If people want to be so judgemental, that's their choice.

    We used to have a member here, well, on the old forums actually, who thought that Die Another Day was one of the best Bond films, if not his #1. The member I am talking about was Chandler Bong (MI6 veterans might remember him). Now I didn't agree with his opinions, whether he truly felt that about DAD, or he was just on one elaborate wind up, I don't know, but I wouldn't have called him names, we're adults and I respected his opinion.

    It's the same with the books. Even with Icebreaker, Fleming will probably have the top 5, maybe 6 places on my list. But I won't know until I've finished my ranking.

    I respect people's right to have an opinion but if that opinion is 'DAD is the best Bond film' I'm not going to respect that.

    Strange how if you say you're a racist or a Nazi all of a sudden you are not entitled to your opinion and are vilified by the whole of society. Well if you ask me DAD being the best film and Icebreaker the best book fall into the same ballpark of being unarguably wrong.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Moderator
    Posts: 13,101
    Strange how if you say you're a racist or a Nazi all of a sudden you are not entitled to your opinion and are vilified by the whole of society. Well if you ask me DAD being the best film and Icebreaker the best book fall into the same ballpark of being unarguably wrong.

    Ah, but I didn't say that Icebreaker was the best book, I said it was one of the best (my personal opinion), there is a significant difference. But I can see that we're not going to agree, so with nothing more to add, i'm going to leave this here.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Strange how if you say you're a racist or a Nazi all of a sudden you are not entitled to your opinion and are vilified by the whole of society. Well if you ask me DAD being the best film and Icebreaker the best book fall into the same ballpark of being unarguably wrong.

    Ah, but I didn't say that Icebreaker was the best book, I said it was one of the best (my personal opinion), there is a significant difference. But I can see that we're not going to agree, so with nothing more to add, i'm going to leave this here.

    Sorry old chap I was just awake and misread what you said. I feel a complete fool for castigatibg you so but never let it be said the Wizard doesn't apologise when he's wrong.

    Although saying Icebreaker is the best Gardner is still utter bollocks!
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,284
    Although saying Icebreaker is the best Gardner is still utter bollocks!

    Actually, I've seen Icebreaker pretty high up on other people's lists; a respected reviewer on AJB rates it 9/10...
    http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/34464/bond-continuation-novel-reviews/page/2/
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    chrisisall wrote:
    Actually, I've seen Icebreaker pretty high up on other people's lists; a respected reviewer on AJB rates it 9/10...
    http://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/34464/bond-continuation-novel-reviews/page/2/

    Respected by whom precisely? I'm guessing he doesnt work for the TLS?

    How many Fleming novels would even get a 9/10? Not DAF, GF or TMWTGG for sure and they are all better than Icebreaker. This guy is saying that FRWL is only 10% better than Icebreaker (and that's assuming he gives FRWL a 10. With critical faculties like that he probably awards it a 3)?

    Mental.

    Don't get me wrong Icebreaker is not the worst Bond book ever written. There is some good stuff - I like all the Helsinki stuff and the cold setting (the torture is very good to be fair) but most of it is just Bond sat around in a hotel with a dull team of predictably doublecrossing agents and the whole 4th Reich thing is pretty cliched. Overall its very average.

    If you give this 9/10 what room for manoeuvre do leave yourself when reviewing Fleming? You're practically bound to give them all 10/10!

    'Respected reviewer'? Dear oh dear - and I have reread your post about 6 times just to make sure I'm reading it right. Don't want to make the same mistake twice.
Sign In or Register to comment.