Rank the John Gardner continuation novels

saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
edited April 2011 in Literary 007 Posts: 987
I have always held the opinion that the quality of John Gardner's Bond novels started fairly well but about half way through his tenure they began to decline rapidly. Putting them in a ranking order has more or less confirmed my suspicions that for me at least this tends to be the case, but how would you rank them?

1. Licence Renewed
2. For Special Services
3. Nobody Lives Forever
4. Role Of Honour
5. No Deals Mr Bond
6. Win Lose or Die
7. Scorpius
8. Seafire
9. Death Is Forever
10. The Man From Barbarossa
11. Icebreaker
12. Brokenclaw
13. Never Send Flowers
14. Cold (Cold Fall)

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Comments

  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    I agree heartily with your statement.

    Heres my ranking (with appropriate gaps to simulate the drop off in quality).

    1. Nobody Lives Forever
    2. Licence Renewed
    3. No Deals Mr Bond
    4. For Special Services

    5. Role Of Honour
    6. Win Lose or Die


    7. Death Is Forever
    8. Scorpius
    9. Icebreaker



    10. The Man From Barbarossa
    11. Brokenclaw








    12. Seafire
    13. Never Send Flowers
    14. Cold (Cold Fall)

    The last 3 in particular I remember as being appaling. I notice that although our rankings are broadly similar you have Seafire relatively high up. What was it about? Only read it once and all I can remember it it read like a fan fiction effort and was pretty dismal. What are your reasons for elevating it above Icebreaker and Death is Forever?
  • LudsLuds MIA
    Posts: 1,986
    Sadly for me this is part of the casualties of the old site. I've read all the Gardners circa 2005, and I really don't remember them enough to comment. Shame really, I remember having a list over there. Guess I just need to stop slacking and read them again!
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,513
    I go back even further than 2005. I stopped two thirds through because I wasn't enjoying them. Basically saunders' assessment rings true for me
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited April 2011 Posts: 987
    Quoting TheWizardOfIce: The last 3 in particular I remember as being appaling. I notice that although
    our rankings are broadly similar you have Seafire relatively high up. What was
    it about? Only read it once and all I can remember it it read like a fan fiction
    effort and was pretty dismal. What are your reasons for elevating it above
    Icebreaker and Death is Forever?

    Seafire while deeply flawed at least is written in the formula of the earlier Gardner efforts and a final memory of better efforts, the novels I've listed below it especially 'Death is Forever' suffer from a bored Gardner's attempt to experiment with the formula and create books that suffer greatly from having too little involvement from Bond and story structure that is highly unsuitable for a Bond adventure. Icebreaker while admittedly is more of a traditional 'Gardner Bond' adventure story it suffers greatly from highly implausible multi characters constantly swapping and re swapping sides. For the record I don't think Seafire is very good and agree with you that it reads like 'dismal fan fiction', it's just unfortunately still much better than some of his other attempts...IMHO of course. :)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 21,308
    Unfortunately I've only read the GE novelization by Gardner. I tend to read a lot but somehow, when it comes to Bond, I prefer to limit myself to Fleming.
  • edited April 2011 Posts: 2,559
    I have recently re-read all of Gardner's books. Yes, it seemed like he lost interest after Win Lose or Die (his eighth book - just over halfway excluding his two novelisations). Here's my ranking:

    For Special Services
    License Renewed
    Nobody Lives Forever (actually I can't really decide which ranks higher, LR or NLF)
    Scorpius
    No Deals Mr Bond
    Role of Honour
    Win Lose or Die
    Icebreaker
    Never Send Flowers
    Death Is Forever
    The Man From Barbarossa
    Seafire
    Cold
    Brokenclaw
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    That's a pretty fair listing Bounine, it seems we are all agreeing that the quality of his novels declined over time.
  • Posts: 116
    I just bought TMFB used hardcover; it was Gardner's favorite Bond novel + I like the title (sounds like one of those semi-espionage stories Grahame Green wrote) so I thought I'd give it a try.
  • Posts: 2,559
    Follow this link if you're interested in reading Raymond Benson's assessments of the John Gardner novels:

    http://www.klast.net/bond/nov_gard.html

    It surprises me he gave Win Lose or Die 4.5/5. I would give this novel 3/5 at best. There are some good scenarios but it lacks suspense. The end scene on the ship is too rushed.
  • Posts: 116
    Quoting Bounine: Follow this link if you're interested in reading Raymond Benson's assessments of the John Gardner novels
    Interesting! He's pretty lenient :)
    I can't wait to reread the Gardner novels, actually, and read the ones I missed from the 90's.
  • Posts: 2,559
    Yeah there are some good ones in there. Have fun!
  • Posts: 116
    I'm absolutely loving The man From Barbarossa right now. Surprised to see it ranked so low on everyone's lists...maybe it nosedives halfway through?
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 2,559
    Even though I only re-read The Man From Barbarossa back in 2009 I have still forgotten everything that happens in it except for the part when: (spolier alert)

    Bond is wholled up in the villain's headquarters where he is disguised as a camera man. This part drags a bit. I think I recall the other parts of the book being more exciting. Quite possibly it could rank a little higher on my list. I would have to read this book and three or four of his others that I also don't remember as well, again. The top 5 books and bottom 3 books on my list are definitely accurate in terms of their ranking.

    Yes, I think TMFB would have to atleast rank higher than Death is Forever now that I think about it again.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    One of the big problems with 'The Man From Barbarossa' is that it is almost a rewrite of Gardner's earlier book 'Icebreaker', just as the equally unimpressive 'Death Is Forever' is a retread of 'No Deals Mr Bond'.
  • This is a tough group of novels to rank as I believe each of them had considerable strengths... and, admittedly, some weaknesses. John Gardner carried on the series admirably and I plan on having a re-read of his novels in the near future. As it stands, this is my current ranking:

    1. Nobody Lives Forever (phenomenal!! One of my absolute favorite novels written for the Bond canon.)
    2. SeaFire
    3. For Special Services
    4. Win, Lose or Die
    5. Never Send Flowers
    6. Role of Honour
    7. Death is Forever
    8. Licence Renewed
    9. Cold
    10. No Deals, Mr. Bond
    11. Scorpius
    12. The Man from Barbarossa
    13. Brokenclaw

    This probably will change when I start my Gardner marathon, but only by a few spaces or so!
  • My failing memory forced me to look up the synopsis before I could answer theis one!!!

    Apologies Saunders, I've been a poor apprentice..... I promise to try harder and do a re read (although because of a different thread of yours, I started Benson (spit) afresh...)

    1. For Special Services
    2. Licence Renewed
    3. Icebreaker
    4. Nobody Lives Forever
    5. No Deals Mr Bond
    6. Role Of Honour
    7. Win Lose or Die
    8. Scorpius
    9. Death Is Forever
    10. Seafire
    11. Never Send Flowers
    12. The Man From Barbarossa
    13. Brokenclaw
    14. Cold Fall
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited May 2011 Posts: 987
    In my book The_Preacher711, anyone who adds a spit after typing 'Raymond Benson' dosen't need to do any apologising to anyone! :)
    I'm also struggling to get through Raymond Benson's (spit!) first effort 'Zero Minus Ten' but I'll save slagging it off for the other thread. :)
  • I'm four chapters into 'Zero', but have had to stop..... got as far as taking it out of my bag while waiting on the train station- but couldn't face it....

    I don't remember having this problem the first time around, but I suppose that was a lot of years ago now.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Be strong and stick with it, it does get better...(though admittedly, only ever so slightly).
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 139
    To be honest Mr Saunders, I think I'm going to bail out of it. If I read it all the way then it will destroy what 'pleasant' memories I did have of it.

    Also, finishing it will force me to read the next... and the next... even though I don't want to...

    Might just go back and read Gardner instead, at least until Carte Blanche.

    Or there's always Hatfield's 'Killing Zone'......
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Don't worry about it forcing you to read the next...after finishing it this morning nothing in the world would make me pick up another Benson for at least a few months. :)

    I have to admit to my deep shame I neither own nor have ever read 'The Killing Zone', I've found a website that has the whole book to read on screen, but the completest in me needs a real copy. So if anyone knows where I can buy/steal/kill for one, please let me know as it's my most sought after Bond item.
  • The way I got through Raymond Benson's novels was to just... stop all conscious thought and go with it. They were just mindless yarns that proved enjoyable at certain points. A great deal of suspending belief was involved at many junctions, but I just went with it. I took them simply for what they were. I actually enjoyed The Union Trilogy for what it was, a harkening back to the greater days of Fleming and SPECTRE. In retrospect, I enjoyed Benson's efforts far more than Sebastian Faulks novel.
  • So if anyone knows where I can buy/steal/kill for one, please let me know as it's my most sought after Bond item.
    I like a good mission, so will keep my eyes out for one....

    The sad part is, of my whole Bond collection that's the item I paid the most money for!!!
  • Posts: 2
    John Gardener... Wow. It's hard to praise a man who mostly destroyed the image of Bond! The original continuity is genius, as both Kinglsey Amis and Sebastian Faulks continued in a vein primarily inspired by Fleming, whereas Gardener decided to age Bond without taking into consideration continuity. Bond would be well into his seventies by BrokenClaw, and his best friend offering up his own daughter as Bond's "reward"? Am I the only one who finds that sickening? He also carries his SAAB 900 along with him wherever he goes, a car all gadgeted out... what happened to the stealth Bentley? His previous two Bentleys where the badge delete sleeper cars of our day, made to not stand out, and absolutely minimalist. Light cigarettes? Less booze? What? Really? His missions revolve around ancestors and poseurs and new Blofeld this and that, its a little dragged out. Blofeld was spilt over 3 novels and Fleming put that to rest. C'mon.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,513
    John Gardener... Wow. It's hard to praise a man who mostly destroyed the image of Bond! The original continuity is genius, as both Kinglsey Amis and Sebastian Faulks continued in a vein primarily inspired by Fleming, whereas Gardener decided to age Bond without taking into consideration continuity. Bond would be well into his seventies by BrokenClaw, and his best friend offering up his own daughter as Bond's "reward"? Am I the only one who finds that sickening? He also carries his SAAB 900 along with him wherever he goes, a car all gadgeted out... what happened to the stealth Bentley? His previous two Bentleys where the badge delete sleeper cars of our day, made to not stand out, and absolutely minimalist. Light cigarettes? Less booze? What? Really? His missions revolve around ancestors and poseurs and new Blofeld this and that, its a little dragged out. Blofeld was spilt over 3 novels and Fleming put that to rest. C'mon.
    Hi @intrepid. Simply can't fault your way of joining us here. That is hitting the floor running if ever I saw it. ;-)
  • Posts: 116
    I'm in the middle of Man From Barbarossa & I found this:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/12/john-demjanjuk-convicted-_n_860960.html?ncid=webmail

    Right out of the book!

    I want to find the Pearson "bio" after I finish this one...
  • Posts: 49
    The absolute best was License Renewed in my opinion. Followed by

    For Special Services
    No Deals Mr Bond
    Role Of Honour
    Icebreaker
    Win, Lose or Die
    Nobody Lives Forever
    Death Is Forever
    Scorpius
    Seafire
    The Man From Barbarossa
    Never Send Flowers
    Brokenclaw
    Cold Fall
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 2,559
    "John Gardener... Wow. It's hard to praise a man who mostly destroyed the image of Bond! The original continuity is genius, as both Kinglsey Amis and Sebastian Faulks continued in a vein primarily inspired by Fleming, whereas Gardener decided to age Bond without taking into consideration continuity. Bond would be well into his seventies by BrokenClaw, and his best friend offering up his own daughter as Bond's "reward"? Am I the only one who finds that sickening? He also carries his SAAB 900 along with him wherever he goes, a car all gadgeted out... what happened to the stealth Bentley? His previous two Bentleys where the badge delete sleeper cars of our day, made to not stand out, and absolutely minimalist. Light cigarettes? Less booze? What? Really? His missions revolve around ancestors and poseurs and new Blofeld this and that, its a little dragged out. Blofeld was spilt over 3 novels and Fleming put that to rest. C'mon."

    I don't think he "destroyed" the image of Bond. He simply made the books a little more realistic in terms of Bond's follies, adapting his habits for the more health conscious eighties when the dangers of smoking and drinking too much were more readily apparent. Certainly there are downsides to his novels. One example is the Saab which I'm not a fan of and Brokenclaw is certainly the worst Bond novel for me. Don't like it at all. Half of them are thoroughly enjoyable books however with some very Bondian moments but with less drinking and smoking (albeit it would have been nicer if he had have drunk a little more). Deaver has cut out the smoking too. There are other facets to Bond's personality aside for the drinking and smoking which Gardner did not overlook. "Destroy" is something he didn't do. That's much too harsh a word. I would pick a Gardner book over Faulks's or Bensons's fan fiction anyday. Amis's Colonel Sun is overrated I feel. It drags in the second half. A third of the Gardner books outrank it in my opinion.

    I finally got a hold of JB and Moonraker by Christopher Wood through Amazon. Looking forward to reading this. Wood's TSWLM is on it's way. Don't know why I didn't order these books ages ago! :)
  • Posts: 49
    I liked Gardner's take on Bond for the most part. Cutting out the smoking was something they also apparently adopted for the films. Less booze and cigarettes isn't very much in character I don't think for any incarnation.
  • edited May 2011 Posts: 2,559
    Pay a pound online at the Times website to read the beginning of Carte Blanche! Oh man, I'm getting excited! I'm sure the narrative concerning Bond's origin's will come later on. Not sure if I should pay the pound or not. The book aint too far away but then again...

    If Deaver does a good job with this book I'm going to wish he would write all of the Bond books! I reckon Samantha Weinberg would be a good choice. Loved her Moneypenny Diaries.

    Alright, back to John Gardner... ;-)
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