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Licence to Kill (James Bond) Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409135764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409135760
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Official, original James Bond from a writer described by Len Deighton as a 'master storyteller'.

About the Author

After Colonel Sun (1968) by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner was the next writer to be asked to write further adventures of James Bond. He wrote, like Fleming, fourteen Bond books, plus novelisations of the films GoldenEye and Licence to Kill, from 1981 to 1996.

Before becoming an author of fiction in the early 1960s John Gardner was variously a stage magician, a Royal Marine officer, a journalist and, for a short time, a priest in the Church of England. 'Probably the biggest mistake I ever made,' he says. 'I confused the desire to please my father with a vocation which I soon found I did not have.'

In all, Gardner had fifty-five novels to his credit - many of them bestsellers. John Gardner died in 2007.

For more information about John Gardner and his non-Bond works, visit his website.


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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amon Avis on 27 July 2012
Format: Paperback
1989's Licence to Kill was the 1st Bond novelisation since Christopher Wood's James Bond, the Spy Who Loved ME and James Bond and Moonraker (Film-Script Adaptation), which had little or nothing to do with the source texts. Having run out of Fleming titles to develop to feature length, unused elements of the novels were incorporated into an original screenplay that built upon Dalton's acclaimed and authentic portrayal in The Living Daylights. As the incumbent 007 author, a reluctant Gardner was approached by Cubby Brocoli to unite the literary and film series.

Score: 6/10. The plot sees Bond disavowed by his own service when he seeks personal revenge against Sanchez, the drug lord who maims his old comrade (the newly married) Felix Leiter. 007 teams up with ex-US Navy pilot Pam, chasing Sanchez and his smuggling confederate Krest from the Florida Keys to the (Mexico City-like) corrupt Isthmus City. Ahead of its time on celluloid, post Daniel Craig it's refreshingly naturalistic.

The sheer mundane nastiness of Sanchez's operation drops Bond into the 'real world' more convincingly than some of Gardner's spyworld yarns. The fast and well subplotted narrative plays to the writer's strengths of exciting action, technical detail and evocative locales (eg warehouse, Wave Krest, sniper sequence and high speed finale). Gardner makes the most of Major Boothroyd/Q's 1st appearance in his books (he's usually 'offscreen', supplanted by his deputy Q'ute!) and Bond's standard 80s Boldman alias gets a nod.
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By Samuel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Gardner was the first author to write Bond books following the death of Ian Fleming, with the exception of Kingsley Amis, who published Colonel Sun under the pseudonym Robert Markham back in the 1960s.

Gardner is responsible for ten or so Bond novels which are original stories, which vary from the brilliant and Fleming-like 'Role of Honour' to the yawnsome 'The Man from Barbarossa'. It was with uncertainty that I started reading Licence To Kill - firstly because I have only vague memories of the film starring Timothy Dalton, and secondly because Gardner's canon of Bond works has been so hit and miss. Unfortunately I was right to be uncertain, as this is certainly the weakest Gardner book that I have read.

Maybe because this is essentially 'the novel of the film', the book justs seem to be a series of setpieces with little hanging between them, and the characterisation that is so evident in Fleming's novels and some of the other Gardner novels is just completely absent. Bond is reduced to a two-dimensional character with few plus points (and even fewer novels), and the storyline is just completely unconvincing. There are blatant rip-offs of scenes from other books (Felix Leiter versus a shark, anybody?), and I really struggled to reach the end of the book, let alone find it enjoyable.

If you want a decent Bond novel, then buy some of the other reissued Gardner stories (Role of Honour, Scorpius and Licence Renewed are all great stories almost up to Fleming's standards), or, even better, if you haven't read the original canon, do so. But avoid this at all costs - it's not worthy of having the name 'Bond' on the cover.
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As you probably already know, this book is a novelisation of the 1989 Bond film of the same name, as opposed to an original novel by John Gardner. I've always been slightly wary of novelisations, as they often stick so closely to the film they are based on that you end up asking yourself "Why did I waste days reading that when I could have just watched the movie in two hours?". A good novelisation, however, takes advantage of the fact that it is not tied down by a two-hour running time, and essaentially becomes a more detailed and satisfying version of the film.

Gardner's Licence To Kill falls ino the latter category, as it adds a lot more depth and background to to the film's plot and goes to great lengths to fill in some of the movie's plot holes. The one, glaring flaw is Gardner's strange decision to place this book in the same line of continuity as his, and Ian Fleming's, previous Bond novels. Because some of the events and characters in the film were taken from Fleming's books in the first place, the choice to position this book as a follow-on from Fleming's seems ill-advised, and forces the reader to suspend a significant amount of disbelief as Bond apparently relives events that have already happened to him.

For example, Felix Leiter is attacked by a shark for a second time since Fleming's "Live and Let Die", in a chapter called "Lightning Sometimes Does Strike Twice". The shark does nothing except bite off his false limbs, which makes Bond's motivation for revenge seem a little thin when compared to the film, in which Felix had not suffered a previous shark attack and lost his real leg.
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