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Solo: A James Bond Novel Paperback – 8 May 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (8 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0099578972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099578970
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection, and most recently, the bestselling Ordinary Thunderstorms.

(Photo credit: Eamonn McCabe)


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Outsider on 13 May 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a far better book than Seb Faulks hammy pastiche of 2009. It has a grittiness and authenticity all of its own. Just as Boyd is a better writer, this is a superior effort, up there with Fleming's best. Why?

For a start, this character is more like Bond - he is violent, sexy, intelligent and a few steps ahead of most people. When he fails he fails spectacularly. The story is about deception - Bond thinks he is helping stop a civil war, in Africa but ends up in the middle of it, helping the wrong side. He is taken in by an African seductress, in true Bond fashion, helps a typically ruthless Bond henchman called Kobus Breed, and ends up on the winning side by going 'solo' to get his revenge. It avoids a lot of Bond cliché's whilst embracing them. at the same time.

I am happy that Boyd took this on. He is one modern Brit writer I always read, and this is more than pastiche. It is an addition to the Bond cannon - and moves it forwards.
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Amon Avis on 30 Sep 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Promoting Solo in the Guardian newspaper (28/9/13) Boyd printed an 'interview' between himself and James Bond from 1969. Fun but it helped me put my finger on it- this is a 007 novel written as though Ian Fleming never existed. While it's obvious from the blurb that Boyd eschewed a classic Bond plot (playing cat & mouse vs supervillain), and clear that he hasn't attempted Fleming's voice, the wholesale dumping of the thriller style is a courageous mistake. The result is a curate's egg, lacking in action and pace but compelling in tone and atmosphere.

To start with the positive, he's got Bond pretty darn close. Beyond the welcome knitted tie, eggs, fags, etc, there's an appreciation for the dry, humane, pernickety but coldly professional hero. His voice especially shines through: be it grumbles at the service industry, or an impressively unfusty appreciation of young people's fashion and freedom. The mischief in Richmond didn't worry me from a character point of view: silly, reckless, ungallant, man without milk tray but very human.

Moreover the period setting is consummate, effortlessly weaving in the old world trappings that were a powerful counterpoint to 007's extravagant adventures: Dimple Haig, the old pound note, Jensen FF. By extension, the undoubted high light of the book is the fictional African failed state. Boyd's background obviously informs the wildlife, geography, politics of Zanzarim; the late colonial setting is perfect for Bond who operates best on a thin veneer of civilisation, the private club never more than a few steps from the urban guerrilla. Remoteness and exoticism are at the heart of the best Bond outings, and Zanzarim must be a contender for the most alien: vivid, horrific and haunting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 13 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As others have said the style is quite true to Fleming. It is an interesting tale though I found the first half more interesting than the second. I would like to see the author write more of these books.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Weevil on 4 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book. And for the first third I think I did.

I bought it on release day for my Kindle while on holiday in France and I very rarely buy books on release - the price usually falls within a few weeks so I wait.

The idea of setting the story back in the 1960's seemed to be a fantastic one.

I liked the simplicity of the first part of the book and I liked the pace - as I remember them Fleming's books were fairly slow so this book seemed to me to be following in those traditions. But on top of that I liked the idea that Bond's character was changing gradually with age.

The problems were mainly with the later parts of the book.

The plot is weak and the other characters are unbelievably dull and uninspiring. It might have been enough material for a short story. I certainly wasn't enough for a full length novel.

I particularly didn't like the attempt to overlay modern political views on characters from the 50's and 60's. I can't say too much as I don't want to spoil the book for others but to me it felt incongruous to say the least. The Bond character is entitled to change and develop with age and attitudes in the 1960's were changing rapidly - but I couldn't believe that a man with the background of James Bond would reflect on some of the events in the book the way he did.

The attitudes and politics that were acceptable in the 1950's are not acceptable for the "hero" of a book in the present day so we end up with a strange hybrid of a character who seems to be out of time with both then and now.

I think I'll be ignoring any future attempts to write new Bond books - they can't seem to live up to my expectations.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Darren Freebury-jones on 2 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm uncertain as to why so many continuation authors have failed so miserably to produce a work that is at least on par with Fleming's lesser Bond novels, but it's fair to say that the concept of handing the holster over to best-selling authors who make self-aggrandising remarks in interviews, such as Faulks and Boyd, hasn't worked. Solo paints a vague shadow of Fleming's cold war hero, therefore failing in the same department as Carte Blanche (although I found it one of the more engrossing Bond adventures), exemplifying overtly political themes that don't quite belong in the fantasy world of Bond (a flaw in the otherwise rather good and certainly Flemingian Colonel Sun), and somehow, with its convoluted plot and half-arsed musings, being less memorable than the awful Devil May Care. Boyd stated that his sex scenes would be better written than Fleming's - well, they're not. Fleming's passages were memorable, while Boyd clearly inserts (no pun intended) a bit of hanky-panky out of obligation, whilst reading like a man who wouldn't know sadomasochism if Sade and Sacher-Masoch slapped him in the face. Solo is incredibly dull, hastily edited, lacks the adroit handling of imagery and syntax and sensuality and rawness and escapism of Fleming's works, and can only be compared to Gardner's lesser efforts with regards to quality; it is devoid of pleasure, memorable villains or sexy females. Give a true fan an opportunity to write a Bond novel - an individual who doesn't claim to better the creator. This is simply another pretentious disappointment for fans of the literary 007.
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