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Solo [Paperback]

William Boyd
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 6 May 2014 --  
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Book Description

6 May 2014
It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge. A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors. Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Random House Export (6 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099590344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099590347
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 581,991 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)

Product Description


"A terrific twisting thriller" Sunday Times "William Boyd brings back the real Bond, triumphantly" Daily Mail "A triumph. Bond is back" Observer "Works brilliantly well" Mail on Sunday "Superb" Scotsman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A new James Bond novel written by William Boyd.

Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Population Fiction Book of the Year Award

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed. Reviews shown are from other formats of this item.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance paid off 18 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'Solo' was a bit of a slow starter and took me a while to get into but that was probably because of it's somewhat different approach that took a little getting used to.

I found this book was a refreshing approach to a James Bond novel that did not move too far away from the feel of the original books.The old device and its many incarnations of super-villain on an island seeking to take over the world or hold it to ransom has been done definitively and parodied in the Mike Myers spoofs. Thus a new take is very welcomed. The villains and the moral dilemmas outlined within are thought provoking shades of grey, grounded in themes of the real world we live in, which I liked. Though it comes at the price of the story not being quite as colourful as in some previous instalments at times. In both a literary and artistic sense Blofeld is dead and should stay so in my opinion.

In summary I found this an intelligent Bond story that relied more upon story than action and can be related to themes in the modern day world as well as the old one. I would say that this is the closest anyone will get to writing a modern 007 novel as though Fleming were still alive or was being channelled through another writer.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deboyd of pleasure 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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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 4 Oct 2013
By Weevil
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars You see what you get!
Enjoyed new Bond books by other authors. Tried this one and enjoyed it. Not the best spy story, but typical Bond and would make a good movie.
Published 9 days ago by T. Sharpen
3.0 out of 5 stars What can I say?
You have a certain expectation with Bond novels, unfortunately although it seemed to have build on or studied previous Fleming novels it didn't have the same quality. Read more
Published 12 days ago by JULIE BARTON
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Dear !
Whilst I do understand what the author has tried to do here, it didn't work. It's really a rather dull read I'm afraid and the device of time warping back 50 years (or whatever it... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mr. A. Devitt
4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic feel and story
Traditional and gritty story line. Characterization makes the narrative convincing and delivers all the expected pleasures of a bond story. Recommended.
Published 28 days ago by John Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
William Boyd has done a good job in. adding a soldiered to the Bond series. Region kicks along at a good place, the Bond character is fully believable and the other is good enough... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Julia
2.0 out of 5 stars Ticking the boxes
Could have been written by a computer loaded with a James Bond app. Had the impression that only a financial incentive could have induced the author to have embarked on a task he... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pete Read
5.0 out of 5 stars A winner
I have never read a James Bond book before, but I am pleased I did. William Boyd is well known, but he fitted the Bond style with ease. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chunks
3.0 out of 5 stars Bond without the bullets
As a fan of William Boyd I was interested to try his take on the Bond ouevre. I am not a great fan of the original books and usually find the films just silly - although I did... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Scouse Chap
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun and convincing Bond story
I bought this as an audiobook to listen to on holiday and really enjoyed it. William Boyd is one of my favourite authors which is what really persuaded me to buy it rather than... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fish pie
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
A good holiday read but the underlying story theme was not convincing and many of the "escapes" were contrived and unbelievable

As said, disappointing,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Aspiring Kiwi
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