Having just read By Royal Command in about seven hours, it's clear it's a page turner. Whilst not as lean and thrilling as Double or Die, or as action packed as Hurricane Gold, BRC is a more complex beast but just as good, and a fitting end (sadly) to the Young Bond series (at least for now).
The edges of enemy sides are blurred as Bond discovers people are far greyer than he originally thought. The whole book has the ominous presence of the upcoming war. People are paranoid, violence starts to become a way of life, loyalties are questioned. It's a dangerous time.
The book is very well written, with no easy answers for who's right in war or fighting. Bond is a more angry, conflicted character, very much in the mold of Fleming's novels.
My only minor gripes were some of the characterisations of the villains and henchmen weren't as well developed as some of the previous books. There were some nice links to previous books, but i felt they weren't as explored as much as i'd like (and occasionally smacked of plot contrievence) and a few of the later action set pieces have a slight over familiarity to previous Young Bond books...
But it's still a cracking read, and links the character to the older Bond nicely (unlike say the Star Wars prequels did with Darth Vader).
So another belter from Mr Higson, and given the success of the series, i can only hope to see him follow them up with Bond at Fettes... and then lying about his age to join World War 2 for further adventures.