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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Ian Fleming - Happy Christmas Mr Bond...

OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2003
If you are used to the James Bond of the movies- this James Bond may come as a bit of a surprise - We see him as a bored bureaucrat on a thankless job, as a bit of a snob, as a hothead turned on by a woman overtaking him, as a loner trying to come to terms with - perish forbid - matrimony!
We follow him as he impersonates a Scottish peer, trying to act as a heraldry expert- We see him struggle to maintain his cover when a colleague is killed in front of him -We also see him meet Sable Basilisk and Griffon Orr Pursuivant, and discover his family motto - "the world is not enough" -
and his crest(3 bezants (balls)-"I am sure that is a valuable bonus")
We meet his prospective father in law, an uncommon criminal with the name of an angel - we follow him through his bloody and desperate ski ride through the Swiss alps- and we are there with him at the end of the book - where Bond takes the girl in his arms and says that they have all the time in the world.
Its not a book with a clean ending - its more like a significant chapter of the James Bond file - The most devastating personally - but as far as saving the world or Britain is concerned, the operation is done "offscreen" so to speak.
And the ending is surely one of the best of all thriller endings.
Riveting stuff- the most gadgety movie can't come near this stuff.
They dont make books or heroes like that anymore...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2015
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the tenth novel in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. It was first published in 1963. It is the second book in what is known as the “Blofeld trilogy“. This begins with Thunderball and concludes with You Only Live Twice. Fleming wrote the book in Jamaica whilst the first film in the Eon Productions series of films, Dr. No, was being filmed nearby.

After The Spy Who Loved Me’ ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ is a return to form. In some ways it is a typical Fleming book. The plot is over the top and the story is exciting. Bond is in danger throughout. We also get the customary large scale battle at the end. This is all interspersed with action and pace, for example Bond’s frenetic ski chase. But in other ways Fleming departs from his normal blueprint as he shows an emotional side to Bond. Bond visits the grave of Casino Royale‘s Vesper Lynd, which he apparently does every year. He also asks the enigmatic Tracy to marry him after becoming emotionally involved. Both Bond and Tracey appear to be isolated people who both want more security in life.

Fleming is also great at the descriptive passages too. The scenes on the beach or in the Alps are well depicted and expressed in a way without breaking up a flow in the narrative. Fleming does insist on protracted explanations of card games and alpine sports.

In summary, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a notable chapter in the saga of James Bond. It pits Bond against his arch nemesis Blofeld’s and is one of the better books. The mingling of Bond’s personal life into the tale elevates this book higher than most in the series and this keeps the reader gripped until the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
OHMSS is the eleventh appearance in print (counting the short story collection of For Your Eyes Only as one entry) for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1963 it finds our hero disillusioned with life in the secret service after a year on the trail of the probably dead Blofeld after the events of Thunderball. On the point of resigning, a chance encounter with a girl with the sort of problems that even Bond finds difficult to deal with changes both of their lives. Soon Bond is on the scent of Blofeld, tracking him down through means as varied as Corsican gangsters and the Royal College of Arms. And along the way Bond falls prey to that which he had always feared, committing an act seemingly out of character that leads to the gripping and numbing finale, with an ending even bleaker than that of Casino Royale.

This has all of Fleming's trademarks, all the qualities that made almost all of his Bond stories great reads. From the off there is a feeling of danger for Bond, either as he and Tracy are kidnapped in the opening pages, or when he is working undercover, with the threat of discovery always in the background, through to big final battle. The action scenes, especially Bond's frantic ski chase, are written with verve and vigour, and leave the reader breathless with excitement. There is character development for Bond - it is interesting to observe him becoming emotionally involved with someone for the first time, as Tracy breaks down the walls surrounding his heart. There are great descriptive passages, one can almost taste the salt in the air when Bond os on the beach, or feel the cold and see the icy snow spraying up as he is chased through the Alps. I love this aspect of Fleming's writing, very few authors can do such good descriptive work and still keep the action flowing and entertaining. And few authors of action novels bother to colour their tales so richly. Finally there is the feeling of something different. There are not many action thrillers which rely on a knowledge of heraldry, or a visit to the royal college of arms, populated by people with names such as Sable Basilisk! This section, essential to the plot, could have been dry and boring, but Fleming injects it with a little humour and makes it an enjoyable little diversion.

The plot is great, the action thrilling when it comes, the feeling of tension and danger all pervading and gives the book a real edge. The interweaving of Bond's personal life is an ingenious stroke, and lifts this book higher than most of the rest of the series. It is a classic book, worthy of 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read the James Bond books several times through when a teenager - so much so that I could almost recite whole passages off by heart - and still pick one up to reread occasionally. This is a story which encapsulates so many of the classic features of the books: the handsome, ruthless action hero, the beautiful, devoted girl, the evil genius in his mountain fastness with his brutal associates and his plan for the domination of the world (or, at least in this case, the UK). If so many of these features have become cliches since this book was written in 1963, that's a testament to its popularity and the enduring appeal of the character.

Re-reading it, I got caught up in the story once more, however unlikely and fantastic the plot appears in places, and was only momentarily distracted by the stylistic quirks. Bond's thoughts appear to be laced with rather too many exclamation marks for effectiveness - e.g. "So! Blofeld had got the fix in!", "So! Up the Davos Valley!" [pp 80,82], etc. - and there's a passage on p52 in which terms like "friends in Zurich", "wanted [man]", "watch lists" and "numbered accounts" all have the first word in quotes, as if to introduce them to readers who were unfamiliar with these - then - exotic things. But all nitpicking has gone out of the window by the end of the book and its shocking denouement: I'm always struck by how tersely this is written on the final page, and the lasting picture it leaves in the mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2015
Why oh why do writers start to take the cartoon-like figures they create so seriously? Raymond Chandler did it with Philip Marlowe in the rambling, repressed homoerotic The Long Goodbye; John Sullivan did it to his initially wonderful cast of south London reprobates in Only Fools and Horses, which had become a portentous Drama with "Real Characters" by its inglorious end; and IF has done it here with Bond, whom he decides has to undergo a tragic romance. This doomed dalliance comes in a story where an evil genius is grooming dim-witted young women atop an Alpine eyrie to become agents of bio-destruction in Britain, and where the leader of the Corsican Mafia asks the hero to drop into his parked up lorry trailer for pastoral advice about his daughter. You can also chuck in a superbly written ski chase down a mountain, complete with machine guns, grenades, and a sticky end for one of the baddies. This is the staple stuff of action thrillers and there's nothing wrong with that - just don't try to yoke it to a relationship more at home in one of the perennially gloomy Bronte sisters' novels. Did Dostoyevsky have a custard-pie flinging sequence in The Brothers Karamazov? No, of course not. What we want with James Bond is wish-fulfilment sex and violence, branded with designer labels, and nothing more.
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