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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five of the Best, 17 July 2012
This review is from: James Bond Boxed Set 5 (Hardcover)
John Gardner remains the most prolific 007 author to date (14 novels, 2 novelisations between 1981 & 1996) yet his contribution has been out of print since the 1990s. 2012 sees Orion's (Pegasus' in the USA) release of the entire Gardner-Bond canon in unified paperback editions for the first time. As a bonus, Orion's Swordfish imprint has released hardback replicas of the first five novels, available here in a durable card slipcase.

The majority of Fleming's 1st edition covers were designed by Richard Chopping in a distinctive 'trompe l'oeil' on wood style which he repeated for Gardner's first 007 novel. That house style was maintained for the next four books, making this an attractive set. More importantly, these five (to a greater or lesser extent) are the most faithful to Fleming's narrative approach, vision of Bond's character and prose style.

Whilst loyalty to the master is not everything, rereading the whole Gardner-Bond canon this year convinces me that this set sees the author at his best. Moreover this retails at £80 and (at the time of writing) Amazon have it for £38, making it a whopping bargain. A brief word on the books:

Licence Renewed (James Bond 1) Score: 8/10. An older and wiser Bond is subtly updated for the 80s in a plot reminiscent of Goldfinger. All the Fleming ingredients are present (car, girl, OTT henchman, high living) but it's all a bit sedate until Bond's escape from the villain's lair. Still, the prose picks up once it's out of the UK and overall it's a classy start.

For Special Services (James Bond 2) Score: 9/10. Gardner steps it up right from the first page with Bond facing the return of SPECTRE, mid-air hijacks and a threat to US weapon satelites. Tense action, exotic locales, great set pieces, macabre deaths, sexy women, a new Blofeld and two clever showdowns. Often thought to be his best.

Icebreaker (James Bond 3) Score: 7/10. A brave misfire and a favourite of many fans. The arctic setting, car chase and torture scene are brilliant, but 007 is deprived of the initiative: too many conversations in hotel rooms, everyone's a double/triple/quadruple agent and the bad guy's barely in it. A fun and atmospheric whodunnit, but Bond's presence adds little.

Role of Honour (James Bond) Score: 8/10. A well written, if straightforward, Bond tale with some great Fleming style touches (Bentley, ASP, Monte Carlo, clever sexy women, a convincing romance). Shame the villain and his tabletop game are a bit weak, and the computer stuff has aged badly.

Nobody Lives For Ever (James Bond) Score: 9/10. Gardner pays homage to Fleming with tight evocative writing, a no-nonsense portrayal of Bond and loads of violent action. A simple 'death race' plot (with 007 as the target) keeps up the pace, the luxurious settings are great and the diverse characters (good and bad) are well drawn. Just a pity it's so short.

More original plots would follow (No Deals, Mr. Bond (James Bond), Win, Lose or Die (James Bond) and Death is Forever (James Bond) are particularly strong and well worth a look) as Gardner branched out. However, if you like Bond in the classic form look no further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars book review, 12 Jun 2013
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This review is from: James Bond Boxed Set 5 (Hardcover)
excellent totally diffrent from the films well worth a read the books are of a good quality nd well presented.
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5.0 out of 5 stars John Gardner continues where Ian Fleming finished, 14 May 2014
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This review is from: James Bond Boxed Set 5 (Hardcover)
The John Gardner James Bond stories are excellent,they are fast moving and have an excellent plot.I would recommend these
stories to anybody who enjoyed the Ian Fleming stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars James Bond, 29 Jan 2013
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Paul Niedernhofer (Springfield, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: James Bond Boxed Set 5 (Hardcover)
I always liked the John Gardner James Bond stories. I wish they had released all of the titles as hardcovers, but that didn't happen. I bought these 5, and the entire John Gardner run in matching softcovers. Love the UK editions.
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James Bond Boxed Set 5
James Bond Boxed Set 5 by John Gardner (Hardcover - 10 Nov 2011)
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