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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller masterclass.
Gardner wrote 16 Bond books in 16 years, and this was his own favourite; he was an excellent writer whose accomplished skills reflected his wide range of life-experiences, including WW2 exploits, religious life, hard drinking & even membership of the Magicians Circle; a very interesting fellow.

The books were derided at the time of publication, (I think simply...
Published 23 months ago by F. Comiskey

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Martini Extra Dry, Ice Cold
The fall of communism flummoxed many thriller writers but Gardner had coped well. After dispatching the last gasp of SMERSH in KGB clothing in No Deals, Mr. Bond (James Bond), 007 had fought supervillain Scorpius (James Bond), SPECTREesque terrorists in Win, Lose or Die (James Bond), and Chinese agent Brokenclaw (James Bond). But in 1991, as the world focused on Iraq's...
Published 24 months ago by Amon Avis


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Martini Extra Dry, Ice Cold, 27 July 2012
The fall of communism flummoxed many thriller writers but Gardner had coped well. After dispatching the last gasp of SMERSH in KGB clothing in No Deals, Mr. Bond (James Bond), 007 had fought supervillain Scorpius (James Bond), SPECTREesque terrorists in Win, Lose or Die (James Bond), and Chinese agent Brokenclaw (James Bond). But in 1991, as the world focused on Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Russia was far from stable.

Score: 6/10. After a year of desk work (spent recuperating after Brokenclaw), 007 is faced with a new and obscure para-military organisation 'The Scales of Justice'. Apparently dedicated to locating ex-Nazis living incognito, then abducting them for war crime trials, the world's intelligence agencies are sceptical. While Icebreaker (James Bond 3) had Bond on a joint services operation, this time the newly onside KGB want 007 under their orders!

Having remembered it as my least favourite of Gardner's Bonds, after Brokenclaw it's very refreshing. 007's back in a cold London, brooding over his paperwork and flirting with Moneypenny for the first time in 3 books. M's office has had its first major refurb, the glass topped desk neatly anticipating the Judi Dench/ Barbara Mawdsley one. Back with the ASP, the Boldman alias and Q Branch's latest micro arsenal of gadgets (hidden in a very 90s denim jacket instead of the belt or briefcase), Bond is plunged into a tryst with an appropriately French femme fatale then nearly killed in a dark alley.

Gone is the flippancy in dialogue and prose of late, replaced with a more serious tone, while intercutting the relevant and tense USA kidknapping scenes feeds (rather than detracts from) the plot and pace. The prologue set during Hitler's invasion of Russia in WW2 (Operation Barbarossa) is all the more moving because it's starkly told. (Maybe it's personal taste but I don't think Gardner does 'funny' particularly well: the troupe of SIS agents called Nigsy Meadows, Fanny Farmer, Pansy Whoever, etc, may have been closer to the truth than any licence to kill but I know which I prefer.)

If only the middle chapters weren't so terribly dry. Once in Russia there's a lot of political ruminating, the pace deadens, the character count rises off the scale and the long briefing sequences (typical in 90s Gardner) begin. This can make any thriller stodgy: while there's enough meat amongst the potatos plotwise, it's the sauce that's lacking here. When we get to the villain's lair it's pleasingly surreal and there are some very sexy moments, but the threat remains diffuse. Even Bond (whose knowledge of TV camerawork is a lot fortunate) admits he's bored at the start of chapter 16. Ever more minor characters (also having long conversations) pop up, weaving a broader plot but slowing the action.

Then in the last quarter the tension accelerates, the bullets start flying and our man gets going as a well drawn (if unremarkable) villain emerges with a really disconcerting scheme. As ever with Gardner, there's lots of fun guessing the characters' loyalties and (despite the multi-stranded plot) most of the feints and improbable moves hold up. Just! While it's not vintage stuff, it was Gardner's favourite of his 90s Bonds. I wouldn't suggest the uninitiated start here, but it may reward those fans of his 80s contribution, especially Icebreaker and Scorpius: whilst it superficially resembles the former, the mix of elemental plotting, long chats and bursts of action is more reminiscent of the latter. Not bad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Topical even today., 13 Oct 2012
By 
M. Crossman (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The fall of Communism in Russia was big news during the 90's and Gardner wisely uses this backdrop for "The Man From Barbarossa".
In this book the main threat is General Yevgeny Yuskovich who wants to reinstate communism in his homeland, help Iraq and the destroy America (some things never change). See! Topical.
By this stage I felt that John Gardner was churning these out for the royalty cheque rather than for any fondness of the character but perhaps I'm being too mean.
It's certainly not one of the best in the series and I feel Mr Gardner was treading water somewhat.
Still fun, but not the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmmmmm.... Not quite the usual standard of Bond writing!, 6 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Man from Barbarossa (James Bond) (Kindle Edition)
I am a big fan of John Gardner's Bond books. While it might be considered blasphemy, I'd go as far as to say he is my favourite of all the bond writers. Sadly this book is definately not up to the standard of any of the others. Despite being the ultimate secret agent you certainly have to suspend your disbelief to believe that Bond could get out of some of the scenarios in this book. We're meant to believe that despite already having been 'made' by his captors and also having a crack platoon of Spetznaz troops and their superiors actively looking for him, he evades them by sticking on a false moustache and joining them for dinner. He's then more or less recognised but they then still just let him walk out and release his colleagues from imprisonment, whereupon they then wreck the whole fiendish plot in 5 minutes during the last couple of pages. Sorry, if you're a Bond fan best to avoid this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller masterclass., 2 Aug 2012
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Gardner wrote 16 Bond books in 16 years, and this was his own favourite; he was an excellent writer whose accomplished skills reflected his wide range of life-experiences, including WW2 exploits, religious life, hard drinking & even membership of the Magicians Circle; a very interesting fellow.

The books were derided at the time of publication, (I think simply because purists sneered that they were - clearly - not written by Fleming), but if you allow for the fact that - like the original canon - they are of their time, you are in for a real treat; fast, ingenious, well structured plots, interesting characters and good dialogue.

He gives you what you want, but there is an added layer of suspense that informs Gardner's other novels, namely, that in the spy game, you never know who to trust, so Bond is continually on his toes, and you will be too.

Anyway, without giving anything away, this one starts with a relatively unknown horror of modern history that will make you wonder where it is going, and culminates in a dastardly plot that would change the path of global history; you will have great fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of Gardner’s best books imho, 11 May 2014
By 
M. O. HAYNES "couch magpie" (UK) - See all my reviews
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The Man From Barbarossa features a great twisting plot and most of the action is based in Russia around the time the communist regime was being dismantled. So when Sebastian Faulks said he had chosen Russia as his location for his Bond outing “Devil May Care” because Bond had never been there, he was perhaps limiting this assertion to Fleming’s Bond.

This book also manages to cover the barbarism of the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII with particular focus on the treatment of Jews. The ‘Scales of Justice’ are a terrorist organisation for hire who kidnap a man they suspect of being a Nazi war criminal hiding in America. They put this man on trial in a complex attempt to undermine the new Russian regime.

Bond and the reader are kept in the dark about all the facts surrounding the terrorist group until very late in the book and it is this atmosphere of uncertainty and mystery that kept me hooked.

There is a smattering of real-world gadgetry and tradecraft and even when the usual global threat is unveiled it all seems very believable for a change. It felt to me that Gardner had done some hard slog in terms of researching the story and grounding it within a context of real world political events and for this he should be applauded. If you only read on of Gardner’s Bond books then make it this one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday reading, 9 July 2013
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This review is from: The Man from Barbarossa (James Bond) (Kindle Edition)
Chose this book for my Kindle to go on holidays, did'nt give 5 stars as I still hav'nt finished the book yet.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The double agents return, 6 May 2013
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J Gardner made a good work of trying to keep a matter of the past (the cold war, and double agents) as much as possible understandable in today world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars James Bond - Barbarossa, 11 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Man from Barbarossa (James Bond) (Kindle Edition)
Excellent read in exciting james Bond style. Action was fast and decription of actions and whereabouts was in keeping with Ian Fleming.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bond is back, 12 Oct 2013
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We have heard the sentence before. Bond is back. Well, he is. John Gardner actually beat Ian Fleming in the end. He wrote more Bond stories than Fleming. Naturally he can never take credit for having invented the character, but nevertheless he wrote a series of great stories.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Bond, 29 Jan 2013
By 
Paul Niedernhofer (Springfield, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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I did not own a complete set of the John Gardner Bond books. All the titles are not available in the US, so a matched set from the UK was just what I needed.
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