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James Bond: The Union Trilogy: Three 007 Novels Paperback – 1 Oct 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 846 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (1 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781605980072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605980072
  • ASIN: 1605980072
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

It's clear that Benson is the best of the successors to Bond creator Fleming. Fans of Fleming's original novels can pick up a Benson adventure and feel right at home.

About the Author

Raymond Benson is the author of The Facts of Death, Zero Minus Ten, High Time to Kill and the novelizations of Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. He is a director of The Ian Fleming Foundation. Benson lives and works in the Chicago area.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Union Trilogy is a terrific start for anybody interested in reading Bond. Just like the films, there's action, women, guns, baddies and intrigue!

In this stellar paperback collection, not only are we treated to a new forward by the author, the brilliant Raymond Benson, but also a marvellous, action-packed short story. But the main attraction are the three novels, placed sequentially, and chronicle 007's adventures against the freelance terrorist organisation "The Union", led by the enigmatic Le Gerant.

The first book "High Time to Kill" draws comparisons with the Sly Stallone flick Cliffhanger, and sees a secret formula made by the British military stolen by a traitor and wind up on the very top of Mount Kangchenjunga - the third highest mountain in the world. The Russian Mafia, the Chinese, the Belgian, and The Union are after it. And so is James Bond. "High Time to Kill" is a marvellous read, and is a thrill ride from the start and onwards.

The second novel, "Doubleshot", finds James Bond weary and wounded after the events in the previous book, and he wants revenge from The Union; and they want revenge from him too. Framed for the death of lady friend, and a searing head injury inducing frequent black outs, Bond goes rogue and follows the trail to Spain, where he meets the evil and deranged former matador Domingo Espada, who wants to see Gibraltar taken from Britain and returned to Spain. Under the vicious undercurrent of evil and the blistering Spanish sun, The Union are drawing 007 into a trap, and have also surgically crafted a double for Bond; who naturally wreaks havoc around Gibraltar, murdering innocent citizens and forcing M16 to believe that Bond is now working for the enemies.
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Format: Paperback
This year saw the release of new adult Bond novel, Devil May Care, by the celebrated novelist Sebastian Faulks, and the press frequently said it was the first James Bond novel since Ian Fleming. Not true. There have be over a dozen "continuation novels", including six books by Raymond Benson (author of the The James Bond Bedside Companion).

All of Benson's Bond novels are terrific 007 adventures (all set in present day), and he really hit his stride with these three books, which are loosely connected and form a "trilogy" within his series (similar to Fleming's "Blofeld Trilogy"). High Time To Kill is, IMO, one of the very best James Bond novels ever written, taking Bond to Tibet for a high altitude mountaineering adventure. Doubleshot is a bold and experimental Bond novel which finds Bond mentally impaired (due to injuries in the last book) to the point of fearing he may be going insane. Never Dream of Dying is a fantastic book with Raymond's best female character and relationship.

With Benson's Bond novels now all out of print, it's great to have these novels collected. For those who read Devil May Care and are craving more post Fleming 007, this is the book for you.

But what's most exciting about this release for me is that it includes the full and uncut version of "Blast From The Past," Benson's first James Bond short story. This story was only ever published in Playboy, and this full version has never before been published in English.

Here's hoping Benson's remaining Bond novels (and short stories) will be collected as well.
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Format: Paperback
I agree absolutely with the majority of reviewers here that these 3 novels are the best of Benson's 007 output. A more assured writer by his 3rd novel, the plots here are imaginative and the style more varied than simple Fleming pastiches, while Bond's character is both faithful to the originals and well developed. There hasn't been much said of Benson's 1st 007 fiction, Blast From The Past (1997), published in the UK for the 1st time.

For over a decade this short story was the holy grail for book Bond fans. Published only in Playboy and to allow Benson a warm up, it was made all the more tantalising by featuring not only Bond's son by Kissy Suzuki, but the return of a Fleming villain. Gardner always maintained he'd been barred from using James Suzuki, so maybe it was stipulated that Benson could only use them once and in this form? When the unedited story (the Playboy version was a 3rd shorter) finally appeared it could never have lived up to expectations. Hence the 5 star trilogy, but a 3 star short story.

Score: 6/10. At first sight it's a piece of adolescent fan fiction, but a welcome reaction to John Gardner's later Bond books. Gardner was a good writer, producing several great Bond novels in the 80s; but a more mixed bag in the 90s had proved overly dry and serious. Here, by contrast, Bond is the unreconstructed man from the original books. There's a focus on action in the form of chases and gunfights in line with the 90s films. The style is modelled on Fleming too: detached, clipped, detailed, loads of verbs and very readable.

On the other hand it's very much 'Fleming-light'- like hundreds of other thrillers. Don't count on much characterisation and there's no denying that the prose is pretty lacklustre.
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