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Solo Audio Download – Unabridged

3.6 out of 5 stars 371 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 39 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audiobooks
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 26 Sept. 2013
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EOVY408

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Promoting Solo in the Guardian newspaper (28/9/13) Boyd printed an 'interview' between himself and James Bond from 1969. Fun but it helped me put my finger on it- this is a 007 novel written as though Ian Fleming never existed. While it's obvious from the blurb that Boyd eschewed a classic Bond plot (playing cat & mouse vs supervillain), and clear that he hasn't attempted Fleming's voice, the wholesale dumping of the thriller style is a courageous mistake. The result is a curate's egg, lacking in action and pace but compelling in tone and atmosphere.

To start with the positive, he's got Bond pretty darn close. Beyond the welcome knitted tie, eggs, fags, etc, there's an appreciation for the dry, humane, pernickety but coldly professional hero. His voice especially shines through: be it grumbles at the service industry, or an impressively unfusty appreciation of young people's fashion and freedom. The mischief in Richmond didn't worry me from a character point of view: silly, reckless, ungallant, man without milk tray but very human.

Moreover the period setting is consummate, effortlessly weaving in the old world trappings that were a powerful counterpoint to 007's extravagant adventures: Dimple Haig, the old pound note, Jensen FF. By extension, the undoubted high light of the book is the fictional African failed state. Boyd's background obviously informs the wildlife, geography, politics of Zanzarim; the late colonial setting is perfect for Bond who operates best on a thin veneer of civilisation, the private club never more than a few steps from the urban guerrilla. Remoteness and exoticism are at the heart of the best Bond outings, and Zanzarim must be a contender for the most alien: vivid, horrific and haunting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh what a disappointment! Ian Fleming was a great story-teller with one of the most enjoyable fictional spies ever imagined. Having read his books years ago I looked forward to this 'sequel' by William Boyd. But sadly Boyd is not Fleming. What we have is a poor pastiche of the style and, of course, the main character, but nothing more. Whereas Fleming had you gripped and turning the pages, this left me unengaged and frankly indifferent, both to the man and to what happens next. I appreciate that only Fleming will write like Fleming, but there are masters of plotting and narrative out there (Anthony Horowitz for one) who can write this kind of 'sequel' and have done it brilliantly for other authors. Sorry. I wanted to enjoy it, but I didn't.
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Format: Paperback
This is moderately successful, better in some parts than in others, much like the Ian Fleming originals. There's a certain pleasure in ticking off all the generic conventions as they're duly called into service: fast girls, faster cars, particular - and often peculiar - dietary requirements, the right weapon, characters' bizarre names (Sunday, Blessing, Christmas), inventive death, etc, etc: yes, they're all here. Boyd even remembers the story of Fleming learning that in real life one always vomits when recovering consciousness. Fleming included the detail in his next novel, and here it is in Boyd, too. Twice.

While all of this may indeed 'A James Bond Novel' make, it doesn't in itself add up to an effective thriller. Solo is exciting in places, but drags in others, which I suppose is not unusual, but one has come to expect more from James Bond, perhaps unreasonably, especially as I think I remember the same being true of at least some of Fleming's efforts, though they at least had the benefit of originality, a luxury not enjoyed by Boyd.

Boyd has famously chosen to set the novel in 1969, so here we have a historical novel, too: while period detail is dutifully included and anachronism doesn't exactly abound, neither is it wholly absent, and it grates. I don't for a moment believe that she had a 'day from hell', and I'm suspicious of a hospital that was 'state of the art', or that Bond appreciates 'effective PR'.

A generally enjoyable literary exercise: well done. Now, put your money away, Mr Boyd, and write something much better.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If there was ever an index to measure the page turning appeal of an author, William Boyd would probably be one of the few who would surpass Ian Fleming. Reading some of the other reviews, the immediate pitfall is that Fleming's work is used as a barometer to judge Boyd's taking up the reins of the James Bond character. For me, this overlooks the fact that Fleming's books are incredibly inconsistent with efforts like "Moonraker" and "You only live twice" being pretty risible. Stripped down to a short story format or taken from an original perspective such as "FRWL" or "TSWLM" , Fleming seemed a better writer, the dodgy dialogue and bizarre endings factored out in a lithe and economic narrative.

It has to be said that "Solo" is probably amongst the very best of the Bond novels. Boyd has done his homework and the references to the food he eats, the clothes he wears and even his fear of flying demonstrate familiarity with the Bond novels. Fleming's last full novel, "The man with the golden gun" seemed to suggest a changing point with Fleming realising society was changing as the second half of the 1960's started. In my opinion "Solo" is strongly suggestive of the direction he would have gone in. Bond is now 45 and employed on an ill-defined missions to terminate a rebel leader who has staged a coup in the African country of Zanzarim. This is territory Boyd knows well but one totally unfamiliar to James Bond. The mission seems half-baked and Bond is out of his depth. Even when it looks like he is about to succeed, events take a sinister turn.
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