What is everyone’s three favorite and three least favorite 007 books, not by Ian Fleming? And why? I still need to read more but by the end of the year I should have more time. Young Bond, Dynamite Comics etc. are welcome as well!
I haven’t read enough of the continuation novel for my opinion on those to mean much, but I highly recommend some of the non-fiction Bond books, like The Battle for Bond, The Man with the Golden Typewriter, Some Kind of Hero, one of Roger Moore’s books, one of Charles Helfenstein’s books, or a Fleming biography…
I’m collecting all of Roger Moore’s books first, as he is a fun writer as I’ve told.
Christopher Wood’s James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me is a terrific read and very, very Fleming in places. It successfully manages to be both a good adaptation of the film and a very good Bond novel.
Charlie Higson’s By Royal Command is a fitting culminatiuon to Higson’s arc on Young Bond. I really hoped he would do some books on Bond’s WW2 service. This one really feels like the moment Bond started becoming Bond the man rather than Bond the boy.
Ooh… I’m going to go for Anthony Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis just ahead of Colonel Sun, though tomorrow it might be different. I liked the feel of both books. They both felt like genuine Bond - Colonel Sun has a better villain and torture scene IMHO but in today’s mood, Trigger Mortis just edges it.
Honourable mentions to Licence Renewed which I adored when it came out, Icebreaker (very twisty, turny) the novelisation of Moonraker (not as good as JB, TSWLM but still very enjoyable), Double or Die, James Bond, An Authorised Biography, The Battle for Bond and Roger Moore’s My Word is my Bond.
I won’t mention my least favourite three. I’m a writer by trade and it would feel like a professional discourtesy to be openly negative about another writer.
Forever and a Day
The Authorised Biography of 007
All the Higson books as well.
Charles Helfenstein’s two making of books (OHMSS and TLD) are also excellent.
For Special Services
Never Dream of Dying
For Special Services.
Nobody Lives Forever.
High Time to Kill.
The Man With the Red Tattoo.
As for least favorites, the later Gardner books were not nearly as good as his first few. I think he ran out of steam.
The three favorites:
James Bond and Moonraker by Christopher Wood
James Bond The spy who loved me also by Wood
and the Autorished Biography of 007 by John Pearson
The least favorites:
The man from Barbarossa by John Gardner
No deals, Mr. Bond by Gardner
Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver
There’s a fantastic book called “The Politics of James Bond” by Jeremy Black that traces the films from the 60s to the 90s. Very enlightening. Explains why the movies are never set in a former commonwealth (sorry, Australia.)
Also Raymond Benson’s James Bond Bedside Companion.
As for Bond books:
Colonel Sun by Markham/Amis
Authorized Biography by Pearson
James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me novelization by Christopher Wood
Icebreaker by Gardner
No Deals, Mr. Bond by Gardner
Win, Lose or Die by Gardner
The Facts of Death by Benson
Double Shot by Benson
Never Dream of Dying by Benson
Admittedly, some of these aren’t the best, I just remember enjoying reading them.
Role of Honour
The Man from Barbarossa
Never read none of the Charlie Higson’s Yound Bond novels. Are they worth a read?
They’re cracking books. The best ones being Silverfin, Double or Die and By Royal Command. The latter especially, is a cracker.
Definitely worth a read!
A very entertaining set of books with great characters and concepts. I like them all, however Blood Fever is my favourite, followed by Double or Die and By Royal Command.
My favorite non-Fleming 007 novels are:
Nobody Lives Forever by John Gardner – a unique twist with Bond being the hunted; my favorite continuation novel
Licence To Kill by John Gardner – the best novelization, just as exciting as the movie
High Time To Kill by Raymond Benson – another unique adventure that pits 007 in a race against time and the elements as well as enemies within and without his mountain climbing party
My least favorite are:
The Man From Barbarossa by John Gardner – a different take on Bond that ultimately misses the mark
Cold Fall by John Gardner – interesting concept, but it never realizes its full potential
Solo by William Boyd – my least favorite of the whole series; a “more realistic” spy story where Bond doesn’t actually do much
Charlie Higson’s novels are really good. My favorite of his is Blood Fever with Double Or Die second.
Finished Licence Renewed today as part of my Gardner re-read. Took me two days. It’s not groundbreaking, but I’m willing to put it in the good category for what I deem to be a successful 1980s update. Onto For Special Services next.
For Special Services, might be my single most despised piece of the entire Bond franchise. There is so much cringe in it, that I cannot believe glidrose agreed to publish it.
3 favorite non-Fleming’s:
Trigger Mortis: This is possibly the best continuation novel in the entire run. It would make a great film.
James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me: Its surprising just how good this novel is. For a novelization, it also differs from its cinematic counterpart quite a bit.
Colonel Sun: It’s too bad Amis never did another as his first go was excellent. The set up is intriguing and used in TWINE, the locations are lovely (used in FYEO), the characters are some of the best in the series (villain used in DAD….kind of, one could argue Anya is based on Ariadne), and the torture sequence is one of the most harrowing in the series (used almost verbatim in Spectre).
3 worst novels: (of the ones I’ve read)
For Special Services: enough has been said about this one and it can burn in hell.
Scorpius: An interesting premise that is wasted on a boring and plodding story with a literal do-nothing villain. That’s not true, he doesn’t necessarily “do nothing”, I mean, he feeds Bond.
Devil May Care: It literally just rehashes moments from other, better stories. And the big twist of Scarlett and Poppy being the same person is practically advertised on a billboard it’s so obvious. It’s gotta be the most dense Bond has ever been.
- Solo: An aging Bond confronts his role as government agent acting on behalf of corporate greed. Not the cheeriest of tales, but it’s a theme Fleming might have touched on as he grew more disillusioned with the state of the world and his character. Boyd also nails the aesthetics of Bond’s world.
- Nobody Lives Forever
- Trigger Mortis
- Anything by Benson
- For Special Services
- The Man from Barbarossa
I finally finished the Gardner era. Here’s my ranking:
- NOBODY LIVES FOREVER
- FOR SPECIAL SERVICES
- WIN, LOSE OR DIE
- LICENCE RENEWED
- ROLE OF HONOUR
- DEATH IS FOREVER
- NO DEALS, MR BOND
- NEVER SEND FLOWERS
- THE MAN FROM BARBAROSSA
Interesting sharpshooter. My rankings aren’t too dissimilar. Counting the novelizations, my rankings are:
- Licence To Kill
- Nobody Lives Forever
- License Renewed
- Role Of Honor
- For Special Services
- Death Is Forever
- No Deals, Mr. Bond
- Win, Lose Or Die
- Never Send Flowers
- Cold Fall
- The Man From Barbarossa
Having finished High Time To Kill, I have to say it’s an outstanding Bond story that has the double crossing of Gardner without over complication. Roland Marquis is one of the best developed villains from the continuation novels and you really grow to hate him. There’s a sense of drama about the proceedings that compelled me to keep reading, and the intrigue of The Union was a large part of that.
Next stop, DoubleShot.
Great book (HTTK). Benson’s best. Doubleshot is really good too.