On His Majesty’s Secret Service

Nearly finished reading it. I have very mixed feelings about this book. Maybe it’s just me. There were elements of Forever and a Day which I wasn’t struck on, at one point I found myself thinking Horowitz has taken inspiration from Casino Royale ‘67. Kind of nice for me as it allows me to view that film as a prequel to DC’s Casino Royale.
With Higson’s latest I wonder


Why is Bond now wearing his watch on his right wrist, is he getting rid of the tan line on his other wrist? Not so crazy I switch sides in the summer so I get evenly tanned wrists lol.
For me it feels like Higson has been watching The Last Kingdom and he loved it so much he wanted to use it in a story. Felt very forced to me. Don’t get me wrong nothing wrong with the series and I’m a fan of Bernard’s writing, but still! Having said that the action sequences felt very Bondian.
Obviously I’m aware it is a charity novel written to mark the coronation, but it almost felt like a Comic Relief version of Bond, like when they crucify Doctor Who!
I did however kind of enjoy a fresh characterisation of Bond. When I was young I liked Roger Moore because he was of the time and those that followed, but appreciated SC for being closer to the books, time wise.
Also kind of jarring was the reference to OHMSS but stating that Bond was in his thirties and never any intention of marriage? Why do that?
Maybe my autism makes me fixated on minor details, maybe I think too much about Bond! But then that’s why I love this forum! :laughing:


Just finished. Overall I wasn’t particularly blown away. It was a quick read but don’t think it’ll be one I’d pick up too often.

I haven’t read the Young Bond series, but have heard all the praise, so I was interested to read Higson’s take on Bond. I did like his characterisation of Bond, he did a great job of writing the Bond character in 2023 and giving him a modern, yet still very Fleming-esque personality. I did like his Bond’s attitude to branding - I feel it’s somewhat of a dig at certain elements of online Bond-fandom who seem to think being a Bond fan is all about splashing obscene cash on flashy brands and plastering their logos everywhere.

I wasn’t overly engrossed in the plot, however, and could see why the Princes Trust “respectfully declined” to endorse it. It didn’t really feel like a “celebration” of the coronation at all and a lot of the antagonist’s critique of the UK and the monarchy clearly wouldn’t have been something they’d want their stamp on. I was expecting something of a Queen and Bond at the Olympics ceremony type of wink to the audience at the end, but it was actually all rather grim and violent, not celebratory at all. It all made it feel a rather odd, rushed and confused tie in to the occasion. Just an excuse to use the title?

Perhaps this isn’t what I should use to judge if I’d like to see Higson write more Bond. I did like his characterisation of Bond a lot, the rest of it left me wanting.


This is exactly what I feel is one of the book’s strengths. It’s a legitimate Bond story and not just a sentimental advertisement for the event or for the royal family. It has it’s own legs and will be able to stand the passage of time.

Does anyone actually consider the Olympics promo a “Bond story”?


In my personal Bond archive, everything related to it goes into a folder named “22b”. :nerd_face:


I received my copy yesterday. Can anybody tell me if all copies have a signature at the beginning of the book on the page with the huge 007? Could this be genuine, or is it just a reproduction, which all copies have?

OHMSS made The Sunday Times bestseller list for this week

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Higson said that there are signed ones among the regular batch. Apparently, there wasn’t a signed special edition, like we had it with the other Higson Bonds. He just signed some (no idea how many), and those were mixed with the regular ones.

Hope I get mine soon (got a notification that it was booked from my credit card yesterday), and that I’ll get a signed one, too.

Using a printed signature would be absolute rubbish, and it would cost IFP a lot of reputation.
Simon & Schuster did it with that Bob Dylan book last year, which backfired heavily. Those copies were sold for $600 and were supposed to be signed “in person” - which they weren’t. Simon & Schuster had to refund and got lots of bad press (as well as the Bobster himself, even though he - AFAIK - didn’t know about the whole thing). But they’re big enough to compensate everything - which IFP might not be, and in all fairness, Higson is not a name big enough to make such a risk worthwhile.

Take a closer look at the verso of that signed page. Parts of the signature should be visible there, as Edding (or similar) pens usually bleed through* (but this is not a must, I have signed Higson books in which this happened and some in which it didn’t).

*as he used them on all of my signed copies, I’m assuming it that he always uses those for signings.

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He did.

When he issued his statement he said in part:

“I’ve hand-signed each and every art print over the years, and there’s never been a problem. However, in 2019 I had a bad case of vertigo and it continued into the pandemic years. It takes a crew of five working in close quarters with me to help enable these signing sessions, and we could not find a safe and workable way to complete what I needed to do while the virus was raging. So, during the pandemic, it was impossible to sign anything and the vertigo didn’t help. With contractual deadlines looming, the idea of using an auto-pen was suggested to me, along with the assurance that this kind of thing is done ‘all the time’ in the art and literary worlds.”

If you’re referring to this:

It’s printed. It’s in the Kindle edition too.

The signed copies look like this (not my photo):

There was a video by IFP, I believe, a few weeks ago showing him signing them on person.

Mine finally arrived today. Alas, no luck, not a signed one. :slightly_frowning_face:

Nevermind, I already have a few signed Higsons…


Just received mine too today! Not the signed one either, I’m afraid.

But I’m positively surprised with the cover: I understood it would be a paperback edition, but it’s actually a hardcover one, the cover being glossy and shiny. Very neat!


My only minor quibble about the hardcover is that those corners are sharp little things. I don’t know if I’m the only one but the way I hold a book they dig into my hands.

Although now that I think about it a little physical pain while reading a Bond book is kind of ironic so… carry on :wink:


I’m halfway through the book. Really emjoying it. Very well written, genuine Fleming vibe, and a plot that is more interesting than I anticipated (although not breathtaking).

Only issue I have is that I noticed quite a lot of typos. Some words missing, some additional words where there shouldn’t be…
Do you also have that in your edition?

Higson said he found a ton of that himself when he recorded the audiobook. This was just a very last minute project that I’m sure everyone wished they had a little more time with.

Ok, thanks.
Too bad they didn’t take a few more minutes to run a quality control before releasing it…

That is not good news, and I do not care how rushed it might be. A small book could be divided up into 10 proof readers and the job would be done in a half hour. Noted that IFP are now their own publishers, if they do not have access to that many professional proof readers, who for the good cause could offer their half hour free of charge, then that does surprise me.

I hope that this will be cleared up for reprints.

I went back to watch the interview and his exact words are “I submitted at the end of March. We had a week to turn it around at the beginning of April to do all the copy editing and the proofreading and all of that. Which is why there’s a few mistakes in there… I did the audiobook of it and you’re reading and you think ‘ohhh, that’s not right.’”

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A couple other tidbits to add:

Higson and IFP have talked about him doing adult Bond books over the years. His preference has been to set them in that period after the war and before Casino Royale.

Originally the plan was for On His Majesty’s Secret Service to be a 10,000 word short story that they would put into a book with a chapter from OHMSS, a chapter from By Royal Command (when Bond met Elizabeth) and other tidbits. It kept growing to the point that it hit 40,000 words so they released it as its own book. It’s roughly as long as Man With the Golden Gun.

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Too busy scrutinising the Fleming texts I guess…

Frankly, though, I get that it was “last minute” and all that, but I read it in, I think, two days, and this was after working full days. How can a publishing house not have had staff let alone proof readers go over it and pick these errors up before publishing? It’s hardly a hefty text to get through. I don’t think it’s a great look publishing and charging £13 for a James Bond book and then use the last minute excuse for errors. IFP made a big fuss about them publishing Bond again, it is a major literary brand, some quality control isn’t much to expect at all. This seems pretty amateurish.


I just noticed all the gold lettering is flaking off my book. I haven’t even read the damn thing yet.

IFP is having a problem with the P part of things this year.