What are you Currently Reading?

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  • PPK 7.65mmPPK 7.65mm Saratoga Springs NY USAPosts: 1,229MI6 Agent

    I am currently reading the Dark Horse comic book story "Light Of My Death" by Das Petrou which was published in 1993. It took me a while to find all of the issues, but I am glad that I have all of them at last. I have only read the first issue so far, but I am enjoying the 1960's Cold War setting and the artwork.

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 406MI6 Agent

    Just reread Icebreaker. I had a positive memory before this new reading and I can confirm it was justified. We have here a genuine spy thriller like FRWL and there are several common points between the two plots. The actual reason why the Soviets launch this operation and contact MI6 is to have Bond assigned and standing near the Finland-Russia border, then he can be captured easily, which reminds me the Smersh Konspiratsia. Furthermore, the way Mosolov gets killed with the phone of the Saab is very similar to the way Bond gets rid of Grant with the throwing knife of the briefcase on the Orient Express.

    The story is not particularly original but the characters of Paula, Rivke, Brad and Kolya are very well written. The fact we don't know anything about their real identities/intentions until the last third of the book is very enjoyable. I also like the way Gardner describes Lapland and the Arctic landscapes. Cold can be seen as a character here (the torture part is such a great moment !) and the atmosphere suits very well with the stakes.

    The main issue of the novel is von Glöda, who should have been much more cunning. He's described as a charismatic leader who doesn't trust anyone while all the people he deals with double-cross him eventually, which is not very credible considering he's supposed to be a mastermind. Creating strong villains is probably Gardner's biggest weakness while it was Fleming's biggest strength...

    What about you guys ? Do you appreciate Icebreaker ?


  • PPK 7.65mmPPK 7.65mm Saratoga Springs NY USAPosts: 1,229MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    Finished reading "Light Of My Death" over this weekend. Despite the short length, it was a pretty decent story overall. Especially when you compare it to some of the later Daily Express newspaper comic strips which were original stories. The biggest surprise for me was that despite the return of Tatiana Romanova from Fleming's From Russia With Love story, she and James Bond only interact twice in the span of the whole story. Also, given that this story was included in an anthology with other Dark Horse titles, I cannot but wonder if the author was under pressure to kept his story at a shorter length. Indeed, there are only some short action sequences and the mastermind of the whole scheme, a Mr. Amos is not captured or killed at the climax. Rather M tells Bond that MI6 will be keeping tabs on him, since he is still at large in spite of Bond stopping his plans to disrupt a trade summit of countries sending financial aid to Southeast Asia.

    Still I will say that I enjoyed it more than some of the other original stories by the continuation authors in both novel form and some of the comic book stories from both Dark Horse and Dynamite comics.


    UPDATE:

    Got my copy of On His Majesty's Secret Service today, looking forward to reading it once I finish working on The Last Adventures Of James Bond. Sounds like it will be a fun read even if it the length of the story is short.

  • GentlemanSpyGentlemanSpy Posts: 12MI6 Agent

    Loved Icebreaker. I actually logged in to see if anyone was currently reading any Gardner novels so this is good timing.

    Just started Role of Honor for the first time as I'm working my way through some of the Gardner novels I've missed over the years.

    Icebreaker is actually one of my favorite post-Fleming novels.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,765MI6 Agent

    I don't know if you're familiar with Calvin Dyson's YouTube channel, but among other great content he's reading and reviewing the Bond novel in publishing order. He has just reviewed Never Send Flowers.

    https://www.youtube.com/@calvindyson/videos

  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 3,418Quartermasters

    I've enjoyed seeing Calvin's journey through the Bond novels on Youtube. It's good that such a well known Bond fan is giving them some attentiom which seldom seems to happen outside forums like this. Unfortunately many of the reviews will probably put potential readers off giving Gardner a try. At least he does give Gardner some credit for being entertaining at times, as in the case of Never Send Flowers. I'm curious what his reaction the Raymond Benson books will be when he gets round to those.

    I've just finished reading Never Dream of Dying. For a long time the final two Benson books have been the only two of the main line of continuation novels that I haven't read. One of the reasons I've left this book unread for so long was because I liked the idea of always having a couple of Bond novels still to read. The other reason was that I've read extremely negative reviews of NDoD on this forum so I was afraid that one of my last Bond novels to read was going to be terrible and leave me feeling a bit depressed.

    After reading it, I'd agree that it is among the weaker Bond novels but I'm nonetheless pleased to say that I had a reasonably enjoyable time reading it and was entertained. It was a bit like watching Die Another Day (my least favourite Bond film but still fun to watch from time to time). Raymond Benson made a contentious choice in this novel with regards to one of Ian Fleming's original supporting characters, and I have to say that didn't really bother me much. I remember reading Benson's explanation of this when he was interviewed by our very own Barbel for this site and I'm inclined to agree that it was not an unreasonable path for the character to take. More bothersome was the often uninteresting prose, which felt more like reading the descriptions in a film script, as well as some unnecessarily graphic and tacky attempts at erotic scenes.

    Much of the story also takes place around the world of film and celebrity culture, with Bond even landing up on the cover of Paris Match at one point, which I found a disconcerting scenario for Bond to be in. On the other hand, setting the story in the world of film was also kind of fun, because that appeals to my personal interest in movies. It may have been my imagination, but it seemed that Benson was doing a lot of injokes, naming chartacters after people associated with the Bond films in some capacity. An obvious one is a character called David Worrall. But there were some others that I thought might have been sneaky little references, like a stuntman called Rick (named after Rick Sylvester perhaps) . I think there were a couple more but I can't remember them now. These were a bit distracting and felt unnecessary.

    On the plus side, I thought the character of Tylyn Mignonne was one of the more memorable female characters in the continuation series. I often find that the female characters and sometime the villains in the continuation books are easily forgettable and there are very few Bond girls from these books whose names I can even remember. NDoD at least has a decent Bond girl and a memorable villain (it helps that this is the end of a trilogy featuring Le Gerant and The Union as the antagonists). The helicopter assault on the island at the end also brought back pleasant memories of the attack on Piz Gloria in OHMSS. So, NDoD turned out to be not as bad as I'd often been led to believe, but I certainly won't be recommending this book to anyone as a must-read Bond novel, unless you really want to read them all. 

  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 406MI6 Agent
    edited November 2023

    I agree. Icebreaker is a very strong novel. I have big issues with the way Gardner made Fleming's universe his own but this one was a big surprise considering I discovered it after For Special Services, Role of Honour, Scorpius, Win, Lose or Die, Brokenclaw, The Man from Barbarossa...

    I didn't really appreciate any of these, and when I started reading Icebreaker, I had the feeling it was completely different from what I was used to with this author. I also liked Licence renewed which reminded me Moonraker in some way (espacially the part in Murik's castle).

    My personal top 5 post-Fleming novels ranking is:

    1. With A Mind To Kill
    2. Trigger Mortis
    3. Colonel Sun
    4. Icebreaker
    5. Zero Minus Ten


  • SeanIsTheOnlyOneSeanIsTheOnlyOne Posts: 406MI6 Agent

    I think the main problem of NDoD is the plot. It's very weak and Benson uses no geopolitical context to develop the Union threat. The beginning is not so bad but from the moment Bond goes to France, the book is not a spy thriller anymore, it becomes a crime novel, and a pretty average one. The chapter where Bond tries to escape from the TV studios in Paris is probably one of the most ridiculous moments in the entire literary universe (the Benny Hill gags with the dogs are absurd and do not fit with the stakes).

    It's a shame because I think Benson did a very good job with his first novels, especially Zero Minus Ten which remains a very strong one in my opinion (the way Hong Kong is described is absolutely amazing). Unfortunately, I belong to those who don't appreciate the Union Trilogy, precisely because of its lack of originality. What Fleming did with SPECTRE and Blofeld is something unique and I just don't buy the concept here.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,765MI6 Agent

    What should we all read in December? This year's AJB007 Christmas Special of course!

    Follow our favourite secret agent on his yuletide adventures: https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/56289/the-ajb007-christmas-special-2023#latest


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