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Topic: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

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As there's never been a specific thread here on John Gardner's third James Bond continuation novel Icebreaker (1983) I thought that I would remedy this fact and start a thread where we can discuss, review, criticise and even help conduct some research on the novel.

For many literary Bond fans (myself included) this is one of John Gardner's best James Bond novels, and some even call it the best. It's known that it was one of John Gardner's personal favourites from his Bond back catalogue, his ultimate favourite being the similarly plotted The Man From Barbarossa (1991).

Icebreaker saw John Gardner return the literary Bond to the subject of the Nazis, past and present (see Sir Hugo Drax in Ian Fleming's Moonraker) and a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Action Army (NSAA) who were killing Communist Party members and associates the world over in a terrorist campaign designed to usher in a Fourth Reich in Europe.  The NSAA may have been based on this similarly-titled Neo-Nazi political party of the early 1980s in Britain which also attacked Communists and was involved (like the villain Count Konrad von Gloda) in arms smuggling to further its nefarious ends.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_ … tion_Party

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this novel and what I've written about the possible inspiration for Gardner's NSAA villain's organisation in this thread. Let's get a good conversation going here.  ajb007/smile  ajb007/martini

Last edited by Silhouette Man (7th Oct 2016 13:37)

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

This was the first Gardner book that I read around 1986 or 87.  I haven't read it again since, but it's my favorite Gardner Bond though the details are now fuzzy.  I enjoyed the Neo-Nazi plot and the setting in Finland, especially the snowmobile ride to the border with Russia and the all-around atmospheric description of that climate.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

It is also one of my favourite Gardner stories.  I love the atmospheric writing.  It is probably the best at placing you at the scene and the part where the Saab is being stalked by the ice-ploughs is really well written.

In reflection, I think it is my favourite, just pipping Licence Renewed.

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Although I can't remember many of the specifics as it has been some time since I read it, I would have to say that Icebreaker is my favourite Gardner novel(and probably my favourite continuation novel overall). My experience of reading it was that it gripped me tighter than any other continuation novel. It has many of the elements that would reappear again and again in later entries (notably the double/triple crosses) but they are executed with aplomb and great pacing. The icy arctic setting is one of the more interesting locations as well.

I recall that in the James Bond Bedside Companion Raymond Benson was quite critical of Icebreaker and called it a significant step down from the first two novels, and perhaps if I was to reread the novel some of the cracks would start to appear.  But I can honestly say that I liked it more than a number of the weaker Ian Fleming titles.

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Golrush007 wrote:

I recall that in the James Bond Bedside Companion Raymond Benson was quite critical of Icebreaker and called it a significant step down from the first two novels, and perhaps if I was to reread the novel some of the cracks would start to appear.  But I can honestly say that I liked it more than a number of the weaker Ian Fleming titles.

That's interesting!  I don't remember that bit of what the Bedside Companion said about Icebreaker being not as good as the 1st 2 books, but it was the synopsis from the Bedside Companion that helped me chose Icebreaker as the first Gardner Bond novel to read!  Ironically, Licence Renewed, the 1st Gardner Bond, is the only continuation novel that I haven't finished reading because it got tedious for me to read.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Icebreaker for me was better than Licence Renewed but not as good as
For Special Services ( which read like a script for an unmade Film)  ajb007/wink
It has many good points, and the story is interesting and involving.
Sadly for me it was the start of Bond being part of a team ( once was ok,
But Bond afterwards. Seemed to be always in some sort of team outing) and
Gardner's obsession it seemed, to then add double and triple agents to
His stories.  So often that when reading a new Bond book, you'd be looking
Out for who was going to be the " Double" in this one.
   The torture scene was very good, Bond as always takes one hell of a beating.

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Agreed, there is much to enjoy but the whole double/triple agent thing was overplayed and weakened the book- still  his next one wasn't bad and the one after one of his best.

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

I liked it when I read it back in the 90s. I'll probably read those books again one day. I recall a topic about this book somewhere here. I mentioned liking the description of one of the bond girls at the pool. Also, isn't this the book with the chapter titled "A liking of Blondes" or something like that? The torture scene was good too. I think it was a dip in the frozen ice water. They had to use a chainsaw to cut the ice before the torture. Also it might be in this one where Bond asks "why me?" and the bad guy says "why not you." I thought that was a good exchange.

I was looking forward to what the guy that worked with Ferrari would do with Saab. But I think those projects were cancelled. Even though Bond drove a Saab, I never really considered it a Bond car. Certainly not comparable to a DB5.

"Better late than never."

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Does anyone concur on this part of the OP?:

The NSAA may have been based on this similarly-titled Neo-Nazi political party of the early 1980s in Britain which also attacked Communists and was involved (like the villain Count Konrad von Gloda) in arms smuggling to further its nefarious ends.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_ … tion_Party

I'm currently researching this for an article on the real world origins of Gardner's NSAA in Icebreaker (1983).

I've also since found this. I don't know whether or not it is influenced by Gardner's Icebreaker but it is interesting nonetheless:

http://www.popsike.com/LEGION-88-ICEBRE … 90475.html

Any suggestions on all of this would be greatly appreciated!  ajb007/smile

Last edited by Silhouette Man (7th Oct 2016 13:35)

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

It could have been a "Role model" for Gardner's organisation, although. These Nazi groups always
Seem to be around. Sometimes gaining in popularity ( in certain areas)  then falling into the
Background again.
  I think most of these groups are involved in crime, drugs, guns and protection as ways of getting
Funds. Infact for many the right wing politics is ( in my opinion) simply a cover for their criminal
activity.

"Let his death be a particularly unpleasant and humiliating one."

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

It's an interesting article.
I notice the article mentions numerous far-right groups attaining some degree of notoriety in the early eighties. I was a teenager then and we were only really aware of the National Front, so this is quite interesting, in a sociopolitical-historical fashion.
It's certainly likely that Gardner borrowed the name of the group and adapted it for the novel. The aims of each are entirely different however - although both share Nazi (or neo-nazi) overtones.
I like Icebreaker.
It's very like a Bond movie in construction: a pre-adventure sequence, a briefing, an extended chase or two, infiltrating the enemy camp, a journey to a fantastical hideout, torture, escape, the cavalry to the rescue, a resolving coda. You will find most of these ingredients in all Bond movies.
Although there are an early couple of chapters in Madeira which drag it is much pacier than Gardner's usual output; the group dynamic and the cross, double & treble crosses feels very fresh - it certainly was when I first read the book in 1984. Bond also feels very real in this one; he's fallible and gets hurt.
It always gets a thumbs up from me.

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

That was the book that broke the camel's back. Very good and atmospheric, but the ending when good guys were suddenly revealed as bad guys and then back to good guys and bad guys were all along good guys...oh, man, I just couldn't stop rolling my eyes. It made the book a terrible book.

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Re: "Breaking the Ice" - Your views on John Gardner's Icebreaker (1983)?

Sorry, folks, for neglecting my thread. I always meant to get back to it again but it's just taken longer than I had anticipated!  ajb007/smile

Thank you all for your contributions on this thread of mine. They are all very much appreciated. I am planning on writing up an article for my blog on the influence of British Neo-Nazis such as the National Socialist Action Party (NSAP) on Gardner's fictional National Socialist Action Army (NSAA) in Icebreaker (1983). There seems to have been a truly staggering amount of these far-right groups beyond the famous ones we've all heard of like the British Union of Fascists and the National Front. In theory any one of them could have been an influence on Gardner but the NSAP certainly has a better claim than most given the similarity of the name to the NSAA and the fact it was around at the time he was writing Icebreaker.

I agree with chrisno1 above that the Wikipedia article on the NSAP quoted above is very interesting indeed and I'd like to note that I have invested in a copy of R. Hill & A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror- Inside Europe’s Neo-Nazi Network (Collins, 1988) on which the bulk of said article I posted above is based. I find the untold story of how Gardner (presumably) came up with the NSAA as the villainous organisation in Icebreaker deeply fascinating and I think it is certainly worth telling in an upcoming blog article.

Signing off for now. Just want to end by saying: If anyone else feels like throwing in their sixpence on this topic, I'd love to hear from you, as always!  ajb007/smile  ajb007/martini

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