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(James Bond - Extended Series #46)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  4,818 ratings  ·  646 reviews
It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.

A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own bran
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published September 26th 2013 by Jonathan Cape
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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 ·  4,818 ratings  ·  646 reviews

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With Licence to Read!!!


The Year: 1969.

The place: West Africa.

The Mission: Oh, something easy...

...just to stop a civil war.

Bond, only Bond.

I had good expectations about this new novel about James Bond.

The first thing that I liked it was the title of the book: Solo. I liked it since I know that Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond) was involved in the pre-production of the 60´s TV series about spies: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. And Fleming created the character of "Napoleon Solo
Elizabeth Heritage

It's not that I didn't like this book - it's well plotted and the writing is perfectly competent - it's that it turns out I really don't like James Bond.

This came as something of a shock. I've always enjoyed the films, especially Skyfall, starring the immensely talented Daniel Craig. Bond is glamorous, witty, strong, loyal, balletically violent, looks great in a tux - everything I could want in an action hero.

The thing is, though, is that, with a movie, you're carried along by the spectacle
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bond is sent to Zanzarin to help end the civil war in the Africa country.

Boyd really captures the essence of Flemings original novels, both in Bond’s character and the tone of the writing.

Both London and the fictional African country is brilliantly brought to life.
It’s a great fun ready, an enjoyable addition to the cannon.
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: James Bond Literary fans
Recommended to Mark by: My thirst for more 007 adventures
The book opens with a chapter where Bond looks back on the first time where he as a young soldier in the aftermath of the invasion in Normandy (1944)for the first time faces death. And is actually fine reading and shows a promise for the book.
Then 007 gets shipped of the Africa where he is supposed to end a civil war by taking out the leader of one of the parties involved. It all goes of course horrible wrong and Bond ends up being terrible hurt. The 2nd part of the book is Bond going "solo" on
Martyn Perry
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think it's important to remember when a new Bond book comes out that this isn't, and never will be, an Ian Fleming Bond book. What Faulks did with his "writing as Ian Fleming" was a nice gimmick for want of a better phrase, but i've always felt that the continuation of the Bond franchise in book form always works best when authors put their own spin on the writing style. If anything, it's a little bit like a comic book series, writers, artists and inkers all come and go, but the comic book cha ...more
Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Published: 08/10/2013
Author: William Boyd
Recommended for: fans of action books

William Boyd is a very good and talented author and I think he did a brilliant job with this book. It was compeling, keeps your attention, the storyline is also very good. I think that people who enjoy the original Ian Fleming James Bond books will enjoy this book as well. As I love James Bond I was abit sceptical about reading a 'James Bond' book not written by Iam Fleming, but I must admit I really really enjoyed rea
It's 1968, and James bond, turning 45 years old, is sent into a dirty war in Africa.

This is not the James Bond that Fleming wrote about. Rather, it's boring guy having a mid-life crisis. The villain isn't strong enough to hold any sort of interest. It's like a 1970's "moral equivalence" type novel.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, James Bond heads to a small war-torn African republic. Fair enough. What’s the point in William Boyd writing a Bond novel if he doesn’t do the stuff which interests him?

It’s 1969 and Bond is sent to Zanzarim, a fictional country caught up in a drawn out civil war. Oil has been discovered and it’s up to Bond to bring this conflict to a swift conclusion. From there we have double agents, triple agents, psychotic South African mercenaries, mistaken identity, drugs, torture and some good old fas
Rob Thompson
Boyd is in many ways a natural choice to produce a new instalment in the Bond series. He has written good quality spy stories of his own, and also has a track record of novels set in exotic locales. He doesn't disappoint here. In fact, this was a great deal better than I'd expected.

Saying that, the main problem is not so much the plot but the storytelling. This isn't a thriller by any means as it lacks urgency. Not uneventful, but with little incident and almost no action until the halfway mark.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't EXACTLY like reading a James Bond novel or watching a James Bond movie but it was very good, and a real page turner. And I enjoyed that it was written by a "real" literary author. I had been a little put off initially that it's set in Africa, I sometimes find Africa thrillers to be so brutal and grim that it's hard to bear but Boyd writes about it in a way that's gritty without being painful. ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More reviews here:

It is no secret that I am a huge Bond-geek, so it was a given that I pounced on this book the moment that I saw it on the library shelf. Admittedly, despite my love for all things Bond, it has been a while since I've read any Ian Fleming to compare Boyd's style to (the last Bond book I read was Sebastian Faulk's Devil May Care and I can't remember much about that either).

The storyline is about as far from the glamourous world of casino's a
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
William Boyd dons the mantle of the late great Ian Fleming, with his latest outing Solo, and despite being a fan of both Boyd and Bond, I had rather a mixed response overall…

Boyd takes us back to the swinging Sixties with our ubiquitous hero celebrating his birthday and in pensive mood, but then quickly being commissioned to thwart a civil war in a small African nation. Boyd does present the spirit of this era perfectly, and as with all good Bond fare, there is the usual attention to cars, gadge
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a big Bond fan, both the books and movies and have read the Fleming books, or most of them.
I especially like the idea of different authors doing a Bond story, it gives the reader a slightly different take on the 007 franchise.
Sebastian Faulkes did it with Devil May Care which was a Flemingesque adventure for Bond. Also Jeffrey Deaver wrote a modern Americanesque Bond
Which was a bit of a standalone version called Carte Blanche this was also good.
Solo by William Boyd harks back to the Fleming
Gail Strickland
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bond. James Bond is back. Boyd's Bond is closer to the original Ian Fleming Bond than other authors have managed. In this one, however, Bond seems to have developed a conscience and is without all the gee-whiz gadgets we're used to from the movie renditions. ...more
Mr Shahabi
This was far from what's I've expected, but the problem lies not in the material, it's just that I've spent 30 years watching Bond on the screen, all the luxury suits and fancy cars.. Etc eye candy, you are enjoying a cinematic experience at its best, that bieng said, I belive that I cannot accept Reading a Bond novel, no matter how good it was, it's just isn't a "Cinematic" experience anymore, that Aura is on somewhere else.

Plus, the story wasn't that Grand to be honest, a bit mix of Tomorrow N

Taken on its own terms, Solo, or at least the first two thirds of Solo, is really rather good. Yes, of course, the whole notion of a jack-of-all-trades secret agent with a 'licence to kill' is faintly ridiculous, but then Bond is not and never was meant to be about realistically portraying the world of an intelligence service operative. If you want that, read John Le Carre.

Boyd knows how to write a spy thriller. This is a much simpler and less layered book than Restless or Ordinary Thunder
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, 2013, espionage
The year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignment. The western African nation of Zanzarim is in the middle of a civil war and his mission is to eliminate the rebel threat. When Bond gets to West Africa he soon finds out this isn’t as straightforward as it appeared. Soon he finds himself going solo to seek revenge.

I love the James Bond movies but haven’t had much experience with the 007 books; I h
David Monroe
In trying to tag this book, I finally hit on its primary problem. Mystery? No. Noir? Nope. Hardboiled? I'll answer that when I stop laughing. It's really about, nothing. It starts out with promise. It's the day of Bond's 45th Birthday, 1969 and he's having recurring dreams about WWII. Specifically when he was a 19 year-old Lieutenant on the day after the D-Day landings, in the farms surrounding Normandy. It's the day he first faces death. Even though, since the war, he's lived a life where he's ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read 2020 leading up to "No Time to Die"

SOLO has a lot of potential. It creates a fictional land with stakes and plot, twists and turns. In the end, it does not take us anywhere we haven't been before with Bond. It is not an essential 007 story. It's just an average one.

We begin with Bond turning 45 in 1969. We are brought up to speed on his life and many changes within it.

The first half of the story sets the table quite well. I would have much enjoyed a more fully developed end and a greate
Nick Brett
I am a fan of William Boyd’s writing and was delighted to hear he had been selected as the writer for this important Bond novel. Which makes the actual result extra disappointing.

This is a book of three bits, Bond in London post a birthday celebration. Bond on a mission in Africa and Bond going solo in the US. It’s a short book at just over 300 pages.

We have to remember this is about the Bond that Fleming gave us, not the film and not as depicted in the Gardiner or Benson books. Important to rem
Adam Stone
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Solo is the most recent James Bond novel, and is also a return to form.

Unlike the previous novel, Carte Blanche, which was a modern day reboot of the series, this is firmly placed in the original novel canon, which is much better in my opinion as I think the character of Bond suits this style and era much better than a modern setting.

Bond is celebrating his 45th birthdays at the start of this novel, so he is a much maturer Bond that we have seen in a lot of the books, but when you read the boo
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the Fleming Bond novels when I was fifteen, shortly after his death and kept up with the final novel and all the pastiches to come, including the novelizations of the original scripts and those of MOONRAKER and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.

SOLO is the only one, with the exception of COLONEL SUN, that captured that pulp style of Ian Fleming. The Gardner Bonds, though I enjoyed them, strayed into literary style. Benson's were closer.

In this one, the setting is 1969 and Bond is sent into west Afric
Howard Brazier
Oct 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I struggle to understand how such an excellent author could write such a poor book. The story is very two dimensional, and Bond is far too introspective.
Boyd re-read all of Fleming's Bond novels before carrying out this assignment, and I think that he spent so much time copying Fleming's style (infinite detail on every drink (of which there are too many), meals and items of clothing, to name just the main ones) rather than working on a good story. I'm happy to have the story set in the '60s, but
It has been many years since I read the Ian Fleming originals. For a while in my late teens and early twenties I was enamored with the Bond phenomena: books, movies, theme songs, you name it. As I recall, the books were a hoot to read, but for the most part miles apart from the films.

I think that Boyd has done a pretty good job keeping the character and the story in Solo in line with the original books, for better or for worse. There were some nice hints woven in which reference the earlier boo
I felt it to be a thoroughly competent Bond novel, which is pretty much damning with faint praise. The villains were violent enough and, for the most part, realistic. The questionable allegiance card is played. The women are both strong figures, neither being simple worshippers of ‘Bond as Man’ and the reason for the end of the romance is, in each case, more than simply getting tired of the other; in fact, the end of the second relationship is almost entirely dictated by the manner in which the ...more
Nick Duretta
Boyd is a wonderful novelist, but he was slumming a bit when he took on this assignment. Not that James Bond isn't a wonderful creation, but formulaic thrillers are not what Boyd is best at. And this is certainly formulaic--beautiful women, nasty villains, tricky situations--all overcome by Bond without barely mussing his collar. (Still, it's better than the plots of the newer Bond films.) ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
William Boyd takes over where Ian Fleming left off in this James Bond adventure. In order to appreciate how well he has taken over the mantle, I probably should have read some of the original Fleming stories. Still, judging from what I know from the films, it seems to have all the right ingredients - battle-scarred baddies, beautiful women, varied locations around the world, violence. But not really my cup of tea - or even my vodka martini.
David Highton
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long time since I read the original Ian Fleming Bond novels, so not sure I want or need to make a comparision. Boyd is a good writer and the story involves Africa, which Boyd has written about before, and not the Cold War. The details of the different underlying plot lines are not revealed too early and the mystery is maintained pretty much through to the end. All in all, an enjoyable read for me - not sure what the Bond purists will think.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strangely, I've never read any of Ian Fleming's books, so I can't make any comparisons between his James Bond and William Boyd's. Having seen a few of the movies, I can say that Bond loses a lot of his glamour when viewed from the inside out. In the book he seems less decisive, more complaining -- I suppose more human. I enjoyed this well enough, but I can't say it really grabbed me. ...more
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Something Old, So...: July 2014 - Solo by William Boyd 10 9 Jul 27, 2014 04:32PM  
talk about disappointing 11 45 Nov 16, 2013 04:58PM  

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Note: William^^Boyd

Of Scottish descent, Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana on 7th March, 1952 and spent much of his early life there and in Nigeria where his mother was a teacher and his father, a doctor. Boyd was in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the brutal secessionist conflict which ran from 1967 to 1970 and it had a profound effect on him.

At the age of nine years he attended Gordonstoun school, in

Other books in the series

James Bond - Extended Series (1 - 10 of 48 books)
  • Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)
  • Live and Let Die (James Bond, #2)
  • Moonraker (James Bond, #3)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond, #4)
  • From Russia With Love (James Bond, #5)
  • Doctor No (James Bond, #6)
  • Goldfinger (James Bond, #7)
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  • Thunderball (James Bond, #9)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond, #10)

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