Gerald's Reviews > On Her Majesty's Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming
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bookshelves: james-bond

I've been re-reading all the Ian Fleming James Bond books over the last four years or so, roughly in order. It's always nice when one coincides with a new James Bond film. It gives one a chance to analyse the similarities and differences (especially when there's no Fleming left to film).

I was reminded in this book of how uncertain - at times insecure, Fleming's Bond can be. In the first chapter as he walks down the beach to talk to Tracey he weighs up three different approaches of things he could say. Craig's Bond (much as I love him) would never do this, would never approach anything with indecision (more about this on my Skyfall review which is here: ). Furthermore, Bond doesn't even get the bad guy in this, allowing Blofeld to escape.

I've always remembered this as one of the best Bond books and in terms of location, action, characters it definitely is (the plotting is similar to Casino Royale in that most of the action happens in the first part of the book and there's a good deal of personal reflection around at the end). There's something slightly mournful about this book though. Fleming was tiring of James Bond books (and perhaps certain aspects of his own life) by the time he wrote OHMSS and Bond himself is definitely changing.

That allows us a much more personal look into his character (in a way that the films would never allow), and obviously, allows him to sufficiently change his habits of a lifetime enough to fall in love and get married.

But thinking about the journey from here, You Only Live Twice - in which Fleming initially killed Bond off, only bringing him back through popular demand for one more novel (The Man with the Golden Gun), this is definitely a more world-weary Bond than our blunt instrument of the early novels. It allows for the more personal touches (and perhaps the failure), but also leaves that poignancy hanging around afterwards.

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Reading Progress

November 22, 2012 – Started Reading
November 22, 2012 – Shelved
November 25, 2012 – Shelved as: james-bond
November 25, 2012 – Finished Reading

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