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CBner's 'Solo' reviews - spoilers ahead!

Boyd Solo literary continuations reviews CBners reviews

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Poll: CBner's 'Solo' reviews - spoilers ahead!

So - having read it my spirits are now...

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Out of ten, ten being really splendid and zero being pretty bloody awful, it's...

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Would another Boyd Bond be welcome?

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Assuming William Boyd doesn't do another, my advice to IFP would be...[MULTIPLE CHOICE]

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#31 zencat

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 08:43 PM

Thanks Dustin.



#32 AMC Hornet

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 04:24 AM

Just finished it yesterday, so I'm not ready to go into it in depth.

 

Like others, I found the 'climax' a little rushed, and the revelation of the actual plot behind the action seemed tacked on as an afterthought.

 

The narrative and descriptions were quite well done, however. I liked it better than Faulkes' or Deaver's efforts.

 

My main problem was with one little bit of business which had no point: Bond's sore throat.

 

So he has a sore throat - probably from all that smoking. Does he cut back? Was he being slowly poisoned? Does he end up being diagnosed with throat cancer? Does this condition linger throughout the story? Does it have any bearing on it at all? At the risk of issuing a spoiler, all these questions have the same answer.

 

At least Bond's physical condition in other stories (eg: his broken finger in LALD) had a cause, and healed over time much to Bond's relief. He didn't just suddenly stop hurting without comment. I wonder whether it was supposed to be an experiment in subliminal suggestion, to see whether Boyd could encourage chain-smoking readers to give up the habit? If so I didn't appreciate it, as I don't smoke and only recently recovered from a debilitating strep, and didn't care to be reminded of it.

 

Or perhaps it was just  a case of shoddy editing on someone's part - excising later references to Bond's discomfort while neglecting to adjust the earlier mentions?

 

I don't know - I just feel that SOLO is not something Fleming would have written, and it makes me miss John Gardner. Bond novels are supposed to be literary thrillers, rather than thrilling literature.

 

Does that make sense?



#33 Simon

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:04 PM

My review. Sorry for all the words.

 

http://www.thebookbo...nking-mans.html

 

Cracking review there fella.

 

Have yet to start it, but am looking forward to it based on your words and what I feel the Fleming Bonds were all about.  Character studies and travelogue - certainly not the action nor double agent stuff of recent times.



#34 TheREAL008

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:41 PM

I just finished part two. Throughout the entirety of that section I couldn't see the point of Bond being in Africa. 

 

 He's just there playing reporter, drinking and eating, and when he meets his objective...he doesn't simply go home? I get the point, I really do.  British interests aren't truly effected by this little war so what was the point of sending him out there in the first place? Because M simply could?

 

This isn't boding well for me. Granted the set up was alright and I was surprised at the ending; great job there Mr. Boyd. Hopefully the story picks up. I'm not judging, I'm just...confused that Boyd would write Bond in such a 'standstill' style.



#35 Jim

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 08:12 AM

My review. Sorry for all the words.

 

http://www.thebookbo...nking-mans.html

 

Magnificent. Gives me reason to think that there was a purpose to the book. On first reading I was lost for a reason why it needed to have been written.



#36 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 08:19 AM

I preferred reading the review, too.

 

And it proves that Zencat should be the one to write the next Bond book. Seriously.



#37 zencat

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 09:46 PM

Thanks all. Appreciate it. :)



#38 AMC Hornet

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 10:35 PM

Don't do it, Zen! You're appreciated around here - why exchange that for criticism, armchair second-guessing and outright contempt from all sides?



#39 zencat

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 01:42 AM

Don't do it, Zen! You're appreciated around here - why exchange that for criticism, armchair second-guessing and outright contempt from all sides?

True!

 

If elected, I will not serve. :P



#40 OmarB

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:15 AM

Still not done, what a slog this book is.

 

Anyways, this book is full of awkward.  The flight into DC Bond looks out the window at all the landmarks, first one mentioned is "the cathedral."  What cathedral?  If it is so important to be mentioned first, why not capitalized?  Or the actual  name of the cathedral?

 

Bond's thoughts about American coffee in the diner.  Now I was always under the impression he loved coffee and loved it the American way.  Was I interpreting that wrong from Ian and Gardner?  He hates tea and loves coffee.  Next scene Bond runs to the men's room to take a dump because of the coffee.  All of my huh?  Great author resorting to writing about bodily functions as a plot point.

 

The cab driver in DC who speaks in a weird accent or is mentally retarded.  It's never touched upon but his few lines of dialogue are so bad I thought Boyd was going to mention he was some sort of immigrant.

 

When Bond follows her out onto "The 7th street" as Boyd put it.  It's just 7th Street, who puts "the" in front?  Could you be any more awkward in your phrasing Boyd?

 

It keeps going like this.  Every couple of lines there is something weird that gives me pause and makes me think "what is wrong with this Boyd character."



#41 TheREAL008

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:51 AM

Just finished reading it completely. I give it a 5 out of 10 alone because while it is a good story, it's also a polarizing story. People will love it, people will hate it; it's pretty much Licence To Kill lite, but it's still not saying much is it?

 

How about this? Replace James Bond with Jack Ryan/John Clark. That's whom the story is more suited for. This isn't the magnum opus some fans were wanting, and (sorry Mr. Cox) it doesn't feel like the 'Thinking man's Bond novel.' Although I can see the claim and if you're willing to suspend belief in a James Bond novel then yes it'll work out that way.

 

It's hit and miss with me. On one end, I'll give Boyd credit for the attempt, but on the other hand he's done absolutely nothing with James Bond except to turn him into a tedious alcoholic with a tedious assignment, which in turn becomes a muddled up plot that's so haphazardly clarified at the end of part four which still leaves me to the conclusion that Bond had no business being in Africa and that M had no sincere, honest business sending him out in the first place when other proper dignitaries could have gone somewhere else and brokered a deal for the actual meaning of this book in a better fashion.

 

I wasn't sad over what happened to Blessing; that's another thing too: Her role in the book felt like a cop out simply because Boyd couldn't make up his mind about her reasoning for a second. It's too conventional and Bond just accepts it?

 

However, Breed got exactly what he deserved. I know the details won't go over well with everyone here. But Bond hasn't lost control since he had his hands around Blofeld's neck and it was a radical change to see him act in such a fashion.

 

All in all, it just seems that Boyd's story just misses the mark. It's no longer revolutionary to have Bond in Africa because this marks the third time he's been. and simply to place him in Africa just because you were born there seems a bit biased. I apologize for that. A writer goes with what he knows.

 

The alcoholism subtext. I won't forgive Boyd for it. Even when he first uttered the words "Bond's an alcoholic' that set off a warning flag for me. How is he so sure? Just because Ian flirted with the idea doesn't make the next guy a scholar. Granted Bond has been to the edge with Tracy and Vesper, dare I bring up Flicka if anyone cares...sometimes Bond uses it as a crutch then he finds the strength to right himself and carry on. He never drinks so perversely as in Solo, it's just wrong.

 

I was happy to have finished it all the way through. I was tempted to give up on it but the fan in me pressed me forward. There is a story there, and it does make sense. However I'm left unfilfulled and wishing that William Boyd hadn't done this to James Bond.

 

No more, please? Just ugh.



#42 Johnboy007

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 12:34 AM

My jumbled collection of thoughts:

 

A misfire.  Outside of London, Bond is mostly just a passenger.  Things happen around him, but he doesn't drive the action anywhere (except directing the rebel attack, which was preposterous).  Also not thrilled with the return of not writing an actual story but spending twenty pages summarizing what could have been a story over a couple beers with Felix.  I thought there was a great setup but poor follow through.

 

What really bothered me most was the "I can't ever love anybody because it's too dangerous" ending.  Not again!  Seems odd to build up Vampiria as a love interest like this and then just discard her like that.  I wonder if she was originally intended to be a villain but he decided against at the last moment?  Anyway, Bond really didn't realize earlier (or really before this whole book took place) that serious relationships are impossible so there's no point getting that involved in the first place?  Or is it too not-PC for her to be just a disposable plaything?  Deaver did this, too, but I'll give him a pass since that was a reboot, and he needed to get a Vesper into the new timeline.  Maybe I'm really just grouchy that this is the second straight book that ends like this.  Other than having a solid name, Blessing was a bit of a confusing mess, too.

 

I wish Boyd stuck with the "African Napoleon" as the real villain, even if it would have been cliche.  Jakobus Breed never really seemed very ominous--a pretty run-of-the-mill henchman that could be easily dispatched, so why the big deal?  Hanging up victims with hooks was a chilling touch, though.  I guess he'd have been better served if things like Blessing's murder were actually written out and not just described after the fact.  Also bummed they're really just drug dealers in the end.  "We lost our little breakaway state, but no worries since we can just sell heroin instead."  The oil baron millionaire was a dud, too.  So forgettable that, even though I read the book last week, I can't remember his name.

 

Being a DC-area resident, I did get (an admittedly cheap) thrill out of Bond finally going to Washington.  It's such a shame that Boyd completely underuses it!  So many quirky, interesting places here for things to happen other than an anonymous office complex and a rundown motel in Virginia.  You never really get a real sense of being in DC other than rolling off a series of landmarks (but hey, shoutouts to Georgetown University, O Street, and Key Bridge in a Bond book--woo!), street names, and describing the humidity.  Why not just send him to New York again?  The attempted mugging scene was a real groaner, too.  Again, something that could have happened in New York (or Philly, LA, Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans...).  Oh god, I'm defending DC.  What happened to me?

 

Having said all that, I'd definitely let him have another shot.  All of the pieces are there, and I think it might click better the second time around.  Maybe having gotten his hobbyhorses out of the way in this one means he can focus on developing the plot in the next one?



#43 clinkeroo

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 06:55 AM

Well, I'm one of the 9's.  Best continuation Bond I've read since Colonel Sun.

 

Amazing research, I truly felt like I was in Africa and London in the late 60's.  The jargon was spot on except for the curious swearing (Fleming always used *'s, and they would have worked just as well here).  The prose was beautiful and grammatically sound. I loved it that Boyd went for pacing, and didn't fall into the Gardner/Benson trap of having every chapter end in some action cliffhanger that usually did nothing to drive the main narrative forward.  It was the first time in a long time that I read a Bond novel that didn't feel like a strictly adhered to, fleshed-out outline.  The main characters felt real, and the words they spoke and the actions they took seemed to be dictated by their make-up and circumstances rather than forced plot contrivances.

 

The reasons it is not a "ten" for me.  Breed would have been an excellent henchman, but was weak as a main nemesis.  The ending was terribly rushed, and lacked the attention to detail that gave the first half of the novel some of the old Fleming sweep.  I kept waiting for the real main baddie to show up, capture Bond, and explain himself, but instead we end up with Bond and Felix pasting the plot together like two old housewives scrapbooking over some glasses of wine...er, gin and tonics, that is.

 

And WTF with the dangling plot line?  Breed was no Blofeld, he needed to die.

 

I hope IFP strikes sooner this time.  Young Bonds are fun, but it is apparent these pauses between novels are not doing the sales numbers any favors.



#44 Roebuck

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:18 PM

My personal gripe with this book?  It needed a huge dollop more of the Jensen FF.  :)

 

Then again, a lot of Solo’s strengths lay from staying clear of the expected elements such as car chases, drawn out torture scenes and shoot outs. While it may miss the bull’s-eye a few times, there’s a considered attempt here to sidestep some of the more worn out conventions of the post-Fleming Bond books.

 

   I enjoyed the setting, the stronger reliance on tradecraft / use of combat tactics against superior numbers and the more utilitarian nature of the few toys Bond is issued this time round.  While appreciating the issue people have with the final chapter, I was grateful for the decision not to give us the usual tiresome final face-off. This was a Bond I liked spending time with, especially the glimpse of young (ger) Bond in the opening section.  I may find myself in the minority on this one, but of the last three continuation story’s, it’s the world of Boyd’s 007 I’d be happiest to revisit in another book.



#45 S K Y F A L L

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 06:37 PM

Loved your review Zencat. And thanks for the Spoiler Alert. 



#46 Simon

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:19 PM

Not at all sure what to make of it.

 

Africa - while it sounded nice and Boyd clearly knew his continent, I was lost as to the purpose for Bond going to Africe.  To stop a war?  Certainly, but to what end had me a little lost.  I had re-read a couple of Flemings to get me in the mood prior to reading this and while I am aware there were some flaky missions in Fleming's Bond, Bond running off to Jamaica to kill a chap who had killed an agent and carried a golden gun, Bond stopping a diamond smuggling ring in two short hops, at least the purpose was made clear.

 

While in Africa, did Bond's two page action for foiling an attack by firing behind the on-coming army to encourage them into a ditch really effect the complete end to a war?  Maybe I missed a point but I just didn't grasp the import if not the simplicity in such an action that, according to Boyd's Bond, should become the next big thing in wargaming.

 

Others have mentioned the Solo point to Washington as being tacked on; I would agree but at least here was a Point, if not a valid one.  One of vengeance that only became really clear when Blessing was killed - once he actually IN Washington.  Would a double-0 really do that?  I wasn't sure, and then I was really losing the plot when Bond decided to go against the bigger picture offered him by the CIA, by going to sort out Breed.

 

In the end, I wasn't sure there was a 'Bad Guy' other than for the fact someone killed his foes with a fish hook - after all, all's fair in love and war, I was thinking.

 

The two page wrap up sorted some of the angles out but I wasn't really convinced to be honest.

 

As an aside, the film studios mentioned in reference to where Bond''s girl was working towards the end of the book was the old Hammer Studios, now called Bray Studios on the Windsor Maidenhead road,  duly renamed to the one in the book.

 

All that said, if Boyd wanted, or was offered, to return, I would welcome him back for another stab.  I also liked the (UK) cover.



#47 _JW_

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 10:53 AM

My main problem was with one little bit of business which had no point: Bond's sore throat.

 

So he has a sore throat - probably from all that smoking. Does he cut back? Was he being slowly poisoned? Does he end up being diagnosed with throat cancer? Does this condition linger throughout the story? Does it have any bearing on it at all? At the risk of issuing a spoiler, all these questions have the same answer.

 

At least Bond's physical condition in other stories (eg: his broken finger in LALD) had a cause, and healed over time much to Bond's relief. He didn't just suddenly stop hurting without comment. I wonder whether it was supposed to be an experiment in subliminal suggestion, to see whether Boyd could encourage chain-smoking readers to give up the habit? If so I didn't appreciate it, as I don't smoke and only recently recovered from a debilitating strep, and didn't care to be reminded of it.

 

Or perhaps it was just  a case of shoddy editing on someone's part - excising later references to Bond's discomfort while neglecting to adjust the earlier mentions?

 

Oh man. I picked up on this too. His throat is mentioned - probably more than half a dozen times - and several characters later remark on how ill he looks. I was getting really concerned that Boyd was going to try and turn this into some kind of weepy melodrama by having Bond stricken with a terminal disease or something. That's not what I want when I seek out a 007 yarn.

 

Others have commented on the drinking, but Bond also takes his share of sleeping pills throughout the book too.

 

Boyd apes Fleming's penchant for food porn, but I feel he goes to the well one too many times, which results in a lengthy (and hilariously over-the-top) description of Bond's salad dressing and how the color of his steak is just right.

 

Also - is this a plot hole? Who knocked his housekeeper Donalda on the head in his Chelsea flat? The author makes a big deal out of this for a moment - "Oh no! The baddies know I'm still alive and in London!" and then... he just ups and leaves through his back window in the book's sole Roger Moore moment.

 

And while it may seem that I'm nitpicking SOLO to death, I did enjoy it for the most part. But then I really liked CARTE BLANCHE too, so what do I know?



#48 Dustin

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 05:31 PM

Not strictly a member's review, perhaps still interesting: http://commanderbond...views-solo.html



#49 the man with the BB gun

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Posted 31 October 2013 - 07:09 PM

Not a review as such but some brief thoughts on SOLO.

 

Is it as good as Fleming? Of course it isn't.

 

Was I expecting it to be  as good as Fleming? Nope

 

Is it better than carte blanche? Well I actually managed to finish SOLO so what does that tell you?

 

 

Will I read it again ? I will at some point.

 

would i like boyd to write another bond book?  i'd like him to write a prequel , focusing on bond's time in WW2 .

 

 Would it make a good Film ?   Unlikely to ever happen . But I think it probably would make a good film .

 

 

overall 4/5



#50 MkB

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 01:54 PM

I finally managed to read Solo, a bit late on the schedule. My spirits are So-So, just like they were after reading recently two other Boyd novels: Restless, and A Good Man in Africa. All had qualities and flaws, but were all in all enjoyable reads. 

 

As for Solo, I don't have the time to produce a full-on review, but here are some thoughts. Spoilerific thoughts, be warned. 

 

It is clear that Boyd did his homework: particularly at the beginning of the novel, he ticks all the boxes that should make fanboys happy. This is nice and touching, although it makes the novel feel a bit like fanfic at times, not free enough from a formula. The opening of the novel felt so to me, for instance, when we're introduced to a hungover Bond who runs for a shower  (has anybody counted the number of references to showers in the novel? :)) But I liked the boldness of introducing a non-canonical recipe for salad dressing ;)

I also appreciated very much seeing Bond doing some real, actual espionage work, instead of just blasting things around. Thank you very much for that, Mr. Boyd! 

 

 

Now the plot... Ahem... Well... 

I found a bit ridiculous the way he was sent to Africa by M with no information at all and really skimpy instructions. 

But more importantly, did I miss something, or is Bond totally irrelevant to his own mission to stop the war in Dahum? The war would have stopped, Bond or not. Even worse, when he intervenes to save the Janjaville airstrip from the advancing Zanza troops, he does so to gain access to Brigadier Adeka who he is supposed to stop, precisely to stop the war. But... hey, Mr Bond, what about just sitting on your thumbs and letting the Zanza troops take the airport and the rest of Dahum? It's pretty clear in the novel that this is what would happen with no intervention. So not only Bond does not stop the war, but if anything he prolongs it by some days. :| 

In Africa itself, there are good and less good things. The depiction of the crowd of foreign war correspondent journos was a nice touch, particularly Letham and the freelance bloke in Dahum. They would have benefitted from being fleshed out even more. What I regret is that Africa is depicted only as a war zone, with the mandatory starving children (not relevant to the story either). Boyd could have breathed more life into the African scenes, the local characters, their interactions, and Bond's reflections upon them. 

After Bond's being shot and left for dead in the Dahum debacle, I thought the plot took a more interesting turn. It was interesting to see Bond go through the (very Flemingian) healing process right in the middle of a novel. I liked what came after that better, definitely: now came a more interesting mission (the first one being really senseless), and some actual spying was done.

Yet, plot-wise, I feel let down. The whole thing is too intricated and too simple at the same time. And who is Felix Leiter exactly, the head of CIA or just a retired agent acting as "consultant on some cases? I thought his role was much too prominent for the latter... The exchange of brothers does not make much sense, really (if it was up to the older brother to sign the leases, then just kill him and the younger brother gets the gig). The main Villain (was it?) only has the stature of a henchman, and drug dealing is not a very exciting motivation for a Bond Villain; we're far from mad, megalomaniac evil people, who want to blow up London à la Moonraker for instance.

 

The end was nonsensical too: I understand Boyd wanted to shake Bond free from a romance, but... REALLY, Mr Bond? You fear that your girlfriend might be in danger of retaliation from an "unfinished business" of yours because she's connected to you, and your brilliant idea to keep her from harm's way is to ditch her and forget about her? I mean, REALLY? Because in case you haven't noticed, the Villain already knows where she lives, already knows you're connected, and does not know or care you've broken up with her. In his book, she's still a way to get at you, and in serious danger. Not quite chivalrous of you to leave a note without an address of phone number, instead of ordering a surveillance team to be sent! 

 

In a word: not the Bond novel of the century, but an enjoyable read and a good effort from Mr. Boyd. I wish the plot would be tighter, and the locations depicted in a different way. 



#51 Dustin

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 04:09 PM

Some very interesting thoughts and observations there, MkB! A lot I didn't pick up on myself. Am still looking for a proper hook for a review.

Edited by Dustin, 02 November 2013 - 04:10 PM.


#52 Peaceful

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 01:39 AM

Sorry but I'm very disapointed with it and I'm gonna keep this short.

Such a fuss was made about Bond being 45 and it being set in 1969 (would it involve the Moon landing? Someone suggested) and all we got was him (Bond) mentioning it's retirement age. Boyd made it clear that this would be a one off (I know that could change) so why introduce new supporting characters? So they could be taken up by the next author, like Boyd did(n't) after Deaver?

It has some really great moments, - I enjoyed the UK setting both in London/Richmond and in Edinburgh (although a very tiny bit disappointed this was the "Europe" location that was promised) - but there were a couple of chapters in Africa that draaaaaaaaaagged on, and then all the back 'n' forth business in Washington was a bit slow too. I loved the characters of Bryce, Blessing and Breed, and the new 'Q' (immediately thought of Ben Whishaw) and I liked that he put Bond in a Jensen even though it was for 5 minutes.

 

My brother and I re-read Carte Blanche and thought it was better than this.

If you're gonna make a point of setting a Bond story during the Cold War, then give us a real Cold War story, with moles and triple agents set in Poland or such. Something like Hitchcocks Torn Curtain. Bring back villianous Russians and elaborate torture scenes PLEASE.
5/10
Rant over.



#53 MkB

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 02:25 PM

If you're gonna make a point of setting a Bond story during the Cold War, then give us a real Cold War story, with moles and triple agents set in Poland or such. 

 

Yes. What s/he said. Drug dealing is soooo pedestrian! 



#54 Matt_13

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Posted 03 November 2013 - 09:16 PM

I thought it was an excellent read. It's miles better than DMC and on par with Carte Blanche, which for me is the only other continuation novel worth writing about. I was at a book discussion hosted by the Guardian last Monday at the Royal Institute of Great Britain, and got to hear Boyd read part of the first chapter of SOLO which was pretty cool, and he signed my book later on as well (" Ah, an American" was his response when I handed him my black and gold book). Rather liked the ending, though I understand why many other aren't a big fan of it as it has to an extent been done before. Still, a solid piece of Bond entertainment that will hold me over until next year's new Young Bond novel.



#55 MkB

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 12:57 AM

Some very interesting thoughts and observations there, MkB! A lot I didn't pick up on myself. 

 

Thanks Dustin! 
In Africa, I wish we had had a character like A Good Man in Africa's Femi Robinson, the local Marxist who stubbornly wears a black turtleneck and black gloves like an American Black Panther, despite the fact that the outfit is totally unadapted to the local climate and makes him look like an oddity. Or a clever local politician. Something that would tell a lot about the country and its politics without having to go through exposition scenes. Pity, but all the African characters look rather like cardboard to me. 
 

 

Am still looking for a proper hook for a review.

 

May I suggest a giant fish hook?

 

... 

 

OK, OK, I'll get me coat...



#56 Peaceful

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Posted 06 November 2013 - 12:52 AM

 

If you're gonna make a point of setting a Bond story during the Cold War, then give us a real Cold War story, with moles and triple agents set in Poland or such. 

 

Yes. What s/he said. Drug dealing is soooo pedestrian! 

 

She ;)  lol



#57 MHazard

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 03:36 PM

Well, Solo came out later in the States than in Europe.  I don't have the time or the inclination at this late date for an extensive review and many others have already done good ones (really like the interview with Bond on the main page) but I have a few thoughts.  When I started the book, for about the first part, until he arrives in Africa, I was really excited.  I thought this is the best Bond I've read post Fleming.  It seems like I'm reading about the same guy and the characterization and details can keep you reading, just like Fleming even if there's no action.  Then, slowly but surely the book peters out.  The Africa stuff seems like it will be pretty good, but then, nothing happens.  As the book goes on to its conclusion, I kept liking it less and less.  Why do people who write Bond (books and movies) post Fleming insist on having Bond "go rogue"?  I don't recall him ever doing that in a Fleming book (the most he did was somewhat disobey orders like in The Living Daylights) and I don't see anything in his personality to make him do that and jeapordize his career, the thing that matters most to him.  Also, there is no villain.  Now I appreciated that Boyd didn't make the mistake of some, like Faulks and give us a silly over the top villain, thinking that's what's required and turning the villain into a cartoon (Deaver guilty of this slightly, but not near as much), but Breed is not interesting enough to carry a book and there's nobody else, unless you count the CIA as a whole.  The end of the book is a major disappointment and I agree with MKB that there's no reason for Bond to abandon Bryce at the end.  The exposition between Bond and Leiter is I guess intended to show the murky, LeCarre world of espionage, but LeCarre doesn't do it that way.  He has his characters act and you can see by the results that the world is a grey place.  By the way, I didn't like Brig Leiter for the same reason I didn't like Gardner giving us Cedar Leiter-quit giving Felix relations.  Basically when I started the book and for a while after I would have given it a nine.  Then as a I read, the rating started slipping.  I think it if had gone on any longer, it would have kept sinking.   I think this is common.  I thought Col. Sun started out pretty good, then started sinking, and at the end, not so good at all.  It's hard to write good Bond.  If you follow the formula too closely it looks like parody and if you stray, then the fans complain.  Nonetheless, I think its a valid criticism that as a book, the last part is just not very good.  Personally I like having a different writer do a Bond book each year.  I think at best, most writers have good Bond in them.  It's interesting to see the different takes that they take, just as its interesting to see the different takes our fan fiction writers take (a plug here for the cb.net collection "Forever Yours With Regret").   Deaver's take was interesting and so was Boyd's.  I enjoyed both books.  I enjoyed Benson and Gardner's first books.  The second and third books were always worse (in fairness Casino Royale was better than the next two books also).  Anyway, I bought Solo, I read it quickly, I'm glad I bought it, and I enjoyed it.  



#58 Dustin

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 05:19 PM

Well, Solo came out later in the States than in Europe. I don't have the time or the inclination at this late date for an extensive review and many others have already done good ones (really like the interview with Bond on the main page) but I have a few thoughts. When I started the book, for about the first part, until he arrives in Africa, I was really excited. I thought this is the best Bond I've read post Fleming. It seems like I'm reading about the same guy and the characterization and details can keep you reading, just like Fleming even if there's no action. Then, slowly but surely the book peters out. The Africa stuff seems like it will be pretty good, but then, nothing happens. As the book goes on to its conclusion, I kept liking it less and less. Why do people who write Bond (books and movies) post Fleming insist on having Bond "go rogue"? I don't recall him ever doing that in a Fleming book (the most he did was somewhat disobey orders like in The Living Daylights) and I don't see anything in his personality to make him do that and jeapordize his career, the thing that matters most to him. Also, there is no villain. Now I appreciated that Boyd didn't make the mistake of some, like Faulks and give us a silly over the top villain, thinking that's what's required and turning the villain into a cartoon (Deaver guilty of this slightly, but not near as much), but Breed is not interesting enough to carry a book and there's nobody else, unless you count the CIA as a whole. The end of the book is a major disappointment and I agree with MKB that there's no reason for Bond to abandon Bryce at the end. The exposition between Bond and Leiter is I guess intended to show the murky, LeCarre world of espionage, but LeCarre doesn't do it that way. He has his characters act and you can see by the results that the world is a grey place. By the way, I didn't like Brig Leiter for the same reason I didn't like Gardner giving us Cedar Leiter-quit giving Felix relations. Basically when I started the book and for a while after I would have given it a nine. Then as a I read, the rating started slipping. I think it if had gone on any longer, it would have kept sinking. I think this is common. I thought Col. Sun started out pretty good, then started sinking, and at the end, not so good at all. It's hard to write good Bond. If you follow the formula too closely it looks like parody and if you stray, then the fans complain. Nonetheless, I think its a valid criticism that as a book, the last part is just not very good. Personally I like having a different writer do a Bond book each year. I think at best, most writers have good Bond in them. It's interesting to see the different takes that they take, just as its interesting to see the different takes our fan fiction writers take (a plug here for the cb.net collection "Forever Yours With Regret"). Deaver's take was interesting and so was Boyd's. I enjoyed both books. I enjoyed Benson and Gardner's first books. The second and third books were always worse (in fairness Casino Royale was better than the next two books also). Anyway, I bought Solo, I read it quickly, I'm glad I bought it, and I enjoyed it.


Perhaps there is something that explains SOLO's weak ending. Back in January Amazon first listed SOLO with 432 pages (see The Book Bond's post here: http://www.thebookbo...its-amazon.html), over a hundred pages more than the book we finally got. The question is now, were these pages written by Boyd but then for some reason objected by IFP? Or were they merely outlined by Boyd and the looming deadline then forced him into the unsatisfying talk between Bond and Leiter? Both options seem possible and the book indeed feels as if it's missing several good turns and scenes.

Edited by Dustin, 08 November 2013 - 04:41 AM.


#59 glidrose

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 12:48 AM

I remember Boyd stating that this would be the longest Bond novel... and being surprised at the meager page count with fairly large print and lots of space on the page.

 

Something else to ponder: Boyd normally takes three years with a novel. He had only a little over a year with this one.



#60 Dustin

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 04:59 AM

Not having read everything by Boyd I'd still guess SOLO must be one of his shortest books. It's possible IFP objected to the idea of a more epic continuation in general simply for economic reasons. A hundred pages more mean higher printing and binding costs, cutting the net profit per book. When you approach these things you already have some kind of idea about how many books you will sell in the end. I suspect Boyd delivered substantially more - as a professional he's surely capable to - and may have been forced to butcher his own work, perhaps even at short notice.

Edited by Dustin, 08 November 2013 - 05:01 AM.





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