Non Fleming Bond: what to read?
Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:00 PM
In the past, I only read Fleming novels (several times) and never wanted to "betray" him by reading other authors. But recently, I re-read all the Fleming novels and then wanted to go on reading Colonel Sun. I highly enjoyed it. So that now I would like to read all the non-Fleming Bond novels.
But there are many, and I trust not all are good.
What would you recommend? All? Just some?
I'll welcome your opinions. Thanks
Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:45 PM
Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:03 PM
Read them in order--the Amis, Gardner and Benson books are all part of the same literary continuity. The film novelizations from Gardner and Benson are, too--for the most part. For example, Gardner even goes out of his way to ensure that Felix Leiter started Licence To Kill missing limbs and even, as implausible as it is, has him undergo the same fate twice. Now the likelihood of Bond meeting two men named Milton Krest in his life is not addressed. The Wood novelizations are also excellent, especially The Spy Who Loved Me where the Russians are portrayed far more as the enemy then they come across in the film--a lot of references to Fleming's From Russia With Love. Moonraker is also excellently written, but a little too hard to place into canon with the other books, given the second appearance of Drax, and if I remember correctly, his appearance is identical to the way Fleming described him then Michael Lonsdale!
As for the rest of the books, it is worth your time to track down John Pearson's Biography of 007. These and the Moneypenny Diaries are interesting in the theory that Bond is "real" is the position they take, which to be fair, is put forth by Fleming in You Only Live Twice. The rest of the continuation authors thankfully do not address that topic as it would create too many difficulties. As stated above, Devil May Care may be the worst of all the Bond novels, but you should still read it, but there is no rush.
The Young Bond books are also a lot of fun. Given that they fit nicely into Fleming continuity, they are well done and really flesh out Bond as a young man. While written for kids, they do not talk down to them, and while there is no sex, there is sill plenty to please an adult Bond fan. The latest novel, Carte Blanche, while rebooting the book series still maintains far more of a Bond feel then the CR and QOS reboots of the films. M is back to being Sir Miles Messervy, Felix is back to being a CIA agent, and Bond is still Bond--although a little more Sherlock Holmes then 007 as he apparently has a tremendous ability for deductive reasoning which heretofore was not present in the novels. Still, the book is a vast improvement over Devil May Care, and hopefully Deaver can continue.
As far as a list of best of the continuation novels, I would add Win, Lose or Die to the list from Secret Treaties (and be warned, while The Man From Barbarossa is good it is an experiment in exposition which is unlike any of the rest of the novels--and the last third of the book is spectacular). For Benson, The Facts of Death is excellent as a stand alone book, but you should really read all of them--as I think Never Dream of Dying is his best, as it is the third part of the Union trilogy, you should really read the first two. As for Higson, his best is Hurricane Gold, but they are all good.
Seriously, read all of them. Take your time and enjoy them.
Posted 21 December 2011 - 04:15 PM
As a matter of fact, it is my secret wish to read them all... but being somewhat short on spare time (work and child to take care of) I was hoping someone might dissuade me and advise to read only 2 or 3!
Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:40 PM
Posted 22 December 2011 - 11:29 AM
Amis is fine (though a little over-rated), Pearson'll make you wish he'd written a "proper" continuation as well, Wood that he didn't get the gig in 1981 (he's the best of the lot by far), by mid-way through the Gardner's you'll probably wish you'd left it at the Fleming's, the Benson's will make you weep (or admit the existence of a benevalent God, Benson having got so lucky), Faulks'll have you hating the superior attitude of a literary elite, and Deaver.... well, I guess that depends on your age or which side of the Pond you live on. Higson'll amaze you at how he got away with it, and Wenberg'll have yiou wondering if she's not using the same Well of Unbelievable Good Fortune as Raymond Benson.
If you go in expecting to be disappointed you should be okay. That way, the real gems - Wood's Spy in particular, CS and LR - will stand out more. Alternatively, just read those three.
Posted 22 December 2011 - 01:11 PM
Posted 22 December 2011 - 02:55 PM
Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:07 PM
Another question, then: should I read them in chronological order? Is there any continuity that should be respected? Or can I just pick them at random?
Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:17 PM
Posted 06 September 2012 - 06:52 PM
Posted 27 September 2016 - 08:29 PM
Just to update it a bit, I must let you know that I did read a few continuation novels: Colonel Sun, Trigger Mortis and Solo. I thoroughly enjoyed TM and Solo. Very well written, with great pace and interesting "bondian" plot.
I honestly didn't realise I missed reading James Bond adventures that much! It's such a thrill delving into Bond-verse. Once I started reading, I couldn't let go. I just love this world and that special atmosphere the authors managed to convey.
So with that in mind, I'm now off to read the whole Benson run...
Posted 27 September 2016 - 09:50 PM
The only one i've read that came close to cutting the mustard was James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007 by John Pearson.
The opening of Colonel Sun is superb, but it never lives up to beginning thereafter.
Posted 27 September 2016 - 11:49 PM
I say read them all, then you'll know which ones you'll enjoy re-reading as much as Fleming.
For me that's Pearson's JB:TAB; Wood's TSWLM; Gardner's LR, IB, NLF, Scp, WLoD & BC; Benson's ZMT & HTTK (aka ABWTD) and Horowitz's TM.
Also, do yourself a treat and read Mr. Gardner's 'Liquidator' series - if Fleming himself had wanted to poke fun at his own creation, he couldn't have done better.
Posted 28 September 2016 - 01:35 AM
Colonel Sun then Pearson's JB:TAB for Fleming's sweep. Pick and choose after these reads. I'm one of the few who really enjoyed Carte Blanche. Modernized but with homages to Fleming. Scar on right cheek,Chelsea flat, driving a Bentley, armed with a modern Walther PPS etc.
If you read Sherlock Holmes find Gardner's Moriarty series along with Horowitz's House of Silk
Posted 04 October 2016 - 12:50 PM
Both of those are superb. I also think highly of Trigger Mortis.
Colonel Sun then Pearson's JB:TAB for Fleming's sweep.
Posted 04 October 2016 - 01:40 PM