A James Bond novel written by William Boyd.
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 brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.
Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment.
Dominic West is well known for his leading roles in many films, including 28 Days, Mona Lisa Smile, The Forgotten and 300. He played McNulty in HBO's The Wire, one of the most critically acclaimed television programmes ever made in the U.S. In 2011 he won a TV BAFTA for his role in ITV mini-series Appropriate Adult, and he was also nominated for a Golden Glove for BBC series The Hour.
©2013 Ian Fleming Publications Limited (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks
As the headline says, I love Bond and have done since I was given my first Bond book to read when I was 12 (I'm 30-something now). I’m not going to go into all the reasons why, but the fact that that Fleming’s books are still so widely read after all this time, is testament to the quality of the characters and the storytelling; both of which are lacking in Solo.
I’ve paid close attention to more recent Bond books by Faulks and Deaver, and enjoyed them to some degree – they weren’t on a par with Fleming’s finest, but they were decent stories in their own right. As a result I was looking forward to Solo, expecting more of the same. I was disappointed. It felt like William Boyd had been given a couple of hours to scribble down a rough plot, been told to watch Timothy Dalton in action for a few hours, ask a few teenage boys what they’d like to see Bond get up to, and then jot it down ready for print.
No, not at all. It's possible if you read this book in its own right and forget you've ever heard of Bond, then you may enjoy it. Sadly, as the cover states, it's 'A Jame Bond Novel' so if you enjoy Fleming's Bond, there's a good chance you won't enjoy this.
Honestly, I didn't have a favourite.
Dominic West's performance was good. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I sensed at times that he struggled with his delivery as parts of the dialogue were weak and the story implausible.
I've watched The Wire in it's entirety, so I know Dominic West can 'do' American, yet I remain unconvinced by his Mexican accent - it felt like some comic relief from what may have proved a bit of a chore for the actor.
I'm sure it will become the basis for a Bond movie at some stage, but I'd imagine it will be a few years down the line with a new actor playing Bond involved.
James Bond is 45 in Solo, the same age as Daniel Craig now, so he's likely to be past it by the time this gets to the big screen. I was going to suggest that at 45, Bond won't necessarily carry the same allure as he saunters out of the sea in his tight blue swimming shorts, but I am fully aware there are armies of women who would disagree.
I feel I should explain a specifics about why I didn't enjoy the book, here are a few reasons I didn't enjoy the book:
- Bond break into a woman's house an rummages through her draw without any good reason. When she returns and starts to undress, he stays to watch. Smooth. For me, this is not something Fleming's character would have done, at least not without good reason.
- Bond gets angry at decorators in his flat. This is an odd one; Boyd doesn't really explain why, but there's a passage where Bond feels the need to 'crack the whip' with the men decorating his flat. I assume it's added to point to the fact that he has to seek some form of enjoyment/power at a time when his life is a little slower than usual, but it doesn't seem to fit. Bond was always short with people, but rarely rude without good reason - this seemed to go against this.
- He gets duped easily and frequently. Maybe senility is setting in early, but Bond gets tricked a lot in Solo. I don't want to spoil plot lines, but it's a sad day when a picture of the Queen hanging on the wall is enough to convince Bond that someone is who they say they are.
- The baddies are stupid. Yes okay, a lot of the villains in Bond's films are not the sharpest, but when a Journalist masterminds a battle without anyone raising an eyebrow, you've got to ask what's coming next - "Mr Bond, you're great with a gun, are you really just a children's entertainer?"
There's more, but this has become a rant.
The writing style. Mr Boyd really captured the essence of the original stories by IF. INFINITELY better than Sebastian Faulks's effort which was poor.
The atmosphere and pace of the story. It felt authentic Bond.
He did them all well.
I could have done, but didn't
Use Dominic West more often. He is a 1st rate reader!
The audio book is is extreamly well read by Dominic West and draws you into the story.
The new bond girl was very interesting and a perfect foil for Bonds latest love interest
Not listened to any of Dominic West's readings before, but I might just look for something else he has narrated
Pacey, Classy, Compelling
James Bond of course, the epitome of cool, and in this story not infallible, but resourceful and capable in all circumstances
All the scenes involving Bryce and the segment in the USA
At the end when James did the right thing, even though he didn't really want to
Not a Flemming, though no worse for that. The ending held more surprises than we are used to with the film equivalents - I suspect that is indicative of the films catering for a certain audience and certain necessary formula.
This book is skillfully narrated by Dominc West and his clever use of accents completely brings the characters to life. Cleverly he does not attempt to talk like a female for the respective characters and I think the book would be poorer if he had tried.
This was my first full length audiobook, and I am totally hooked by the format.
I do hope Mr Boyd is inspired to write another Bond epic.
One of the great things about the book is the opening in which Bond's age and the timeline of the story are explained and established. This really helps witih the scene setting and anchors the listener in that era.
Bond because he was so much better than in the movies.
When Bond is on a mission in Africa, he finds that not all operatives have his best interest in mind. After tying up one mission he decides to take matters into his own hands by going solo.
This is my first dip into the world of James Bond that doesn’t revolve around high-action television drama. I didn’t start at the beginning as any normal person would but got stuck in the middle with Solo and I loved it.
I have read plenty of Boyd’s work, enough to know that I like his style and this book was no different in that respect. The quality of his storytelling is right at the top and his character development is spot on. Writing about a fictional character who is so widely known can be risky but in this case, totally worth it.
Boyd brings out the best of Bond and his womanizing ways are more natural, less sexist, and the emotional content is so much better. You can connect with Bond’s character because Boyd has really brought him to life and humanized the legend. For this aspect alone, it is a must-read.
If stern-jawed middle-aged men spying on actresses as they take off their red underwear, or making their pretty secretaries cry by speaking to them in a harsh voice are your thing: buy this book. I love William Boyd and was hoping for a tongue in cheek sixties thriller, this is just rather sad. I only got as far as chapter 4. Back to Ian Rankin and Mark Dawson for me.
TFW Coach and owner of TFW London
one of the better continuation novels. a good eye for local detail in the africa sections and even a Flemming style salad dressing recipe for Bond to enjoy with his steak.
Dominic West brings a great tone and quality to his reading which helps to elevate the whole thing.
"This sounds really like Bond, James Bond.."
As a fervent reader of the Ian Fleming books in my early years , I have been deeply disappointed by the various attempts of different writers to re-create James Bond. This time is different. If anything , the best I can say about this book is that , at times, it really sounds like the real thing. The worse is that James Bond - as a character- comes through as a bit "depassė" with his snobbish and macho attitude and belongs to a world ( Cold War) forever gone...In any case this is good entertainment and I would certainly go for an additional " Bond by Boyd" book..
"Bond in Flemings time but now..cool"
I enjoyed this it's a solid story, it has the original Bond story timing, Bond girls in peril, evil bad guys who won't die and plenty of twists and turns. Kept my interest.
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