James Bond: My Long And Eventful Search For His FatherJames Bond: My Long And Eventful Search For His Father by Len Deighton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bonds origins: from a new and different angle

Len Deighton gives a candid behind-the-scenes look at the fraught process that got 007 off the page and into the cinema. This short story reads like a long article that might appears in The Sunday Times Magazine. It explains how Ian Fleming, Harry Saltzman, Kevin McClory and even Sean Connery all got involved.

The movie conversion of Bond started in 1958 with a treatment which became Thunderball. For several reasons Thunderball ended-up being the fourth movie made and not the first. Deighton himself wrote the screen play for From Russia with Love.

Despite seeing the classic Harry Palmer movies starring Michael Caine, this was the first work by Deighton that I’d read. The story is almost like listening to him relating a tale while you’re having a drink with him.

There’s no real point in summarising the main points of the book, as it’s almost its own summary and you can read it in one sitting. While not all the parts of the story are new Deighton conveys them in a refreshingly honest way.
Fans of Bond will find it provides a certain perspective on the events which resulted in the creation of one of cinema’s iconic figures.

How Deighton can recall details about the affair after all this time is amazing, but he does. I for one will definitely be checking out his other books. A great short read. The last paragraph, in particular, is excellent!

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Book Review: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3)Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘This is a story about stories. Or what it really means to be a fairy godmother. But it’s also, particularly, about reflections and mirrors.’

First published in 1991 Witches Abroad is the 12th Discworld novel and the 3rd Witches story. The story revolves around three witches Magrat Garlickand, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Their mission is to try to stop a wedding. What follows is a journey which sees them getting involved in unusual versions of scenes from well-known fairytales. This mingles with culturally relevant themes and events, all translated to the Discworld

The experience of Granny Weatherwax contrasts against the youngest in the group Magrat. Magrat is not always comfortable in her role as a fairy Godmother and the responsibility this now demands.

Of course, Granny Weatherwax is the heroine of the book. She’s especially amusing because of her responses to the events and situations the group find themselves in. Each witch has a different personality leading to constant bickering. Of course, being Pratchett the dialogue is all humorous stuff.

The idea behind the book is the power of the story and the nature of storytelling and of fairy tales. Stories “play themselves” and shape people’s actions to their own ends. People who resist their roles in stories do so at their peril. It’s a good idea for a short story but I felt that at times it became stretched out to try to make it into a full novel.

So in summary, a nice addition to the Discworld series. While the story idea is expanded to make it into a full novel, it is amusing and well worth a read.

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Book Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (James Bond, #11)On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You Have All The Time in The World

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the tenth novel in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. It was first published in 1963. It is the second book in what is known as the “Blofeld trilogy“. This begins with Thunderball and concludes with You Only Live Twice. Fleming wrote the book in Jamaica whilst the first film in the Eon Productions series of films, Dr. No, was being filmed nearby.

After The Spy Who Loved Me’ ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ is a return to form. In some ways it is a typical Fleming book. The plot is over the top and the story is exciting. Bond is in danger throughout. We also get the customary large scale battle at the end. This is all interspersed with action and pace, for example Bond’s frenetic ski chase. But in other ways Fleming departs from his normal blueprint as he shows an emotional side to Bond. Bond visits the grave of Casino Royale‘s Vesper Lynd, which he apparently does every year. He also asks the enigmatic Tracy to marry him after becoming emotionally involved. Both Bond and Tracey appear to be isolated people who both want more security in life.

Fleming is also great at the descriptive passages too. The scenes on the beach or in the Alps are well depicted and expressed in a way without breaking up a flow in the narrative. Fleming does insist on protracted explanations of card games and alpine sports.

In summary, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a notable chapter in the saga of James Bond. It pits Bond against his arch nemesis Blofeld’s and is one of the better books. The mingling of Bond’s personal life into the tale elevates this book higher than most in the series and this keeps the reader gripped until the end.

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