Tag Archives: Licence Renewed

Licence Renewed and For Special Services read by Jeremy Northam: review

15 Jul

Thirty years after they were first published, Orion have released a hardback reprint of five of John Gardner’s James Bond novels. Mr Gardner wrote fourteen in total (more than any other Bond author, including the originator of the series, Ian Fleming).

From Orion:
Swordfish, the new imprint from The Orion Publishing Group, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of John Gardner’s first James Bond novel with the publication of his first five Bond titles in a highly collectable hardback edition. Featuring the original cover art, the first three titles – Licence Renewed, For Special Services and Icebreaker – will all be published in a distinctive new livery on 23 June 2011 (hardback, £16.99 each/eBook at £8.99). Nobody Lives For Ever and Role Of Honour will follow suit on 7 July 2011 (hardback, £16.99 each/eBook at £8.99). All of John Gardner’s Bond novels will be released in paperback in 2012.

If you’d like to find out more about John Gardner, I recommend a visit to the official website: JohnGardner.com

Jeremy Northam has recorded the first two novels in the series as audiobooks: Licence Renewed and For Special Services. Naturally, yours truly has been having a listen …

Written and set in the 1980’s, in Licence Renewed James Bond is older and times have changed. M is still his boss, but ’00’ status no longer officially exists (though M refuses to acknowledge this), and Bond’s duties are far more mundane. That is, until he is required to return to his old role and save the world, yet again, from a mad genius intent on world domination.

I always think of Bond stories as adult fairy tales, with Bond as our invincible handsome prince on the side of good and all that is right, saving damsels in distress from the big bad wolf. It helps me to accept the casual sexism, xenophobia and general lack of political correctness that are an inescapable part of the best James Bond stories (a reflection of the time they were written). Jeremy plays it straight when it would be easy to colour it with a 2011 perspective, and this helps to create an authenticity and connection with Fleming’s originals, something I never really felt with Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care (also read by Jeremy). By doing so, Jeremy also avoids all comparisons with Mike Myers’ extremely successful Bond pastiche, Austin Powers. (Yeah baby!)

Despite being older, James Bond has lost none of his skill, nerve, and prowess with the ladies, though he drinks less and smokes low tar cigarettes (especially made for him, of course).

Bond’s gadgets come from Q branch, as before, but this time via a woman, nicknamed Q’ute. John Gardner was careful to make all of Bond’s gadgets realistic, and he maintained that a Saab with the modifications Bond has installed would have been an option for anyone with the money to afford it.

Bond must stop Anton Murik, Laird of Murcaldy (aided by international terrorist Franco) from taking over six nuclear plants and holding the world to ransom. Needless to say, there is a glamorous Bond girl with an appropriately ludicrous name (Lavender Peacock, known as ‘Dilly’, pronounced with great relish by Jeremy as Bond) and an enormous villain (reminiscent of Jaws) named Caber.

Some of the novel is set in Scotland, and though Jeremy’s ability to create believable, consistent and appropriate voices for his characters is nothing short of amazing, his Scottish accent is a little shaky (I’d be prepared to offer lessons, being from that country myself …), but I am being needlessly picky, and it’s a hell of a lot better than Mel Gibson’s!

It’s a typically tense, fast-paced romp, punctuated by testosterone-fuelled battles, car chases and romantic interludes. Anton Murik is a Bond mad scientist villain who sounds like he could have been played by Charles Gray (I particularly loved Gardner’s description of the mad and dangerous gleam in his eyes resembling lava). Dilly squeals, simpers and looks gorgeous, and of course Bond was always going to come out on top (ahem).

The second novel, For Special Services, picks up where the first left off and is more filmic, thanks to Gardner doing a better job with setting the scene, and, of the two, this was by far my favourite. James Bond is on secret loan to the US government and, teamed with his old friend Felix Leiter’s daughter Cedar (a CIA agent), he must stop legendary secret organisation SPECTRE and their evil leader ‘Blofeld’ who are, of course, up to no good on a grand scale. Blofeld was responsible for killing Bond’s wife Tracy (in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and was later killed by Bond. Who is the new ‘Blofeld’? We don’t find out for sure until the very end of the book.

Cedar Leiter is a match for Bond, and a forerunner of Halle Berry’s character in Die Another Day. Naturally, she is also very beautiful.

This audiobook really is a Bond film performed entirely by one man and can only be described as a tour de force. There are many plot twists and turns (some of which you’ll see coming), some great set-piece scenes worthy of the best Bond movies, and a large cast of vivid characters, all of which are created with verve and gusto. The New York gangsters, Texan millionaire Markus Bismaquer and skull-faced Walter Luxor (who will make your flesh creep) are characters you’d never believe could possibly spring from Jeremy’s lips, and yet they do, brilliantly. Jeremy has proved, in several audiobooks, that he can successfully perform female characters, but you have never heard anything like the steamy love scene he creates in this book. Much as I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall in the recording studio, perhaps you need to be alone in such circumstances … !

The relationship between Bond and M is rather touching, and Bond and Moneypenny continue to have a little flirt (a scene without which any Bond film is incomplete). This book has everything you could want from a Bond novel, and Orion absolutely picked the right man for the job in Jeremy, with his success as a leading man and his gifts as a character actor.

If you enjoy James Bond (novels or films), you will adore these audiobooks. Laura has written about Jeremy being her ‘intellectualizer‘, introducing her to books, periods of history and other subjects she might not otherwise have felt inspired to explore. In this case, I haven’t been ‘intellectualized’ in the slightest. I’ve had a good, healthy dose of pure entertainment. And why not? After listening to every last syllable of Homage to Catalonia, I think I deserve it!

For Special Services and Licence Renewed, read by Jeremy Northam, are available as CDs and digital downloads (digital download not available in USA) from Orion and a range of audiobook retailers. It is possible that more of John Gardner’s James Bond novels may be released as audiobooks. Orion’s Audio Editor Pandora White told me:

“He did such a good job with the Faulks book and he’s a fantastic reader and the right age and tone of voice.  If these work then yes, we will do more and with Jeremy.”

Let’s hope so!

Many thanks to Louise Court at Orion.

by Gill

Jeremy Northam as audio James Bond: preview

21 Jun

I’d guess many of you are looking forward to Jeremy Northam’s two new James Bond audiobooks (by John Gardner) as much as I am! The first to be released (though actually the second in Gardner’s series of Bond novels), For Special Services, is published by Orion this Thursday (23 June), and the second (actually the first of Gardner’s Bond stories … confused???) is Licence Renewed, and it’s due on 7 July. I’ve already written a little about them both here and here and will be posting reviews very soon.

In the meantime,  I thought you might like a little taster of what we have in store …

In this second instalment of John Gardner’s Bond series, Bond teams up with CIA agent Cedar Leiter, daughter of his old friend Felix Leiter, to investigate Markus Bismaquer, who is suspected of reviving the notorious criminal organisation SPECTRE

Official, original James Bond from a writer described by Len Deighton as a ‘master storyteller’. Unabridged edition.

The first of John Gardner’s novels featuring Ian Fleming’s secret agent.
Bond has been assigned to investigate one Dr. Anton Murik, a brilliant nuclear physicist who is thought to have been meeting with a terrorist known as Franco. Together, they plan to hijack six nuclear power plants around the world and start a global meltdown, unless Bond can stop them…

Official, original James Bond from a writer described by Len Deighton as a ‘master storyteller’. Unabridged edition.

They are published by Orion and will be available both as CDs and downloads from Amazon (where you may pre-order ahead of publication) and other outlets.

These first two audiobooks may be followed by more, as Orion are re-releasing more of  the Bond novels by Gardner in print. I’ll remind you of what Orion’s Audio Editor Pandora White told me when I asked if Jeremy might read more for them:

He did such a good job with the Faulks book and he’s a fantastic reader and the right age and tone of voice.  If these work then yes, we will do more and with Jeremy.

So, if you wonder where I am over the next few weeks, I’ll be wherever James Bond wishes to take me!

 

UPDATE

For Special Services is now available from Amazon UK and from Audible.

 

by Gill

Jeremy Northam as audio 007

21 Mar

Courtesy of the very helpful Louise Court at Orion, I have a little more information about Jeremy Northam’s audio readings of James Bond novels  Licence Renewed and For Special Services by John Gardner, already available as pre-orders from Amazon UK and being published in June and July of this year.

You’ll see that I’m including some information about another John Gardner Bond novel, Icebreaker, and the other upcoming novels in the series being published by Orion. At present, Jeremy has been asked to read the two I’ve listed above, but in answer to my question about the rest of Gardner’s Bond novels and whether they too will have audio versions read by Jeremy, Orion’s Audio Editor Pandora White told me:

He did such a good job with the Faulks book and he’s a fantastic reader and the right age and tone of voice.  If these work then yes, we will do more and with Jeremy.

Jeremy with Lucy Lui in stylish sci-fi spy thriller 'Cypher'

So, if you’d like more Jeremy Northam audio-Bond, you know what to do: spread the word and buy as many as you can! I hope all your friends and relatives like James Bond?

It’s possible to listen to an audio sample of Jeremy reading Sebastian Faulks’ James Bond novel Devil May Care here: Devil May Care sample.

Here is my information from Orion:

Licence Renewed, For Special Services, Icebreaker

by John Gardner

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

“John Gardner was the consummate thriller writer” Mike Ripley, The Guardian

“a master storyteller” Len Deighton

Published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his first Bond title.

In 1981, almost 20 years after Ian Fleming’s death, John Gardner was asked to revive Agent 007. Between then and 1996 Gardner wrote fourteen Bond novels and the novelisation of two Bond films. In Gardner’s novels Bond and his allies are updated from the Fleming originals, and transported to the 1980s, with all the latest technology and weaponry. Bond now drove a Saab 900 Turbo – much to the bemusement of ardent fans of the Fleming originals.

LICENCE RENEWED
The first of John Gardner’s novels featuring Ian Fleming’s secret agent. Bond has been assigned to investigate one Dr. Anton Murik, a brilliant nuclear physicist who is thought to have been meeting with a terrorist known as Franco. Together they plan to hijack six nuclear power plants around the world and start a global meltdown, unless Bond can stop them…

FOR SPECIAL SERVICES
In this second instalment of John Gardner’s Bond series, Bond teams up with CIA agent Cedar Leiter, daughter of his old friend Felix Leiter, to investigate Markus Bismaquer, who is suspected of reviving the notorious criminal organisation SPECTRE.

ICEBREAKER
Bond reluctantly finds himself recruited into a dangerous mission involving an equally dangerous and treacherous alliance of agents from the CIA, the KGB and Israel’s Mossad. The team dubbed ‘Icebreaker’ waste no time double crossing each other, as they try to root out the leader of the murderous National Socialist Action Army, Count Konrad von Gloda, a one time SS officer, who now perceives himself as the New Adolf Hitler.

NOBODY LIVES FOR EVER and ROLE OF HONOUR are to be re-issued in hardback on 7 July 2011, followed by further John Gardner Bond titles in 2012.

John Gardner began his career as a novelist in 1964, with THE LIQUIDATOR, featuring the character Boysie Oakes. In 1981, Gardner was asked to revive Ian Fleming’s James Bond series of novels. Gardner wrote fourteen James Bond novels, and the novelisations of two Bond films, LICENCE TO KILL and GOLDENEYE.

At the time of writing, the audiobooks can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK. They will also be available from other sources, please check closer to publication.

by Gill

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