In his Alpine base, Blofeld is developing biological weapons that will devastate Britain. Unaware of the danger, James Bond is about to marry Teresa di Vicenzo, the daughter of a Corsican Mafioso. But then he is sent to Switzerland. Bond's marriage and Blofeld's schemes disintegrate in a blizzard of gunfire and high-explosives from which neither man emerges the victor.
This audiobook includes an exclusive bonus interview with David Tennant.
Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd
©1963 Ian Fleming (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Delightfully Sexist Bond
Bond, James Bond.
David's James Bond, thanks to his Scottish accent and natural charisma, is a throw back to Sean Connery's and it is delightful. Tennant may never get to play him on the big screen, but listening to him play him in this book was a real treat.
Much has been made about the sexism is the Bond films. So much of his attitude towards women, it turns out, comes from the books! This was my first outing with a Bond novel and I was a little shocked at how (A) close it was to the movie and (B) how casually sexist it is. It was such a strange anachronism that I found myself just laughing at Bond and how he described and looked at women. The book is a product of its time and would not be written this way today (which I am thankful for), but that doesn't mean I didn't also enjoy it.
The story never stops moving forward, but that being said, it's plotted deliberately and almost slowly. I was constantly riveted, but was surprised at how it took its time to ramp up to the big action set pieces. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to my next Bond outting.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
By the time On Her Majesty's Secret Service is published, James Bond is making waves internationally, both in print and on the big screen, partly propelled by John F. Kennedy's endorsement of Fleming's From Russia With Love, and partly from the world's need to embrace a hero of this kind in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis less than three months previous. And by this point in the game, Fleming was looking to take Bond in new directions, as many writers do once they've been writing their trademark characters for a while. This began with The Spy Who Loved Me, which was different in style and format, but didn't take truly take Bond himself in any new directions. For Bond to truly evolve as a character, old wounds would need to be addressed, and his greatest nemesis would need to return.
If it can truly be said that Bond has a weakness, it's boredom. The story takes place in the wake of Operation: Thunderball, wherein Bond has been assigned to basic detective work involving the possible re-emergence of SPECTRE and its chief mastermind, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond is unhappy with this assignment, convinced that SPECTRE is smashed, and Blofeld, no matter how ingenious, is incapable of recreating an organization of SPECTRE's caliber. After repeated ignored requests to be reassigned, Bond finds himself at the precipice of boredom, drafting his resignation letter from the Service.
In the world of James Bond, there are a number of standout women who have known him, but only two define him. The first is Casino Royale's Vesper Lynd, to whom he gave his heart, only to end up betrayed, leading to the string of heartbreaks and one-night stands for which he is known. The second takes the stage here: Teresa di Vincenzo, Tracy to her friends. Tracy's father turns out to be one of the most powerful mafia bosses in the world, with connections enough to learn the whereabouts of Blofeld in exchange for Bond helping to lure Tracy away from her personal death wish. While Bond stalks Blofeld, Tracy is using her father's resources to track down Bond.
In my mind, this is the most important entry in the original Fleming series, the point where Bond truly becomes the Bond everyone thinks they know, as opposed to merely just a shell for the writer's alter ego to inhabit. The English cold war spy becomes the British superspy capable of transcending the ages yet to come. In tribute to Connery, we are finally given some of Bond's backstory, wherein he is listed as Scottish on his father's side (his mother is Swiss), though ironically Connery would become disenfranchised with the role and stepped down by the time the movie version would come to pass. More importantly, we reinforce the character traits that would push Bond through this story. As I mentioned before, boredom drives him into danger, and his need to pursue his targets to the very ends of the earth causes him to ally himself with forces of which queen and country would certainly not approve. The cost of this dogged pursuit echoes the events of Casino Royale. It's this pursuit that will define Blofeld as Bond's greatest enemy, the Moriarty to Bond's Sherlock Holmes. In trying to take Bond in a new direction, Fleming brings his creation full circle.
In honor of Bond becoming Scottish, it's only fitting that we get a Scottish narrator who is more than capable of delivering both the worldliness and gravitas needed to present this story to the fullest. "Who" better than David Tennant? With a list of stage, screen, and voice acting credits as long as your arm, Tennant brings his considerable talents to this narration with an understated dignity and charm. He switches between characters, languages, and accents effortlessly in way that will impress if you stop to take note of them. At times, you're tempted to believe he's a completely different person. The cherry on top is that he correctly says "double-oh," regarding the running gag in my reviews of how to correctly pronounce "007."
Bottom line, this is quite possibly the best novel in the series, made better by a superior presentation.
Wow, David Tennant did a wonderful job narrating this book......not just because his (own) Scottish accent was a good fit for Bond (and brings in memories of Sean Connery as Bond), but because he also did wonderful voices for the other characters and the exposition (including bits of French or German). The right pacing, the right tone....all 'round wonderful.
As for the story......I liked this one more than many other Bonds, even though the movie version was hampered by the wrong actor. This is a more human, fragile, and emotional Bond - saving a woman from suicide, falling in love, getting married........all while saving England from catastrophe, of course. There's action in the high alps (lots of skiing and bobsledding), negotiations with a mobster, and even some undercover work requiring too much knowledge of ancestry and heraldic arms.
All greatly spun together by Tennant.
Doctor Who, James Bond, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Gaskell, but mostly just Doctor Who.
Pretty high. I could listen to David Tennant read the phone book, but he captures James Bond so well.
How do you pick one? Of course I loved when he played Sir Hillary with his natural accent, but the German headmistress was pretty good too.
Again, I've listened to almost all of his narrations, but this is on a different plane than his Doctor Who books. It's not the Doctor, it's definitely James Bond. His love of the books comes through his voice.
Top Shelf, Outstanding!
Sir(?) Ian Fleming is a masterful writer of the Bond series, this was just one of many jewels in his crown of master works!
All of them, David brings an amazing presence to each of the characters. It was such a joy to listen to him read it, I plan to re-listen to it again!
David's interview at the end, clearly he truly enjoyed what he read, of the writer, of the story, and clearly wanted to be part of it! He's an outstanding actor, and I can add properly, story-telling to his long list.
If you're a fan of Bond or Doctor Who, you owe it to yourself, to take a wonderful listen to this, it's worth every grain of sand from your life's hourglass!
I have always love this book and have heard another audiobook for it that was great but I have to say I love this one. David Tennant does amazing. He is great with voicing the different characters and delivering everything. Plus there is a great quick little interview with him at the end.
David Tennant truly does a great job in the reading. His accents and pace took me for a fun ride! To my knowledge, the French was fantastically read by an Englishman. Not too sure about the German, unfortunately. As expected, the book was excellent and a great audible listen.
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