Role of Honour (1984) – John Gardner

James Bond is back in action in Gardner’s next 007 title, taking Ian Fleming’s character further into the 80s with a story that sees the secret agent encountering computers, war game simulations, and a familiar enemy.

There are some familiar elements in this film that showed up in 1985’s A View To A Kill, computers play a big part, as does an airship at the story’s climax. There’s also the chance that Bond actually falls in love this time around, but that doesn’t stop him from bedding a couple of other women either.

Bond in a public separation, leaves the service (to help establish his cover) so that he can be approached by an unknown agency to help in their plan. His course leads him to a tiny English village, where a man thought dead by the U.S. government is developing war games and simulations to help pull off crimes, and topple governments; services sold to the highest bidder.

Bond is given a crash course in computer programming (remember basic?) by a woman he begins to fall in love with Persephone (Percy) Proud, and finds himself vetted and recruited by St.John-Finnes, the head programmer of Gunfire Simulations.

He’s brought in on a plan that according to St.John-Finnes will level the playing ground between the super powers.

Bond is ready, and dives into the assignment wholeheartedly. armed with the new ASP 9mm, and driving a new car (the Saab is gone – thankfully) a brand new Bentley Mulsanne Turbo (and honestly, I don’t care for this one much more than I did the Saab), outfitted with only a couple of extras, like a car phone (!).

Alongside his romantic involvement with Percy, he sleeps with two other women, even as he sneaks around and works to uncover the plan at work at Gunfire.

There are some fun sequences, a car chase, a shootout, and the airship climax in Switzerland.

Gardner knows his subject material, and knows how to keep the story rocketing along. The books’ missions seem smaller in scale than the films, but stay very much in the keeping of the original stories. Bond has his assignment, and goes after it with tenacity – and each of Gardner’s tales so far races to an exciting finish, taking us from beat to beat.

And with the introduction of Percy and the way the characters begin to feel about one another, conjures images of Bond and Tracy (intentionally) so the reader lives in fear of the last few pages, wondering how things will play out…

And there is more to come, as James Bond will return in…

Nobody Lives For Ever

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