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I’ve never read Ian Fleming so I know Bond only as the film icon; however, I like Boyd and wanted to see what kind of Bond he would create for late 60s Britain.
This is a very uneven novel --- I enjoyed moving through world of the novel with this very ordinary (almost pedestrian) Bond ---when it involved a London neighbourhood or especially West Africa. Other parts, particularly Bond’s romantic encounters, are written in a "workman-like", second rate manner. I wonder if that was intentional, so much does it depart from the fine detail of other sections.
Bond is a man of his times in many ways, but a mainstream 60s hero wouldn’t adopt his positions. Would any Bond enjoy the feeling of being in a woman station head's "capable hands"? or "His powerless made him want to weep" or "Bond began to feel a debilitating sense of impotence"? Perhaps this is a triumph -- The novel (outside of bedroom snapshots) didn't conjure up any movie Bond but a distinct character.
Battles (army battles) and fights abound -- not gory however. No gizmos are involved. Neither is there explicit sex – the encounters are what 007 film goers wold expect, and rather corny. The setting suggests of Nigeria--Biafra in late 60s - early 70s, but those elements were not developed as much as I would have liked (though this is almost a post-colonial bond).
I felt that the novel didn't gel for me and suspect that Boyd enjoyed writing a Bond but perhaps was restrained by external parameters and didn't put his human heart in all of the writing. I liked the parts that were Boyd---William Boyd, so I will stick to William Boyd novels.
Well narrated in a restrained style.