Read Solo by WilliamBoyd Online


It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own branIt is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M's orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond's renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment....

Title : Solo
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062223128
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 322 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Solo Reviews

  • Alejandro
    2019-03-02 08:54

    With Licence to Read!!!BOND, ONLY BONDThe Year: 1969.The place: West Africa.The Mission: Oh, something easy......just to stop a civil war.Bond, only Bond.I had good expectations about this new novel about James Bond.The first thing that I liked it was the title of the book: Solo. I liked it since I know that Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond) was involved in the pre-production of the 60´s TV series about spies: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. And Fleming created the character of "Napoleon Solo". Even he conceived the series with a couple man/woman for the series like in The Avengers (No, not the Marvel's but the British 60's TV series about spies too). It was later that with the good work of the character of Illya Kuryakin, that they set it as a team man/man.In this book there was a character, Brigadier Solomon Adeka, called "The African Napoleon". So, it was easy doing the math here.Also, it was expected that at some point of the mission, Bond would have to go "solo" without help or back-up. So, it was a fantastic title for a Bond novel.BACK TO SIXTIESAlso I liked the concept of setting it on 1969, using the "original" James Bond of Fleming's novels.So, instead of struggling in updating the character to a modern world, the author just went back in time to use the character in a logic continuation of how Fleming left the character.It was a brilliant idea. Also, an interesting thing is that the famous character "Q" never appeared on the Flemming's novels so, here, the author got the chance of introduced him as a young Quentin Dale.WHAT HAPPENED THEN?So, you may be wondering why the 3-star rating.Okay, first of all, the first two chapters were really slow ones and I was like out of track there, BUT once Bond reached the MI6 headquarters and he was briefed about his mission, the book got in track wonderfully, and I really enjoyed a lot all the deal of him getting into the fictional country of Zanzarim in West Africa.In fact, the story presents a very realistic portrait of the African situation in the 60's.However, at some point you feel that Bond isn't exactly in the "good" side of the war or that his mission is really something "good" but helping to destroy a struggling little new nation just because of political interests of England.Of course, spies don't do politics and morale judgments, but I expected that at some point his "solo" status maybe that he didn't approve his mission, but no, it wasn't the case.Even at some point he opted to put into coma some character instead of killing him that I think it was the wisest move due the situation, but he didn't do it. Geez! So, why he does have a licence to kill if he didn't use it?At some point without spoiling (don't worry!), the mission was "succesfully" acomplished in the eyes of MI6 and her Majesty, BUT James Bond felt that he needs to go further, and honestly his motivations for that, in my opinion, were really weak and innecesary. In that moment, all my joy and excitement reading the novel went straight down.While the book presents an interesting and well developed henchman, the choice of "mastermind" was very weak and I think it ruined all the premise of the story.Also, the setting changed from West Africa to America and the CIA is heavily involved. Geez. If I want to read a novel about CIA, I'd do it, but when it's James Bond, I expected a mission with MI6 strong presence. So, I could forgive the two first chapters and still giving it a 4 or 5 star rating but the way how the third part of the story turned definitely convinced me that the only fair rating was of 3 stars, that in any case it's still in the safe side of the rating. However, depending of your expectations, you still may find this book like a compeling and very acceptable Bond novel.

  • Mark
    2019-03-23 08:55

    The book opens with a chapter where Bond looks back on the first time where he as a young soldier in the aftermath of the invasion in Normandy (1944)for the first time faces death. And is actually fine reading and shows a promise for the book.Then 007 gets shipped of the Africa where he is supposed to end a civil war by taking out the leader of one of the parties involved. It all goes of course horrible wrong and Bond ends up being terrible hurt. The 2nd part of the book is Bond going "solo" on a one man mission to avenge his wounds and the awefull behaviour of a mercenary and his boss.I really wanted to like this book due to some of the extreme critism I did read on some Bondfora, and re-adress the attitude that Fleming never did write as bad as Boyd did. And perhaps it would be honest to admit that while Boyd is a good writer he has shown with this novel that he lacks the writing skills to write a convincing 007 novel.Knowing that mr. Boyds roots were in Africa I expected some of the brutality that would reign there in a civil conflict in an oil rich country. We get a rather boring travel through an African country in conflict. Having read the writings of the French novelist Gérard de Villiers I always admired his skill of writing about the geopolitical authenticity of conflicted and exotic places. And the post-colonial Africa would be the place to show us some insight. And while his stories of a Austrian prince hired by the CIA does often showcase ond-dimensional characters and gratious sexscenes they offer a lot of excitement as well. With Boyds vision of Africa we get some polished in my view political correct version of the place. It never gets very authentic or even exciting, and even the plot does not offer any clarity.The villain is some former Rhodesian mercenary that has some nasty way of hanging dead soldiers on tree-branches like dead fish. ANd of course he has his facial handicap. So far Boyd ticks all the Fleming boxes, but he never gives the man any feeling of threathening menace. Jakobus Breed feels like a man who enjoys his sadist kicks but is a mer man that can be easily taken out. And Bond does eventually do just that. The big financier is a one dimensional character that comes nowhere to his right.The Bond women are fine in this novel but fail to impress at any level, and nowhere you feel that Bond has any attachment with them. Even if the voyeuristic episode concerning one of them is easily the most exciting part written in the book.This book is about Bond doing a job in post-colonial Africa where the big cooperations after all those declarations of independencies were scrambling like mad to get some lucreative contracts. And James Bond goes into that situation without any idea of view it is only in the aftermath you get an opinion on that matter in a talk between Leiter & Bond. For me Bond never walked so shallow into any affair/mission written by Fleming, Amis, Gardner, Benson, Faulks or Deaver. And in the aftermath it felt out of place and as some conservative fans said that it was amazing that the British paper "the Guardian" had a positive review so something must be wrong. The only questions Bond asked himself were not so much about the situation he was placed in and what his purpose might be, but about the attractiveness of his female companions. And untill the end of the book where Leiter pops us I kind of missed the male bonding Bond seems to have with male characters. these last Bondbooks written and are already called the celebrity trilogy are more interested in placing women in important roles based upon a certain equality. WHich is something that would be frowned upon by most in 1969 where this tale does plays, and it annoyed me for some time in thsi book.William Boyd commented on Fleming that he has written some sexist and racist aspects in his books. Which is a fair thing to say if one is fameliar with Flemings books. But perhaps Boyd should have used some more edgier approuch to actually spice up this 007 story. It falls kind of flat and is sometimes a boring story that makes the reader frustrated with the lack of action. Instead we get another foodpornish episode which Boyd writes very well but are to much put in the novel instead of some straitgh action with some sadistic overtones.As Bondnovel a failure for me, although it is quite an easy read. But of the celebrity trilogy it is sadly the worst of the three.Perhaps the inhertors of the 007 literary could look into mr. Gérard de Villiers service to write a perhaps less PC version of 007. And the man has the skills and knowledge to make it more fun and real.And don;t get me started on the recipe for Bonds saladdressing, foodporn taken one step too far.This novel has 007 enjoying the good things in live and while he does so the adventure passes by and he is more a spectator than a participant. He is kind like an elderly English gentleman that sits around waiting which might be possible the idea Boyd wanted to give in this post colonial Africa.

  • Martyn Perry
    2019-03-24 10:09

    I think it's important to remember when a new Bond book comes out that this isn't, and never will be, an Ian Fleming Bond book. What Faulks did with his "writing as Ian Fleming" was a nice gimmick for want of a better phrase, but i've always felt that the continuation of the Bond franchise in book form always works best when authors put their own spin on the writing style. If anything, it's a little bit like a comic book series, writers, artists and inkers all come and go, but the comic book character lives on, is instantly recognisable, but is always slightly different in each "run".Following Amis, Gardner, Christopher Wood, Benson, Higson, Faulks and Deaver, Boyd takes on the new story for James Bond and manages to achieve only what few of the authors preceding him have done, created a brand new Bond story which is undoubtedly the character that Fleming created, but in an original story which is a real page turner.From the first chapter right through to the story's conclusion, I found this to be a really enjoyable book and a magnificent example of a Bond story. Sure 5 stars is completely over the top when comparing it to other books (even Boyd's own), but in the context of the Bond franchise, this is as good a book as you could hope for. Bond in Africa really does come across as completely original, and filling in on more of his backstory from the World War 2 years is a brilliant idea, ensuring that his acts in the 1969 African civil warzone come across as "realistic" considering his history. Shoving Bond into the middle of a war zone is a great way of exploring different sides of Bond's character and abilities without reverting back to the evil henchman on an exotic island that Gardner absolutely loved to do.Once the story moves away from Africa it inevitably loses some of that really enjoyable originality that Boyd did so well to tap into. However, once back in familiar territory (Washington DC), Boyd keeps the twists coming and the story continues to engage. A twist is sown into a double twist into a feasible yet completely surprising third twist. It's all managed much more feasibly than Deaver's somewhat forced efforts in Carte Blanche and ensures that the action and characters within the story continue to entertain.For Bond literary fans that are willing to conceed that Fleming is never going to return and this is the best that they can hope for, they will absolutely enjoy this new Bond adventure. I'm uncertain as to what Boyd fans or just general thriller fans would think, however, it can't be less than a 3 star thriller story for a non-Bond fan.Absolutely recommended, 007 is back and I'd welcome another Boyd story continuing on from 1969.

  • Elizabeth Heritage
    2019-03-02 08:08

    Hmm.It's not that I didn't like this book - it's well plotted and the writing is perfectly competent - it's that it turns out I really don't like James Bond.This came as something of a shock. I've always enjoyed the films, especially Skyfall, starring the immensely talented Daniel Craig. Bond is glamorous, witty, strong, loyal, balletically violent, looks great in a tux - everything I could want in an action hero. The thing is, though, is that, with a movie, you're carried along by the spectacle. You are invited to enjoy, and then, a couple of hours later, to basically forget all about it. Action flicks don't invite you to reflect on the psychological realities of a life of sustained violence. They don't bring you inside the protagonist's head, or confront you with the effects of a life devoid of meaningful personal relationships.Solo does all of these things. It's not pleasant. James Bond is basically a humourless, misogynist, substance-abusing psychopath. I did not enjoy being in his head or seeing the world through his eyes; I did not find him attractive or admirable in any way. His disassociation from humanity is chilling, and the paranoid lies he tells himself to justify his self-induced isolation are creepy. The title is well chosen: Bond is utterly alone.The really disturbing thing is that the Bond of the movies and the Bond of this book are actually one and the same: at no point does William Boyd deviate from canon. And, since I always found movie-Bond pretty attractive, I have to ask myself - what does this say about me?I fear my days of drooling over Daniel Craig may be over.

  • Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
    2019-03-14 13:52

    Published: 08/10/2013Author: William BoydRecommended for: fans of action booksWilliam Boyd is a very good and talented author and I think he did a brilliant job with this book. It was compeling, keeps your attention, the storyline is also very good. I think that people who enjoy the original Ian Fleming James Bond books will enjoy this book as well. As I love James Bond I was abit sceptical about reading a 'James Bond' book not written by Iam Fleming, but I must admit I really really enjoyed reading this book. It was packed full of action that was described in amazing detail it felt like you were actually there with them. It is a seriously good read and a refreshing one, with the writing style of William Boyd coming through as a unique writer who isn't trying to be Ian Fleming.

  • F.R.
    2019-03-04 13:47

    So, James Bond heads to a small war-torn African republic. Fair enough. What’s the point in William Boyd writing a Bond novel if he doesn’t do the stuff which interests him?It’s 1969 and Bond is sent to Zanzarim, a fictional country caught up in a drawn out civil war. Oil has been discovered and it’s up to Bond to bring this conflict to a swift conclusion. From there we have double agents, triple agents, psychotic South African mercenaries, mistaken identity, drugs, torture and some good old fashioned James Bond brutality. This is the tired Bond of ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, the same version that Sebastian Faulks explored in ‘Devil May Care’ (I really must read ‘Colonel Sun’, ‘Devil May Care’ and ‘Solo’ back to back one quiet fortnight, just to see if there are any allusions and jokes which link them all). It opens with Bond’s 45th birthday and from there it’s a late sixties spectacular – but one experienced by a middle aged man. So Bond is happy with the latest fashions if it means the women don’t wear bras, but he’s a little befuddled by the new cars and sounds and you get the impression of a man who would be happy if the world hadn’t changed since 1958. There is though a Hammer Horror scream princess to keep his bed warm, and, really, you can’t get more 1960s than that.Whether this is Fleming’s voice or Fleming’s vision is up for debate: the Bond of the later books is far angrier and prone to ranting about the modern world and that doesn’t really come through these pages; while if Fleming was going to write about Bond in an African republic then one can’t help thinking that there’d be more than one unfortunately racist remark which would make the modern reader wince. So it’s more Boyd than Fleming, and that’s fine as it’s a swift paced and entertaining read, although with perhaps an unexpectedly abrupt ending. Next up is Anthony Horowitz, and from what I’ve heard of it I’m a little disappointed. Not that Horowitz isn’t a good writer, but because he’s using some mouldy old flea bitten idea that Fleming himself couldn’t be bothered to turn into a book. It seems like the stifling of originality. Come on, Ian Fleming Estate, if we’re going to hire literary authors then let’s really go for it. If you want someone who’s already a genre specialist, then let’s get James Ellroy to explore what that Felix Leiter is really up to. By why stop at genre specialists? Let’s see what Hilary Mantel makes of this imperialistic secret agent, or discover how expansive James Bond’s vocabulary gets when Will Self has a turn.

  • Rob Thompson
    2019-03-16 09:44

    Boyd is in many ways a natural choice to produce a new instalment in the Bond series. He has written good quality spy stories of his own, and also has a track record of novels set in exotic locales. He doesn't disappoint here. In fact, this was a great deal better than I'd expected.Saying that, the main problem is not so much the plot but the storytelling. This isn't a thriller by any means as it lacks urgency. Not uneventful, but with little incident and almost no action until the halfway mark. Scenes occur so we can revisit them once something happens. Without a proper mission or megalomaniac to hunt the pace flags.Fleming's cardinal rule (borrowed from pulp fiction) was keep the plot flying and they won't see the plot holes. Here they appear cavernous, as chapters end with little coercing you to start the next. Without head to head showdowns over cards/cars/golf, 007 wilts amid a conspiracy. The girls and henchmen are well characterised but fail to loom large.In fairness the twists are good and it's an easy read. I enjoyed it as a romance in the same old-fashioned sense that applied to Fleming's work.(view spoiler)[The story has all the elements that are compulsory for a Bond novel - Martinis, fast cars, a sinister villain, beautiful and intriguing women falling at the hero's feet... But the style is definitely recognisable as Boyd's, and it's better for it. It doesn't seem lightweight or overly improbable. Boyd sends Bond off to Africa, with a mission to speed the ending of a civil war in a fictitious oil-rich African state. This is a good move - Boyd knows Africa and many of his best novels are set there. The wartime setting and political nature feel more believable than a closer-to-home mad villain bent on world domination style plot. After celebrating his 45th birthday alone at The Dorchester, Bond is sent to Zanzarim to bring a speedy end to the civil war in the country which has seen the delta region of the country split to form the Democratic Republic of Dahum. Before leaving for Africa, Bond visits Gabriel Adeka—the rebel leader's brother—who runs AfriKIN, a London-based charity who send aid to Dahumni children; Gabriel tells Bond that he is not in contact with his brother Solomon, as the pair have fallen out.On his arrival in Zanzarim, Bond is aided by a local agent who introduces herself as Efua Blessing Ogilvy-Grant. The two travel from the capital city to the rebel enclave, but are attacked shortly before reaching their destination and taken captive by Kobus Breed, a mercenary assisting the rebels. The group are attacked on their return journey and Ogilvy-Grant goes missing in the confusion, while Bond escapes.Bond proceeds to the enclave, where he is met by Breed, who accepts Bond's cover as a journalist. Bond meets Solomon Adeka and realises that the leader will shortly die of cancer: his mission to kill Adeka is needless. Bond sees supply flights of arms and equipment coming into the country, all funded by billionaire Hulbert Linck; the aeroplanes all show the AfriKIN name on the fuselage. When Adeka dies a few days later, Bond tries to leave the country on one of the supply flights, but is confronted by Breed and Blessing, who both shoot him and leave him to die.Bond is saved by a journalist he befriended and returns to the UK, where he spends time in a military hospital. After discharging himself, he decides to go on a revenge mission against Breed and Ogilvy-Grant. Discovering AfriKIN has relocated to Washington DC, Bond travels to the US and tracks down both of them at the AfriKIN offices. While conducting surveillance against the company, Bond is briefly detained by Brigham Leiter—nephew of Felix—of the CIA, who explains Ogilvy-Grant also works for the CIA.Bond meets Ogilvy-Grant, who assures him that she shot to wound him in order that Breed would not shoot them both. The following day Bond watches a mercy flight bringing in maimed and injured Zanzarimi children; he dines alone and returns to his hotel to find that Breed has killed Ogilvy-Grant.Bond attacks the house where Breed is staying with the children, and incapacitates the mercenary, leaving him for dead. He establishes that the children are being used as drug mules to smuggle raw heroin into the country and locates Solomon Adeka, who had not been killed in Africa, but been turned into a heroin addict in order to control him. Adeka's older brother had been killed in London, ensuring Solomon became chief of the tribe whose lands held massive amounts of oil: as he was an addict, these rights were signed away in favour of Hulbert Linck. Linck was killed by the CIA during the raid on the house. (hide spoiler)]A good and interesting period companion piece about 007, but not an A#1 Bond adventure.

  • Cynthia
    2019-03-11 09:53

    It wasn't EXACTLY like reading a James Bond novel or watching a James Bond movie but it was very good, and a real page turner. And I enjoyed that it was written by a "real" literary author. I had been a little put off initially that it's set in Africa, I sometimes find Africa thrillers to be so brutal and grim that it's hard to bear but Boyd writes about it in a way that's gritty without being painful.

  • Vicki
    2019-03-07 12:06

    More reviews here: is no secret that I am a huge Bond-geek, so it was a given that I pounced on this book the moment that I saw it on the library shelf. Admittedly, despite my love for all things Bond, it has been a while since I've read any Ian Fleming to compare Boyd's style to (the last Bond book I read was Sebastian Faulk's Devil May Care and I can't remember much about that either).The storyline is about as far from the glamourous world of casino's and villains that we have come to associate with the British icon as you can get, and war stories really aren't my kind of thing. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go, for Bond's sake. In his Author's Note, Boyd states that he has taken notice of Bond's 'obituary' published in You Only Live Twice, and thus has set the novel in line with the Fleming canon, ignoring the modern setting of the films and Jeffrey Deaver's Carte Blanche. Putting Bond back where he belongs, in the case of this novel 1969, brings him back to life again; he is a 'veteran' in a rapidly changing world. The opening dream/flashback section at the beginning of the story to Bond's youth in the army caught my attention and provided an interesting insight into Bond's character, but the story only really gets going once Bond is on his revenge mission; just like in the films, there's a lot of not much going on for a few hundred pages until it all comes to a head, and I raced through the final chapters to see how it all ended. With regard to the 'Bond Girls', I wish that Bryce had a bigger part in the story; she seemed like a genuine love interest and her scenes with Bond were among the most engaging parts of the book. The same cannot be said for Blessing who I had very little empathy for.Jakobus Breed could easily be ranked alongside the best of the Bond villains with his facial disfigurement and penchant for gruesome trademark deaths, yet I couldn't help but feel cheated out of a final showdown between him and Bond, and whilst I appreciate the tension created by his disappearance I would have liked to find out whether or not he survived.I read this book for Bond alone, and without him the plot holds much less appeal for me; I'm currently reading another of Boyd's works Waiting for Sunrise which I definitely prefer. 4/5 stars: An interesting addition to the Bond franchise which is by no means badly written, but fans of the more gritty Daniel Craig films may appreciate the plot more than I did. Bond is back, literally with a vengeance.

  • Tony
    2019-03-19 08:09

    SOLO: A James Bond Novel. (2013). William Boyd. ****.James Bond is back in this new novel from Mr. Boyd, one of the finest novelists working today. It is the latest addition in the Bond canon to be authorized by the Ian Fleming Trust, adding to other adventures penned by other famous writers. In this adventure,, Bond is ordered to a (fictional) country in Africa to do his best to stop a civil war being waged there. It incorporates all of the usual Bond features as developed by Fleming, and attempts to be told in the Fleming style. If anything, this novel is better written than most of Fleming’s works, but that is a personal opinion. One thing you learn early on is that being a girlfriend of James Bond is dangerous to your health. In all, this is a welcome addition to the Bond series. I look forward to more of them. Recommended.

  • Raven
    2019-03-04 09:05

    William Boyd dons the mantle of the late great Ian Fleming, with his latest outing Solo, and despite being a fan of both Boyd and Bond, I had rather a mixed response overall…Boyd takes us back to the swinging Sixties with our ubiquitous hero celebrating his birthday and in pensive mood, but then quickly being commissioned to thwart a civil war in a small African nation. Boyd does present the spirit of this era perfectly, and as with all good Bond fare, there is the usual attention to cars, gadgets and the natural charm of Bond in his dealings with the ladies, so little deviation from Boyd in his remit. I enjoyed the build up to Bond’s African mission, as Boyd neatly taps into our perception of Bond, accrued from the books and movies, detailing his particular quirks in relation to his personal life balanced with his unerring eagerness to undertake seemingly suicidal missions on behalf of her majesty’s government. I thoroughly enjoyed the African mission significantly, where using his cover as a journalist, Bond is drawn into a bloody and dangerous intervention in a civil war, and enjoyed the more compassionate side to Bond exposed when interacting with the innocent victims of such conflicts. The introduction of the feisty Blessing provided a good interplay in Bond’s mission (and naturally in his bed as well), along with the maniacal despots that seek to snuff out our favourite secret agent. A rollicking good beginning I thought, but although ostensibly capturing the key elements of the James Bond ouvre, particularly in the London and African set portion of the novel, I did find the conclusion of the novel set within the boundaries of Washington DC, a little less satisfying and disjointed than what had gone before and it all felt a little rushed, after the staunchly controlled writing of the first half of the book. Indeed the first half of the novel read like a conventional Bond book, but the second was definitely more cinematic in style for this reader certainly, and as much as we all like to suspend our disbelief as far as Bond is concerned, I just felt the two halves of the book didn’t marry completely, although not irritating enough to compel me to stop reading.Without question, Boyd is singularly, in this reviewer’s opinion anyway, one of the finest literary fiction writers Britain has produced and often imitated but rarely bettered, but I wasn’t totally convinced by his rendition of a traditional Bond adventure I’m sorry to say, with its slight unbalance in the narrative and the denouement of the adventure. However, despite my misgivings and taken as a whole I think this book largely fits the Fleming mould, and Boyd does capture the essence of the originals with the quality of his characterisation. Not quite licensed to thrill but in the end not bad enough for me to give it a big (Doctor) No- no…

  • Gail Strickland
    2019-03-08 14:58

    Bond. James Bond is back. Boyd's Bond is closer to the original Ian Fleming Bond than other authors have managed. In this one, however, Bond seems to have developed a conscience and is without all the gee-whiz gadgets we're used to from the movie renditions.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-13 09:54

    Word Up

  • Christian Laforet
    2019-02-21 09:02

    *Warning* If your only exposure to James Bond has been the films, you are going to be in for a bit of a surprise. However, if you’ve read any of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, then get ready for a fun ride!Solo, set in 1969, finds a 45 year old James Bond being sent to Africa with the singular mission of stopping a civil war. Now, if that sounds like a monumental challenge to you, it will please you to learn that Bond feels the same way. But this is James Bond we’re talking about!I won’t get into the plot, but needless to say, there are several sexual conquests, an over-the-top villain with a unique physical appearance, some fun cameos and references and several plot twists and revelations. Almost all of these elements work quite nicely in this book, although the way the story is structured, the plot is sort of broken into two sections. I found this to be somewhat jarring as just when everything is coming to a head, the story backs its bags and moves elsewhere.Like I said above, this book will not entirely gel with your Bond expectations if you’ve only ever seen the movies. Not only does it take place in the late ‘60’s, but it fits into the chronology set forth by the original novels themselves. This is very much Fleming’s Bond, with just a small dash of modern story-telling thrown in. Since I am a fan of the books (the movies as well!), I was really digging this story.If you are looking for high-tech gadgets and epic action scenes, you may be better off looking elsewhere. If you want a slightly more realistic approach, and a look at a classic Bond, then give it a read.

  • Patrick
    2019-03-17 15:41

    [3.5]Taken on its own terms, Solo, or at least the first two thirds of Solo, is really rather good. Yes, of course, the whole notion of a jack-of-all-trades secret agent with a 'licence to kill' is faintly ridiculous, but then Bond is not and never was meant to be about realistically portraying the world of an intelligence service operative. If you want that, read John Le Carre. Boyd knows how to write a spy thriller. This is a much simpler and less layered book than Restless or Ordinary Thunderstorms, and it moves along much more quickly. The whole sequence from landing at an airport in the fictional war-torn African country of Zanzarim to being evacuated after having been double-crossed and near-fatally wounded at another airport at the other end of the country, takes place over just a hundred pages or so. Bond is given a touch more depth than in the films (I've not actually read any of Fleming's books) but only so much as to suggest that he is a little scarred by a life spent in constant proximity to death and destruction, and that this might be an explanation for his heavy drinking (more obvious than in the films, I thought we were in Rebus territory...) and his reluctance to become too close to anyone. No curveballs, in fact pretty much how you would expect Bond to be portrayed if the author is to give voice to his internal thoughts. But it was well done, and if you don't want to write or read a Bond novel, you probably shouldn't be writing/reading a Bond novel. I found the description of the nasty little African civil war that Bond becomes embroiled in, with its cast of psychopathic mercenaries, quite convincing, although having never been to Africa, let alone to a war zone, I don't know what that counts for. Its only when the action moves to Washington in the second part of the book that I thought it began to lose momentum, and for the action to feel a bit cartoonish, whisper it, a bit Pierce Brosnan-era Bond movie-ish. The ending, where Bond appears to have doubts of a sort about the motives of the MI5 operatives who sent him on the mission, felt a little bit didactic, and while I don't doubt the truth of what Boyd (because I can't help thinking it is Boyd giving voice to his own concerns) has to say about Western involvement in resource-rich 3rd world countries, I somehow can't imagine James Bond caring much. It took me back to reading books like The 39 Steps when I was a kid, and if run of the mill thrillers were usually as well put together as this, I might read more of them.

  • Michael
    2019-03-02 12:03

    The year is 1969 and special agent James Bond has just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday when he is directed by M to undertake an unusual assignment. The western African nation of Zanzarim is in the middle of a civil war and his mission is to eliminate the rebel threat. When Bond gets to West Africa he soon finds out this isn’t as straightforward as it appeared. Soon he finds himself going solo to seek revenge.I love the James Bond movies but haven’t had much experience with the 007 books; I have only read Carte Blanche and Casino Royale. So if I’m comparing this book to those two, then Solo is amazing. But if I compare it to everything I know about Bond then there is something missing. William Boyd has modelled his Bond after You Only Live Twice so I can’t help but picture Sean Connery.Solo’s 007 seems to be a heavy smoker but his drinking and womanising is lacking. I know that might seem weird but Bond and misogyny go hand in hand. It is like having a Bond without any wacky gadgets…oh wait, that is a bit of problem here too. One of the things that got me out Boyd’s Bond was that whenever he beds a woman he is making love to her. This just bothered me, I can’t imagine Bond being in love with all those women so the term ‘making love’ doesn’t seem right, also couldn’t we mix it up a little and use a few different teams; ‘slept with’, ‘took to bed’ and so on?Apart from my issues with this novel, Boyd has a decent knowledge of James Bond and it was nice to see references in the book to a younger 007. For example when he tried to get a Walther PPK in a gun store, they didn’t have any so he went with a Beretta and made references to this being his weapon of choice when he was younger. Little things like that really pulled the book together.Aside from his knowledge on Bond, William Boyd also has a decent knowledge of that classic spy thriller formula. Nothing too complicated but the light reading of a Bond or Thriller novel. Blending the nuances of the Bond and spy thriller genre, Boyd really seemed to make this his own. While die-hard fans may be annoyed and some people will be bothered with the changes, this was a lot of fun to read.This review originally appeared on my blog;

  • David Monroe
    2019-03-04 09:44

    In trying to tag this book, I finally hit on its primary problem. Mystery? No. Noir? Nope. Hardboiled? I'll answer that when I stop laughing. It's really about, nothing. It starts out with promise. It's the day of Bond's 45th Birthday, 1969 and he's having recurring dreams about WWII. Specifically when he was a 19 year-old Lieutenant on the day after the D-Day landings, in the farms surrounding Normandy. It's the day he first faces death. Even though, since the war, he's lived a life where he's faced death many, many more times, it's that first time that still haunts him. And then the rest of the book happens. He's sent to a small African nation to stop a revolution, so there's cold war imperialism, poverty, racism and misogyny. You know, Bond stuff. But even that, which either sounds offensive as hell or a laundry-list of Bond tropes, is boring. Stuff happens. He sort of falls in love or something(?). Seriously, I don't know. Then he's shot, goes back to the UK to recover and then ... GOES SOLO! Because REVENGE. (or something, again--no clue). In this book it means nothing special. Just Bond traveling to England, Africa and Washington, DC buying stuff. Eating stuff. Running into Felix's nephew. More stuff, more food, more buying stuff and then shooting folks. And then, thankfully it ends. It ends well. With a very cinematic and very Bond novels flourish. I've JUST finished this and if you held a walther ppk to my head, I couldn't tell you what it was about. Seriously, no clue. Good start, good finish and ... stuff in-between. I want my couple of hours back, or better yet, I'll just go watch From Russia With Love.Addendum: I don't give one star ratings lightly. I very rarely do it. I try very hard to find something positive and redeeming in a book and push it up a star. The word-salad I had to wade through and the racism were deal-breakers. Sure, it's of the period, but it was awkwardly shoe-horned in as if to say: "Hey, I know this book is set in 1969 and I totally haven't described anything of the late 60s for about 50 pages now, so here's some ugly casual mid-20th century colonial racism. Okay?" No. Just. No.

    2019-03-17 12:06

    Bond, gebunden?An seinem 45. Geburtstag im Jahr 1969 hat James Bond frei. Zur Feier des Tages hat er sich zu einem Essen in einem feudalen Restaurant eingeladen. Und als er am morgen erwacht, kann er sich nur noch vage erinnern, dass er mit der am Nebentisch ebenso allein feiernden Frau geflirtet hat, oder sie mit ihm. Beim Auschecken machen sie die beiden bekannt und Bond erhält eine Einladung zu einer Party.Kurz darauf bekommt Bond den Auftrag als Vertreter einer französischen Presseagentur getarnt in ein afrikanisches Bürgerkriegsgebiet zu reisen. Schon auf dem Weg in die Rebellenhauptstadt gerät Bond in einen Hinterhalt und schafft es nur knapp, sein Ziel zu erreichen. Mit einer wahren Kriegslist erschleicht er sich das Vertrauen der Rebellen....Kann es lange Jahre nach dem Tode Ian Flemings einen würdevollen Nachfolge-Band über dessen Helden James Bond geben? Nur in Kenntnis der Verfilmungen, würde ich sagen, ja. William Boyd ist es gelungen, einen James Bond á la Ian Fleming zu kreieren. In einem Trailer erwähnt Boyd seine Affinität zu Fleming und dessen Helden James Bond und dies ist dem Buch deutlich anzumerken. James Bond, der gebrochene Held, mit seinen Erfahrungen aus dem zweiten Weltkrieg, gebeutelt von Verlusten, aber dennoch unermüdlich im Dienste ihrer Majestät. Lediglich zu Beginn etwas behäbig steigert der Autor später die Spannung fast bis ins Unermessliche und wartet mit einigen Überraschungen auf. Natürlich ist man geneigt, sich dabei den derzeitigen James Bond (Daniel Craig) vorzustellen, dem dieses Buch fast wie auf den Leib geschrieben zu sein scheint. Action wechselt sich mit nachdenklichen Momenten ab, Bond zeigt seine empfindsame Seite, auch wenn er im passenden Moment mit großer Härte reagieren kann. Ein Buch, das kaum etwas zu wünschen übrig lässt und dessen Ende meiner Meinung nach so gehalten ist, dass es mich nicht überraschen würde, wenn noch wenigstens ein weiteres Abenteuer folgt

  • Nick Brett
    2019-02-22 07:48

    I am a fan of William Boyd’s writing and was delighted to hear he had been selected as the writer for this important Bond novel. Which makes the actual result extra disappointing.This is a book of three bits, Bond in London post a birthday celebration. Bond on a mission in Africa and Bond going solo in the US. It’s a short book at just over 300 pages.We have to remember this is about the Bond that Fleming gave us, not the film and not as depicted in the Gardiner or Benson books. Important to remember that Fleming’s books were set a long time ago and did not have the pace of more modern thrillers. Having said that, Boyd commits two serious errors, he fails to get inside Bond’s personality and, worse of all, he makes the book boring.William Boyd is a brilliant writer and manages to make his characters incredibly vivid and real and he certainly knows how to move a plot. But here he fails to open up Bond as a person and almost makes him a hard drinking civil servant – no sense that he is a killer. And likewise he fails to make this a page turner or populate it with interesting characters. It’s not an awful copy of Fleming’s work but he fails to get to the essence of the fact that Fleming’s books were actually exciting! The book has many flaws and inconsistencies and is a weak addition to the Bond heritage. I had so high hopes for this and am astonished at being so under-whelmed by this effort from such a talented author.

  • Adam Stone
    2019-03-05 10:52

    Solo is the most recent James Bond novel, and is also a return to form. Unlike the previous novel, Carte Blanche, which was a modern day reboot of the series, this is firmly placed in the original novel canon, which is much better in my opinion as I think the character of Bond suits this style and era much better than a modern setting. Bond is celebrating his 45th birthdays at the start of this novel, so he is a much maturer Bond that we have seen in a lot of the books, but when you read the book he isn't really that much different to how we are used to him being. He gets involved with a couple of women in the book and seems to be a little keener on one of them that he is normally is, despite the fact that he hardly knew her, and has no qualms about having two women on the go, so pretty much textbook Bond. Some of the regular characters make an appearance in this book but only in very short cameos. The plot spans Europe, Africa and America in just over three hundred pages and whilst not totally original works well enough in the context of the sixties setting and the canon of Bond himself - the book even features a recipe for salad dressing! I really enjoyed this, and it could have so easily come from the pen of Fleming himself, so close to the tone of the Fleming novels this book is.

  • Carl
    2019-03-20 09:54

    I am a big Bond fan, both the books and movies and have read the Fleming books, or most of them.I especially like the idea of different authors doing a Bond story, it gives the reader a slightly different take on the 007 franchise.Sebastian Faulkes did it with Devil May Care which was a Flemingesque adventure for Bond. Also Jeffrey Deaver wrote a modern Americanesque BondWhich was a bit of a standalone version called Carte Blanche this was also good.Solo by William Boyd harks back to the Fleming days and is written in a slow lazy style that evokes the time it portrays. This is an older wiser Bond, still a man of action but tempered with experience and thought.It starts off deliciously slowly setting the scene then builds up nicely gaining momentum, simmering slowly until it boils over in the the last acts and spits hot violence at the reader.For Bondites there are a few homages to the legend.A trip back in time, this book so far is the best of the guest authors interpretations of BondThe plot is simple. Bond is sent to Africa to stop a civil war. Twists and turns along the way plus a dash of intrigue makes for a heady cocktail, an encounter with a beautiful woman leaves him shaken,stirred and left for dead.Bond goes rogue with thoughts of revenge and this is where it hots up.A menu of good food good wine,sex and violenceI look forward to many more

  • Randy
    2019-03-04 09:06

    I read the Fleming Bond novels when I was fifteen, shortly after his death and kept up with the final novel and all the pastiches to come, including the novelizations of the original scripts and those of MOONRAKER and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. SOLO is the only one, with the exception of COLONEL SUN, that captured that pulp style of Ian Fleming. The Gardner Bonds, though I enjoyed them, strayed into literary style. Benson's were closer.In this one, the setting is 1969 and Bond is sent into west Africa to stop a war in the small country of Zanzarim. Britain backed the government and wanted the leader of the rebels in the south made less "effective" as a leader.Of course, it's not as simple as that.The novel has all the hallmarks of a Fleming Bond: the hot woman with an odd name Bond is attracted to, a brutal killer that Bond ends up going after, a leader that has some agenda no one is telling Bond about, and his friend Felix Leiter puts in an appearance.Not a bad thriller and the way it ended cries out for a sequel. I hope the Fleming estate allows him to break the recent tradition of a different writer each year.

  • Howard Brazier
    2019-03-12 14:59

    I struggle to understand how such an excellent author could write such a poor book. The story is very two dimensional, and Bond is far too introspective.Boyd re-read all of Fleming's Bond novels before carrying out this assignment, and I think that he spent so much time copying Fleming's style (infinite detail on every drink (of which there are too many), meals and items of clothing, to name just the main ones) rather than working on a good story. I'm happy to have the story set in the '60s, but the writing style, giving readers an insight into an upper middle class way of life doesn't work these days.If the assignment was to emulate Fleming's writing as much as possible, then the review should have five stars. If, as I hope it was, an assignment to write a gripping thriller, with James Bond as the main character, then it earns the one star that I gave it. Sorry William, you are so much better than this (and so is Bond).

  • Ruthiella
    2019-02-21 07:41

    It has been many years since I read the Ian Fleming originals. For a while in my late teens and early twenties I was enamored with the Bond phenomena: books, movies, theme songs, you name it. As I recall, the books were a hoot to read, but for the most part miles apart from the films. I think that Boyd has done a pretty good job keeping the character and the story in Solo in line with the original books, for better or for worse. There were some nice hints woven in which reference the earlier books that were fun to recognize. There is, however, a lot of casual racism and sexism in the Bond world, which Boyd definitely toned down. Also, I am a different person now three decades later and I don’t see the world as simply as I did as a young adult which dampens my appreciation of these kinds of stories. I did find the first half of the book to be fairly slow going, but raced through the second half once Bond indeed goes “solo”. The book takes place in 1969 and I definitely pictured Sean Connery circa "Diamonds are Forever" as Bond.

  • David
    2019-02-28 12:56

    I felt it to be a thoroughly competent Bond novel, which is pretty much damning with faint praise. The villains were violent enough and, for the most part, realistic. The questionable allegiance card is played. The women are both strong figures, neither being simple worshippers of ‘Bond as Man’ and the reason for the end of the romance is, in each case, more than simply getting tired of the other; in fact, the end of the second relationship is almost entirely dictated by the manner in which the first ended. M is present, his old self, the African Civil War issues in the fictionalized and factionalized nations are germane to the historical era, and the CIA agents are suitably square-jawed. There is considerable cynicism — especially re exploitation of oil resources by the west — and more than a hint that the prime mover in the novel is economics, not politics. Oh yes, and there’s drug smuggling as well. It should work better than it does. A strange case of a text being less than the sum of its parts.

  • Mladen
    2019-03-19 07:59

    As some who has never read a 007 novel or spy novels in general. This was my first book that I read, about the famous double agent. Before that, I only knew him through movies, played by 6 different actors in the main role.Before i share my thoughts on the book.I would like to mention that this book is set in the 60s, the Connery era.Where it’s more a tactical spy story with some actions here and there.So if you were expecting something like, Brosnan or Craig 007 movies then, this book is not for you.That being said, what did I think about the book?Positives: I thought it was a very enjoyable, engaging, and interesting novel to read. With surprising twists and turns that you may or may not see it coming.Negatives: Bond did 2 things during the first 30 pages that I thought were really stupid. When it’s all wrapped up, there is one character that left me wondering, what was his/her role in all of this.Overall despite it’s flaws I really enjoyed it, and if you are a fan of Sean Connery's 007 movies, you are going to enjoy reading this book as well.

  • David Highton
    2019-03-20 08:00

    A long time since I read the original Ian Fleming Bond novels, so not sure I want or need to make a comparision. Boyd is a good writer and the story involves Africa, which Boyd has written about before, and not the Cold War. The details of the different underlying plot lines are not revealed too early and the mystery is maintained pretty much through to the end. All in all, an enjoyable read for me - not sure what the Bond purists will think.

  • Tony
    2019-02-25 07:54

    First, let me say that William Boyd is one of my two or three favorite contemporary novelists (I'll name David Mitchell as another), and I'll pick up any new book of his with the confidence that I'll enjoy both its plot and prose. So it was with some surprise that I learned he is the most recent high-end writer-for-hire to extend the exploits of one of the most iconic characters in fiction.About ten years ago, I read the original Bond books in order and greatly enjoyed them for their no-nonsense storytelling and lack of the over-the-top antics popularized by the film franchise. This new installment in the 007 series finds Bond indulging himself in a private celebration of his 45th birthday in 1969, while ruminating on the past -- notably his service as part of an intelligence commando team during the D-Day invasion. It's an interesting flashback, giving the reader an immediate new flavor of the familiar Bond figure. With Bond established as an aging and contemplative figure, the story kicks in when he's called in by M to make ready for a new mission -- this time in West Africa.In the original Fleming-written books, 007 only visits Africa once, going to Sierra Leone in Diamonds are Forever. However, Boyd was born and raised in Ghana, has written several novels set in West Africa, and calls upon this knowledge for this new Bond mission. The fictional former British colony of Zanzarim is being ravaged by civil war sparked by the discovery of huge oil deposits in its southern delta region.This ethnically distinct region has declared independence and is managing to hold it's own against the vastly superior (and British-"advised") Zanzarim federal forces. Bond is sent to Zanzarim in the guise of a journalist to find out what makes the secessionist army so successful, and is given carte blanche to assassinate its leader if need be. Once there, he teams up with the a sexy young Scottish-Nigerian station chief and manages to get into plenty of action.If this sounds familiar, it's because in the real world in 1967, the oil-rich southeastern delta region of Nigeria seceded and declared itself Biafra. A bitter civil war followed and in 1969 -- just as in the novel -- the endgame approached. Indeed, there are plenty of elements in the book that can be traced back to the real Biafra. For example, a major character in the book is a Rhodesian mercenary who seems at least partially modeled on the real-life Rolf Steiner. Another example is a passage discussing some Swedish training planes that were refitted for battle, as happened in real life. And the images of starving children victims of the civil war certainly conjure Biafra. Coincidentally, the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe's book about Biafra came out just two weeks prior to this one.These first two-thirds of the book are quite good -- there's plenty of tension, some good action, and vivid local color. When the final third of the book shifts to London and Washington, DC, it kind of loses some momentum. Even though at this point Bond is going "solo" (aka rogue or off-the-books), it's not quite as interesting. This may simply be down to the shift from an exotic locale that Boyd can bring to life to the somewhat lifeless big cities of London and Washington. It might also have to do with the relative banality of the main villain. As in the Fleming books, the mastermind here is somewhat more mundane than the Bond film villains, and a bit more spice might have helped at the end.Fans of the original books will probably enjoy this as Boyd gets Fleming's terse style down. Fans of Boyd's may be somewhat disappointed with the prose, as it lacks the brio of his own voice. I'm sure nitpickers will find some period details slightly off, or some elements of the tale to be incongruent with the accepted 007 chronology/canon, but I mostly enjoyed spending several hours with a fresh Bond book.

  • Mark
    2019-03-20 12:48

    So, I recently finished Any Human Heart by William Boyd, and really loved it. With SPECTRE coming up (haven’t been yet but can’t wait!), I wanted to get in the mood and read some Bond books.I could have gone for Ian Fleming of course — that would be traditional. Thunderball would have been on target. That’s the book where SPECTRE first makes their appearance. And it’s always interesting to contrast Fleming’s Bond with Cinema’s Bond. Fleming famously wanted Bond to not be a classic hero figure. In The New Yorker, he was quoted thus: ”When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument … when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.”Of course Judi Densch went on to call him a “blunt instrument”, but he’s hardly dull and uninteresting in the movies.So instead, as part of my 3 month Scribd subscription experiment, I decided to go for William Boyd’s SOLO, a post-Fleming addition to the canon, which was fortunately in Scribd’s catalog. I was curious to see what a “real novelist” would do with Bond.Echoing Skyfall (SOLO was released after Skyfall), Bond is aging (45), starting to get tired, but just as ceaselessly on the prowl for women, spies and conspiracies. He’s off to West Africa where fictional Zanzarim (a standin for Nigeria) is in the throes of a violent civil war. He’s met by his local contact, Blessing Ogilvy Grant, who for all the world seems like Skyfall’s Moneypenny, as played by Naomie Harris. Bond is undercover as a French journalist and is soon in the thick of it.Boyd (re) captures Bond well. Relentlessly fussy about food and drink, dismissive of American coffee, a voluminous consumer of alcohol, and constantly aware of the women swirling around him. Boyd does give Bond some self-control — especially regarding the women. Reliable characters make their appearance — one armed Felix Leiter, a bit the worse for wear than he appears in Casino Royale, but still in the mix.The plot is relatively standard Bond stuff, but Boyd’s time in Nigeria allows him to paint an accurate, if gruesome, picture of the world of African civil wars, tribe on tribe, with mercenaries from other countries in the mix (and often running the show). The villains are wonderful. I didn’t find the novel to be anywhere near as insightful as Any Human Heart, but then, it’s a Bond novel and it went down easily, like a very dry martini. And the Bond of SOLO is a bit nicer than Fleming’s Bond, who had no trouble being cruel and on the misogynistic side. Boyd’s Bond saves starving African children.If you’ve not read Fleming, I suggest starting there — Solo is a great way to get your Bond fix if you’ve been through Fleming.Thunderball

  • Bernadette Robinson
    2019-03-23 07:42

    I gave this an 8/10 or 4 stars.  I feel that William Boyd is a much better Ian Fleming inspired writer, this follows the style of Fleming much better than Sebastian Faulks did in Devil May Care (I only gave that a 6/10 or 3 stars).I love James Bond as a character and while I've seen all the films, I've not read that many of the books that inspired the films.  However, the books that I've read by Fleming are of a time and I found that Boyd's interpretation of Bond was also of the same time.The plot of the story would lend itself to being seen on the silver screen (made into a film). You can almost envisage Sean Connery having played him in this book as it's the era the story is set in. Boyd took us to where the action was occurring and you could be mistaken for being part of the story as it was happening.I feel that this adversary for Bond will make another appearance, if Boyd gets the chance to write another instalment in this extended series.