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am 19. Mai 1999
James Bond has always been a figure of fantasy and Benson, in his routine fourth Bond novel (after The Facts of Death) wisely keeps him fantastic. An international mercenary terrorist gang called the Union pilfers the British secret formula for Skin 17, the only aircraft material that can withstand a speed of Mach 7. Besides its technological importance, Skin 17 is a triumph for the lagging British military, so spymaster IvI needs Bond to get it back, and to find the turncoat who helped the Union steal it. The terrorists hide the formula for Skin 17 on a microdot implanted inside the pacemaker of a Chinese national, who dies a few days later when the airplane he's flying in is hijacked and crashes on Kangchenjunga, third-highest mountain of the Himalayas: hence this novel's title. Bond, of course, is dispatched to retrieve the microdot. En route to a blood-filled, ice-encased climax, Agent 007 indulges his old tastes for dangerous women and beautiful cars. Thanks to Q, the violence features some deliciously nasty weapons, including a gadget-laden Jaguar XK8. Benson's prose, including the dialogue, is wooden, but the action he provides is fast and furious and Bond fans will note the narrative scores "a first for Bond... sex at 7,900 meters" -a high point in a novel that otherwise is middling all the way.
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am 23. Mai 1999
Raymond Benson has done it again. His third original James Bond novel truly proves that he was a superb choice to succeed Ian Fleming and John Gardner. He has given both James Bond fans and the casual reader an exciting adventure story with all of the elements that one associates with James Bond.
The book has everything, as 007 is now up against a new adversary--the Union, a new terrorist organization as ruthless as the SPECTRE and SMERSH of old, but this time, they appear to be only interested in one thing--money. Thus, they can sell their services to the highest bidder and have apparently infiltrated the British Secret Service itself!
This time Bond is called upon to retrieve an item stolen by the Union which is critical to national security. Along the way, readers encounter the familiar characters who compose the British Secret Service family and are introduced to new ones, especially Dr. Hope Kendall, whose stunning good looks and other attributes are straight in the Flenming tradition. She is a fresh entry into the Bond harem!
Bond's main antagonist within the Union is cunning and ruthless. For the first time in many a Bond book, he engenders real feelings of hate from the reader.
The book moves quickly across the world, as readers are once again given the exotic locales expected in Bond's world. Benson does not disappoint, as the reader is taken on a lengthy mountain climbing expedition with Bond, a mission which leads up to an explosive climax.
Through it all , Raymond Benson has proven that he really has what it takes to fill Ian Fleming;s shoes. Benson has developed a style similiar to the way Fleming was able to sweep readers along with the narrative, enjoying the intricate details of the story itself without ever losing focus on James Bond. Benson here accomplishes nearly the same thing, but instead writes for a very modern audience. He appears very comfortable in Bond's world.
This book is highly recommended for anyone who has glimpsed into that world, and would like to visit it again. James Bond is back, and, with Raymond Benson, nobody does it better!
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am 25. Juli 1999
Attempting to pen a new 007 novel is no easy trick. How many different and exotic locales has Bond not already visited? How many more super terrorist organizations are left to combat? How many new gizmos can Q-Branch invent? How many glamorous fem fatals has Bond already bedded?(80+ by my rough estimates)
Who better to answer these questions and embark on another 00-adventure than the world's leading James Bond authority, Raymond Benson. As the author of the James Bond Bedside Companion, Director of the Ian Flemming Foundation and Vice President of 007 Fan Club, no other individual has spent more time examining the life and times of one of literatures most lasting characters.
The most pleasurable of Benson's 007 novels to date(he has written two before this) relies on the fact that Benson goes back to the style of Fleming's novels instead of Broccoli's screenplays. Special effects are present but they take a backseat to the special circumstances that the novel's special characters find themselves in.
Does Benson try to reinvent the wheel with this latest installment, thankfully no. But he does make watching it almost careen off the world's third highest peak very exciting. Age old Sherpa's meet up with cutting-edge super computer chips. Badguys abound and are unceremoniously decrowned. This tour-de-force travel log takes you half way around the world and is replete with history lessons and delicous gastronomical sessions. Just about the only thing 007 doesn't do while scaling Mount Kangchenjunga is make and shake the "perfect Martini" using glacier ice cubes.(I really wish he had!)
Benson allows us to experience the human frailties of 007 along with his superhuman strengths. A new happening under Benson's authorship, female Bondophiles will appreciate that 007's stodgy, old boss "M" has been retired and replaced by a "W". As the new head of MI6, Barbara Mawdsley doesn't shower Bond with maternal affection. Indeed sensing his sexism and knowing of his treatment of women as disposable playthings, she runs him with harsh professionalism.
So high praise to Benson for mining fresh life into this seemingly exhasuted series/genre. As long as you don't set your expectations on the moon(raker, that is) you'll not only enjoy where Benson takes Bond, but you will also appreciate where he leaves you both.
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am 19. Juni 1999
Benson and Bond are Back!!! I'm really enjoying late spring and early summer with a new Benson 007 adventure to savor. I was very impressed by the way in which Benson was able to pull this one off. At first, the plot, invoving top secret military technology, microdots, and the fate of British defense research seemed a little more like a Bond rip-off than genuine 007. However, Benson makes it work in great style. First of all, his supporting cast is top notch. It was very amusing to have Bond twich at the presence of his old Etonian rival, Roland Marquis. I also very much enjoyed the character of Gurkha Sergeant Chandra. He is a throw back to the Bond pals of the Fleming days, cast in the model of Quarrel and Darko Kerim, two of Ian Fleming's most endearing characters. Also, the sub-plots are interesting as well, especially the activity in Nepal on the part of MI6's India station chief. And how can we forget the girls; Hope, Gina, and Helena make for great fun for Bond, just as we'd expect. Fun and sex aside, one woman will remind many readers of a girl from Bond's past. A girl whom Fleming used to help harden Bond's edge and his heart. While some may criticize the Union crime organization as too similar to SPECTRE, Benson probably intened for them to appear that way. While the author has brought Bond into the ninties, he works had at keeping him in territory familiar to Fleming fans. Anyway, we'll have to see how the Union pans out. I have read that HTTK is the first in a trilogy involving the nefarious organization's activities (remember Fleming did the same thing with SPECTRE). The bottom line is that HTTK was a great read and I very much look forward to Benson's next effort and believe that the forces of "Sex, Sadism, and Snobbery" are still alive and kicking.
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am 30. April 1999
I snatched up the latest Bond book which has just appeared in some London bookshops and read it immediately. Once again, I felt something really lacking with Benson's effort. First of all, and once again, I am perplexed as to why Glidrose chose someone who had never written a novel to pen the new Bond books. John Gardner was an established spy novel writer already, and even though his Bond books could often be a mixed bag, he had a very smooth, deliberate style most of the time. Benson is strictly an amateur in the writing department. He sometimes wallows in exposition, or worse, has the characters wallow in expository dialogue so that he can explain the history of (pick a book) Hong Kong, Cyprus, X organization or whatever. High Time to Kill finds Bond tackling the Himalayas, which is a potentially interesting location for a Bond book (think Benson was reading a little too much Into Thin Air?) However, once the book gets to the mountain, with Roland Marquis, an old school rival of Bond's, the story comes to an almost deadly halt, despite touches of action. The chapters climax with each new height in meters that the climbing team reaches, en route to a McGuffin called Skin 17. ::Yawn:: The third tallest mountain in the world, while good for a documentary or true life account, makes for an incredibly boring Bond novel setting. Granted, there are some very solid elements: the Bond/Helena Marksbury relationship, twists at the end (who is behind the Union), and some other points about Bond's life but Raymond Benson is, quite simply, a poor writer. He can't put all of his Bond knowledge, the exciting locales or the action, into any type of engaging form or prose that rises above standard cliche-ridden books of the Bond ilk. It is all too obvious that he writes consistently with a movie deal in mind, and that he is (still) praying that EON options one of his novels. John Gardner, in my opinion, never did this. In fact, Gardner even used SPECTRE in THREE novels AFTER the it becames clear (with For Your Eyes Only and eventually with the non-official Never Say Never Again) that the films were finished with that whole thing. Gardner books like The Man from Barbarossa, Never Send Flowers or No Deals, Mr. Bond never felt like movies so much as a different and intriguing type of Bond novel (not to say that those books didn't have their share of flaws.) "The Union", the ::yawn:: new secret criminal organization behind the mayem in High Time to Kill are given nothing in the book to distiguish them from any of the countless organizations that Bond has faced before in Fleming and Gardner books. It's downright cheesy and cliched. It's a mystery and a damn shame that the task of writing the world's greatest spy character has been handed to someone clearly not capable of following his predecessors except in a limp way. One can only hope that Benson's contract is up shortly and that the job is given to a real writer.
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am 3. Mai 1999
Benson's third Bond book takes a slightly different twist on the standard Bond adventure. Gone is the old formula and what remains is an author finding a comfortable writing style that reminds one of Fleming, while still being new and enjoyable.
Just like all the earlier Bond books, HTTK is a quick read, never really slowing pace too much. The first half of the book is a typically good Bondian adventure, but once the locale changes to Nepal, the book changes to a slower pace. Benson takes you inside Bond in a way that Gardner was never able to do. Bond's general dislike for parts of his job are felt, and his cold ruthlessnes shows why he survives.
In my opinion the only flaw to Benson's newest book is the uncomfortable discriptions from many of Bond's companions. Some seem to be little more than a recorded playing of a tourist book. Fleming could always get inside what makes a location tick, while Benson is just not there yet. Yet along side this criticism, I must say that I enjoyed the Doctor's talk about the hazzards of mountain climbing.
Although many will criticize Benson as being an amateur, his Bond books are well plotted and believeable. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy and wish Benson luck with his growth as a writer. While HTTK is an experiment in the 'Bond' style, it is much more succesful than anything Gardner tried, or Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me.
CHris
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am 26. Oktober 1999
3rd JB novel by Benson, and by far his best to date. Where the 2nd had a much too grotesque villain and a dumb plot, this one has all the required works. Even if the "Union" is a copy of Spectre, the plot is adequate. The villains are definitely menacing and Bond is in real danger most of the time. The ennemy is invisible, present in unexpected guises. There is a lot of testosterone flowing (Bond's conflict with his fellow student of old is well done), enough sex (both sophisticated and animal) and enough disciplinary coercion from M to make us identify well with Bond. Also, the Himalaya mountain climbing (which has half the novel) is compellingly and convincingly written. A lot of so-called Fleming effect in that! Much attention to "impressive" detail. Well drawn secondary roles. It's all there: the father (mother!)-like M, the more compassionate Bill Tanner, the deceptive female with whom Bond has a frantic relationship, the true friend (a Gurkha), the other reliable female who saves Bond life, the alter ego in the ennemy camp whom bond must defeat and ultimately kill. It also has Bond's world on stage in our own world, and this is as it should be! True, Benson's Bond is not the suave Fleming hero, although he is much closer to him than Gardner's (who had evolved Bond into a very procedural rule-abiding and therefore dull civil servant). In fact, Benson's Bond is close to the film version, without the slapstick dimension. I feel him to be very close to the thunderball (film) Bond. Should we3rd JB novel by Benson, and by far his best to date. Where the 2nd had a much too grotesque villain and a dumb plot, this one has all the required works. Even if the "Union" is a copy of Spectre, the plot is adequate. The villains are definitely menacing and Bond is in real danger most of the time. The ennemy is invisible, present in unexpected guises. There is a lot of testosterone flowing (Bond's conflict with his fellow student of old is well done), enough sex both sophisticated and animal and enough disciplinary coercion from M to make us identify well with Bond. Also, the Himalaya mountain climbing (which has half the novel) is compellingly and convincingly written. A lot of so-called Fleming effect in that! Much attention to "impressive" detail. Well drawn secondary roles. It's all there: the father (mother!)-like M, the more compassionate Bill Tanner, the deceptive female with whom Bond has a frantic relationship, the true friend (a Gurkha), the other reliable female who saves Bond life, the alter ego in the ennemy camp whom bond must defeat and ultimately kill. It also has Bond's world on stage in our own world, and this is as it should be! True, Benson's Bond is not the suave Fleming hero, although he is much closer to him than Gardner's (who had evolved Bond into a very procedural rule-abiding and therefore dull civil servant). In fact, Benson's Bond is close to the film version, without the slapstick dimension. I feel him to be very close to the thunderball (film) Bond. Should we deplore the demise of the Fleming Bond, and hail the coming of the Broccoli Bond? I think yes.
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am 27. Juli 1999
I've been a Bond fan since my teens and have bought everyone as it came out in hardcover since Col. Sun. I loved Zero minus Ten and the Tomorrow Never Dies novelization. Facts of Death was great if you take away Felix's killer wheelchair, but this one? Taking pieces of Fleming's classics does not a Bond novel make. A golf match with the villain (see Goldfinger), a criminal organization with a secret mastermind (see anything with SPECTRE), and a major plot point out of Casino Royale. The spy on a mountain climb was done better by Trevanian and Desmond Cory back in the glory days of Bond. I realize this is the first of a projected trilogy(I understand if Benson wants to save Le Gerant for the climax of the trilogy), but it is no excuse for a lackluster villain whose main characteristic is obnoxious. We know he's the bad guy because he says "Chinaman", considered a racial slur, instead of "Chinese man" as Bond does. He also makes sexist remarks about betting a night with the female member of the expedition. As far as PC goes, Bond fails too--An affair with his secretary? Even Fleming's Bond kept it to playful flirtation with Ponsonby, Goodnight, and Moneypenny. But, of course, we need it to hang plot on. Like I said before, I've bought every Bond as it came out in harcover until now-this I rented from the library and will now wait for the paperback and buy it used. The rest of the trilogy will determine if I ever buy Bond again.
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TOP 500 REZENSENTam 2. August 2012
Einmal mehr zeigt sich in diesem Roman die Verehrung, die Raymond Benson für das Werk Ian Felmings hat. So taucht der jamaikanische Ex-Gouverneur hier auf, dem Bond bereits in Flemings Roman 007 jagt Dr. No" und der Kurzgeschichte Ein Quantum Trost" begegnete. Eine gute Idee Bensons ist es, Bond auf einen Rivalen aus seiner Schulzeit in Eton treffen zu lassen, über die man bis dahin nahezu nix erfahren hatte. Letzteres änderte sich erst mit den vier Young Bond" Romanen von Charlie Higgson. Die Paarung, die Benson hier entwirft, erinnert etwas an die von Bond und Alex Trevelyan in GoldenEye", wenn auch mit dem Unterschied, dass Bond und Trevelyan einst Freunde waren, was auf Bond und Marquis hier nicht zutrifft.
Die Handlung, die Benson entwirft, ist spannend, die Action rasant. Allerdings vermisst man etwas die große Bedrohung in der Story, die es aber dafür schafft, mit dem Himalaya Bond an einen Ort zu schicken, wo er noch nicht war. Auch von Flemings Bond Biografie beeinflusst (er schrieb im Roman Du lebst nur zweimal" eines von Bonds Hobbies sei Bergsteigen) dürfte die Ersteigung des Berges sein, die hier geschildert wird und wahrlich ein Action-Debut in der Bond-Welt ist und alles andere als langweilig. Schade ist es nur, dass Benson Bond hier nicht mal kurz an seine einst beim Bergsteigen verunglückten Eltern denken lässt. So gelungen die Szenen sind, nehmen sie insgesamt aber doch etwas zuviel Raum ein. Das Ende ist allerdings mehr als gelungen.
Fazit: Fast ein sehr guter Benson-Roman, aber auf jeden Fall sein Bester bis dahin.
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am 1. Juli 1999
Like "Goldfinger", "The Spy Who Loved Me, and (hopefully) "The World Is Not Enough", the third time is the charm for Raymond Benson's new Bond thriller. His Bond knowledge, honed to a fine point by his prior works, and his clear crisp writing style make him a worthy successor to Ian Fleming. His books are chock-full of knowing references to the Fleming and Gardner novels. He also manages to continue seamlessly weaving the movies with the novels (witness his expert character development of the female M.)
What separates HTTK from other Bond novels and makes it the best in the series since Win Lose or Die? The introduction of two adversaries worthy of 007. The first is The Union, a new world-wide criminal organization with tentacles reaching far into MI6. The Union is not just a "poor man's SPECTRE", to use Gardner's characterization of one of his own SPECTRE imitations. The Union is truly a villain for the 21st century, with lots of opportunity for future encounters with 007. The second is the introduction of an equally worthy opponent for 007--his childhood nemesis Roland Marquis. The conflict here creates many opportunities for character development of Bond and Marquis--an element too often lacking in the Bond novels--and leads to a thrilling climax.
There are many nice touches throughout--the references to "Quantum of Solace"; the golf game with Marquis; a thrilling hotel fight that reminds one of the good old Oddjob days; and, of course, the race to recover Skin 17.
Good to have you back, Mr. Benson!
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