Monday, 11 October 2021

[Review] - On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming

Does anyone remember the sixth James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service? I don't recall it ever airing on cable in the early 90s. I first became aware of it after buying a 007 DVD set many years ago. For the most part, it's not a bad film, but I didn't care for George Lazenby's stiff portrayal of James Bond or Ted Savalas' version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I stumbled upon a paperback copy of the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming at a thrift store in the early 2000s. While there are a few differences, the film adaptation follows close to the source material.

In the novel, MI6 orders James Bond to locate and kill Blofeld, who hasn't resurfaced since the ending of Thunderball. As far as Bond can tell, SPECTRE is dead, and MI6 is hunting for a ghost. He begins writing his resignation letter for M but is interrupted by Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo. After preventing Tracy from suicide, Tracy's father, Marc-Ange Draco, sends his henchmen to capture them. Draco is the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse and offers Bond a £1 million dowry if he marries his daughter. Bond turns down the offer but agrees to romance Tracy in the hopes of giving her a reason to live.

Bond gets word that Blofeld is living in Switerzland under the name Comte Balthazar de Bleuville. Blofeld is working with Irma Bunt in brainwashing young Irish and British women into carrying biological warfare agents. 

As with any Bond adventure, he takes out the bad guys and saves the day. Right? Well, not exactly. SPOILER WARNING: Blofeld escapes. Bond marries Tracy. As they're driving off on their honeymoon, Blofeld has them gunned down. Tracy is dead. The End.

Final Thoughts

While On Her Majesty's Secret Service isn't on my favorite 007 list, it's an exceptional read. It received decent reviews from critics upon its original publication. They considered it a step in the right direction after the previous book, The Spy Who Loved Me. I couldn't disagree more because The Spy Who Loved Me is a better story.

Overall, I enjoyed rereading On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It's one of the rare examples where the book is extremely close to its film adaptation. Well, at least it is in the 007 universe.

1 comment:

  1. That does seem rare! And I feel the same way about the movie- it didn't seem to get as much play on cable? I've seen parts of it, and while I wasn't a Lazenby as Bond fan, the end is a little sad.

    the biological warfare agents angle is kinda neat, in an espionage kinda way. Especially for that era when it was probably a newer concept.


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