Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: "Icebreaker" by John Gardner



Let me started by saying that I have read all of Ian Fleming's novels in the James Bond series. The difference between them and the movies is like night and day. Fleming created a multi-faceted character in James Bond that had depth, emotions, and, most importantly, his own failings. Over the years since Fleming's death, there has been a drive to continue the James Bond saga, sometimes with excellent results. Unfortunately, it is not the case in the novel Icebreaker by John Gardner.

In Icebreaker, Bond is on a deadly assignment undertaken in cohort with a trio of agents from the United States, the Soviet Union, and Israel in the desolate Arctic wastes of Lapland. Their objective? Bring down a fascist terrorist organization that has become enemy number to all four countries involved in the mission. The premise sounded far better than the actual execution. Through the entire book, Bond seems to wander aimlessly, constantly missing vital clues and snares. I felt like Gardner had completely emasculated Bond, turning him into an utter imbecile who has to be led around by the hand through the whole book.

In all of Gardner's Bond books, he brought James Bond out of the fifties, where Fleming had left off, and placed him in the eighties, giving him all the modern conveniences of the time. It is a practice that, until very recently, has been the norm. A modern Bond for a modern time. But, I think that Icebreaker failed as a book because Gardner seems to loose track of who Bond truly is. Somewhere in the process of writing the book, he lost the original character of James Bond, and instead created a concussed dunce in its place.

Now, this is the first Bond novel by Gardner that I have read, so I don't know if this is an ongoing trend with his books. I will be interested in reading another at some point in the future to see if this is an issue with his other Bond novels. Unfortunately, Icebreaker has left me not wanting to rush out and read another of Gardner's books too soon. I still need to get rid of the bad taste that this one left.

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