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Literature / By Royal Command

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The fifth Young Bond novel, and the final one written by Charlie Higson. It was published in 2008.

James Bond has just come back from his adventure in Mexico. After he spends some time in the Swiss Alps (and has another perilous adventure in the process), Bond returns to studying in Eton, deciding to be a normal schoolboy. Within months, he ends up mixed in with spies chasing a cell of agents working against England, and makes a decision that'll set the course for the rest of his life.

This novel has examples of:

  • At the Opera Tonight: Wrangel assassinates Gräfin Frieda von Schlick at the opera.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Perseus Friend, who is looking to upset the balance of power to make his cause succeed.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Col. Sedova is shot in the chest by the man who replaced an agent of hers. She shoots him, her steel corset having saved her life.
  • The Bully: Bentinck, an older boy at Codrose's in Eton makes life hard for the younger boys, and has them beaten for tiniest of excuses. Bond gives him a thrashing before he leaves Eton, which makes him feel like a worse bully.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: Bond shoots the lock to his cell, timing the shot with the hourly blast from a cannon outside.
  • Character Development: Bond moves a step closer to his adult self - this book marks the first time he shoots someone with the intent to kill. He shoots Babushka, but it's established she always wears body armour, and her body disappears shortly afterwards.
  • Continuity Nod: Plot points from the first three novels are mentioned when Bond angrily questions Merriot about his work as a spy.
  • The Dragon: Vladimir Wrangel, Doctor Friend's manservant.
  • Evil Plan: The Nazis are going to have the British royal family assassinated with a bomb, with some Irish Communists taking the blame, and leaving the fascist sympathiser Prince Edward on the throne.
  • False Flag Operation: The Nazis get Irish communists to attempt to assassinate the king, by pretending to be Soviets.
  • Flaying Alive: His grand scheme foiled, Dr. Friend decides to give Bond a much different and crueler demise; have him skinned alive and use the pieces cut off as skingrafts for his scarred body. He is also going to make Roan watch the operation, and film her reactions.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Merriot equates the spies work as this, telling Bond that the conflicts they're involved in aren't as simple as cowboy films where good guys wear white hats and bad guys wear black, everyone actually wears grey.
  • Groin Attack: Bond runs into Bentinck during the Fourth of July celebrations. Determined to not to let him stop him from foiling a dastardly plot, Bond knees Bentinck on the groin and keeps going.
  • Historical Domain Character: Visiting Langton-Herrings' household as a guest of honour for rescuing their son in the Alps, Bond meets Prince Edward (later Edward VIII), and learns that King George V is going to visit Eton in the Fourth of June. Higson notes in the afterword that the Prince's fascist-sympathising comments are all based on historical record, too.
  • Kill and Replace: Graf von Schlick is burned badly on the road when he stops to help two seemingly stranded men, he is later killed in a hospital and his place is taken by Doctor Friend, who becomes a Nazi Nobleman in the process.
  • Mythology Gag: The Graf von Schlick is a combination of a character Fleming invented but never used, and the real Graf on which he was based, a man named Max von Lamberg. His new appearance references Dr. No's look in the novel, which was also pretty unsettling.
  • Neck Snap: With the noise from the opera masking his work, Wrangel picks up Gräfin Frieda von Schlick in her box, breaks her neck, and throws her over the balcony, making it seem that she died from the fall.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Col. Sedova had to resort to cannibalism during a famine, a fact among many that makes her reputation fearsome among Soviets.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Lisl pretends to be incapacitated by drugs and needing a wheelchair while she waits for an opportunity to escape her captors.
  • Operation: [Blank]: Several malcontents codenamed after types of stone have come to England to take part in something called Operation Snow-Blind.
  • Pistol-Whipping: A guard whom Bond has on gunpoint tries to go for his rifle, and gets hit on his jaw with a butt of Bond's pistol.
  • Red Herring: The assassination attempt against British royal family wasn't concocted by Dirty Communists, but by Those Wacky Nazis, who Dr. Friend is working for.
  • Red Right Hand: Wrangel has puffy, scarred eyelids, with most of his eyes buried behind extremely narrow slits.
  • The Reveal:
    • After Bond foils the assassination attempt against the royal family, he is taken away by SIS spies to their boss in Eton: Bond's friend and schoolmaster Michael Merriot.
    • The man who took over the identity of Graf von Schlick is Dr. Perseus Friend, the scientist who worked for Randolph Hellebore in SilverFin, who now seeks revenge on Bond.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Bond shoots the lock to his cell, timing the shot with the hourly blast from a cannon outside. That alone isn't enough to open the cell door, and he picks the remains with his knife.
  • Taking the Bullet Col. Sedova fires a bullet at Bond, but Roan saves his live by jumping on him, but is mortally wounded herself.
  • Teen Super Spy: Bond fits the bill once he is recruited by the SIS.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Bond encounters a group of Hitler Jugend on his train to Kitzbühel, and beats them at cards. And then at fists.
  • Title Drop: While looking out for the elusive Invisible Man in the woods, Bond comes across two little girls in a predicament, as their shuttlecock flew into a tree. He helps them out, and later learns that they were actually the two daughters of the Duke of York, much to Dandy O'Keefe's amusement.
    Dandy: James Bond, by Royal Command.
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe, Bond finds the plastic surgery done to Doctor Friend's face to be this, as to him it seems too smooth and perfect, especially next to the hideous burn scars on his neck. His monotonous voice makes it even worse.