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Literature / Icebreaker

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The third James Bond novel by John Gardner, published in 1983.

Members of Communist parties are being killed by the terrorist Nazi organization NSAA (Nationalist Socialist Action Army) all over the world. They are considered to be so dangerous, that British Secret Service, KGB, CIA and Mossad agree to participate in a joint operation, called Icebreaker, to take down their headquarters in Finland. Each agency sends their top agent on the job, and Bond is tasked to be the representative of his.

This novel is infamous for its sheer number of twists, where character's true alignments have varying veracities, some only getting revealed in the last action sequence.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Archnemesis Dad: Rivke Ingber developed an obsession about her father Aarne Tudeer AKA Count von Gloda when she was old enough to learn about his war crimes in the SS. She proceeded to move into Israel, convert into Judaism and become a Mossad agent to hunt him down. Ultimately subverted as she turns out to have been loyal to him all along.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Played straight with Kolya Mosolov. He had the chance to bring down NSAA after their dealings with corrupt Soviet army members were discovered, but since his department in the KGB was formerly known as Bond's former nemesis SMERSH, he joined forces with the NSAA in order to further his own career by bringing Bond to them.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Since he was a wanted war criminal, von Glöda escaped to Paraguay with his family after the Nazi military actions in Finland. He however grew frustrated living there, since his fellow fugitives weren't really into the nationalist socialist ideology anymore.
  • Big Bad: The Commander-in-Chief of the NSAA, Count Konrad von Glöda.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: To get information out of Bond about the captured NSAA member, he is tortured by being hoisted on a hook by his wrists and is repeatedly dipped into ice-cold water in between questions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • CIA's man Tirpitz relays Bond messages from Felix and Cedar Leiter, and narration notes that Bond had worked with the latter in a recent assignment.
    • As he wonders about Count von Glöda, Bond starts reminiscencing about some of the powerful men he has dealt with; Hugo Drax, Goldfinger and Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
    • After Rivke is injured by an explosion on the ski-slope, Bond thinks back to the moments after Tracy's death.
    • Bond is said to dream about Royale les eaux when he's in a contended mood.
  • Cool Car: The "Silver Beast", Bond's modified SAAB 900 Turbo.
  • Cowboy Cop: "Bad" Brad Tirpitz is known to be the sort of man who shoots first and asks questions later.
  • The Dragon: Count Von Glöda's right hand man Hans Buchtman.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bond dresses as an NSAA officer after being freed in their hospital by an ally.
  • Evil Plan: Start the Fourth Reich through terrorist activities.
  • Face of a Thug: The Lapp Aslu is described to be an evil-looking individual, but he is in good guys' side.
  • Insistent Terminology: Count von Glöda insists upon being referred to as Führer, like Hitler was.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: With the determination of just who's on whose side, up until even the last page.
  • Knife Fight: Bond finds two men waiting for him in Paula's apartment. After quickly deposing the smaller guy, he has take on an experienced knife fighter with a blade of his own.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Subverted with Bond's Finnish girlfriend Paula Vacker, who initially seems to be on NSAA's payroll, but turns out to be an agent of SUPO (Finnish intelligence agency) working within the organization. The trope is played straight with Rivke, who really is working for her father, subverting the Archnemesis Dad trope from above and being a Daddy's Little Villain instead.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Count von Glöda. "Glöda" is Swedish for "to glow", "ablaze with". And there's the trusty The Von Trope Family thrown there as well.
  • The Mole: Rivke Ingber becomes suspected of being a mole since her father is Aarne Tudeer, an SS officer and a hunted war criminal. Bond confronts her to learn about her allegiance. It eventually turns out that her and the two other agents in their team, Kolya and Tirpitz, are all working for the bad guys.
    • Paula Vacker is one for the good guys — an undercover Finnish intelligence agent who infiltrated the NSAA.
    • Tirpitz is also an undercover CIA agent who's infiltrated the NSAA. As part of his cover, he poses as NSAA soldier Hans Buchtman, who in turn poses as... Brad Tirpitz.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Commented on. Bond remembers that his instructor told him to store the gun in his pants so that its barrel is sideways, not pointing down his leg.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Bond takes care of one of the snow ploughs chasing him by dropping a grenade from his car's doorway, pulling the pin from it with his teeth.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: After Count von Glöda's Ice Palace is destroyed by Soviet bombers, he is revealed to have survived. In the penultimate chapter, Bond learns that he is in Helsinki and has to stop him from leaving the country.
  • Ransacked Room: When Bond goes to Paula's apartment for the second time, he finds her to be missing and the place in shambles.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: CIA agent Brad Tirpitz pretends to be a fictitious neo-Nazi lookalike who killed the real Brad to infiltrate the NSAA.
  • The Reveal:
    • Count von Glöda is actually Aarne Tudeer, father of Rivke, who was born as Anni Tudeer. She is also really working for him.
    • Kolya Mosolov is actually working with the NSAA.
    • Brad Tirpitz never made it to Finland, he is being impersonated by the NSAA officer Buchtman. This is later revealed to be false, as he really is Brad Tirpitz.
  • Savage Wolves: When howling wolves are heard in the night, Bond is warned that they can be quite vicious and they even attack humans when they are hungry enough.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Count von Glöda is a former SS officer seeking to revive the Nazi regime.
  • Vehicular Assault: As he is driving to Salla, Bond is attacked by four snow ploughs.
  • Villainous Breakdown: As Bond reaches Count von Glöda at the airport, he loses his composure and starts screaming about his destiny while aiming his Luger.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Held prisoner, Bond meets with Rivke, who has her feet in casts, supposedly from a fall down an icy mountain. When Paula breaks in to rescue Bond, she reveals that Rivke has really been working with her father all along and was sent to trick Bond into giving away information. Bond doesn't believe it...until Rivke slips her legs out of the casts and charges at Paula, who ends up shooting Rivke dead.