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Literature / Licence Renewed

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John Gardner's first James Bond novel, published in 1981.

It is The '80s, and the Double-O section has been officially disbanded. Bond still retains the status as 007, on M's orders, and performs missions as needed. He is sent to Scotland to investigate a noted nuclear physicist Dr. Anton Murik, who has had meetings with a freelance terrorist Franco Quesocriado with alarming regularity. Bond infiltrates Dr. Murik's castle by posing as a mercenary for hire, and uncovers a plot about taking over nuclear power plants, which if backfires, can lead to deaths of millions.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Murik's movements, from walking to turning his head, are frequently referred to as birdlike.
  • Bastard Bastard: Anton Murik is the bastard son of the original Lord Murik, not his legitimate heir. Murik had the real one killed.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Murik worked on the Manhattan Project, which was responsible for the very first atomic bombs.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Anton Murik, the Laird of Murcaldy.
  • Chase Scene: A car chase breaks out when Bond tries to make a getaway from the castle after learning about Murik's plans.
  • Co-Dragons: Caber and Mary-Jane Mashik. Caber is The Brute and the chief of Murik's bodyguards, and Mary-Jane is his close assistant, lover, and a Torture Technician.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • While watching Bond cleaning his firearm, Ann asks him about the white mark on his hand. "Someone tried to be clever a long time ago" he answers coldly. The narration notes that it is the remainder of the Cyrillic letter Ш, which was carved on his hand in Casino Royale.
    • As he smokes with Murik, Bond remembers how his cigarette case once saved his life from a bullet, which happened in From Russia with Love.
  • Cool Car: The novel introduces Bond's new car of choice, a tricked-out Saab 900 Turbo, which would gain the nickname Silver Beast in the subsequent books.
  • David Versus Goliath: Bond must prove his worth to Murik in the Highland Games by wrestling with his towering bodyguard Caber, the local champion. Bond brings up the comparison in his mind after the match.
  • Disney Villain Death: Caber gets his throat stabbed with a dirk, and as an insult to injury, falls from a plane soon afterwards.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dr. Murik thinks of his man Caber this way and is glad that Bond is offering his services, since he has a need for "intelligent muscle".
  • Einstein Hair: Murik has a white mane of hair, to cement his status as a genius nuclear physicist.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Ann Reilly from the Q Branch hates her nickname "Q'ute". It doesn't stop the narration from calling her such.
  • Evil Plan: Murik's Operation Meltdown involves capturing six nuclear reactors with teams of terrorists, and blackmailing their owners for vast sums of money for giving them back.
  • Evil Uncle: Anton Murik, the half-brother to Lavender's father, tries to have her killed, since she is the rightful heir to to Castle Murik and the riches that come along with it, riches he wants to keep.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: As he is being introduced to it, Bond places a mic into Murik's inner sanctum. He learns much of his operation that way, but learns very little of Lavender's upcoming assassination due to the mic dropping from its place.
  • Fashion Show: Bond prevents the assassination of Lavender in one, causing the death of Mary-Jane Mashkin in the process.
  • Feng Schwing: Ann has rigged up her apartment to change its looks completely on flick of a switch, which she shows off to Bond when she takes him there.
  • Groin Attack: Since Bond is outmatched with strength and size against Caber, he decides to do two attacks on his groin.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bond kills Murik by shooting him In the Back with the Gyrojet pistol he used earlier.
  • The Infiltration: Murik reveals to Bond that the terrorists who are supposed to take over the nuclear plants have been working in them for a year already, they are now just waiting the order for the takeover.
  • Instant Sedation: Q Branch gives Bond a cigarette lighter that shoots sedative gas when flicked open, with an instant effect.
  • Interservice Rivalry: When Bond is introduced to a man from MI5, the current official Secret Service, the narration notes that Bond's section had referred to them jokingly as "The Opposition", and how this rivalry had led to some grave misunderstandings, and even hostility.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Bond escapes from Murik's men in the French town of Perignan, which is just about to have its take on The Feast of St. John, filling the streets with people joining the festivities.
  • Master of Disguise: The terrorist-for-hire Franco is constantly changing his looks, and is even referred to as an "artist of disguise". Ultimately subverted, since despite all the effort he puts in his appearances, he is still recognized by the authorities wherever he goes.
  • Meaningful Name: A caber is the log in the Highland Games that men try to throw as far as they can. Caber is a Scot who is much taller and stronger than any other man among Dr. Murik's mooks.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Bond introduces himself this way to Murik.
  • The Napoleon: Murik is barely five feet tall, but he has an aura of authority and he is described as a born leader.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Bond gets in Murik's good graces at the horse racing event by pickpocketing precious pearls from his ward Lavender as he bumps into her, and later presenting them to him and his entourage in pretense that he had found on the ground, claiming that their clasp must have broken.
  • Pride: Murik's plan stemmed from his hurt pride. He is going to use the acquired sums from his extortions to finance the construction of a new, perfect reactor of his design, which is then supposed to be adopted to use, proving his genius. His insistence on the said design's perfection was the reason he was kicked out from International Atomic Energy Commission; it is filled with flaws, and he was too proud to accept that when they were pointed out.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted initially. While choosing a sidearm for his assignment, Bond has to debate about choosing a revolver or a pistol. While revolver's best sides are brought up, he chooses a Browning pistol since it can be reloaded faster. However, he still brings an unauthorized Ruger Blackhawk on him as a sidearm.
  • Spanner in the Works: Bond fears that the terrorists hired by Murik turn out to be this, since their disregard for their own safety might make them ignore orders and start a nuclear meltdown ahead of time.
  • Steel Eardrums: Averted. Firing his Ruger Blackhawk revolver from the inside of his car hurts Bond's ears.
  • Tempting Fate: Just as Bond has said that Caber won't cause any trouble, he enters the room and starts a fight.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance:
    • Murik's looks are described to be "not unlike" to those of Lord Beaverbrook, the late owner of several British newspapers.
    • Lavender Peacock, Murik's ward, is described to be reminiscent of actress Lauren Bacall as a young woman.
  • Torture Cellar: Murik shows Bond the torture chamber of his castle to inform him about the price for disloyalty. He is later taken there after his failed escape, is given truth serum, and is subjected to torture through sound.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Caber, a local Scot with more muscles than thought. After Bond causes a nosebleed on him in their first encounter, he is furious and gladly takes the opportunity of wrestling him in the Highland Games.
  • Wall of Weapons: The walls of Murik's centre of operations are covered in weapons.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Bond's supposed role as a hired gun in Murik's big plan is to assassinate Franco after he has successfully collected the money from the extorted nations. Bond (rightfully) suspects that such fate will befall on him as well after his part.