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Literature / On Her Majesty's Secret Service

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The eleventh James Bond book by Ian Fleming, published in 1963.

After the success of Operation Thunderball, SPECTRE has more or less disbanded and the hunt is on for its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but he seems to have disappeared from the face of the Earth. Bond, contemplating about resigning from the secret service, is in France investigating possible leads. There he runs into depressed Teresa di Vincenzo, and he stops her from committing suicide. This leads to him being introduced to the crimeboss Marc-Ange Draco, her father, who asks him to help her. Bond agrees, but only he receives help for his task of locating Blofeld. This leads to a dangerous game high in the Swiss alps, where a big plan to attck England is being concocted.

The novel was adapted into the sixth James Bond film.


This novel has the examples of:

  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Bond's daring escape from Piz Gloria on skis takes place on Christmas Day.
  • Base on Wheels: Due to his prefession, Marc-Ange Draco has to be constantly on the move, and his offices reside in a trailer pulled by a truck.
  • Big Bad: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • Broken Bird: The death of her child left Tracy tired of life, and she doesn't care about anything anymore. Until Bond comes along.
  • Continuity Nod: As Bond drives through Royale, he remembers the confrontation that he had with Le Chiffre in its casino. He actually visits there annually due to the memory of Vesper Lynd.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: One of Blofeld's henchmen is killed by getting thrown down a bobsled track, and another one is minced by a fan.
  • Dirty Communists: Russians are suspected to be the financers of Blofeld's operation, due to it being based on hypnosis, a field they apparently excel at. Many of Blofeld's goons are also ex-SMERSH operatives who've gone freelance and went over to SPECTRE.
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  • The Don: Marc-Ange Draco is the leader of Union Corse, an organized crime outfit which is described to be even older than The Mafia.
  • Downer Ending: Just when it seems that this time Bond gets the girl after all by marrying Tracy, she is killed by Bunt and Blofeld. Notable for being the only James Bond film other than Casino Royale without at least a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Marc-Ange Draco admits that he is a criminal with lots of shady businesses, but even he thinks that Blofeld is a horrible person.
  • Evil Plan: Blofeld has planted deadly viruses to animals on his allergy patients, which are supposed to ruin England's economy when they return home to their agricultural jobs.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Bond tells Tracy to kiss him while they pass two mooks as they walk out of the icerink.
  • Famous Ancestor: At the College of Arms, James Bond learns that Sir Thomas Bond is a possible ancestor of his, although this is played as most likely a long-shot in an attempt by the College of Arms to drum up some business out of him.
  • First-Name Basis: It is a strict rule in Piz Gloria that the female allergy treatment patients are only referred to by their first names. This measure is in place so that once the girls return home, they'll be harder to locate, and they can spread the deadly virus placed on them in peace.
  • Foreshadowing: Bond has a slice of Christmas pudding with trinkets baked into it at a party, and his slice has the bachelor's button in it, implying that he won't be married for very long.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: The gunfire behind Bond during his escape on skis from Piz Gloria causes an avalanche, and he must outrace it.
  • In Medias Res: The novel opens on Bond spying on Tracy, and stopping her from committing suicide by drowning herself on the sea. He is then captured by two gunmen, and the next chapters explain how this came about.
  • Invisible Writing: James Bond uses his urine ("the oldest [secret ink] in the world") to write down the names of the allergy treatment patients in Piz Gloria, before he tries to make his escape from the place.
  • Karma Houdini: Both Blofeld and Bunt get away and kill Tracy at the end.
  • Mythology Gag: Bond is revealed to have Scottish heritage as a nod to Sean Connery, who had just played him in Dr. No. Also, Ursula Andress, who played that film's Bond girl, is mentioned as a guest at Blofeld's ski resort.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Bond likes to think of the money in his pocket in old francs because that makes him feel richer, while counting his expenses in new francs to make them seem smaller.
  • Road Sign Reversal: Bond reverses a sign to trick a bunch mooks who are chasing him and Tracy to drive on to a decrepit bridge, and they plummet to their deaths.
  • Sexy Secretary: Mary Goodnight, taking over for Loelia Ponsonby. The 00 Agents have a betting pool over who will be the first to sleep with her. Bond and 006 are the favorites, but Bond withdraws his name from the contest as his relationship with Tracy deepens.
  • Shown Their Work: Since part of the reason he was writing the book was to give Bond a Scottish ancestry (due to being so impressed by Connery's performance in Dr. No), Fleming researched genealogy himself. He determined that the motto of the real-world Bond family is "Non Sufficit Orbis" ("The world is not enough" or "The world does not suffice"), and incorporated it into his book (and, hence, the movie—and, hence, The World Is Not Enough).
  • Storming the Castle: In order to capture Blofeld, Bond attacks his base with the help from Union Corse.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted; Bond kills a guard with one good punch to the head, albeit using a metal Rolex as an improvised knuckleduster. This trope is played straight on Bond himself in the film version.
  • Tempting Fate: Bond says to his new wife on their honeymoon, "We have all the time in the world." And then Blofeld shoots her.
  • Title Drop: Done after Bond sends a message to M about Blofeld getting away.
    Bond watched the message go, the end of another chapter of his duties, as Marc-Ange had put it, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'.
  • You Have Failed Me: One of the workers in Piz Gloria dies when he slides down a mile-long bobsled track, and crashes into a hut below. Bond overhears that the guy had harassed one of the Blofeld's allergy treatment patients, and comes to a conclusion that the "accident" had been a typical SPECTRE execution for disobedience.


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