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Literature / SilverFin

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"The smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning."
—Opening line

The first Young Bond novel from 2005, written by Charlie Higson.

After the deaths his parents in an mountain climbing accident and couple of years of home studying, a young James Bond enrolls in the public school Eton. There he comes across the higly-confrontional George Hellebore, who together with his father Randolph has moved to Great Britain. When young James gets his first vacation from studying, he ends up in an adventure Scottish highlands, where he has to infiltrate the castle of Hellebores together with a London ruffian "Red" Kelly to learn the truth about a missing local boy.

This novel has examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: MacSweeny. George notes he's never seen him eat, only drink.
  • Alliterative Name: Mike "Meatpacker" Moran
  • Arms Dealer: The Hellebores made their fortune dealing arms. Bond's father is also mentioned to be the part of the profession.
  • Big Bad: Randolph Hellebore, an American with shady things going on in Scotland.
  • The Bully: George Hellebore, thanks to his father's negative upbringing, bullies his younger peers at Eton.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Bond dreams about visiting places like Paris and Istanbul.
    • The circus which Bond visits has a strongman called The Mighty Donovan, who is the father of the future Bond villain "Red" Grant.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Despite using performance-enchanching drugs and shortcuts, George Hellebore ends up being beaten in a race by Bond, who, while using the same shortcuts he is, manages to beat him with his naturally developed athleticism.
  • Chekhov's Gun: After learning that his musically-inclined schoolmate Butcher can hold his breath for long periods of time due to him playing a trumpet, he asks him to teach his breathing-control skills. These come in handy when Bond has to swim in an underwater tunnel under Lord Hellebore's castle.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Red Kelly's fighting style aims to hit his opponent's softest places first to discourage them to fight any further. As he and Bond wait to night to fall before attempting to get inside Hellebore's castle, Kelly teaches his friend some of the tricks of the trade.
  • Comicbook Adaptation: A graphic novel based on the book was released by Disney Publishing in 2008.
  • Cool Car: Uncle Max owns a vintage Bamford and Martin Sidevalve, which he teaches his nephew how to drive. The young Bond inherits it after his (anticipated from complications) death.
  • Cruella to Animals: MacSawney goes out of his way to hurt any animal he comes across, including his master's test subjects.
  • The Dragon: Cleek MacSawney, Randolph Hellebore's gamekeeper, who is devoted to him since he lets him do as he pleases.
  • Evil Poacher: MacSawney is implied to have been one in the past.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: With Randolph Hellebore's support, Dr. Friend is looking for a way to improve humankind. He also shows interest in Adolf Hitler's ideas of Aryan race.
  • Fed to Pigs: MacSawney gets eaten by the pigs that were being tested with the serum. It's especially karmic though, seeing as he treated the pigs like crap.
  • For Science!: Dr. Friend doesn't care about the misery his discoveries in his field causes, he is just content about discovering things.
  • Jerk Jock: George Hellebore and his cronies. Having said that, however, George gets better when he reveals that his father is an abusive Social Darwinist and almost completely insane. His aggression is a direct result of the weird stamina-enhancing pills his father gives him, and when the lad stops taking them, his disposition improves.
  • Just Desserts: Fighting his brother Algar, Randolph Hellebore falls into the lake surrounding his Scottish castle and gets torn apart and devoured by the very eels that he had practiced his eponymous superserum on.
    • Also happens to MacSawney earlier, by the very SilverFin-tested pigs he abused before, making it quite karmic.
  • Literal Asskicking: As Bond spies on Hellebore's castle with binoculars, he catches a scene where Randolph kicks his son on the behind, sending tumbling on the ground.
  • Lovable Jock: Andrew Carlton, who ultimately beats Bond and George for the Hellebore Cup Trophy and is an accomplished rower outside of that.
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: Randolph is a somewhat overzealous believer in this principal, to the secret discomfort of his son.
  • Missing Mom: George's parents divorced over an affair his mother had and she was forced to leave him behind, with it occasionally being shown that he misses her.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The opening line "The smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning" is a nod to the opening line about smell of casinos in the very first Bond novel, Casino Royale.
    • Almost certainly coincidence rather than design, but both this first installment of Young Bond and the first installment of John Gardner's series, Licence Renewed, feature Bond having to infiltrate the Scottish castle of a Mad Scientist villain, who has a twisted relationship with both his brother and his child, and a pair of Co-Dragons, one of whom is The Brute and the other a Torture Technician.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Randolph Hellebore - even aside from the obvious "hell" comparisons, most plants of the Hellebore family are poisonous.
  • Ordered to Cheat: George Hellebore is ordered to cheat by his father to ensure that he wins the Hellebore Cup. he does so because he is terrified of disappointing his father.
  • Pinkerton Detective: As they trek to Hellebore's castle, Bond and Kelly meet the Pinkerton detective named Mike "Meatpacker" Moran, who is investigating the disappearance of Randolph's brother Algar.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: Since he and his brother were short on human test subjects back in United States, Algar Hellebore tested the SilverFin formula on himself, turning himself into a strong, but mentally broken wreck who Was Once a Man.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: As Hellebores are eating dinner, the meat-heavy cuisine makes George once again think about his mother, whose influence on the household used to provide more varied meals.
  • Red Right Hand: Algar Hellebore's experiments on himself resulted him developing a strain of acromelagy which made him look like a human eel. The trope ends up subverted when it's revealed that despite his looks, he is kind and tries to help anyone in trouble. Lord Hellebore himself is described as giving off a horrific stench up close, and an animal heat.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: Randolph talks loudly about the horrific things he's seen in the first World War and seems a bit too insistent with his claims that they haven't changed him at all.
  • Social Darwinist: Randolph Hellebore is obsessed with weeding what he sees as weakness, and uses his son as a test subject for his theories.
  • Spiteful Spit: When Randolph catches Bond in the bog after he escapes from his castle, Bond spits on his right eye twice, making him terribly mad.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: After Bond is captured inside Hellebore's castle, he wakes up strapped to an operating table. However, he is set free upon recovering from his unconsciousness, as Randolph Hellebore wants to explain his operation to him.
  • Super-Soldier: The purpose of project SilverFin is to create a serum that will turn men into super soldiers, which is then supposed to be sold for profit.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Before they make their escape from Hellebore's castle on a truck/lorry, Bond and Kelly sabotage several vehicles to hinder their potential pursuers.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Despite knowing how evil his father is, George Hellebore still admits that he loves him.
  • You Killed My Father: Red is looking for his missing cousin, and later trying to avenge him.