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Literature / Solo (James Bond)

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Solo is a James Bond novel published in 2013, written by William Boyd.

The year is 1969, and James Bond has just turned forty-five. After an intriguing encounter with an attractive divorcée, he is called in to infiltrate the West African country of Zanzarim, which is currently engaged in a civil war against the breakaway province of Dahum in the southern river delta. His mission - to find Dahum's military leader Brigadier Adeka and... "make him a less efficient soldier", to protect British interests in Zanzarim's newly discovered oil. There, he meets a Rhodesian mercenary named Kobus Breed.

Unusually full of twists and reveals for a Bond novel, so beware of potential spoilers.

Not to be confused with Solo, the Star Wars spinoff film.


This novel contains examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending. Bond realises Breed is alive and watching him, so he leaves Bryce Fitzjohn. M will have a new job for him tomorrow morning, and has even waived Bond's mandatory retirement at forty-five. That's his life, and he's happy with it.
  • Bulungi: Zanzarim, which is a No Communities Were Harmed version of Biafra. It's also hard not to think of Dahum as a stand-in for Darfur.
  • Continuity Nod: Bond notes he's only been in Africa once before, to shoot down a helicopter.
  • Cool Car: At the beginning, Bond is considering replacing "the Locomotive", his beloved Bentley, with a Jensen FF.
  • Darker and Edgier: Even for a Bond novel. Bond is confronted by famine, war crimes and atrocities in Dahum, and there is much more Grey-and-Grey Morality - Dahum's "happy ending" is being returned to Zanzari control as the international oil companies move in and take over.
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  • Dead Person Impersonation: Solomon Adeka's not really dead, and he's now playing the part of his brother Gabriel.
  • The Dragon: Kobus Breed is this for Brigadier Adeka. Or is he?
  • Evil Plan: Actually two, a Plan A and a Plan B.
    • Plan A: Solomon Adeka sold the rights for Dahum's oil to Hulbert Linck, who's bankrolling Dahum's war effort against Zanzarim, including hiring Kobus Breed and his mercenaries.
    • Plan B: When Plan A fails thanks to Bond, they fall back to Plan B: It turns out only Gabriel Adeka had the ability to sign away the oil rights. They kill Gabriel and replace him with Solomon, who they've hooked on heroin to keep him tractable. Linck plans to foist the blame on Breed, and use the oil rights to buy his way out of prosecution if he's caught. And Breed is using the "mercy flights" of sick children to smuggle heroin out of Zanzarim on the side.
  • Eye Scream: Bond pepper-sprays Kobus Breed in his permanently-open eye from an inch away.
  • Former Regime Personnel: Jakobus Breed is former Rhodesian military, turned mercenary.
  • Half Way Plot Switch: The first two thirds involve Bond infiltrating into Dahum to assassinate, or otherwise incapacitate, Brigadier Adeka. Then Adeka dies of natural causes, Bond gets shot and left for dead, and the final third is him gunning for revenge against the people who did it.
  • Never Found the Body: Kobus Breed. In the final pages Bond realises Breed is watching him.
  • Puppet King: Solomon Adeka was this for Hulbert Linck, and towards the end, he'll continue to be so, posing as his brother Gabriel.
  • Red Right Hand: Kobus Breed was shot twice beneath the eye fighting in Matabeleland, in Zimbabwe. Facial reconstruction surgery left him with a missing cheekbone and a permanently open, constantly weeping eye.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Bond is left for dead in Dahum, he decides to "go solo" and use his four weeks' leave to hunt down the people who left him for dead and get some answers.
  • Shout-Out: Bond reads Graham Greene's The Heart Of The Matter on the flight to Zanzarim.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Hulbert Linck seems to be funding Dahum's breakaway campaign out of nothing but revolutionary zeal for the people of the country. Unsurprisingly, he has ulterior motives. He owns the rights to all the oil.