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Literature / Win, Lose or Die

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The eighth James Bond novel by John Gardner, published in 1989.

MI6 learns that one of Royal Navy's light aircraft carriers is going to be captured by an organization called BAST during international naval exercise with a help from a man inside the ship. Bond, after brought up to speed, is planted on the ship to stop the takeover.

This novel has the examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Bassam Baradj and Ali Al Adwan, one of former's field leaders.
  • Amazon Brigade: All fifteen WRNS (Women's Royal Naval Service) members aboard HMS Invincible are working for BAST, and they take the ship over while Bond is on shore.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Baradj has Bond on his sights, but the heard shot doesn't come from his gun, it's from Beatrice, who just killed him.
  • Big Bad: Bassam Baradj, the leader of BAST.
  • Blackmail: Two agents of BAST manage to get pictures of a petty officer (called Blackie) in compromising situations (him sleeping with prostitutes), and use them to get sabotage the engine room of HMS Invincible.
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  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: BAST is known as an organization which believes that global anarchy leads to absolute power.
  • Co-Dragons: Bassam Baradj's three field officers, Abou Hamarik, Ali al Adwan and Sophii Boudai aka Clover Pennington.
  • Code Name: In a response to the demonic name of BAST, MI6 applies names of demons from The Divine Comedy to their operatives.
  • Evil Plan: BAST is going to take over HMS Invincible, and take the world leaders having a summit there hostage for the ransom of six billion dollars.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Brotherhood of Anarchy and Secret Terror forms the acronym BAST, a name that is claimed to be shared by an ancient Egyptian demon.
  • Greed: Bassam Baradj is solely motivated by money, and the power and status that it can buy. He gained his previous wealth with several criminal undertakings, of which BAST is the latest one.
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  • Inkblot Test: After the explosion that seemingly kills Beatrice, Bond is treated a medical and psychological checkup, which includes a Rorschach test. Annoyed by it, his every answer to a picture is "breasts" and afterwards tells the doctor that he has gone through worse traumas.
  • Like a Son to Me: M wonders if the reason he worries about Bond the most out of his men is because he is the closest thing to a son that he never had. He decides to not dwell upon it.
  • Military Coup: Landsea '89 naval exercise is based on a fictitious scenario where the military of Soviet Union, unhappy with the then-president Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost-policy, takes over and shows off their power in several skirmishes in the sea.
  • The Mole: After the failure of capturing the supertanker with a direct attack, BAST decides to make the job of claiming HMS Invincible easier by compromising someone in its crew.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: BAST specializes in terrorism jobs that is most likely to cause anarchy.
  • Operation: [Blank]: BAST calls its operation to capture the Japanese supertanker in the first chapter WIN, and the main operation to take HMS Invincible LOSE.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Bond's training in this matter is brought up again. He puts his gun on his waistband on such way that he can avoid shooting his foot or committing "testicide".
  • Rank Up: Bond is promoted to the rank of Captain before he takes his place as the "nanny" of HMS Invincible. He keeps this rank for the remainder of Gardner's series.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Beatrice di Ricci fakes her death on Christmas Day to get Bond out of immediate danger.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Bast is actually one of the names for the Egyptian Goddess Bastet, not a demon.
  • Sea Mine: The supertanker in the first chapter has to tread the waters of Straits of Hormuz carefully, as the previous eight years of Iran–Iraq War left it filled with mines, and they have no assistance of clearing them from British and US navies.
  • Sinister Surveillance: MI6 learns about bad guys' plan through a bug in the little village where they are discussing it. The narration explains that every place is bugged nowadays, with computers monitoring keywords and -phrases. Baradj repeatedly undermines his own plan by talking to his associates, all of which is recorded.
  • Slashed Throat: Once Landsea '89 starts, one American operative is found with his throat slit, and Bond has to investigate his death.
  • Spy Satellites: One chapter opens with a note that while satellites can give an advantage in a war, human element is still the key for proper spying.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: HMS Invincible is taken over with the help of tampered food that sedates the crew.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Clover gives Bond a kiss under a mistletoe during the Chistmas festivities at Northanger.
  • Unfriendly Fire: A sidewinder missile is fired at Bond during a flight exercise with Sea Harriers, one of which disappears after the fact.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Beatrice's seemingly killed when she opens a car door that is rigged with explosives, which were meant for Bond.


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