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Literature / Young Bond

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Young Bond is a series of young adult spy novels initially written by Charlie Higson, featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent James Bond as a young teenage boy attending school at Eton College in the 1930s.

The series was originally planned to include only five novels. However, after the release of the fifth novel, a second series was mentioned as a possibility, which became true in 2014 with the release of Shoot to Kill by Steve Cole.

Since the release of the first novel in 2005, the series has become very successful and has led to further works including games, a graphic novel and even a supplemental travel guide. The series was followed up not by novels, but by Dynamite Comics' James Bond: Origins series, picking up his life in World War II.

The books in the series are:

  • SilverFin (2005) — The thirteen-year-old James Bond begins his studies at Eton, and later gets in an adventure in the Scottish highlands.
  • Blood Fever (2006) — On a class trip to Sardinia, Bond comes across a secret society which is set out to rule Europe.
  • Double or Die (2007) — An Eton schoolmaster is kidnapped, and Bond, together with his friends, try unravel the clues that he has left behind.
  • Hurricane Gold (2007) — Bond chases after criminals who have taken two children hostage.
  • By Royal Command (2008) — Bond gets involved with spies and their "shadow war" that goes on in Europe.
  • Danger Society: The Young Bond Dossier (2009) — A supplementary book on the series, which includes the short story "A Hard Man to Kill".
  • Shoot to Kill (2014) — Bond joins a trip to Hollywoodland, where he has to solve a blackmail conspiracy.
  • Heads You Die (2016) — While visiting Cuba, a family friend of Bond's is kidnapped, and he starts looking for him.
  • Strike Lightning (2016) — After the death of a schoolmate, Bond swears revenge and goes after those responsible.
  • Red Nemesis (2017) — Bond receives a package from beyond the grave, plunging him into an adventure with his family's name at stake. Steve Cole's planned final volume.

Not to be confused with the 90s animated series James Bond Jr., which stars Bond's apocryphal nephew.

The examples of series-wide tropes:

  • Alliterative Name: Michael Merriot, one of Bond's teachers at Eton. So it's fitting that like Miles Messervy, he's a (part-time) spymaster.
  • Comicbook Adaptation: Silverfin was adapted by Higson and 2000AD regular Kev Walker. Walker also provides character illustrations for every book.
  • Continuity Nod: There is many a Call-Forward to the ruthless, womanizing yet conflicted man James will become. The series itself also received Continuity Nods in both Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care and Samantha Weinberg's Moneypenny Diaries.
  • Cool Big Sis: Bond's Aunt Charmian is like this; she's an anthropologist who has been travelling around the world, knows how to cook exotic meals and inspires the fascination that Bond has about cars.
  • Cool Car:
    • Aunt Charmian's, and later Bond's own, Bentley 4.5 litre "Blowers". Bond's gets seen in a 1946 epilogue in Double or Die, too.
    • And its predecessor, the Bamford & Martin he inherited from Uncle Max.
  • Cool Teacher: Mr. Merriot at Eton, a friend of Bond's who tries to make studying enjoyable.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Relatively speaking. SilverFin happens over the Easter holidays in 1933, and by the ninth book, Red Nemesis, has only reached the summer holidays of 1935. Bond's had an incredibly busy two years.
  • Fiery Redhead: 'Red' Kelly and his sister Kelly. In fact, the whole Kelly clan might qualify.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Like in the backstory given to him in Ian Fleming's novels, Bond will be expelled from Eton (but his adventures before becoming a spy proper are not over by then).
  • Mystery Magnet: Bond keeps getting mixed up with criminal conspiracies and international spy operations by the virtue of going to school.
  • Revision: Some aspects of Bond's past established by Fleming are expanded upon by sticking to the letter of what he wrote rather than the intention - most notably, Bond was established as having stayed at Eton for two halves (terms, in Eton parlance), but Higson reveals they weren't actually consecutive as he was recovering from injury, giving young Bond more time to have adventures in. The contradictory mentions that he started working for the Secret Service either before or after the war are resolved by the fact that he "worked" for them in unusual circumstances as a teenager, before the war.
  • Spin-Off Babies: It's James Bond... as a teenager!
  • War Is Hell: Many adult characters took part in The Great War, and it left its scars on them, if not directly giving inspiration, as in the case of some of the villains.

Examples in the short story "A Hard Man to Kill":

  • Big Bad: Caiboche.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard on an ocean liner. The name of the story should also ring a bell.
  • High-Dive Escape: Caiboche does this, leaping from the smoking deck of the ocean liner Colombie into the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone thinks he has leapt to his death but there was a submarine waiting to pick him up.
  • Interquel: The story is set between the books Hurricane Gold and By Royal Command.