License Renewed

ISBN: 0425124630
ISBN 13: 9780425124635
By: John Gardner

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Adventure Bond Default Espionage Fiction James Bond Mystery Suspense Thrillers To Read

About this book

In License Renewed, the most famous secret agent in the world pits his nerve and cunning against a dangerously deranged opponent – one prepared to sacrifice most of the Western world to prove that only he can make it safe from accidental holocaust. As the seconds tick away on the valued Rolex Oyster Perpetual, the world comes nearer this ironic annihilation; Bond comes nearer a frightful death and ever nearer Miss Lavender Peacock.

Reader's Thoughts


There are quite a few formulaic things I expect from anything dealing with agent 007. A bond novel must have fast cars, beautiful women, gadgets, fast cars, and pure evil bad guys. Sprinkle in a few trademark Bond moments and you have the foundation for yet another adventure for the world's most famous spy.  In License Renewed by John Gardner you can tell from the word go that Gardner gets Bond. The first thing he did was to update 007 to the time he was writing 1982 in this case.  The fluid story he uses to explain Bond's long absence is truly a work of genius and shows his mastery writing. Gardner breathes extra life into the character and gives Bond his own edge. The villain in the book with his henchman is devious, diabolical, but believable. Having to work in concert with MI5 was a nice wrench in the narrative. The second to last chapter was a bit of filler and could've been combined with the previous chapter. There were times that my eyes weren't reading fast enough and my pulse was pounding. To give the Gardner books room to grow I give License Renewed 4 out of 5.

Alan Kingsley

A welcome continuation of the Fleming novels. License Renewed is written well, reasonably paced, and has some fun characters and locations, but ultimately it never got off the ground for me. I liked it well enough, I suppose, but I think the story overstays its welcome by about forty pages.


A pretty tame story that doesn't really require much of Bond until the last dozen or so pages, and even then he doesn't do but so much. More entertaining for the narration of James' thought process when confronted with obstacles. I'm also deducting points for every instance when the words "James" and "darling" were used in the same sentence.....which is more than a few.

Ryan Saunders

James Bond is one of the most well known names in the entire world. Since I was very young I've heard of his legendary movies and books. This is why when I picked up James Bond "License Renewed", I had high expectations. Fortunately I was not let down in the slightest. "License Renewed" is the first fourteen of the James Bond series by John Gardner. In "License Renewed", James Bond is fighting to save the world from perhaps the most dangerous and crazed villain yet, Dr. Anton Murik. He's the Laird of Murcadly as well as a brilliant nuclear physicist who invented what he calls "the Murik Ultra-safe Reactor". In the book Murik claims that it's "the ultimate in reactors-one which not only provides the power but safely disposes of the waste, and cannot go wrong" (Gardner, 40). Murik was ridiculed for his design and kicked out of the company. Many years later the MI6 found out he was meeting with world renowned terrorist Franco. James Bond is sent in to investigate and is shocked as to what he finds. Murik has world destruction planned. The main theme of "License Renewed", is never give up. This theme is a huge part of Bonds mentality as well. An example of this is when *SPOILER ALERT* he's aboard a huge luxury air craft and being held against his will. "Pity about not being able shave. If they were to die, he would rather go looking his best. Negative thinking. Bond cursed himself (Gardner, 233). One of the most interesting characters in the book's Caber, a violent Scotsman who has a broken nose for most of the book and works for Murik. One of my personal favorite quotes from him is "'I suppose ye got Franco, then. But it'll do ye nae bluddy guid for yersel, Bond', Caber whispered in his ear. 'The Laird's mor'n a mite upset-and wi' good reason. Ocht man, he's longing tae set his eyes on ye. Just longing for it. I doubt he has some grand plans for ye'". Beyond writing an interesting book John Gardner is an interesting person. John Gardner was the second person ever allowed to write a James Bond book. This fact alone makes him memorable. However, he has also lived a very interesting life beyond the Bond series. Gardner grew up in the small town of Seaton Delaval and originally wanted to be a magician. He turned out to be fairly good at this and preformed for a few years before deciding to become a journalist instead. Toward the end of his journalism career started writing novels. The first book he published was called "The Liquidator", and was a spoof on James Bond. The book was an over night succes and became very popular. This motivated Gardner to write a sequel. The sequel was succes as well and was the cause of a newspaper writing "Gardner Writes full time now". This prompted him to leave journalism and become self-employed. Overtime Gardner wrote more novels and eventually caught the eye of (Ian Flemmings ltd). They invited him to write them and while he was reluctant, his agent was insistent. Fortunately for him (and us) a one book deal turned into much more and he eventually wrote 2 more books than even Ian Flemings. All in all John Gardner may not have started out as a writer but it was clearly ment for him. In conclusion I think that "License Renewed", is a fantastic book beyond even my high expectations. John Gardner is a fantastic author and I think that Ian Flemmings ltd was incredibly wise to trust him with the series.


I really wish his books had been the basis of the modern era Bond films today.License Bonds

Leo Susana

I read most James Bond novels in the 80's. Was a huge fan of John Gardner's take on 007. BUT: I don't actually remember the stories now. I know I enjoyed them, thought they were great at the time, but I was a kid dreaming with far away places.


just okay for me, sort of un the same vein as Ian Fleming's novels, I just felt he should made Bond a bit more sinister (especially after reading Robert Ludlum's work)


Bond has been invited home for dinner by Q's attractive female assistant, a committed vegetarian. As they're sipping their drinks, he makes amorous advances. "My chick-pea casserole will dry out!" she protests, pushing him away."Well, we wouldn't want that drying out," says Bond.How come I never think of these great lines until it's too late? No wonder Bond gets all the girls.

Steven Kent

Almost a Bond and very readable, this was a first effort by a competent author who tried to step into Ian Fleming's shoes.he does a reasonable job of capturing the spirit of the Bond character, an adventurer who really is not as tough as the men around him. he is lucky, and daring, and smart, but not the he-man that has been sensationalized by Daniel Craig, and maybe not even as tough as Sean Connery.Where Gardner falls shy of the mark is in the story itself. It's good, it's very much in the spirit of Goldfinger, but it just doesn't have the spark and the style that made Godfinger special.I'll take License renewed over The Spy Who Loved Me or Live and Let Die, for what it's worth.


As a kid I was always pretty lucky tracking down books. My aunt ran a second hand book shop and whenever I got hooked on a series, she’d help to find the books I was after. When I was really young, it was the Charlie Brown comic strip books which appealed to me – and she plied me with a great deal of them. But by the time I was nine years old it was James Bond who had grabbed my attention. And I loved those books – even if looking back now, I have to admit I probably didn’t truly understand them all. What does ‘killed with ignominy’ mean anyway?I can’t tell you how much I treasured these books – their covers, the stories within, and even the adverts for other spy stories at the back of the books. On weekends, rather than getting out of bed, I’d select a book at random, flick it open to any old page and start reading, and then keep reading till one of my parents would holler for me to drag my good-for-nuthin’ butt out of bed. (I may be exaggerating slightly there!)But there was a limit, because Ian Fleming only wrote fourteen James Bond books – or more precisely, twelve novels and two collections of short stories (and the rogue Bond story, James Bond in New York which appeared in Thrilling Cities). After a few years my paperbacks were pretty well thumbed and dog-eared – and I began moving on to other things. I had devoured all the written Bond that I could – I so I thought.Rural Australia, back in 1981 wasn’t big on literary news – hell, even top 10 bestseller lists were not that important. My hometown didn’t even have a proper bookshop. The newsagent fulfilled the town’s literary needs with a shelf along the side, and even then, half of that was filled with Mills and Boon books. But it was here that my mother found a copy of John Gardner’s License Renewed – the first new James Bond book in about twelve years. I didn’t even know it had been written. But my eyes must have been wide with delight when my mother presented the book to me. Wow – a new James Bond book!Now at this stage I didn’t know who John Gardner was. I hadn’t even heard of Boysie Oakes. Had I known, I must admit I would have found it curious to see Gardner chosen to be the Bond continuation author, as he had (allegedly) been quite vociferous in his contempt for the Bond character in earlier interviews.Here’s a snippet from Donald McCormick’s Who’s Who in Spy Fiction (1977 Elm Tree Books) in which Gardner opinion of Bond is expressed. NB: I must add here, that while the entry on Gardner does have quotes from the man himself, the passage below is McCormick’s spin on how Gardner viewed Bond. The veracity of the information is open to debate.Like LeCarre, Gardner detested the character of James Bond. (There is little doubt that anti-Bondism actually pumped the necessary adrenalin into the veins of quite a few would-be writers in this period.) While he was proud and happy to be the only full-time drama critic on a weekly newspaper in England, the challenge of a new career as a novelist was accepted with enthusiasm. Though he reacted to the Bond era in much the same way as LeCarre, Gardner evolved his own type of spy story as a send-up of Bondism and the whole game of Intelligence. Where LeCarre evoked gloom and tragedy, Gardner indulged in comedy and laughter. The character of Boysie Oakes was not merely a comic anti-hero, but a positive antidote to Bond.But Gardner did inherit the Bond mantle, and maybe his slightly cynical attitude to the Bond character was a big plus, particularly in this, the first of his many Bond books. There’s a few passages where Gardner attempts to analyze the Bond character and what makes Bond, Bond, and not just another spy pastiche. These explorations are quite successful, and not only flesh out the character, but add a layer to the already established Bond mythos.I think it is fair to say that Gardner wrote for the Roger Moore – James Bond generation. It is obvious he had read and studied his Fleming, but there is also a sense of the cinematic Bond creeping into the stories. There was Bond’s new car, a Saab Turbo – nicknamed ‘the Silver Beast’ which could come straight from the movies and rivaled the Lotus Esprit, which made such an impact around the world when it debuted in The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 – only three years earlier. Then there was Q’s new assistant, Anne Riley, nicknamed Q’ute. I know you are groaning, but you’ve got to remember I wasn’t even a teenager when I read this book, so to me, this was gold.But as a teenager, Bond’s seduction of Q’ute (or is it Q’ute’s seduction of Bond?) probably was a bit over my head. Not the sex and seduction stuff, but the psychology of it. Above I mentioned there were passages where Gardner attempted to analyze the Bond character. This is one of them. The seduction takes place on a gun range at headquarters, where Bond is cleaning, dismantling and reassembling a new weapon (a Browning 9mm). Here Bond’s actions have a dual meaning. The gun is a phallic symbol (Gardner even makes an in-joke about the 1970′s Triad Panther Bond book covers – which featured girls sitting astride big guns), and as Bond ‘caresses’ the weapon, it is intended to excite Q’ute. Instead, it has the opposite effect. And in the process shows that Bond cares more about the gun, than he could about any woman. This is re-enforced shortly after with a cold reference to the death of Vesper Lynd in Fleming’s Casino Royale.Onto the story. It appears that MI-5 and Special Branch have a problem with an international terrorist named Franco, who has been secretly meeting with a disgraced nuclear physicist, Anton Murik. Murik apart from being a physicist, is also a wealthy philanthropist, and the Scottish Laird of the Murcaldy. They figure something potentially dangerous is in the offing, and they require some assistance from MI-6. M agrees to help, but chooses to do things his way. He thinks James Bond is the right type of man for a job like this. Bond is not technically 007 in this story, as the double-O section has long since been disbanded, but M still uses Bond as a licenced trouble shooter, and still affectionately refers to him as ’007′.Bond’s mission is to ingratiate himself on Murik, gain his trust and find out what dastardly plot both he and Franco are planning. M briefs Bond thoroughly, not just on Murik, but also on his mistress, Mary-Jane Mashkin, and his ward, Lavender Peacock. And then Bond goes to work, shoehorning his way into Murik’s life.The chapter where Bond ingratiates himself on Murik at Ascot races is a bit muddled. On one hand, the horse race itself echoes Fleming enough that it is damnably readable. But the pick-pocket passage, wherein Bond utilises some time honoured thievery skills to remove a priceless pearl necklace from Murik’s ward, Lavender Peacock is contrived. Even more so, when Bond turns up at Murik’s private box with the pearls, claiming he found them on the floor outside the door. If Murik was in the midst of planning a major terrorist operation and a unknown gentleman shoehorned his way into his life, then surely he would have had him killed. There’d be no games, or tests – which make up the next portion of the novel. It’s a shame in a way, as I said, the raceday, as far as a passage of descriptive Bondian writing was on track (pardon the pun), but then it trotted away from Gardner with unbelievable actions, which are wedged into the story simply to throw the two protagonists together. The scene ends with Bond being invited to join Murik at Murcaldy castle in Scotland. It’s an invitation that Bond gladly accepts.Thankfully once Bond is in Scotland and at Murcaldy castle and a guest of Murik, the story is more cohesive and the actions of the characters make sense – or at least in the Bondian universe.At Murik’s castle, Bond is potentially offer employment with Murik, but first he has to pass a test. And that test involves facing off against Murik’s number one minion, Caber, in a wrestling match. Caber is a bear of a man, and Bond stands little chance in a fair fight, so he uses a gadget supplied by Q’ute, to turn the odds in his favour. Personally, I see this reliance of gadgets a bit of a distraction, and only serves to make the character impotent, but as you’d expect Bond wins the fight, and consequently Murik’s favour.Now a (somewhat) trusted member of Murik’s team, Bond is given a few details of Murik’s plan, which is to hijack several nuclear reactors simultaneously around the globe, and hold the world to ransom. Armed with the information required, Bond simply has to report to M, and his mission is over. Of course, things go wrong, and Bond has to use his wits to save the world (and the girl) once again.Gardner appeared to take on (or was assigned) the task of bridging the literary Bond with the filmic Bond. I can understand why this decision was made, as the films – with the recent mega hit Moonraker – were incredibly popular then, while the popularity of books was beginning to decline (the ’60s ‘spymania’ bubble had well and truly burst by this time). Gardner achieves mixed results with his marrying on the two Bonds, as well as creating a few problems for himself later on in the series – most notably his novelisation for Licence to Kill which incorporated story elements from Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die.The most notable links to the film Bond in Licence Renewed are the initial briefing passage with M – I could almost see Bernard Lee as I read the chapter – and the extrapolation of Q Branch. There’s also a passage where Bond makes his escape from Murik castle in his tricked out Saab, with Murik and his minions on his tail. However, the chase culminates with Bond being forced off the road, to crash, and being rendered unconscious. When Bond awakens he finds himself strapped to a torture table. There isn’t a laser aimed at his genitals, and Murik does expect Bond ‘to talk’ (then ‘die’), but the passage echoes the filmic version of Goldfinger, more than Fleming’s novel of the same name.It’s strange reading this book again after so many years. When I read it as a boy, I can unashamedly say, I loved this book. Now, many years have past, and I have read many more spy books and watched many more spy films, and while I still enjoyed reading Licence Renewed, I see it as a patchwork quilt Bond story, with its disparate patches not quite matching up. John Gardner is not Ian Fleming, but he is a very good writer in his own regard, and each section works on its own, but not placed next to each other. As I have suggested, there are Flemingesque sections, filmic Bond sections, and Gardner’s own, slightly cynical exploration of the Bond character. Outside of the Bond universe, there’s also the legacy of twenty years of popular spy fiction. For example, there’s one passage, where Bond is being interrogated that owes a very large debt to The Berlin/Quiller Memorandum. I can imagine Quiller fans almost being outraged at such a blatant re-appropriation of an incident, that is so (well for me anyway) associated with Quiller, and hijacked for Bond series. With so many different styles taking place, it’s almost remarkable that the book is readable at all. But it is. Very.I still like Licence Renewed, but maybe not with the passion I did as a boy, but I still recommend Gardner to Bond fans, and if you’ve never read any of his books, I suggest you do so, but also do it with an open mind. There is only one Ian Fleming, so if you expect a Fleming book, you’re sure to be disappointed. If you’re after a brisk thriller, in the Bond tradition, then Gardner’s Bond continuation novels aren’t bad. They’re flawed to be sure, but not ‘bad’.


* The first Gardner Bond book.* In his Acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, Gardner tells us that all of the "hardware" used by Bond in the book is genuine and available one way or another. He then goes on to tell us that that used by Bond's adversary, Anton Murik, is not. This, I think, sets a broader tone, right at the outset: Gardner's books are going to try to tread a middle ground between Fleming's Bond and Movie Bond. It's a dicey proposition.* But first, from Gardner himself: "I described to the Gildrose Board how I wanted to put Bond to sleep where Fleming had left him in the sixties, waking him up now in the 80s having made sure he had not aged, but had accumulated modern thinking on the question of Intelligence and Security matters. Most of all I wanted him to have operational know-how: the reality of correct tradecraft and modern gee-whiz technology." Which would seem to leave a gap of about 16 years (from The Man With the Golden Gun [1965] to License Renewed [1981]). It isn't clear from this book (or the quotation above) how Gardner handles the gap, but Wikipedia opines that, "due to the timeframe change," the Gardner series "suggests" that Bond's earlier adventures took place not in the 50s and 60s, but rather in the 60s and 70s. Can it be that Gardner, during the course of 14 novels, never spells this out?* This, of course, is another thing: 14 novels. More even than Fleming wrote. And starting with a character in his very late thirties, at best. (Indeed, Bond is already noting, in this book, a few gray hairs.) Just how old is he going to get?* Well, what were the alternatives? "Period" novels from only a decade and a half earlier? Time travel? What else could Gardner do? I'll tell you. He could have created a new Bond; that is, a completely separate series with the character but not the history of Fleming's books. License Renewed could have become License Granted, and away we'd go with a young James Bond and nothing but blue skies ahead.* But he didn't, so we have what we have, and comparisons between the two, instead of being largely moot, are relevant. And based on this first book, those comparisons do not redound to Gardner's credit.* Not that it's a bad book; it isn't. It is, however, a shade tentative, which we might expect, and a bit slack, which we wouldn't. Gardner's prose isn't as tight as Fleming's, and neither is Bond. Oh, he's plenty tough, but he's not as hardboiled.* At the same time, and this brings me back to where I started, Bond here tips toward the superman of the movies. M's line that if there's anyone who can pull off his latest mission, it's Bond, smacks more of the movies than Fleming's books. Bond himself seems to have fewer doubts about his superiority.* Then there's that "gee-whiz technology" that Gardner mentions. Bond is here kitted out with a great deal of hardware--on his person, in his luggage, and in his specially modified Saab. What Gardner doesn't understand is that, to some extent, technology makes the man. The Bond of all this gimcrackery isn't the old-fashioned Bond of the novels (even if, at the time, he was cutting-edge). Finding him curled up on his comfy Sleepcentre bed, intently listening in to one of Murik's clandestine meetings on his fancy surveillance hardware is, I'm afraid, not the modern equivalent of Bond peering at Russians through a periscope in a dank, rat-infested tunnel beneath the streets of Istanbul. Bond has become the oxymoron of the films: soft, yet somehow infinitely superior to his enemies.* Still, in terms of the plot, it isn't technology that kills credibility here, it's the plan itself. I won't say more than that it involves the simultaneous assault on several nuclear power plants. I don't need to say more. It's the same as saying that Goldfinger's plan was to rob Fort Knox. It's ridiculous, unworkable, and never believable.* But I liked the book. Go figure. I didn't like it a lot (for these and other reasons), but I found it enjoyable. Partly, I suppose, for the fun of comparing it to Fleming's work. And partly because of Fleming's genius: after all, he created a character so beloved that this second series by another author makes sense, a character so transcendent that not even the film industry could kill him.

Tom O'Connor

Good and reasonably faithful to the original. I would only recommend these books to Fleming fans, but for them, I would definitely recommend them.

Michael O'Leary

This was another fast read, featuring Ian Fleming's James Bond, written by John Garner. This book and plot stayed true to Ian Fleming's James Bond. This is the first of 16 James Bond books written by Gardner; I look forward to reading the remaining 15.

Andrew Kosztyo

The first installment of the "James Bond" series not written by Ian Flemming, "License Renewed" is an effective reboot of the shaken-not-stirred template. Surprisingly, the book contains some of the most elegantly constructed sentences I've ever enjoy reading -- colons; semi-colons; hyphens and dashes all cohabitate comfortably in single short sentences.

MB Taylor

I remember really enjoying the first several books of John Gardner's James Bond series. I liked the fact that Bond was a little older and (perhaps) a little wiser. Shortly after I read License Renewed, Never Say Never Again came out with Sean Connery as Bond, and I remember being disappointed that the movie producers hadn't followed Gardner's lead and made Bond closer to Connery's apparent age; essentially doing for Bond what he did for Robin Hood in Robin and Marian.

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