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Publisher's Summary

In his Alpine base, Blofeld is developing biological weapons that will devastate Britain. Unaware of the danger, James Bond is about to marry Teresa di Vicenzo, the daughter of a Corsican Mafioso. But then he is sent to Switzerland. Bond's marriage and Blofeld's schemes disintegrate in a blizzard of gunfire and high-explosives from which neither man emerges the victor.

This audiobook includes an exclusive bonus interview with David Tennant.

Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

©1963 Ian Fleming (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Featured Article: The Man Behind Bond—Spotlight on the Fascinating Ian Fleming


From his passion for gadgets and gambling to the way he likes his martinis ("Shaken, not stirred"), everyone is familiar with the tastes and traits of James Bond, the world's most famous fictional spy. Less is commonly known about the fascinating life and adventures of 007's creator, who kicked off the Bond craze with his 12 novels: Ian Fleming. Read on to learn more about the author and uncover how much of the real Fleming lives on in the fictional Bond.

What listeners say about On Her Majesty's Secret Service

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A Real Treat

If you could sum up On Her Majesty's Secret Service in three words, what would they be?

Delightfully Sexist Bond

Who was your favorite character and why?

Bond, James Bond.

Which character – as performed by David Tennant – was your favorite?

David's James Bond, thanks to his Scottish accent and natural charisma, is a throw back to Sean Connery's and it is delightful. Tennant may never get to play him on the big screen, but listening to him play him in this book was a real treat.

Any additional comments?

Much has been made about the sexism is the Bond films. So much of his attitude towards women, it turns out, comes from the books! This was my first outing with a Bond novel and I was a little shocked at how (A) close it was to the movie and (B) how casually sexist it is. It was such a strange anachronism that I found myself just laughing at Bond and how he described and looked at women. The book is a product of its time and would not be written this way today (which I am thankful for), but that doesn't mean I didn't also enjoy it.

The story never stops moving forward, but that being said, it's plotted deliberately and almost slowly. I was constantly riveted, but was surprised at how it took its time to ramp up to the big action set pieces. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to my next Bond outting.

21 people found this helpful

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My new favourite narrator!

Wow, David Tennant did a wonderful job narrating this book......not just because his (own) Scottish accent was a good fit for Bond (and brings in memories of Sean Connery as Bond), but because he also did wonderful voices for the other characters and the exposition (including bits of French or German). The right pacing, the right tone....all 'round wonderful.

As for the story......I liked this one more than many other Bonds, even though the movie version was hampered by the wrong actor. This is a more human, fragile, and emotional Bond - saving a woman from suicide, falling in love, getting married........all while saving England from catastrophe, of course. There's action in the high alps (lots of skiing and bobsledding), negotiations with a mobster, and even some undercover work requiring too much knowledge of ancestry and heraldic arms.

All greatly spun together by Tennant.

6 people found this helpful

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All The Time In The World

Tracy is as dynamic a girl as you will ever meet. She loves fast cars as much as Bond, and life as much as Bond. When we first meet her, she doesn’t want to live, but then, he helps send her off into the world, and she gets better, and by the end, she is as vivacious and captivating as any woman could hope to be. Bond’s fascination and camaraderie with her father, the head of the Union Corse, Mark Ange is also fascinating. Seems like it should extend far, but not past his help with a thorn in Bond’s side-Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

For an evil mastermind, he goes a strange route. He holds himself up in Switzerland, and sets about curing the allergies of girls from prominent farming families across England, only to go with an early biological warfare route. It’s pretty well described in the book, when all is said and done, and the allergy cure is hypnosis, and you get to hear it. It probably isn’t meant to be funny, but David Tennant telling me that I will love chickens in a cooing voice made me crack up like you wouldn’t believe. It will stick in my head for a long time.

The two seemingly separate plots did dovetail, and Bond and Tracy reunited, and he went back up to get Blofeld. This is part of a trilogy, though, so it isn’t much of a spoiler that, while the plot is foiled, Blofeld gets away. The book has a rather tragic ending, and while I couldn’t really see Fleming ending it any other way, really, it was upsetting.

This was a novel in which I think Fleming bit off more than he could really chew. He tried to really sell Tracy as being a remarkable and unique girl. She was one-of-a-kind, and special. The problem is, I think he has tried to do that with a couple of girls, and it is impossible to get that invested within the space of a single novel, not when there is so much else going on, particularly when he also slept with Ruby for information. His battle with Blofeld is epic, to be sure, but what Blofeld is doing with the allergies and viruses requires so much explanation. Then there was the whole genealogical aspect to the novel, which was Bond’s cover in the Alps. There were many moving pieces, and it was all tied up in the end, but it was more disjointed than Fleming’s earlier novels.

Tennant is a joy to listen to. He moved the thick plot along beautifully, and while his French and German were accented, it certainly wasn’t an impediment to the story. His Irma Bundt was hilarious and conniving, his Blofeld slimy and slippery. His Bond had a zest for life which was refreshing, falling in love and uncovering evil plots. His reading was at times ruthless, passionate, and opulent, much like Bond. It was lovely to hear Tennant’s own Scottish burr when Bond was impersonating Sir Hillary Bray. There was humor in unexpected places, and, in this novel, they were needed, because while we may “love the chickens,” there is “all the time in the world.”

Beautifully read.

5 people found this helpful

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When the odds are hopeless

“When the odds are hopeless, when all seems to be lost, then is the time to be calm, to make a show of authority – at least of indifference”
― Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

One of my favorite Bond novels so far. It contains most of the things that draws people to Bond novels and movies (action, intrigue, charm, violence) and tones down some of the more obnoxious parts too (sexism, racism, etc). The character of Bond is fascinating in this novel as his normal cycle with women is warped a bit. The movie sticks pretty close to the book's narrative on this one, which is probably due to the fact that it was already a pretty well-developed story.

9 people found this helpful

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Favorite narrator

Where does On Her Majesty's Secret Service rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Pretty high. I could listen to David Tennant read the phone book, but he captures James Bond so well.

Who was your favorite character and why?

How do you pick one? Of course I loved when he played Sir Hillary with his natural accent, but the German headmistress was pretty good too.

Have you listened to any of David Tennant’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Again, I've listened to almost all of his narrations, but this is on a different plane than his Doctor Who books. It's not the Doctor, it's definitely James Bond. His love of the books comes through his voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not particularly.

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  • 05-26-19

Best so far

Im slowly working through all the bond novels and short stories, but thus far this is the high water mark.

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Arguably the best book in the James Bond series

I was shocked, listening to this book. Shocked at how really GOOD it was. The previous novels had been fun and had progressively gotten better. But this book is head and shoulders above all of what had come before.

We have James Bond under cover and on the trail of Blofeld, his arch nemesis. There are disguises, intrigue, beautiful women, and a large helping of action scattered throughout. In the middle of all this, Bond falls in love. The story cruises at high speed and never seems to let up. This feels like the best written of all the Bond novels to date. Very balanced story and nary a plot hole to be seen. Bond seems his most human here. If you are familiar with the film, then you know how this ends, and it feels all the more tragic for knowing that.

Personally I think that, unlike most film adaptations, that the book has more over the top action sequences than the film.

As an aside, we have David Tennant narrating the story in which Bond is portraying a Scotsman. This is a fun bit of type casting.

I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Worth it for Tennant alone

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marc-Ange: Tennant's performance was wonderful.

What about David Tennant’s performance did you like?

It sounded like a full-cast performance: every character (and accent) was distinct and beautifully performed.

1 person found this helpful

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Fun novel with a dark ending

This is my first Ian Fleming novel but I have seen most of the James Bond films. The antagonist in this one is Blofeld. The movie is amazingly faithful to the book. I shall definitely listen to other James Bond novels. Narrator David Tennant is as good as any I have listened to.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of several Ian Fleming novels with both Kindle and Audible versions free to borrow for members of Kindle Unlimited. So far I have borrowed over 150 such books. The books are not permanently in my Audible library since they are only borrowed, but the average cost of the books based on the annual fee for Kindle Unlimited is very low. In addition, there are many books with Kindle Unlimited where the Kindle version is free to borrow and the Audible version can then be purchased for as little as $1.99. This is a great deal for Audible listeners.

6 people found this helpful

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Just like the flim

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a different Bond book. It's a more balanced novel with much more vulnerability from Bond and more personal elements - less of a travelogue and less action than other Bond novels. And this may be why I liked OHMSS less than other Bond novels: it's so much of a departure that it feels out of place. The dragging on with heraldry got boring and I was thankful for an action sequence when Bond escapes from the ski lodge. Some Fleming novels are criticized for racism - I didn't detect any here - but there was some misogyny. While this may reflect the times, the bigger problem was that Bond's love interest was two-dimensional, I didn't get a sense of why she acted in the way she did. The Lazenby film did faithfully follow the book, which I'd normally applaud, but the film may have influenced my opinion of the book - I didn't like the film and this seemed to bias my listening.

Tennant is a good reader, better than some of the other Bond celebrity readers. As narrator, he begins with a very soft tone - perhaps he was trying to convey a sense of secrecy - which was hard to hear relative to the voices he gives the characters. This improves as the book progresses, and he provides distinctive voices for character which feel convincing. Overall, a job well done.