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The Ultimate Guide: How Many James Bond Books Are There?

One of the most iconic characters in British culture is James Bond. Of course he is most famous internationally for the movie series, which started way back in 1962 with Dr. No and has 25 entries (with 2 unofficial movies).

However a decade earlier, James Bond made his literary debut in Casino Royale and since then there has made a huge number of appearances in books by a variety of authors. Find out how many literary adventures he has been on in this ultimate guide.

Ian Fleming (1953-1966)

James Bond’s creator was Ian Fleming, who was an author, journalist and former naval intelligence officer. He created the character in Casino Royale in 1953 and wrote a series of 12 novels and 2 short story collections until his death in 1964 with two published posthumously.

These are:

His short story collections were For Your Eyes Only in 1960 and Octopussy/The Living Daylights in 1966. For Your Eyes Only contained 5 short stories:

  • From a View to a Kill
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Risico
  • The Hildebrand Rarity.

Meanwhile Octopussy/The Living Daylights contained these two stories and The Property of a Lady. In later publications of this book, 007 in New York,  a short story Fleming wrote for the New York Herald Tribune in 1963 was added to this collection.

Kingsley Amis / Christopher Wood (1968-1979)

After Ian Fleming’s death, Kingsley Amis was asked to write a sequel James Bond novel, Colonel Sun which was published under a pseudonym – Robert Markham, in 1968.

After this, James Bond would then disappear from fiction until 1977 when Christopher Wood took the reigns and wrote two novelizations of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, in 1977 and 1979 respectively, the first time the movie series had novelizations.

These two movies were wildly different from the books they took their titles from, with Fleming himself disliking The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker being rewritten to capitalise on the recent success of Star Wars.

John Gardner (1981-1996)

After this the series was passed to John Gardner who wrote a further 16 novels from 1981 to 1996. The novels acted as a continuation of Ian Fleming’s story with Bond aged on from the events in those novels and were set in the 1980s and 1990s. These books were:

  • Licence Renewed (1981)
  • For Special Services (1982)
  • Icebreaker (1983)
  • Role of Honour (1984)
  • Nobody Lives Forever (1986)
  • No Deals, Mr. Bond (1987)
  • Scorpius (1988)
  • Win, Lose or Die (1989)
  • Licence to Kill (1989)
  • Brokenclaw (1990)
  • The Man From Barbarossa (1991)
  • Death is Forever (1992)
  • Never Send Flowers (1993)
  • Seafire (1994)
  • Goldeneye (1995)
  • Cold (1996)

Of these, two of the novels were novelizations, 1989’s Licence To Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye.

Due to the influence of the American publishers Pullman’s on these books there was an increase in Americanisms in this novel e.g. waiter’s wearing “pants” instead of trousers and the series was criticised for having increasing silliness in later entries.

Raymond Benson (1996-2002)

After Gardner, American author Raymond Benson took over and wrote 9 novels and 3 short stories.

The novels were:

  • Zero Minus Ten (1997)
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  • The Facts of Death (1998)
  • High Time To Kill (1999)
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999)
  • Double Shot (2000)
  • Never Dream of Dying (2001)
  • The Man With The Red Tattoo (2002)
  • Die Another Day (2002)

Of these, Tomorrow Never DiesThe World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day were novelizations of the movies that starred Pierce Brosnan – these are also the final movies to receive novelizations in the James Bond franchise, with none of Daniel Craig’s movies having books (with the exception of Casino Royale, which was an adaptation of Ian Fleming’s book).

Benson also wrote three short stories, Blast From The Past (1996), Midsummer Night’s Doom (1999) and Live At Five (1999).

The Benson books were seen by critics as being a return to the roots of the series. Whilst Benson continued the timeline set by Gardner and Fleming, he also focussed more on action and less on gadgetry, and also with the return of Bond’s Walther PPK it was seen as a return to form. However Benson did make Bond swear more which many critics noticed stood out from the previous authors.

Various Authors (2002-Present)

After Benson’s departure, the series went on a bit of a revolving door of authors coming and going.

In 2007, Bond returned in Devil May Care, written by Sebastian Faulks. Faulks decided to abandon the timeline continuation of Gardner and Faulks and instead set his book in the 1960s, directly following on from Fleming and Kingsley Amis’ book.

However in 2011, Jeffrey Deaver wrote Carte Blanche which instead did the complete opposite, setting Bond in a post 9/11 agency that was independent of MI5 and MI6 which involved a plot to stop a war in South Sudan.

In 2013, the series had yet another change of author in William Boyd’s entry Solo. This story once again moved the series back to the 1960s and involves Bond trying to stop a civil war in the fictional country of Zanzarim.

After this entry, the series changed hands once again, this time to author Anthony Horowitz, who had written the popular Alex Rider spy series for children which is about a teenage spy and his series of adventures and arguably is inspired by the James Bond books and movies. Horowitz wrote three novels all set in the 1950s and meant to sit within the timeline of Fleming’s original novels (wuth the third being a sequel to Fleming’s novel).

The first two, Trigger Mortis (2015) and Forever and a Day (2018) featured unpublished excerpts from Fleming himself. The first book sits in the timeline between Goldfinger and Thunderball, whereas the second book is a prequel to Casino Royale. Horowtiz’s third and currently final novel, With A Mind To Kill, was published in 2022 and is a direct sequel to The Man With The Golden Gun.

Finally in 2023, the series was passed onto Charlie Higson who wrote On His Majesty’s Secret Service to tie in with the coronation with King Charles III and is currently the latest entry in the literary franchise to star Bond. However this is not Higson’s first Bond attempts, or the only series set in James Bond’s world as we will discuss below.

Young Bond

The Young Bond series is a series of children’s books which are written in a similar vein to the Alex Rider books, with Charlie Higson writing the first five entries. The books feature Bond as a schoolboy in Fleming’s original timeline so were set during the 1930s. He wrote five novels and one short story which were:

  • Silverfin (2005)
  • Blood Fever (2006)
  • Double Or Die (2007)
  • Hurricane Gold (2007)
  • By Royal Command (2008)
  • A Hard Man To Kill – short story (2009)

After the series went on hiatus for a few years, Stephen Cole took over with a continuation of these books in 2014. So far four further entries have been published which are:

  • Shoot To Kill (2014)
  • Heads You Die (2016)
  • Strike Lightning (2016)
  • Red Nemesis (2017)

Double O Series

The Double O series is a spin-off series commissioned by Ian Fleming’s estate which started in 2022 with Double or Nothing by Kim Sherwood – though the books are set in James Bond’s world and he is mentioned, he is not the main character.

Conclusion

With 58 novels and 13 short stories since 1953, there has indeed been a huge amount of stories involving the world’s most famous British super spy. Also with Kim Sherwood’s new spin off series there is also plenty of scope for James Bond and his contemporaries to save the world in the only way they know how.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments down below what you think of them.

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