Title: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Author: Ian Fleming
Fleming, Ian (1963). On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. New York: American Library
Date Posted: January 6, 2017
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is far and away the most suspenseful Fleming since Dr. No. No other Fleming novel, including From Russia, With Love, has such a blend of suspenseful action and characters that are so lovable and despicable.
Not only was Tracy written as such a real, tragic human being, Fleming actually managed to elicit sympathy from the reader for Draco, her father, the most dangerous crime lord in Europe. I always found his character to be on the same level as Darko Kerim in terms of how much I grew to like them by the end.
Bond himself is the most human in this story that he has ever been, before he goes off the deep end into full blown depression in the next story. I love that Fleming continued to show how much Bond wanted out, but still needed to stay in because that was the only way of life he was prepared for. And the strong choices Fleming made here, to show Bond coming closer than ever before to finally leaving the service, made me think that finally the character had evolved as a man to the point that he was finally ready to embrace life outside the existence as an assassin. Which makes the ending scene all the more tragic and difficult for even the toughest guy to handle.
This leads to just how well Fleming wrote his great villain, Blofeld. Through Tracy’s murder, Fleming catapulted Blofeld from his station as an extremely cunning criminal to a ruthless, heartless beast who would actually murder this man Bond and his wife on their very wedding day. As we get into the next story, of course, all of that will come to a head; in this story, however, these fantastical events will be the ones that shape the rest of Bond’s life.
Fleming truly hit his stride in writing suspense and humanity here, and I only wish that he’d been around longer! This book is definitely a must-see.