Book Review: Licensed Renewed by John Gardner

July 18, 2023


Licensed Renewed by John Gardner is the first novel featuring the famous spy since Colonel Sun (1968). Mr. Gardner was an English novelist, known for his Bond Books, as well as books featuring Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

  • 276 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0425063976

Book Review: Licensed Renewed by John Gardner
My rating for Licensed Renewed – 4
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I read this book in high school, I believe, nevertheless decided to read it again as part of my efforts to read the James Bond books in order. I’m glad I did since I barely remembered anything at all about the story, and I believe I enjoyed it much more as an adult.

Licensed Renewed by John Gardner updates the Bond stories to the 1980s. The author accomplishes this task seamlessly, finds his own voice, and does not attempt to write it as Ian Fleming would have. Mr. Gardner also stayed away from the machismo 1950s fantasy that Fleming embraced.

Despite all the changes, this is the Bond fans know and love. The first half of the book is very enjoyable, it sets up the villain, MI5 staff, henchmen, female leads, and of course, 80s James Bond. The second half of the book, however, has so many plot holes it feels like an afterthought.

Nevertheless, it’s a solid story and certainly captures the essence of the James Bond universe and the characters. I didn’t realize that several Bond movies borrowed heavily from this book. The World Is Not Enough took the basic plot, A View to a Kill borrowed a whole racing scene, and some of Brad Whitaker (The Living Daylights) personality.

I’m looking forward to reading more of the books, I remember I enjoyed them much more even though, currently, I won’t be able to tell you what they’re about. This first entry is certainly a great way to start off the series.


The “00” section has been abolished, but M still keeps James Bond around as a troubleshooter. The agent is sent to investigate Dr. Anton Murik, a nuclear physicist who is thought to have been in contact with a terrorist named Franco.

Murik plans to hijack several nuclear plants around the world, using suicide squads supplied by Franco. Murik, thinking Bond is a mercenary, asks him to assassinate Franco after the nuclear meltdowns happen.

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More books by John Gardner*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I bought this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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