1. Looking Back: Icebreaker

    By Devin Zydel on 2005-05-03

    In July of 1983 John Gardner’s third James Bond 007 novel, Icebreaker, was published. Continuing on after his previous James Bond novels Licence Renewed and For Special Services, this novel is often regarded as one of his better Bond books. CBn looks back at this third of ultimately 16 novels in total written by Gardner in the 80’s and 90’s. Included are trivia notes about the book and CBn forum fan reactions.

    Icebreaker (1983): 007 battles a neo-nazi army in the Arctic Circle. A stand out in the Gardner series and a personal favorite of the author’s. Highlights: Snow plow vs. Saab; snow mobile trek across Arctic; ice water torture; Fencer attack on Ice Palace; showdown in airport. Locations: Libya, Finland (Helsinki), Arctic Circle, USSR.

    Icebreaker UK first edition

    1st UK hardcover

    I would like to thank those who gave invaluable assistance in the preparation of this book. First, my good friends Erik Carlsson and Simo Lampinen, who put up with me in the Arctic Circle. To John Edwards, who suggested that I go to Finland, and made it possible. To Ian Adcock, who did not lose his temper, but remained placid, when, during a cross-country ride in northern Finland-in early February 1982-I took him, not once, but three times, into snowdrifts.

    My thanks also to that diplomat among Finnish gentlemen, Bernhard Flander, who did the same thing to me in a slightly more embarrassing place-right on the Finnish-Russian border. We both thank the Finnish Army for pulling us out.

    Acknowledgments would not be complete without reference to Philip Hall, who has given me so much support throughout.

    1982 – John Gardner


    As part of the promotion for the US paperback release, publisher Berkley books gave away a free Saab 900 Turbo.

    Icebreaker was originally rejected as a title. According to Gardner, the publishers discussed many possible alternate titles until finally coming back to Icebreaker.

    Release Timeline

    • 1983: 1st British Jonathan Cape Hardback Edition
    • 1983: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
    • 1983: 1st American Book Club Hardback Edition
    • 1984: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 1984: 2nd British Coronet Paperback Edition
    • 1984: 1st American Berkley Paperback Edition
    • 1987: 1st American Charter Paperback Edition
    • 2004: 1st British Coronet Omnibus Paperback Edition

    Relationship to the film series

    • Icebreaker: On a mission in the Arctic Circle, Bond rides a snow mobile while being chased by Russians.
    • A View to a Kill (1985): On a mission in the Arctic Circle, Bond rides a snow mobile while being chased by Russians.
    • Icebreaker: Villain Count von Gloda’s lair is an “Ice Palace” deep inside the Arctic Circle.
    • Die Another Day (2002): Villain Gustav Graves’ lair is an “Ice Palace” deep inside the Arctic Circle.

    Curiously similar artwork for Icebreaker and Die Another Day

    Forum Reviews

    Icebreaker is my favorite John Gardner 007 book. I think it is the closest he ever came to writing like Ian Fleming. I am actually a little perturbed that they had an ice palace in Die Another Day because I have always hoped this book would be filmed someday by EON.

    CBn Forum member DLibrasnow

    Icebreaker finnish edition

    Finnish edition

    I think it’s the ever coolest Bond by Gardner. And it seems to me that in this very novel Gardner ceases to resurrect Fleming’s Bond, but creates one of his own. It is this novel that his rules for a Bond thriller are totally shaped in. The piece about crossing the border and reconning the Soviet base is my favourite one.

    CBn Forum member Grubozaboyschikov

    Great book that would make a great film. I’ve never understood why they haven’t taken advantage of the wealth of great material in Gardner’s books for film.

    CBn Forum member Johnson Galore

    Just finished Icebreaker, thought it was the best among the first 3 Gardners. Loved all the double-triple-crosses. Didn’t even trust M for a while. Gardner has just hit his stride with this one. From the first chapter, I was hooked, and I just thought it was a great story.

    CBn Forum member Jriv71

    I’ve heard that Licence Renewed and For Special Services are good and that Icebreaker is his best book overall.

    CBn Forum member Tanger

    Either For Special Services or Icebreaker would make great Bond films.

    CBn Forum member tdalton

    I really love Icebreaker because it’s so unique. Best locations of the Gardner series (and the best title, IMO). It feels like the type of book Fleming would have written eventually. It may be Gardner’s masterpiece.

    CBn Forum member zencat

    The Looking Back at John Gardner Series:

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