Looking Back: Death Is Forever
In July 1992, following the very fan-controversial The Man From Barbarossa, came Death Is Forever, the eleventh John Gardner James Bond novel. CBn takes a look back with release dates, publication blurbs, trivia, and forum reactions regarding Death Is Forever.
John Gardner’s eleventh original novel featuring Ian Fleming’s indestructible hero sees James Bond plunged into the dangerous, shadowy world of post-Cold-War Europe.
Before the Berlin Wall fell, Cabal has been the most extensive and successful Western Intelligence network in the Eastern bloc. With the coming of Europe’s unexpected peace, its local agents were expected to go to ground — but to the consternation of their MI6 and CIA controllers death stalks them still.
When case officers sent to track down the surviving Cabal agents are killed in mysterious circumstances, James Bond — together with the CIA’s Elizabeth Zara (henceforward known in the American vernacular as ‘Easy’) — are sent to pick up the pieces of the investigation, and before long they are on the trail of a fanatical Communist spymaster and a terrifying conspiracy to turn back the tide of European democracy.
With a tension-packed train journey across Europe and a denouement at the new Channel Tunnel, John Gardner shows why, as the Daily Telegraph said of an earlier novel, “Ian Fleming would not be displeased.”
UK First Edition Hodder & Stoughton Hardback
- Despite the UK publisher being “dead set against it,” John Gardner insisted that the AIDS epidemic be addressed in this Bond novel. Hence, James Bond practices “safe sex” for the first (and last) time.
- Gardner used the villain’s moniker, “the poison dwarf” for another character in Nobody Lives Forever, and also in one of his Boysie Oakes novels.
- John Gardner includes the word ‘death’ in every chapter title except for the last which is simply titled ‘R.I.P.’.
- James Bond is offered a knighthood at the end of this book (which he refuses).
- As a marketing afterthought, a blue sticker was affixed to all US Putnam hardcover editions announcing the book as a ” SUPER VALUE! Bond Is Back.”
- 1992: 1st British Hodder & Stoughton Hardback Edition
- 1992: 1st American Putnam Hardback Edition
- 1992: 1st American Bookclub Hardback Edition
- 1993: 1st British Coronet Paperback Edition
- 1993: 1st British Chivers Large Print Hardback Edition
- 1993: 1st American Berkley Paperback Edition
- 1994: 1st British Chivers Large Print Paperback Edition
Relationship to the film series
…no similarities between this book and the films, but isn’t it interesting that this book was published when EON was embroiled in legal issues over 007 and no film was being developed?
I just started Death Is Forever, which I find a very nice read. It’s more of a spy story then a Bond movie.
CBn Forum member chimera01
I like it, it’s not too bad considering there are more twists in the book than a pretzel factory. It has a good villain and enough action to keep the mind occupied, unlike Scorpius which seems to meander from time to time.
CBn Forum member Genrewriter
Oh look, there are some real people. Again. The Death Is Forever spider sandwich scene is satisfyingly nasty. Even if it is part of yet another long sequence in a hotel room. Interesting twist in Death Is Forever to have Bond completely fail in his mission. Only he comes back alive. OK, so he saves the world but that’s incidental. Quite a bit of whizzing about Europe in this, so it comes across as fast moving but it’s hard to remember any particular incident and in essence it’s a tired re-run of No Deals, Mr Bond. Ooh, there’s a traitor. Erm…hasn’t that happened before?
CBn Forum member Jim
I just re-read it, and I liked it. I liked the similarities to No Deals, Mr. Bond, and Bond was really clever in this one. Some of Gardner’s other ones, he’s getting bailed out all the time by other people, but not here. I love the way he killed Weisen, who is my favorite Gardner villain. He would have been a really fun ally of Bond’s, if written that way. He should have been introduced earlier in the book, he needed more “screen time”.
A couple of things, though. Is this where Gardner starts showing his age? I was really annoyed by yet another Sean Connery reference, and that whole business where Bond says he was once compared to Hoagy Carmichael.
The two times Bond’s love interests make him wear a condom, didn’t really bother me, it’s P.C. and all that, but it just seemed juvenile the way it was brought up.
I’m just fearful that Gardner is starting to show his age and I’ll be reading the ramblings of an old man.
CBn Forum member Jriv71
The second half of the John Gardner series of Bond novels is instead much more fun. Great stories like Win, Lose Or Die, Death Is Forever, The Man From Barbarossa and Never Send Flowers.
One of Gardners better ones actually…
CBn Forum member Kronsteen
Ahhh…here we have one of the higher points in the rollercoaster of highs and lows of the later books in the John Gardner era. Many fans seem to often compare this novel here to No Deals, Mr. Bond, which is somewhat less enjoyable to read compared to Death Is Forever in my opinion. I definitely recommend Gardner Bond fans to pick this one up.
CBn Forum member Qwerty
I have to say I prefer No Deals, Mr. Bond. I found this book to be nothing more than a rehash of No Deals, Mr. Bond, which is one of my favourite Gardner novels, it had the same basic plot, same type of characters, etc. And did anyone care when Easy dies?
CBn Forum member scaramanga
I found this novel to be an interesting read to say the least.
The plot was constantly changing and the characters were cofusing, each having about three names each, and each used after the other, so that was quite confusing.
It began slowely and only picked up slightly near the end, this was mainly due to the un-needed detail on every aspect of everything.
CBn Forum member Tehuti 004
I like it better than No Deals, Mr. Bond, but it’s not really one of my favorite Gardner novels.
CBn Forum member zencat
The Looking Back at John Gardner Series:
- Licence Renewed
- For Special Services
- Role Of Honour
- Nobody Lives Forever
- No Deals, Mr. Bond
- Licence To Kill
- Win, Lose Or Die
- The Man From Barbarossa
- Death Is Forever
- Never Send Flowers