After his successful comeback in License Renewed and For Special Services, John Gardner's James Bond returned in his third adventure, Icebreaker. The book was first published in the U.S. by Putnam in late April 1983 (I've never been able to nail down the exact date). It was released in the UK by Jonathan Cape on July 7, 1983.
In Icebreaker James Bond is dispatched by M to Northern Finland where he must join a team of agents from the CIA, Mossad, and the KGB. Their mission is to discover whether a Neo-Nazi terrorist organization is stock piling and distribution weapons from within the Arctic Circle. Matters get quickly out of hand and Bond finds himself battling terrorists and his own partners in the frozen forests of Lapland. Ultimately 007 faces off with the terrorist mastermind, Count Konrad von Gloda, inside his massive bunker lair, the Ice Palace.
For me, Icebreaker was that magic #3. It was a bold departure from Gardner's more movie formula-based first two books and was firmly rooted in the world of the literary James Bond. One could not picture Roger Moore in Icebreaker. The book also introduced, for better or worse, hallmarks of the Gardner era, such a double and triple crosses. Icebreaker is a true espionage tale with fresh locations (Libya, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Lapland, Arctic Russia), great characters, a fiendish torture, and one of the best titles ever. For many years Gardner named it as his favorite book. It's still my favorite.
Interestingly, while Icebreaker was far removed from the films in 1983 (the year of Octopussy), I think it's now the Gardner book that is most suited to the more realistic Daniel Craig era. Sure, the Neo-Nazi plot would need to be updated (not too difficult as it's really about terrorists), but it seems to me the idea of Bond being forced, reluctantly, to work as the part of a team is a good next step for Craig's Bond. After Skyfall, Craig's Bond is now firmly 007. But can he tamp down his urge to always go solo and work with agents who might not share his worldview? Can he trust? Should he trust? That is the core of what Icebreaker sets up and explores.
|Icebreraker U.S. and UK first editions.|
Icebreaker was recently republished in new paperback editions from Orion in the UK and Pegasus in the U.S. I'd say this is one definitely worth revisiting in its anniversary year.