BY ROYAL COMMAND is the fifth in Charlie Higson’s series about the youthful James Bond and his days at Eton.
The young James was raised by his Aunt Charmian after his parents died in a mountain climbing accident. He enters Eton, the exclusive boy’s school, when he’s thirteen. The series is about his adventures there and, being James Bond, of course these aren’t the sort that normal boys have. It also highlights the skills he’s learning that will serve him in good stead when he becomes that superspy we all know and love.
Higson’s Bond is the literary Bond and not the spy from the movies. These books use Fleming’s back story, such as it was, and has the boy attending Eton during the pre-WWII era, the thirties.
In this one, James is learning to ski in Austria when one of the boys, a stuffed shirt that few like, gets lost as they are making their way down the mountain in a storm, getting separated from the instructor and the rest of the group. Though he doesn’t like the boy, Bond follows and ends up saving him after injuries disable the boy even more.
This leads to a recovery stay at a hospital where Bond stumbles into a burn unit and falls into far reaching plot that involves an old enemy, though he doesn’t realize it at the time.
Back at Eton, said plot seems to involve an Irish gardener, a comely young house maid Bond falls for, and a plan to kill King George when he visits the school during a holiday. He even meets a young girl that will grow up to be the Queen of England.
I’ve enjoyed these books and this seems to be the last one. When they started a few years back, there was supposed to be six. But in the acknowledgments in the back, Higson states that this brings to a close this chapter of Bond’s life. Bond is out of Eton and is moving to another school, but the groundwork has already been laid for his career as a spy.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the next books may cover his adventures in WWII, as near the end, they mention to him a coming war that seems to be unavoidable.
I’m not sure why US publishers are so slow putting out these books. They just published the third last spring and this, the fifth, came out this month in Great Britain(I order my copies from Amazon.UK).