Role Of Honour (1984) (USA: Role Of Honor)

Author: John Gardner
Published: September 1984
MI6 Rating:

Data Stream
Villains: Tamil Rahani of SPECTRE, Dr Jay Autem Holy, Simon, General Rolling Joe Zwingli, Dazzle
Plot: SPECTRE plan to disarm U.S. and Russian nuclear weaponry by using a computerized scheme with the "assistance" of James Bond.
Bond Girls: Persephone ‘Percy’ Proud, Cindy Chalmer, Freddie Fortune
Allies: Peter Amadeus
Locations: London, Monte Carlo, Oxfordshire, Middle East, Berne, Lake Geneva.
Highlights: Training camp scene; Finale in the airship

Capsule Synopsis
Abandoning his 007 status, James Bond resigns from the service and heads for Monte Carlo, in search of a new role of honour. But he quickly finds himself embroiled with a computer wizard absconding from the Pentagon and a sinister mercenary army. (1993 Coronet paperback)
Above: British 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback.

Official Blurb (First Edition USA Hardback)
In John gardner's most exciting adventure yet, James Bond abandons his 007 status, resigns from the Service, and heads south for Monte Carlo in his new bentley Mulsanne Turbo, in search for a new role of honor.
So beings the most ingenious and deadly mission James Bond has ever undertaken in his illustrious career. For whatever M and Bond knew, in private, the world intelligence agencies soon know it too: James Bond is for hire, to the highest bidder. So does a man, long presumed dead, who was once America's foremost military computer expert. So does an American war hero, also presumed dead, General Rolling Joe Zwingli. And one Tamil Rahani, an Arab electronics millionaire of shadowy background. And last, like a hideous phoenix rising from the infernal ashes, a criminal organization known only by its initials...
Is it conceivable? James Bond in the employ of SPECTRE?
In the service of his new masters Bond must pass a series of diabolical tests, some computerized and some (when has it been otherwise for our hero?) in the form of the most beguiling group of sirens he has encountered since the halcyon days of Pussy Galore and Honeychile Rider. Finally, in the unlikely setting of a Goodyear blimp drifting over the city of Geneva, Switzerland, where a world-powers conference unwittingly holds the fate of humanity in its grasp, James Bond and his dread foes meet at last in their deadliest confrontation.
A high-tech, high-tension thriller, Role of Honor fully lives up to the standard John Gardner has set in his previous James Bond titles: License Renewed, For Special Services, and Icebreaker.

Official Blurb (First Edition UK Hardback)
James Bond abandons his 007 status, resigns from the Service, and heads south for monte Carlo in his new Bentley Mulsanne Turbo in search of a new role of honour, What brings about this extraordinary change of fortune in the life of the most celebrated blunt instrument the British Government has ever wielded? What unthinkable consequences will it have in the international game of cat-and-mouse played out so the rest of us can sleep safe in our beds? Bond's legacy from his Uncle Bruce in Australia specifically requires him to spend he first £100,000 frivolously, on any sort of riotous living of his choice, within a given time. The choice is exercised partly by renewal of Bond's passion for that prince of cars, the Bentley. His departure from the Service requires rather more explanation. Questions in the House are all revolved round a possible security leak, with Her Majesty's Opposition accusing the Minister of a cover-up. Bond's grievance is less that he should come under suspicion than that his honour is impeached by the manner in which the truth is exposed.
John Gardner's fiendish new plot embroils Bond with a computer wizard absconding rom his duties at the Pentagon, a sinister mercenary army training in secret for an audacious terrorist operation, and a hare-brained flight over Geneva while Summit Peace Talks are in progress there, before honour is fully restored.

Chapter Listing

  1. Robbery with Violets
  2. Outer Darkness (A Frivolous and Extravagant Manner)
  3. Riotous Living (Outer Darkness)
  4. Proud Percy
  5. War Game (Teacher's Pet)
  6. Holy Code
  7. Rolling Home
  8. The Bull
  9. Inside Endor (Endor Games)
  10. Erewhon
  11. Terror for Hire
  12. Return to Sender
  13. The Numbers Racket
  14. Bunker's Hill
  15. The Balloon Game
  16. Epoc (EPOC)
  17. Down Escalator
  18. The Magic Carpet
  19. Ploughshare
  20. End of the Affair

Note: American variations on a chapter title are given in brackets.


Top Left: American 1st edition Putnam hardback. Top Right: American 1st edition Berkley paperback. Bottom Left: Japanese paperback. Bottom Right: British reprint Coronet paperback.

"Rolling Home... By the light of the silvery moon. I have two pence to lend. And twopence to spend. And twopence to send home to..." His voice trailed off. He could not bring himself to sing the last line, about sending money home to his wife. For the ghost of his dead wife Tracy still haunted him, even though he consciously missed Percy Proud’s clear mind and agile, beautiful body. Weakness he chided himself. He was trained as a loner, one who acted without others, one who relied on herself. Yet he did miss her.

A few elements of "Role Of Honour"s plot overlap with the movie "A View To A Kill" made a year later in 1985. The villain is obsessed by technology and computers as a means for gaining power, and the climatic finale also takes place in a blimp airship. Bond resigning from MI6 is a device used in the movie "Licence To Kill" in 1989.


September - 1st edition Putnam hardback (USA)
October - 1st edition Jonathan Cape hardback (UK)


May - 1st edition Berkley paperback (USA)
1st edition Coronet paperback (UK)
1st edition G.K. Hall large print hardback (USA)

1987 July - 1st edition Charter paperback (USA)
1993 July - Reprint Coronet paperback (UK)

Bond inherits a large legacy from his uncle (although aficionados will point out that in You Only Live Twice it is declared that Bond had no living relatives - this is a rare lax from Gardner whose books usually contain less continuity errors than those of Fleming) and this is used as an excuse for him to go undercover, leaving the Service and operating freelance. M wants Bond to investigate computer expert Dr Jay Autem Holy, who supposedly died in a plane crash alongside mercenary soldier Joe Zwingli. But Holy’s widow, CIA agent Persephone ‘Percy’ Proud, believes that Professor Jason St John-Finnes is actually Holy, and is responsible for a series of computer crimes.

After a briefing about computer programming, Bond meets St John-Finnes, his wife Dazzle, and two other programmers - CIA’s Cindy Chalmers and Peter Amadeus - over lunch. Cindy gives Bond evidence of St John Finnes’ involvement in the crimes and gives details of the ‘Balloon Game’, his forthcoming operation. 007 then passes a series of tests to misle his way into St John Finnes’ confidence, and learns that the crimes are to provide funds for his employer SPECTRE. The next plan is to use the airship to simulate signals to a satellite from military leaders, and by using the American and Russian frequencies disarm the World. Bond is aboard the airship, but when Tamil Rahani, another mercenary, is revealed as the new leader of SPECTRE, the mission is messed up. 007 and Percy Proud escape together.