SilverFin is the first novel in the Young Bond series that depicts Ian Fleming's superspy James Bond as a teenager in the 1930s. It was written by Charlie Higson and released in the UK on March 3, 2005 by Puffin Books in conjunction with a large marketing campaign; a Canadian release of the same edition occurred in late March. The U.S. edition was released on April 27, 2005 by Miramax Books.
SilverFin's success spawned a mobile game published by PlayerOne on January 5, 2006 in conjunction with the release of the second novel in the Young Bond series, Blood Fever. The game features 3 locations, 15 levels, and a variety of enemies that the player must avoid. A graphic novel adaptation of SilverFin is still in the works and set for a release in 2006.
Because Ian Fleming never explicitly said when James Bond was born, Ian Fleming Publications and Charlie Higson chose the year 1920 as his birth year. SilverFin takes place in 1933.
SilverFin is broken up into three parts in addition to a prologue. During the prologue a red headed kid named Alfie Kelly is mysteriously killed after attempting to fish at Loch Silverfin, a lake in Scotland.
The first part of the book chronicles Bond's starting attendance at Eton College. There he meets Pritpal, a boy from India and the son of a maharajah. The two become good friends and live together in the dorms. Bond also comes into contact with George Hellebore, an American bully two years older than James. George's father, Lord Randolph Hellebore is an armament dealer who sold weapons to various countries after World War I. It's later revealed that Lord Randolph knew Bond's father, Andrew Bond, who also sold arms for a company named Vicker. Lord Randolph arrives at Eton to direct and host a tournament cup ("Hellebore Cup") for the boys. The cup is broken up into three competitions; shooting, swimming, and running. Bond places seventh in shooting, third in his heat as a swimming (which wasn't good enough to qualify for the final race), and first in cross country running. During the running sequence Lord Randolph attempted to help his son cheat so that he could win the tournament, however, Bond after watching George take a shortcut a first time decided to follow George the next time, which allowed Bond to take first place being the superior runner. Because Bond won first in running George Hellebore won second place in the cup overall, which was unacceptable by his father's standards.
The second part of the novel details Bond's Easter break. James travels to Scotland to meet up with his Aunt Charmain who is visiting Bond's ailing uncle, Max. Both Charmain and Max are siblings of Bond's father, Andrew. It's also in this part of the novel that Bond reveals the details of his parents death that were first mentioned in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice. While traveling to Scotland, Bond befriends an older boy named "Red" Kelly who is traveling to the same place in search for his missing cousin, Alfie. While staying at his Uncle's place Bond learns how to drive his Uncle's car and finds out that his Uncle was a spy during World War I. Bond also learns that Lord Randolph Hellebore owns a large stretch of land nearby that includes Loch Silverfin. He later meets back up with Red and ventures to Hellebore's estate where the two encounter Mike Moran ("the meatpacker"), a Pinkerton's detective from New York City sent to investigate Lord Randolph Hellebore at the behest of Hellebore's ex-wife who suspects Lord Randolph of having killed his brother, her lover, Algar. Days later the meatpacker goes missing and Bond along with Red infiltrate the Hellebore estate and finally attempt to gain access to the castle.
Prior to infiltrating the castle, Red fell out of a tree and broke his leg and was unable to continue on. James, however, climbed the tree and entered the castle. After snooping around Bond bumps his head and is captured. When Bond regains consciousness he is tied to a table and Lord Randolph begins to interrogate him. Hellebore explains to James that he and his brother set out to create better and stronger soldiers by manipulating the endocrine system. Because its difficult to find humans to test on, Algar tested the first "SilverFin serum" on himself. Initially it worked, however, it later failed and Algar was physically transformed into a half-man half-eel. Lord Randolph later perfected the serum and was able to turn it into a pill. The pill essentially acts a steroid making anyone who uses it more agile, stronger, etc. for a temporary set of time. Hellebore even tests this pill on his own son (James had actually witnessed this during the cross-country race). Lord Randolph reveals that he tested the SilverFin serum on Alfie Kelly, the boy whom Bond is searching for, however, Kelly couldn't handle it and died. Later Bond is drugged as well with the SilverFin serum and locked in a cell. Bond, however, escapes the cell and the estate only to return shortly later with George Hellbore as an ally to destroy Lord Randolph's lab. George has increasingly become upset with his dreadful father, his work, and secretly wishes to be with his mother more than anything. The two destroy the lab and are later confronted by Lord Randolph who intends to kill them both. He, however, is drowned by his brother, Algar, who Lord Randolph had imprisoned in the castle. Algar is also killed in the fight.
Bond collapses shortly after and for ten days goes unconscious due to the SilverFin serum, which doesn't appear to affect him after awakening. When Bond regains consciousness he learns that George moved back to America to be with his mother and that his Uncle Max had passed away.
- SilverFin begins with a similar opening to Ian Fleming's Casino Royale.
- Fleming: "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning"
- Higson: "The smell and noise and confusion of a hallway full of schoolboys can be quite awful at twenty past seven in the morning."
- Bond's Aunt Charmain drives an identical Bentley to one Bond drives in Casino Royale and in subsequent books. Bond also inherits his Uncles 1.5 liter Bamford & Martin Sidevalue Short Chassis Tourer. Bamford & Martin later became Aston Martin.
- During a scene at a circus the announcer presents "The Mighty Donovan". "The Mighty O'Donovan" is Donovan "Red" Grant's father, referenced in From Russia with Love.
- When released in Germany in August 2005, SilverFin was retitled "Silent Waters Are Deadly".
- A special signed limited edition hardcover was released exclusively at Waterstone's Bookstores in the UK on October 6, 2005.
- SilverFin is the only Young Bond novel to receive a graphic novel adaptation.
|Young Bond Series|
SilverFin (2005) -- Blood Fever (2006) -- Double or Die (2007) -- Hurricane Gold (2007) -- By Royal Command (2008) -- A Hard Man to Kill (2009)