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The Man with the Golden Gun is the thirteenth novel written by Ian Fleming, featuring the fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond. It was published posthumously in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape, in 1965. Despite being stylistically different from and less detailed than Fleming's other works, it was a bestseller for four months.

The novel was adapted in 1966 as a comic strip in the Daily Express newspaper, and in 1974 as the ninth film in the EON Productions James Bond series with Roger Moore playing Bond.

Plot summary

A year after James Bond disappeared during a mission in Japan, he is presumed dead. Then, a man claiming to be Bond appears in Londonmarker and demands to meet M. After much scrutinising and interrogation, the man's identity is confirmed, but during his debriefing interview with M, Bond tries to kill him with a cyanide pistol; the attempt fails. The British Secret Service soon learns that after destroying Blofeld's castle in Japan, Bond suffered a head injury and subsequent amnesia. Having lived as a Japanese fisherman for several months, Bond travelled north into the Soviet Unionmarker to learn his true identity. While there, he was brainwashed and assigned to kill M on returning to England.

Now deprogrammed, Bond is given a chance to prove his worth as a member of the 00 section following the assassination attempt. M assigns him to Jamaicamarker and the seemingly impossible mission of killing Francisco "Pistols" Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin who is believed to have killed several British secret agents. Scaramanga is also known as "The Man with the Golden Gun" because his weapon of choice is a gold plated .45 ACP Colt Single Action Army which fires silver jacketed solid gold bullets.

Bond locates Scaramanga in a Jamaican bordello, and manages to become Scaramanga's temporary personal assistant under the name of Mark Hazard. He learns that Scaramanga is involved with a hotel development on the island with a group of investors that consists of a syndicate of American gangsters and the KGBmarker. Scaramanga and the other investors are also engaged in a scheme to destabilize Western interests in the Caribbeanmarker's sugar industry and increase the value of the Cuban sugar crop. The group is also involved in running drugs into America, smuggling prostitutes from Mexicomarker into America, and operating casinos in Jamaica that will cause friction between tourists and the local people.

Bond discovers that he has an ally who is also working undercover at the half-built resort. Felix Leiter has been recalled to duty by the CIA and is working ostensibly as an electrical engineer while setting up bugs in Scaramanga's meeting room.

Scaramanga tells Bond to control the other gangsters in case things turn nasty and guard the door while he is meeting privately with individual "investors." However, while eavesdropping on one of Scaramanga's meetings, Bond learns that Scaramanga plans to eliminate "Mark Hazard" when the weekend is over.

Bond's identity is confirmed by the KGB agent, and Scaramanga makes new plans to entertain the gangsters and the KGB man by killing Bond while they are riding a sight-seeing train to a marina. However, Bond manages to turn the tables on Scaramanga, and with the help of Felix Leiter (who smuggled himself aboard the train) kill most of the conspirators.

Scaramanga escapes, wounded, into the swamps, where Bond pursues him. Bond finds Scaramanga and holds him at gunpoint while trying to get up the nerve to shoot and kill his wounded enemy. When he asks Scaramanga if he has any last words, a message to be given to someone, or someone he wants Bond to "look after," Scaramanga laughs and asks Bond if he plans to give him his gun and leave him alone so that he can kill himself in private. Scaramanga adds that if Bond actually did that he would crawl after Bond and kill him with his own gun.

However, when Bond tells Scaramanga that the time has come, Scaramanga asks for the opportunity as a Catholic to say a final prayer before he is killed. Bond allows him to do this, and Scaramanga lulls Bonds off-guard with a lengthy prayer and then shoots him with a golden derringer he had hidden behind his neck. Bond is hit but returns fire and shoots Scaramanga several times—killing him at last.

Scaramanga's bullet had been "dipped" in snake venom so that even a slight wound would be fatal, but a doctor recognizes the symptoms of snakebite and administers antivenom in time to save Bond (Leiter is also injured in the process of killing the gangsters but is also found in time and nursed back to health).

Bond is offered a knighthood for his achievement. Bond already has CMG for past and present services to Britain, but says that he does not wish to become a public figure, so he refuses it.

The story ends with Bond enjoying the company of Mary Goodnight but with the realization that he will never be able to settle down with one woman for very long.


2004 Penguin Books paperback edition.

  • James Bond - A British Secret Service agent. He is assigned to track and kill KGB's assassin Francisco 'Pistols' Scaramanga.

  • M - The head of the British Secret Service who sends Bond on his mission. He is frequently helped by his secretary Miss Moneypenny and Chief of Staff Bill Tanner. For the first time his full name, Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, is revealed.

  • Felix Leiter - An agent of the CIA. He is sent to spy on Scaramanga by posing as a hotel manager.

  • Mary Goodnight - James Bond's secretary, enlisted for assistance when he is sent to the Caribbean to find Scaramanga.

Reception and controversy

The Sunday Telegraph praised the novel, saying "Fleming keeps you riveted." However, the New Statesman called it "a sadly empty tale, empty of the interests and effects that for better or worse, Ian Fleming made his own."

The novel has been a speculative subject since its publication in 1965, a year after Fleming's death. Since Fleming died before its publication, the novel was rumored to be edited and finished by other writers before its publication. Kingsley Amis often has received credit for either completing or editing the novel, but that has been denied by several sources, including Andrew Lycett in the biography Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, claiming that Fleming had finished it and it was subsequently read and edited only by Fleming's editor William Plomer. John Cork, the co-author of James Bond: The Legacy also claims that the novel was complete and he had seen the original, unedited typescript , although he admits Amis had also read it and subsequently offered ideas that went unimplemented. The introduction to the Titan Books reprint edition of the Colonel Sun comic strip explicitly describes the Golden Gun manuscript as unfinished at Fleming's death, crediting Plomer with polishing it to publication standard; also, the book supports Cork's account that Amis's involvement was restricted to unimplemented manuscript suggestions. That Fleming reportedly was writing another James Bond short story at the time of his death (the "Zographos" excerpt which can be found in John Pearson's The Life of Ian Fleming) adds credence to the speculation that the novel was complete. Fleming wrote to his editor William Plomer regarding the completed manuscript, "This is, alas, the last Bond and, again alas, I mean it, for I really have run out of both puff and zest." Dissatisfied with the manuscript, Fleming hoped to rework it when he returned to Jamaica the following spring.


The comic The Man with the Golden Gun.
In 1974, EON Productions made a film based on the novel. In the film, Mary Goodnight is kidnapped, and also provides comic relief. Scaramanga's domicile changed from Cuba to China. Accordingly, the character of Felix Leiter was excluded while Nick-Nack, Andrea Anders and Hai Fat were added. Bond's attempt to kill M at the novel's beginning was excluded from the film. Also, the film's story has nothing to do with the sugar industry as in the novel but features a plot about solar lasers and circuitry as the villain's main agenda. In the film, Scaramanga fired a special gold plated gun which broke down into a pen, cigarette case, lighter and cuff link. This gun fired 4.2mm (slightly smaller than .17 Caliber), solid gold bullets.

The novel was adapted as a daily comic strip which was published in the British Daily Express newspaper and syndicated around the world. The adaptation ran from 10 January to 10 September 1966. The adaptation was written by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak. The strip was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s and again in 2004 as part of The Man with the Golden Gun anthology that also includes The Living Daylights.

This novel was also published in serial form by Playboy magazine from April through July 1965.

Publication history

The following are the publications of The Man with the Golden Gun.

  • London, Jonathan Cape, First British edition: 1st printing: 1 April 1965, 2nd printing: May 1965, 3rd printing: June 1965.
  • London: Jonathan Cape. 4th printing: 1971;
  • London: Jonathan Cape. 5th printing: 1974;
  • London: Jonathan Cape. 6th printing: 1979.
  • England: Viking/Penguin 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-670-91040-6

  • London: Pan Books, 1st printing: 1966; 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th printings: 1967; 6th and 7th printings: 1968; 8th printing: 1969.
  • London: Pan Books, 9th printing: 1970; 10th printing: 1972; 11th and 12th printings: 1973.
  • London: Pan. 13th printing: 1974; 14th printing: 1976. ISBN 0-330-10527-2
  • St. Albans [Hertford]: Triad/Panther. 1st printing: 1978. ISBN 0-586-04522-8
  • London: Triad/Granada. 2nd printing: 1980; 3rd printing: 1982. ISBN 0-586-04522-8
  • London: Triad/Granada 4th printing: 1983. ISBN 0-586-04522-8
  • London: Triad/Panther/Granada. 5th printing: 1984. ISBN 0-586-04522-8
  • Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. 1st printing: February 1989. ISBN 0-340-42571-7
  • Sevenoaks [Kent]: Coronet. 4th printing ISBN 0-340-42571-7
  • London: Penguin. 4 April 2002. ISBN 0-14-100289-1
  • Somerset [England]: Transaction. Large print edition. September 1999. ISBN 0765806541
  • England: Nelson Thomes. Children’s edition. 1st printing: December 1976. ISBN 0-7487-0354-3


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