Licence Renewed
Licence Renewed
Author: John Gardner
Cover artist: Richard Chopping
Published by: Jonathan Cape
Pages: 270
Release date: May, 1981
Alternate title: Meltdown
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Colonel Sun For Special Services

Licence Renewed, first published in 1981, is the first novel by John Gardner featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent, James Bond. It was the first James Bond novel since Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun in 1968. Carrying the Glidrose Publications copyright, it was first published in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape and in the United States by Richard Marek, a G. P. Putnam's Sons imprint.

The release of Licence Renewed successfully re-launched the literary Bond franchise. It was to be the first of 12 original Bond novels by Gardner until his retirement in 1996. The novel was initially titled Meltdown during the manuscript stage.


Bond is assigned to investigate one Dr. Anton Murik, a brilliant nuclear physicist who is thought to have been having meetings with a terrorist named Franco. Franco is identified and tracked by MI5 to a village in Scotland called Murcaldy. Since Murcaldy is outside of MI6's jurisdiction, the Director-General of MI5, Richard Duggan requests that M send Bond to survey Murik. Relying on information that MI5 did not have, M changes Bond's assignment to instead infiltrate Murik's Scottish castle and gain Murik's confidence.

Upon arriving in Scotland, Bond arranges a coincidental meeting with Murik at the Ascot Racecourse. There, Murik wins the Ascot Gold Cup with his horse, China Blue. Under the identity of a mercenary-for-hire, Murik invites Bond to his castle to participate in the Highland Games at his castle.

That night, Bond is caught spying on the castle with equipment from Q'ute by strongman Caber, Murik's personal bodyguard. Mary Jane Mashkin notices Bond, and has him enter the castle. After having dinner, Bond listens on a conservation between Murik and Franco discussing their plans through a counter surveillance receiver through a bug in Murik's study room.

Shortly after Mary Jane Mashkin leaves, Lavender Peacock enters the room. There, she asks for Bond to call her by her nickname, "Dilly", in reference to a song, "Lavender-blue, dilly-dilly...". Peacock strikes up a conservation with Bond about Murik hiring people "to do the dirty work", and putting Bond at risk. She later changes the subject to how she brings trouble on people because she is "beyond salvation". Eventually, she pleads for Bond to help her escape Murik Castle which she feels imprisoned to. Bond eventually agrees, and she leaves the room.

The next morning, after Bond has learnt all about Murik's Operation Meltdown, Bond participates in the local Highland Games, where he defeats Caber. Further receiving Murik's confidence and respect. Murik then assigns Bond to kill Franco for a sum of £50,000.

Franco in turn has been tasked by Murik to kill his ward, Lavender Peacock because she was the true heir to the title of Laird and the Murik fortune, which could only be proved by secret documents Anton kept in a hidden safe within his castle. At a fashion show in the Palais des rois de Majorque, Bond kills Franco, who accidentally shoots a poisonous gelatin capsule at Mary Jane intended for Lavender.

Licence Renewed scene

Murik's helicopter, moments before it is shot down.

Murik captures Bond and shackle's him aboard his C-14 Starlifter, Murik, disguising his voice, broadcasts his message that unless the governments of Britain, France, West and East Germany, and the United States pay a ransom of $50 billion in cut gem diamonds and give the codeword, six nuclear reactor power plants will be seized by terrorist squads. Bond manages to unleash himself, and knocks out Murik. He calls off the terrorist squads cleverly guessing the codename as "Lock", Murick's nickname. However, Murik managed to escape the plane.

Back at Regent's Park, Bond theorizes that Murik is returning to his castle to destroy the documents that validate Lavender as the true Laird. Returning to Murik Castle, Bond and Bill Tanner order an escaping Murik to surrender, but he is shot down in his helicopter with a Gyrojet pistol.