GoldenEye was the second and last Bond film to be adapted as a novel by then-current Bond novelist John Gardner. GoldenEye is based upon the screenplay by Bruce Feirstein and Jeffrey Caine. The book follows the movie storyline fairly closely, however Gardner maintained a rather violent sequence prior to the opening bungee jump in which Bond wipes out a group of Russian guards cut from the film, although the popular video game based on the film featured it also.
The book was Gardner's penultimate Bond novel; after one more entry in the series (COLD), Gardner would retire from chronicling the adventures of 007. Raymond Benson would take over the series and also write the novelisations for the remaining three Brosnan Bond films, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
James Bond awoke in 1986 Russia in the forest surrounding a dam near the port at Archangel ready to begin his part in Operation Cowslip. He and Alec Trevelyan, Agent 006, were assigned to infiltrate a suspected chemical weapons plant in the dam. He then stalked to the bottom and climbed up a narrow ladder built into its surface and into a guard quarters on top. After eliminating the guards, Bond performed a bungee jump to the base where he found an open maintenance shaft which he climbed down into a small room where he met up with 006. The two then made their way through the facility placing explosives until Trevelyan was captured by Admiral Arkady Ourumov. Bond survived the encounter by hiding behind a cart of chemicals, and escaped the facility after detonating the charges by stealing a plane.
Nine years later, in the summer of 1995, Bond was in Monte Carlo for his five-year evaluation, proctored by a specialist named Caroline. During a drive on the Grand Corniche, Bond entered a street race with a woman in a yellow Ferrari 355. Caroline demanded that he stop, and after saying goodbye to her at the Nice airport, went into one of the many Casinos and found the girl from the Ferrari at the Baccarat table. After winning the hand, he found that she was a Georgian named Xenia Onatopp. She left with an American Naval Rear Admiral named Chuck Farrel, and Bond watched as they boarded a yacht called the Manticore. Bond then took a small boat out and boarded the yacht to find Farrel murdered, before realizing that the incoming Tigre helicopter, France's premiere prototype flying machine, was in danger. He crept to the deck and was faced with two ex-KGB thugs that he nicknamed "Big Muscle" and "Tub 'o Lard". He brutally defeated them before taking a small boat out to another craft in the water on which the Tigre had just landed. He made his way on to the launch pad, and noticed that despite the helicopter's pilots being listed as male, Bond recognized the cat-like walk of Xenia Onatopp, and called out that the pilots were impostors, but was tackled to the ground.
He was released after revealing his rank, and voiced his suspicions of the Janus Crime Syndicate's involvement to the new M. She was cynical, but was forced to accept Bond's theory when Miss Moneypenny informed them that the French air force had found the missing Tigre.
Elsewhere, Xenia Onatopp and her superior General Ourumov stole the GoldenEye weapon from the Severnaya facility before setting the weapon to destroy it. However, one of the Technicians, named Natalya Simonova, escaped the explosion by stumbling upon a team of dogs on a sled, whose driver had died in a crash shortly before Onatopp and Ourumov arrived.
Bond, M, and Bill Tanner watched the destruction of Severnaya on a live satellite feed, and noticed that one survivor had escaped the facility. Bond was then sent on Assignment GoldenEye to locate the survivor and question her.
Elsewhere, Viktor Mishkin, the Russian Minister of Defense held a meeting with General Ourumov about the misfire of the GoldenEye weapon. Much to the General's surprise, Mishkin reported that two technicians had gone missing. The General's ignorance of the matter made Mishkin doubtful of Ourumov's story that the attack had been carried out by Siberian separatists. Ourumov then set Boris Grishenko to the task of locating his former coworker.
Bond then met up with his American contact Jack Wade who took him on a tour of St. Petersburg and showed him the way to Janus' biggest competition: Valentin Zukovsky. After finding his ex-KGB rival, Bond was knocked out and taken to Zukovsky's office where they made a deal in which Bond would save a shipment of explosives for Zukovsky, and he would help Bond set a trap for Janus. Instead of coming in person, Janus sent Xenia Onatopp instead. Bond was able to capture her, and forced her to lead him to Janus, who turned out to be his old friend Alec Trevelyan: 006. Bond almost immediately asked him why he had defected, and Alec retorted that he saw no future as a "worker ant", and went freelance. Bond then asked whether or not his being of Linez Cossack descent had anything to do with his decision. Alec confirmed his suspicion before a sniper hit Bond in the chest with a tranquilizer. He awoke in the cockpit of the Tigre, with Natalya Simonova begging him to wake up. He noticed that he was tied up, and began to try switches with his face before noticing a countdown on the console. When it reached zero, two rockets shot out of the helicopter and began to make their way back toward it. Bond then asked Simonova to locate the eject button, and he pressed it with his right temple. They then shot into the air, and were briefly engulfed by the explosion before landing. The ejection and blast having loosened his ropes, Bond helped Simonova out of the cockpit before they were captured by the Russian government. They were then interrogated by Viktor Mishkin, who was then murdered by Ourumov who who began to pursue Bond and Natalya. They tried to escape through the National Archives, but Natalya was caught in the process.
Bond jumped out of a window in the archives to escape, and managed to commandeer a T55 tank to pursue Ourumov in. He chased Ourumov's car through St. Petersburg before discovering that he was heading for the trainyard, and continued at a steady pace. James then situated his tank in a tunnel that the train was approaching, and destroyed the engine. He then climbed aboard and took Trevelyan and Onatopp prisoner. Alec then offered to give him Natalya, and escaped after killing General Ourumov who had brought her in. Natalya then learned their destination by sending a computer spike to Boris Grishenko before Bond but through the floor with a laser in his watch and they escaped the train car before it exploded. Bond and Natalya then walked to a restaraunt where they called Jack Wade, Who was able to disguise them and send them to Puerto Rico to take down Janus. They waited in a CIA safehouse before a plane came for them to fly to Cuba. While over the jungle, they discovered a circular lake out of which came a missile that shot them down.
No sooner had they escaped the wreckage, than did Xenia Onatopp descend upon them on a line from a helicopter. She tried to kill Bond, but He was able to shoot the helicopter off balance, causing her to be crushed between two tree branches. They then began to climb up the satellite dish that had risen out of the water, but were discovered by Alec Trevelyan on security cameras. Bond and Natalya broke into the control room, and Bond was captured while Natalya broke into the mainframe computer room and broke the GoldenEye's navigation system. She was captured, but the damage she had inflicted was enough to stall the satellite. Boris Grishenko, who had taken Bond's explosive pen, accidentally armed it, and Bond kicked it into the air where it exploded, causing several fuel tanks from an earlier firefight with Bond to do the same. Bond then began climbing the dish and put a mine in its hydraulics that allowed it to re-position, and fought with Alec in the maintenance room before the mine exploded causing him to fall out of a hatch in the floor. Bond allowed him to fall, and was rescued by Natalya in a helicopter. they then reunited in a jungle clearing, surrounded by Jack Wade and the United States Marines, who retreated to leave the couple in peace.
Differences from film
- The book features 006 and 007 receiving their briefing from the previous M, Admiral Sir Miles Messervy, before the mission to the chemical weapons factory. If this is counted as part of continuity, it would seem to confirm that the M played by Robert Brown is the same character played by Bernard Lee.
- Xenia drives a yellow Ferrari in Monte Carlo, not a red one.
- Chuck Farrel is an American, not a Canadian. He also holds the lower rank of Rear Admiral, rather than an Admiral as in the film.
- Bill Tanner's title was revealed to have been changed by the new M from Chief-of-Staff to "Senior Analyst".
- When breaking into his nightclub, Valentin Zukovsky observes Bond on security cameras and was able to anticipate his arrival.
- Dmitri Mishkin's first name is changed to Viktor.
- A scene is added between the escape from the train and the trip to Cuba were Bond and Natalya sleep overnight in a St. Petersburg motel and are smuggled out of Russia the next day by Jack Wade.
- GoldenEye holds many references to Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Chuck Farrel is described as looking similar to Nicholas, Viktor Mishkin works in Nicholas' old palace, James Bond runs over a statue of Czar Nicholas in St. Petersburg, and Alec Trevelyan lives in a replica of his train car.
- Bond makes reference to a previous adventure in which an unnamed villain left an unnamed Bond Girl was left without use of her legs.