Role of Honour (published in American editions as Role of Honor), first published in 1984, was the fourth novel by John Gardner featuring Ian Fleming's secret agent, James Bond. Carrying the Glidrose Publications copyright, it was first published in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape and in the United States by Putnam.
After receiving a large inheritance, James Bond 007 is accused of improprieties and drummed out of the British Secret Service. Disgusted with his former employers, Bond places his services on the open market, where he later attracts the attention of representatives of SPECTRE who are quite willing to put their one-time enemy on their payroll.
Prior to joinng up, Bond spends a month in Monte Carlo with Miss 'Percy' Proud, a CIA agent who teaches him everything she knows about programming languages and computers in general. This background allows Bond to attract Jay Autem Holy, an agent of SPECTRE who left The Pentagon, faked his death, and later started a computer game company that creates simulations based on real-life battles and wars.
Bond's allegiance to SPECTRE is periodically questioned throughout the novel, even at one point going so far as to send Bond to a terrorist training camp (known as "Erewhon") to see if he has 'the right stuff'. Proving his worth, Bond becomes involved in a plot to destabilise the Soviet Union and the United States, by forcing them to rid the world of their nuclear weapons.
What SPECTRE leaders Tamil Rahani and Dr. Jay Autem Holy suspect, but never fully realise is that Bond's resignation is false. Along with Bond, the Secret Service plays a vital role in foiling SPECTRE; however, Rahani, the current leader of SPECTRE is able to escape Bond's clutches by parachuting out of an airship over Switzerland.
- Bond purchases a brand new British racing green Bentley Mulsanne Turbo with magnolia interior. Likewise with the Silver Beast, Bond had CCS outfit the car with a long-range telephone and a hidden weapon compartment. Bentley had apparently requested that Gardner not oufit the car with any gadgets other than the telephone.
- Gardner was prevented from having a scene in which Bond squares off on a computer game simulation against the novel's villain Jay Autem Holy because of a similar scene in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again. Bond was supposed to be playing a simulation of "The Battle of Waterloo"; however, this was changed to a game based on "The Battle of Bunker Hill". Interestingly, the Battle of Waterloo would later play a part in the official 1987 Bond film, The Living Daylights.
- Whether intentional or not, Role of Honour shares a number of similar scenes with the 1985 official Bond film, A View to a Kill. For instance, both stories heavily involve the use of computers and microprocessors, and both have their climax take place in an airship over a city.
- With this novel, Gardner's Bond finally settles on a new sidearm — the ASP 9mm. Previous Gardner novels had seen Bond adopting a different pistol in each book.