19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The eighth book published in the 007 series is not a self-contained novel, but rather a collection of five short stories-two of which are kind of shoehorned in and aren't really typical Bond pieces. The first story, "From A View To A Kill", is a pretty decent little Cold War espionage piece. In a well-crafted set piece introduction, a dispatch rider from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers-Europe headquarters is ambushed and his documents stolen by Soviet spies. As a result of bureaucratic infighting (highly realistic, and doubtless drawn from Fleming's own intelligence experience), M sends Bond to try and figure out the security breakdown. It's a good tale, with an ingenious set of foes, probably the best story of the lot.
In "For Your Eyes Only", Bond enters highly murky waters by taking a more or less personal assignment from M to track down the killers of an old friend. It's a highly topical late '50s piece, involving a former Nazi as mastermind, and henchmen drawn from the ranks of Cuban dictator Battista. Interestingly (in hindsight), Bond expresses real sympathy with the rebel Castro's struggle! To act as M's executioner, Bond must travel to Canada and then sneak across the US border to operate in Vermont, which is kind of interesting. Things take a turn for the ridiculous when he stumbles across another revenge seeker, wielding a bow and arrow. The middle story, "Quantum of Solace" isn't a Bond story at all. Rather, it's a story of disaffected marriage told to Bond by his host after a rather boring dinner party. It's actually quite good, but has nothing to do with Bond.
"Risico" takes Bond back to action, and places him in Rome, where he is assigned to disrupt the flow of heroin into England. Fleming creates a rather prescient version of "The War on Drugs" by directing Bond to act against the insidious enemy of drugs. It's a classic Bond story in that Bond is easily duped, meets a pretty woman, meets an unlikely ally, and engages in near fatal gunplay. (And of course, at the end, the drug pipeline to England is all a nasty Soviet plot.) The final story, "The Hildebrand Rarity", is again, barely a Bond story-reducing him to observer status. He's not really on the job, but instead inexplicably agrees to hire himself out as a fishing expert in the Seychelles. Basically, he's just there as an audience for another marriage-gone-sour story. There is a villain, there is a murder, but Bond's not really a central character in it. The only real purpose to the story seems to be to allow Fleming to work out his own issues vis-à-vis American millionaires.
On the whole, these stories don't add much to the Bond canon. It would have been more interesting had Fleming chose to give us a taste of Bond's action in the Ardennes in WWII, or of the two assignments that led to his 00 designation (both of which are mentioned in Casino Royale). Still, the first story is worth a quick read, and "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico" will be of interest to those who love the film versions.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2008
To commemorate what would have been Ian Fleming's 100th birthday, on 5/28/08, and in anticipation of the latest James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," I recently reread Fleming's 1960 offering "For Your Eyes Only" for the first time in 30+ years. Of the 14 Fleming books featuring the exploits of the world's best-known secret agent, only "For Your Eyes Only" and the author's posthumous "Octopussy" (1966) consist of short stories, and the five collected in this earlier volume are a particularly good batch indeed. Two of them had been published previously; the other three were originals for this volume. All feature what is popularly known as the "Fleming Sweep"; the ability of the author, through fast pacing and a remarkable amount of picturesque detail, to make the reader accept even the most improbable of scenarios. And although two of these stories are not exactly espionage tales per se, they all provide insights into the fascinating character that is the literary 007.
The collection starts off strongly with "From a View to a Kill," in which Bond is given the task of finding out who has been murdering governmental dispatch riders on their motorbikes and stealing top-secret documents. The tale takes place in the suburbs of Paris and features some exciting gunplay at the conclusion, as well as an intriguing female ally, Mary Ann Russell, who we unfortunately do not get to know overly well.
In the title story, "For Your Eyes Only," Bond goes on a personal mission for his boss, M, whose old friends, the Havelocks, have just been killed by an ex-Gestapo agent named von Hammerstein and his Cuban hitmen. In the northernmost wilderness of Vermont, Bond finds these men in a mountain lodge, and (as in the 1981 film, which otherwise is completely different from this story) encounters the Havelocks' daughter, hot on the vengeance trail herself. The suspense quotient in this tale is very high, as Bond uses all his commando skills to sneak up on the villains' lair, and, as in the collection's first story, an explosive finale caps things off. A most satisfying tale indeed.
The book's third offering, "Quantum of Solace," originally appeared, of all places, in the May 1958 issue of "Cosmopolitan" magazine. This is a most unusual story in the Bond canon; indeed, it is one that is narrated TO Bond by the governor of Nassau, where 007 had just completed an assignment involving Cuban revolutionaries. The governor's after-dinner tale concerns a couple that he once knew in Bermuda society; one whose marriage went sour after infidelity, jealousy and bitterness poisoned it. It is a fascinating story of domestic hell, and one that makes Bond realize that his (previously regarded) exciting life may be a little dull when compared to some others'.
In "Risico," M, much against his will, condescends to involve his Secret Service in drug busting, and sends Bond on a mission to Rome and Venice to smash the heroin ring that had recently started to corrupt British youths. Bond encounters two rival smugglers in Rome, Kristatos and Colombo (again, two characters that feature in the "For Your Eyes Only" film, in a wholly different context), as well as the mysteriously motivated Austrian Lisl Baum (ditto), and participates in a ship raid on a drug-storage warehouse. The story is fast paced and generally exciting, and features an incredible amount of travelogue detail to add to its realism.
The collection concludes with "The Hildebrand Rarity," which initially appeared in the March 1960 issue of "Playboy." Like "Quantum of Solace," this is not really a secret agent tale, but rather an adventure that Bond is involved in, after investigating certain security arrangements in the Seychelle Islands for the British Admiralty. He and his friend Fidele Barbey (similar to the Quarrel character in 1958's "Dr. No") are hired by a boorish American millionaire, Milton Krest (a completely different character than the one portrayed by Anthony Zerbe in 1989's "Licence to Kill"), to go on an expedition to capture a rare tropical fish for the Smithsonian. Aboard Krest's luxury yacht, Bond meets Krest's attractive and abused wife and gets involved in a sudden murder. Fleming's love of scuba diving yields effective results here; his detailed descriptions of undersea life are both gorgeous and evocative. This story, although lacking any real action per se, features wonderful characters, great suspense and a nicely ambiguous conclusion. Like "Quantum," it is an unusual Bond story that succeeds marvelously, bringing to a conclusion this rather winning collection of (as the book's subtitle puts it) "Five Secret Exploits of James Bond." The book should serve as proof positive that novelist Ian Fleming had a sure hand with the shorter form as well. It is required reading, needless to say, for all fans of 007.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 1998
All five stories included are good, but somehow uneven, making the overall rating hard to decide between a 7 and a 10. The first one, "From a View to a Kill", is fast-paced, good writing with a thrilling episode showing 007 in a motorbike being consciuosly chased by a foreign assassin. The hidden base of the unnamed enemies is another preview of the ellaborate headquarters Bond nemesis would use in the films. M is not present this time. This title was cut to "A View to a Kill" for the film, which resembles nothing of this compact short story. The title adventure is much more insightful, making one sweat with 007 as he approaches Gonzales place in the forest ready to shoot the man. The license to kill is more than justified by this tale only. Good heroine. "Quantum of Solace" is one of the strangest Bond episodes, actually being a story told to 007 in which he hasn't anything to do with. Bond's mission is interesting but put by Fleming in a single paragraph. It's the story of a married couple that makes this episode, and it's excellent. Really! It shows Fleming no short than in Somerset Maugham's level, with a lesson not of moral but of life (and leaving 007 questioning about HIS life). A jewel distant of the Bond canon, even more than "The Spy Who Loved Me". "Risico" is excellent Bond in a more traditional way. It's an adventure set in Italy and involving drug smugglers, with a terrific and human villain named Kristatos and an equally terrific and human ally named Colombo. The beach fight, the minefield run and the table-recorder are pure inspiration. The final story, "The Hildebrandt Rarity", is another off-the-track Bond, this time with a villain out of everyday life. Millionaire Milton Krest is nasty in the real sense. The story ends with a question mark about who killed the bastard (I guess Krest wife did it). Fleming is again king of the undersea realms, making us sad for the fishes and other species killed by Krest's venom in order to catch the red-and-black fish that gives its name to the title. An excellent, different collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For those who have made their way through the first seven James Bond books, the eighth book in the series, For Your Eyes Only, is a bit of a change-of-pace, a collection of five short stories. Not only are these stories shorter, they are also simpler, with no grand villains or complicated plots. For those familiar with the movies, two of the stories would, at least nominally inspire movies; the titles of the other three tales would be less familiar.
Three of the stories are typical spy type tales. The first story, A View to a Kill, opens with the murder of a courier in France carrying valuable information for NATO. Bond is in the neighborhood and recruited to assist in the investigation and uses his skills to outshine the allied intelligence agencies. The second story, For Your Eyes Only has Bond planning an assassination of a Cuban/German thug who killed a couple who happened to be friends of M's. Things get more interesting when the couple's daughter has her own plans for vengeance. The fourth story, Risico, puts Bond in the middle of a feud between two smugglers, forcing him to join up with the lesser of two evils.
The out-of-the-ordinary stories are the third and the fifth. In the first of this pair, Quantum of Solace, Bond doesn't really do anything beyond listen to a tale told by the Bahaman governor. This story-within-a-story involves the marriage of a civil servant and a flight attendant, one that goes sour quickly due to her blatant affairs and leads to her harsh comeuppance. The final story, The Hildebrand Rarity is another story of a marriage gone bad: Bond is cruising on the yacht of an abusive millionaire and his cowed wife; it's the sort of relationship that will wind up with a dead body by the end of the trip.
All of the stories are passably entertaining, with the spy tales slightly outdoing the offbeat ones. What's missing are the elements that make the Bond stories stand out: the adventure, the psychotic villains and the threats to England and the rest of the West. What's left is decent, but unexceptional. This one won't win many new fans, but it should satisfy the ones who already exist.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book contains five James Bond short stories. All of them are quite good. Fleming had a real knack with short stories.
In "A View To A Kill" Bond tracks down the killers of a classified document courier. He comes up against a brutal and clever set of foes. In "For Your Eyes Only" he is on the trail of a brutal Cuban general who is not above using violence to achieve his end. Unfortunately for this general and his friends, Bond's 00 means that he is licensed to kill. After the general kills an Englishman who is a friend of M's Bond intends to do just that. That is if he can deal with the young woman who seems to be getting in his way.
"Quantum of Solace" is a strange Bond tale. No real spy stuff here. He listens as the Governor of Jamaica tells a story about an old friend. At the end of the story Bond realizes that sometimes the people with the most interesting stories are right in front of him and that he needs to not write certain people of as uninteresting so quickly. The plot of "Risico" will be familiar to those who remember the film version of "For Your Eyes Only." It is the story of a smuggler who is dangerous and needs to be eliminated. The only problem is that Bond has to figure out which of the smugglers he is dealing with is the man behind the drug trade. Finally "The Hildebrand Rarity" is a sea adventure complete with the rich, sadistic American millionaire, his beautiful wife, the search for a rare fish, and murder.
All of the stories are well written and quite entertaining.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has five short stories that were originally written for magazines. Some of them were later used in the "James Bond" series of films. Note the similarities between "Quantum of Solace" to "The Hildebrand Rarity". This is a good sample of Fleming's works.
"From A View To A Kill" tells of the killing of a dispatch rider outside of Paris to steal his official messages. James Bond is called to solve this mystery after the experts were stumped. The search dogs found nothing, but there was a problem by a deserted campground. Bond searches and finds some hidden marks on some trees. By waiting and watching in camouflage he discovers the secret. The pages tell how this threat was neutralized.
"For Your Eyes Only" tells how a property in Jamaica went up for sale. Eventually this news reached London and M. sends James Bond to take care of this problem. But someone else has the same idea. They cooperate to get rough justice in the Adirondacks.
"Quantum of Solace" tells how James Bond was sent to Jamaica to stop arms sales to the Cuban rebels (Bond's sympathies were with the rebels). Bond planted firebombs on the arms ships. Later Bond has a conversation with the Governor, who explains what keeps a marriage together. He then tells a very interesting story about a married couple and their fates.
"Risico" is about a risky business that will involve James Bond. It is to stop the Italian connection that is bringing narcotics to England. Bond learns more form his target, and sails to visit a foreign port. Mission accomplished. But what happened afterwards?
"The Hildebrand Rarity" has James Bond vacationing in the Seychelles (to scope out the islands for M.), Milton Krest explains how charitable foundations are used to dodge taxes on the rich. Krest explains how he acquires rare specimens. [The dollar figures dates this story.] Krest will use a chemical to capture the rare fish. Krest has great wealth, power, and the pride that goes with it. There is a problem that night but Bond makes it go away. Who could have misplaced that rare poisonous fish?
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2003
For Your Eyes Only features five exciting short stories of James Bond 007. While fans noted that they were not as good as his full-length novels, they still are wonderful thrillers to read.
The first is From A View To A Kill. This short strory tells of the organization SHAPE, (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe)and their motorcycle dispatch riders that are being murdered on a certain highway. Unknown soviet agents are setting up ambushes for the men, killing them and stealing the important documents. Bond is sent with the help of Mary Ann Russell to investigate. He finds the area where the Soviets have established a base on the forest in the highway. Bond dresses like one of the riders to lure out the Soviets, he attacks them and kills the rest. An okay Bond story, but nothing special.
For Your Eyes Only comes next and is much more promising. It begins in Jamaica with a retring Nazi criminal called Von Hammerstein. He spots a nice house and set of property that is owned by the Havelocks. He sends out his man Gonzales to arrange a buying to be made. The Havelocks refuse to sell so Gonzales kills them. The Havelocks were friends of M, so Bond is sent to investigate. He travels to Vermont, the temporary stay of Von Hammerstein and meets Judy Havelock, the vengeful daughter of the Havelocks. She kills Hammerstein with a bow an arrow against Bond's advice. Gonzales is killed by Bond and he leaves with Judy.
Quantum Of Solace is the oddest Bond story to date. Bond is meeting with the governor of Bermuda. The governor tells Bond the story of a girl that was married to a young man, but wanted to marry someone else. The governor then tells Bond that the man the girl eventually marries is a guest at the dinner table at that very moment. It's a deceptive and tricky story.
The next story is Risico. Bond is on assignment in Rome to stop a drugs smuggler. Bond meest with contact Kristatos who tells him that the smuggler is Enrico Columbo, and that Bond should kill him. Bond then later meets up with the mistress of Columbo, Lisl Baum in Venice. He is then captured by Columbo, who tells him that Kristatos is the real enemy and smuggler. Bond is shown Kristatos smuggling warehouse by Columbo, they raid the building and kill Kristatos. Risico is a fast-paced and adventerous action story filled with exciting scenes.
The last story is The Hilderbrand Rarity. This story is placed in the Seychelles Islands, where Bond is on board the ship of millionaire Milton Krest. Krest is on an expedition to find the ultra rare fish species called the Hildbrand Rarity. Bond meets up with Liz Krest, who is beaten by her husband. Bond immediately learns to dislike Krest and his methods of killing marine life to catch the rare fish. Krest does eventually catch the fish and puts it aboard the ship. Later that night, Bond discovers Krest dead- he his choked by having the fish stuffed down his throat. Bond is unsure of who killed him. Liz Krest, who was tired of the drunken ways of her husband, or Fidele Barbey who was often insulted by Krest?
Five short stories, which do I consider the best? Risico, the Hildebrand Rarity and For Your Eyes Only. But they are all very good. The short stories are a nice change of pace with Fleming and provide some change.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
I have read all of Fleming's 007 novels and this is perhaps his weakest work, but it is still enjoyable and entertaining to read.
FYEO is a collection of 5 short stories. The stories can be summed up as follows:
FROM A VIEW TO A KILL - Bond sets out to find and destroy the secret hideout of a spy ring that has eluded the top security brains of fourteen countries.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY - Bond is on an "unofficial" mission to assassinate a professional killer (and former Nazi) who murdered the personal friends of M.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE - Bond learns the strange secret of one of the guests at a dinner party held at the Governor's house.
RISICO - Bond gets set up by a dope dealing agent of SMERSH.
THE HILDEBRAND RARITY - Bond becomes party to sudden and ghastly murder aboard a luxury yacht that is returning from finding one of the rarest species of fish.
I enjoyed all of the stories expect FROM A VIEW TO A KILL. That particular story has absolutely nothing to do with the same titled film except the Parisian setting and its title.
While these stories do very little for the continuation of the Bond series they do give some insight into Bond's human side. For fans of Bond it is definitely a must read. But for anyone looking for their first Bond to read I definitely recommend choosing another Fleming novel. The novels blend the action and character of Bond much better than a short story can. They also create much greater suspense. My personal favorites are CASINO ROYALE, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, DR. NO, and THUNDERBALL.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2002
For Your Eyes Only
For Your Eyes Only, a compiliation of James Bond short stories, doesn't work. It is best read by Bond fans who either want to read all the books in chronological order (however, there is no continuity between this book and the others, so that hardly matters), or Bond fans who want to say they read every Bond story Fleming published. But it is not very good. The book includes the following short stories:
"From a View to a Kill"
"From a View to a Kill" is possibly the shortest of all James Bond stories. As such it is hardly developed and doesn't leave much impact. It is hardly worth considering as a story, but rather as Ian Fleming's scratch pad. Considered in this way the story is interesting for some of its elements.
Fleming is at his best when describing Bond's meals and drinks. "From a View to a Kill" contains an obligatory meal scene that works especially well. Fleming not only describes food and drink in exacting detail, but manages to turn these descriptions into commentaries on the culture and society of the meals' location. This time Anglo-centric unleashes his opinions on has-been post-war Paris. In the process he manages to reveal some interesting background points about Bond's early life. But all this quickly evaporates into more of an action/detective in which Bond investigates a murder.
Fleming's stories usually include a point during which a plot or a scheme is revealed to be bigger than it first appeared. Bond discovers what he suspected to be the case, that the murder was an assassination by unearthing a hidden underground base of sorts. The logic of this thing's existence and purpose are hardly believable, but the gadgetry of the place is interesting because it is a step beyond what had been typical for Fleming up to this point. Indeed, the rose-periscope and bush-door seem more like something out of the Roger Moore Bond movies, still years away. It is worth noting that "From a View to a Kill" has nothing at all in common with the Roger Moore movie, A VIEW TO A KILL, other than the name and the setting in France.
"From a View to a Kill" is too short to skip, but it ultimately isn't very satisfying.
"For Your Eyes Only"
After re-reading the second short story in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (also titled, "For Your Eyes Only," I reached the conclusion that James Bond works much better in novels than in short stories. This is in part because this short story, much as the last one, left me wonder why I was reading it. While the story had action, it lacked the type of suspense, plot development, and surprise endings that move the Bond novels along. Also, that I had completely forgotten most of this story from my first reading of it many years ago was telling. "For Your Eyes Only" is more of a story than From A View to a Kill," but it is still a scratch pad of sorts, interesting more for ancillary reasons than for the story itself.
Still, these ancillary reasons are worth mentioning. Bond's job is never more illicit than in this story. He is sent to commit an assassination more or less as a personal favor for his boss, not as an official governmental act. He struggles with this a bit, and a different type of writer could have made more out of that struggle than Fleming does. But he trudges along to carry out his assignment. This story, perhaps more than any of the novels, establishes Bond as a "cold blooded killer."
One of the features of Bond stories that I enjoy is their 1950's setting. Fleming wrote from the 50's, obviously without any knowledge of how the future would unfold or how his time and thought process would be viewed years after he committed them to paper. The alieness of all of this is stark in "For Your Eyes Only." The target of Bond's assassination attempt is a former Nazi, who had recently been inn the employ of Cuba's dictator, Battista. Battista was still in power when Fleming was writing, and Castro is mentioned not only sympathetically, but as an admirable quasi-ally. He certainly isn't one of the Communists under just about every bush Bond looks under in most of the novels.
Neither the Nazi origins of the villain, Von Hammerstein, or even the villain's name, ever make it into any of the Bond films. But much of this short story does. For such a weak story, I was interested that most of it made it into the movie version of FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. The movie was bigger, and the short story really comprised about a quarter of the film, but I was reminded once again that some of the Bond films improved upon the stories rather than just borrowing the names.
"Quantum of Solace"
"Quantum of Solace" is only superficially a James Bond story. Oddly, then, it is the most interesting and compelling at least of the first three stories in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Bond is in Jamaica on assignment, but the story is not about the assignment. In this one, Bond mostly listens to a story within the story, told by the colonial governor of Jamaica, with whom he had just had dinner. This story within the story is the thrust of "Quantum of Solace." It has nothing to do with espionage, action, or adventure. Rather, it is a brief tale about a failed relationship. That's it. Somehow Fleming manages to make it interesting. I was wondering where the story was going and was caught off guard by its mild, but unexpected surprise ending. In this regard, Fleming achieves on a small level some of what he otherwise better captures through novels than short stories. While "Quantum" has little to do with Bond (or, more accurately, Bond has little to do in Quantum), it is the most enjoyable story so far in this collection.
A good portion of the plot of the movie, For Your Eyes Only, is taken from this short story. After reading this and the short story version of FYEO, I came to a greater appreciation of the movie-maker's desire to blend the two stories together into a coherent one that remains as faithful as could be hoped to a couple of short stories.
"Risco" plays out the Kristatos-Columbo rivalry around which the plot of the movie turns. Of all the short stories in this book it is the one that most resembles the previous Bond novels. It involves a mission to a foreign land, colorful characters, a devious villain with vague ties to Russia, and in Columbo, an ally somewhat reminiscent of Karim Bey in From Russia with Love. Nevertheless, "Risco" is not as good as any of the previous books, probably in part because it is not developed like a full novel. Also, not for the first time, while reading it I felt that the moviemakers did this story better. I was actually somewhat bored reading it.
There are no great surprises in "Risco," perhaps because we all know Kristatos, not Columbo, is the real villain. Nothing special is revealed about Bond's past or his predilections. As with most of the rest of the short stories in this compellation, "Risco" seems more like the outline of a story than a complete work.
"The Hildebrand Rarity"
After being worked over by the somewhat boring "Risco," "The Hildebrand Rarity" delivers the knockout punch. For Your Eyes Only saves the worst for last. It is significant to note that very little of this short story made its way into any Bond movie to day. "Milton Krest," the character that passes for a villain in this one, and his boat, The Wavekrest, appear in the movie, License to Kill, but only in name. The story of "The Hildebrand Rarity" is lost in the final pages of this book.
"The Hildebrand Rarity" contains one of the worst elements of Bond stories: Bond is basically an observer of events here. How and why he ends up in the situation of the story, which has nothing to do with spying or even government work, is murky at best. The story is basically a reverse mystery, a Murder on the Orient Express set on a ship, with an all-too-easy search for a rare fish thrown in, and one twist. Fleming's twists are usually the capstones to his Bond novels, but here the twist is that the mystery is never solved. Indeed, the build up to the crime is too long, and the aftermath is wholly inadequate. It is almost as if Fleming got tired of this story and just put it down. I did too.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
"For Your Eyes Only" was the last Bond film to actually take its plot from the Fleming stories. It pasted together three tales, two from "For Your Eyes Only", which included the short story of the same name and the short story "Risico". The film also borrowed some of its plot from "From Russia With Love". "Risico" includes the small gang war between Kristatos and Colombo while "For Your Eyes Only" was used to create the character of Melina Havelock who hunts for her parents killers.
The Bond books are always much smaller in scale than the movies and these five stories are smaller still. "Quantum of Silence" doesn't even feature Bond in an active role, he's only a passive listener to another man's tale of a wife's infidelity. The final story, "The Hildebrand Rarity" was my personal favorite with a classic tale of revenge and a satisfyingly ironic method of killing.
I would have to place this book as an average Fleming effort. I think that Bond works better in full novel form. It's a bit of a letdown when the man who took down Goldfinger and Dr. No is now taking on a miniscule nest of three Russian spies working out of a bush in France. Yes, their headquarters is a bush.