209 of 217 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Casino Royale (Hardcover)
Bond...James Bond is the name. And the game is extreme Baccarat. Ian Fleming's 1953 novel - premier introduction of the post WWII, fantastical cold war intrigues of Her Majesty's Secret Service's Master Spy, Agent 007, Bond - is a riveting read.
I first read CASINO ROYALE, as well as a few others in the series, while in my early teens - back when I'd only read stories in order to immerse myself in the plot - to find out what happens next, essentially - not caring a jot about writing style, descriptive detail, or character development. Back then, I found it curious that the Bond of the books was so different from the Bond of the movies (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER being the contemporary releases of that time.) I wondered, for instance, why the James Bond in the movies didn't have black hair and why, in the books, he wasn't funny at all...Indeed - well, so much for my pre-adolescent review.
Now, more than 20 years later, indulging on a whim, I'm reading the series again. And I must say I am thoroughly enjoying it - but not for the same reasons I had when I was young. I'm actually nearly through it in its entirety - and must say that, though they're all very good, CASINO ROYALE has a palpable raw depth rarely visible in the rest. I can now see and appreciate the fine quality of the writing, the extraordinary sculpturing of an ideal action hero, and the magical lure that has begotten the most well-known, long-standing film series of all time. And, yes, these books are great fun!
"M," head of the British Secret Service, hands Commander Bond what appears on the surface to be a posh assignment: thwarting an enemy Russian spy, Le Chiffre, in his attempt to win an exorbitant 50 million francs - KGB funds which he had lost through an ill-advised investment in a chain of brothels. Agent 007 lives an intensely hard lifestyle, and he's known to be the best gambler in the Service. He's therefore assigned to break Le Chiffre's bank at the baccarat tables of the Casino Royale, in the French Riviera.
SMERSH, the Russian Secret Service in charge of all diplomatic killings for the Fatherland, is right on to Le Chiffre. Though he's very desperate, Le Chiffre happens to be a first rate baccarat player. He plans on winning that 50 million francs at any cost, employing a couple of potent assassins enforced to help see it through.
Though James Bond must face Le Chiffre as a force of one at the baccarat table, he has his own team of assistants: Rene' Mathis of the French branch, American CIA agent Felix Leiter, and the beautiful Vesper Lynd of the S branch of British Intelligence. Vesper is officially the very first Bond girl - and she utterly mesmerizes our master spy: he sees her as an entity of wonder.
Truly, this story does not own any of the qualities that could easily be made into a movie. There's plenty of tension, plenty of action, and quite a lot of romance to boot. However the tension is mainly in the climatic card game, which, minus the author's excellent descriptive prose, would appear tedious on the screen; the action is definitely intense, but includes a harrowing torture scene which should not be witnessed by the squeamish; and, well, without the advantage of being able to follow the thoughts of our hero, a film version of this story might easily cause the romance to appear as carelessly thrown in.
Vesper's an intriguing Bond Girl, though. Her fateful role exacts a twisted surprise ending, which inevitably sets the tone and atmosphere of Bond's future relationships with women. This is perhaps the only book of the series wherein Bond takes a good, hard look at the moral portents of his own place in his profession - sort of a teasing glimpse into the window of his heart - but only that peek - as it seems thereafter shut fast and hard. Keen, sharp, dark and moody: James Bond remains ever the quintessential Man of Mystery.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2006 7:42:22 AM PST
If you really enjoyed this Ian Fleming novel might I recommend "Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories" by John Griswold which gives a lot of insight to many of the peripherals that Fleming used to enhance and enrich his books. Griswold's book was a rare find. It is unbelievably crammed with accurate and interesting information. Never leave home without it.
Posted on Nov 23, 2006 12:48:04 AM PST
J. Friedlander says:
I also like the book, but have to disagree with the rest...card games and torture scenes can be great on screen. Witness the latest cinematic interpreation of the story.
Posted on Jul 25, 2007 1:40:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 25, 2007 1:40:38 PM PDT
Robert D. Allen says:
Too bad that Ian Fleming had to sell the movie rights to this book. Check out the 1960's movie version of this book to see my meaning. The latest (2006)film version of this book is actually quite good, and now we'll have to see where Bond goes from here.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2008 4:25:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2008 4:32:18 PM PDT
The Twilight Zone says:
The card game in the film version was very boring.. The 60's version relates to the story by title only. Its a ridiculous comedy with David Niven (who Flemming thought was an ideal Bond) The films an aquired taste which actually appeals to me with its great score. I don't think Flemming was proud of that dumb film, but my guess is that he wouldn't like the new film portrayal either if he was around.
Posted on Aug 5, 2011 10:22:19 AM PDT
Posted on Nov 27, 2012 2:56:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 2:57:19 PM PST
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 5:08:07 PM PST
A. Casalino says:
If it was meant to imply that it was the opening line of the novel, Kindle edition or no, I would have put it in quotes. If it had been a line in the book, I would have as well put it in quotation marks. It's been a while since I've written reviews on Amazon.com. Is there now a rule that all book reviews must commence with quotes from the text?
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 7:36:13 PM PST
Thanks for taking the trouble to reply AC. I do take your point about the quotes, I was more concerned that Amazon might have tweaked the original opening in their e-version. Like you I was an avid reader of Fleming's 007 novels, in my case as a schoolboy not long after they were published in the late 1950s. Thank you also for your interesting and entertaining review.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2013 5:54:03 PM PST
A. Casalino says:
Thank you for replying back, Anthony- Even though it's been a while since I've written reviews here on Amazon, I still feel the sting from any criticism from them, whether I've been at fault or not. A big "whew!" that I was not at fault in this case, nor that it was even meant to be a criticism. I actually do understand how using a Kindle can cause a confusion that the actual hard copy of a novel would not. Now you have me thinking: Are the Kindle editions ever tweaked from the original texts? Oh well, maybe we'll never know. Thanks so much for the kind words- :)
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2013 7:25:33 PM PST
Dont mention it AC, I'm impressed by your honesty. I know what you mean about stinging criticism on blog sites, some of those guys don't hold back do they. Hey maybe we can be cyber buddies, you sound like an interesting person. I'm going away to Bundaberg for 10 days tomorrow so I'll check for your reply when I get back. (Bundaberg is a coastal country town in Qld Australia, recently in the news when hit by a cyclone)