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Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

edited January 2016 in Literary 007 Posts: 13,036
One of the favourites, or at least it used to be, so what are you reading at the moment? I've started from the 'Casino Royale' again, only today.

I'm personally looking forward to what 'Carte Blanche' brings us as well, and if it's any good!
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  • haserothaserot Throw away your cross, face the master. Your faith against his faith..
    Posts: 3,979
    i am currently still reading through Moonraker... i've been making a point to go through them in order... i liked Casino Royale, and really liked Live And Let Die.. so far Moonraker is good as well..
  • Posts: 117
    Dr No (I read them very haphazardly)
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    I'm just rereading 'James Bond and the spy who loved me' by Christopher Wood. I'd forgotten how good it is, rather than just an adaption of the screenplay Wood actually tries to write about the literary Bond in the Fleming style of prose and generally succeeds (possibly better than all the official continuation writers have managed). Much of the juvenile humour from the film is lost (for example the British Secret Service don't have their Cairo station in a pyramid) and the characters are well developed (lovable General Gogol is replaced by the evil, twisted FRWL foe and real life KGB figure General Nikitin). Some scenes and characters are dropped and the book feels very familiar to the middle era style of Fleming's Bond work the best example being DN. Christopher Wood has always been tarred with being the initiator of the camp humour of the late seventies Bonds, but this accomplished work makes you rethink his role and what he really brought to the series, if only the film had more closely followed this book version TSWLM could of been one of the very best Bond films ever.
  • Just bought a copy of TB today, realizing it's one of the main novels I (ashamedly) haven't read, and I'm on spring break right now so I'll probably blow through it in the next day or two. Read YOLT, FRWL, GF, and FYEO over Christmas break... TB kind of slipped my mind >.<
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    edited March 2011 Posts: 12,920
    Quoting haserot: i am currently still reading through Moonraker... i've been making a point to go through them in order... i liked Casino Royale, and really liked Live And Let Die.. so far Moonraker is good as well..
    IMO MR is one of the best and an improvement still over LALD. Let us know what you think about it, haserot. :)
  • edited March 2011 Posts: 27
    I just finished Moonraker, it was good but didn't enjoy it as much as the prevoius two. Diamonds are Forever next hope it keeps up the trend :)
  • edited March 2011 Posts: 13,036
    Moonraker is actually considered one of Fleming's best novels whilst Diamonds Are Forever is one of his worst. It would be very odd for you to find that different @Vodka_Martini.
  • I will let you know what i think when i have read it @Samuel001
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!
    Posts: 12,920
    I rank MR very highly but I also rank DAF very highly. DAF has great dialogues and some really tense moments, IMO. Without going into spoiler mode, all I can say is that for me, the concluding chapters are exciting as hell.
  • 007007
    Posts: 42
    I have just purchased a set of all of the Fleming Bond books and I am reading them in order. I have never read Bond books before, but I thoroughly enjoyed Casino Royale and am now onto Live And Let Die.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Just finished rereading 'James Bond and Moonraker' by Christopher Woods. In the same style as his adaption of TSWLM his James Bond is very much based on the Fleming's rather than the cinematic version and by removing much of the juvenile humour found in the film the book does work better but fails for the same fundamental problem, the screenplay with it's central concept of Bond going into space. Woods tries hard to flesh out the story and his Hugo Drax is very much the character from the novel rather than Michael Lonsdale's incarnation and the Nazi undertones are much more apparent. His extended plot exposition in this novel is fascinating and I found myself almost routing for Drax at one point! Jaws is also in the book but without much of the humour that devalued his menacing status in the film. While definatley the weaker of Woods two adaptions this is still worth a look and certinally begs the question why Gildrose didn't opt for him to write the Bond continuation novels rather than opting for the less competent Gardner, Benson (spit!) and Faulks.
  • I'm slowly wafting my way through Moonraker, which is a bit of a treat for me as I've never actually read it before. $-)
  • I have just finished with DAF. It was enjoyable but the weakest read so far. For me they are getting weaker as they continue. CR was a 10/10 i loved it. LALD was a 8.5/10 very enjoyable read. MR was 7.5/10 some very good parts but overall not as gripping as the prevoius two. DAF 7/10 Not quite as good as MR.

    FRWL is up next and i hope its AT least as good as DAF i dont want this downward trend to continue
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    I agree with you that DAF is the weakest read of the first four books, though personally I enjoyed LALD as much as CR and thought MR was vastly superior. Saying that I think you will be pleasantly surprised with just how good FRWL is, though be warned you have to wait a fair while before James makes his appearance.
  • Just finished re reading Moneypenny Diaries: The Final Fling..... still enjoyable, think the characters were spot on (especially my personal favourite minor character, Lt Col Tanner).

    And nice to see a familiar face pop up in the end....

    FAO saunders- entirely agree with your comments about the two novels by Woods... a crying shame he did not continue....
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Thanks The_Preacher711, glad you agree.

    Although I've got all three of the Monneypenny Diaries I've found them hard going and despite two valiant attempts I've never got further than about half way through the second book, but now you've got me intrigued with this 'familiar face' I'm going to have to buckle down and have another crack at them.

    I've just finished reading John Gardner's penultimate Bond novel 'Seafire' and while it frimley belongs in the weaker second half of novels written in his tenure, it's probably one of the less weak. Things I liked were that the story though containing many elements Gardner readers will be familiar with at least the story flows well and the action concentrates around Bond rather than secondry characters and there are thankfully not two many double crossing characters in this story (a plot device ludicrously overused by Mr Gardner!), also the welcome, if rather short appearance by old friend Felix Leiter. The location are also well chosen and feel suitably Bondian and plenty of action to please the cinematic Bond fans. Things I didn't like are Bonds new fiance and co-agent Flicka (how long before she tragically dies, I wonder?) and Bonds new position of running Microglobe1 a deniable government agency. I appreciate John Gardner is trying to experiment with the formula (just as Fleming did) but combined with his lack of being able to handle descriptive writing (the Fleming sweep) these changes just make the book seem less and less like a Bond novel. If your new to Gardner Bond novels, there are many far better attempts he has managed and this is probably one best left for the completest only!
  • Again- agree on the Gardner front..... was definately a downward trend to his work, but still enjoyable.... shame he didn't call it a day with Seafire, as Cold was a final dip....

    I know a lot of people out there really out with me on the Moneypenny stuff, but for me it gets bonus points for bringing a new angle to the world of Bond.

    Would love to have seen a spin off from Mr Tanner's perspective...
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Quoting The_Preacher711: Would love to have seen a spin off from Mr Tanner's perspective...

    Definitely, I had high hopes for this great character after his larger role in the Kingsley Amis book 'Colonel Sun' and then in John Gardner's first book 'Icebreaker' as he had an extended cameo when he accompanies Bond to the villains liar towards the end of the book, but since then not much has been done with him (though he did have an extended cameo in Raymond Benson's 'High Time To Kill') and he certinally deserves his own spin-off set of books. Have you read Colonel William Tanner's 'Book Of Bond' (Actually written by Kingsley Amis again), though really more an extended essay on Bond's character, at least it's nice to see his name in print.
  • Quoting saunders: Have you read Colonel William Tanner's 'Book Of Bond' (Actually written by
    Kingsley Amis again), though really more an extended essay on Bond's character,
    at least it's nice to see his name in print.
    I have indeed sir, but sadly don't own it myself.... an unacceptable gap in my literary collection.... I have lost count of the amount of times it's slipped through my fingers on Ebay!

    Funny you should mention 'Colonel Sun'- that's my train read from today! Always enjoyed it... sadly it has a very bad rep in some circles, which I've never fully understood....
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Quoting The_Preacher711: Funny you should mention 'Colonel Sun'- that's my train read from today! Always enjoyed it... sadly it has a very bad rep in some circles, which I've never fully understood....

    When I first read Colonel Sun I felt it was really good and certinally Kingsley Amis has got the closest to the 'Fleming sweep' style of writing, but recentley I reread it and found myself getting frustrated at how much Amis was influencing his Bond with his own social and political views that differ greatly from both Fleming's own and that of his literary creations. Ian Fleming's wife Ann was horrified that Kingsley Amis was writing a continuation novel and a newspaper review she wrote of it has never been published for fear of liable (I would love to read a copy!) and I guess this is where the majority of the book's poor reputation has stemmed from.
    While I consider it probably the best and most faithful of the continuation books it's still far from perfect, though who knows maybe if Amis had done a couple more he may of found his stride.
  • An interesting thought there....... what would an Amis continuation series have been like....
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Just finished John Gardner's 'Cold' (aka Coldfall) and it's as sadly disappointing for a final novel as I remembered. John Gardner's books were always very different in style to Fleming's work but I personally still really enjoyed his earlier novels, in fact as a young teenager I found them more readable than Fleming's. Having said that the quality of Gardner's works drops as his novels go on Licence Renewed is by far his best effort and Cold his worse, I think he may of just run out of steam by the end for Cold's plot is both illogical and paper thin. You even have a main character who is alive then dead, then alive again, then dead again...then yes alive once more and yes ,then they tragically die for a final time. Most of the action takes place in the same place and feels very static for a globe trotting Bond novel, M once again gets kidnapped but rather than being the major plot device like Colonel Sun this time it barely receives a two chapter section. It is nice to see a couple of Gardner's previous characters return even if one of them has had their personality changed beyond all recognition.
    Not a great read and it was propably for the best that this was Gardner's final Bond effort.
  • Quoting saunders: Not a great read and it was propably for the best that this was Gardner's final
    Bond effort.
    Yep, I think that is very true........

    I have read many different reports of the years explain the possible reasons for the decline of Gardners work: his health problems, his wife's cancer, disinterest in writing a character that wasn't 'his'....

    So what next for you Mr Saunders? March onwards into Benson perhaps?
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    I really should reread Raymond Benson's (spit!) books, but I just can't bring myself to yet! It's not that I've got anything against Raymond Benson (spit!), I think his 'James Bond Bedside Companion' book is one of the 'must have' reference books, but I intensely dislike his Bond novels, he can't seem to decide if he's writing about the literary or the cinematic character and ends up with an uneasy balance of the two, he lacks not only the flair of Fleming's descriptive prose but also the more workman like basic structured storytelling of Gardner. His writing comes across with an American accent that is highly unsuitable for Bond, his annoying wink, wink knowing references come across like those of an overexcited schoolboy Bond fanatic and his travelogue descriptions are those of a novice postcard scribbling tourist rather than a seasoned travel journalist/writer. Finally and probably the biggest reason for my dislike of Benson's (spit!) work is what he did with one of Fleming's most cherished characters in Never Dream Of Dying!
    But your right The_Preacher711, I must start reading them again, who knows after all these years I may actually be able to start to appreciate and respect the efforts of Mr Raymond Benson (spit!).
    In the meantime as I haven't been reading Gardner's work in sequence I'll just settle for his 'Never Send Flowers'.

  • Ha ha!!!

    Benson..... Mmmmm..... not a fan myself..... sadly the completionist in me forced me to get them..... and each time he announced a new one, that little voice in your head told you 'maybe this one will be rally good!' - while you secretly new it would just be more dross.....

    As you say, it's that whole 'which Bond is he trying to write?' thing.... think the answer is Benson's Own Brand Bond- with added Americana......
    Quoting saunders: But your right The_Preacher711, I must start reading them again, who knows after
    all these years I may actually be able to start to appreciate and respect the
    efforts of Mr Raymond Benson (spit!).
    I think that may be the most comedy line you've ever written.....
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Quoting The_Preacher711: I think that may be the most comedy line you've ever written.....

    Blimey, well maybe he's served a useful purpose after all!

    Thank you sincerely Mr Raymond Benson...(spit!):)
  • I think my own dislike for the guy reached a peak when he did a daytime TV interview when 'High Time to Kill' had just been released......
    He was talking about how he'd studied Fleming extensively and had worked hard to 'modernise and improve upon Flemings prose' (I'm pretty sure that's an exact quote- always stuck in my mind).....
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    What's always surprised me is that when he assessed the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis and John Gardner in 'The James Bond Bedside Companion' his criticism was nearly always spot on, he correctly described Flemings works as 'fine cuisine' compared to Gardner's being more like 'fast food'. He could easily pick out the themes and styles that made Fleming's work so successful as well as the flaws and basic errors of Gardner's works, yet he seemed unable to adopt this sort of analysis to his own efforts.
  • In that sense, Benson always reminded me of just another hardcore Bond fan.

    He's quite able to highlight the pros and cons of the books of the previous books (as most of us could).

    Give him the opportunity to write, and he does what most of us would probably end up doing: creates a mish-mash of every Bondism possible.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Just finished John Gardner's 'Never Send Flowers', I'd forgotten how poor this novel is, You have Bond recalled from a mission and suspended, not because of causing the usual level of 007 mayhem and destruction, but believe it or not because the hotel he was staying at complained about the level of noise he made while making love with Swiss agent Flicka...I kid you not!
    The book tries make this Bond a blend of traditional secret agent mixed with a mystery detective, or as Bond himself suggests "A hard boiled private dick". But by this stage of Gardner's tenure Bond is almost unrecognisable as Fleming's hero spending much of his time quoting poetry and literary references, as can also be said of Gardner's version of M who is much more of a friendly, avuncular character than Fleming ever suggested. Bond even gets scared and shaken after simply reading a report about a victim's brother who although long dead was once a serial killer...really our brave, courageous 007 getting scared by that! In fact he's so upset by this he even resorts to alcohol, but of course being Gardner's Bond, he doesn't knock back a couple of strong vodka martini's or a few quarts of 'Old Grandad' bourbon, no this Bond makes do with a single miniature bottle of spirits before suggesting retiring to bed for an early night, and as if that wasn't enough he even drinks tea in this story, a brew that Fleming's Bond would never touch!
    The plot is awkward and doesn't really hold together either as a thriller or a detective story and many of the supporting characters are very weak, not least Bond's romantic interest Flicka. This is made worse by the fact that clearly Gardner is setting her up in the role of the next big love of Bond's life.
    The last few chapters of this story are more of a Disney advertisement than a Bond story and Gardner seems to be more keen on endorsing the theme parks than actually injecting the story with any real tension or drama.
    Don't get me wrong I like many of John Gardner's books but having just read three of his lesser attempts in a row I'm in need of a change so I'm going to read 'The Devil May Care' next.
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