Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

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  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 619
    Revelator wrote: »
    Here we get an almost romantic ending between Bond and Domino and the larger plot (Blofeld!) that will occupy the next two and a half books...is kind of dealt with in a half sentence by Leiter and Bond couldn't care less it seems.

    "Top man's called Blofeld, but the bastard got away--or anyway they haven't caught up with him yet, according to C.I.A."

    The ending of Thunderball has always struck me as one of the most melancholy in the series, despite its romance: a drugged-up, angry, hysterical Bond staggers out of bed, shouts at the kindly doctor, and staggers to Domino's room. And the moment he gets to her, as she says "You are to stay here. Do you understand? You are not to go away," he falls asleep--metaphorically going away. Domino has no option but to sigh and go to sleep alongside him.

    These strong scenes of emotion and genuine romance are entirely missing in the film, which is true to the letter but not the spirit of the book, where Bond couldn't care less about Blofeld or his mission at the end: he just wants to see Domino.
    I also would have enjoyed even more underwater action. The film famously has the reputation that it overdose the underwater action scenes, here I could have taken a bit more of the climactic battle and it's aftermath. As I already mentioned, I knew the plot from the film, although one never really knows how close the two will actually be, so there wasn't a huge sense of tension for me.

    I also read the book after seeing the film, which I regret, though it was almost inevitable. My first reaction was like yours--I wanted more of the action that was in the film, and I didn't feel much tension or suspense. The second time around I read the book at its own pace and tried forgetting the film. I no longer needed more action.

    You might be interested to know what happened when I gave a copy of the book to a friend who'd never seen the film. He told me the scene of Bond and his team swimming out to intercept Largo for the final battle was incredibly tense and suspenseful. I was surprised but realized this would be true for anyone who didn't know how the book would end and who didn't--at that point--know where Domino or Largo really were. Afterward he enjoyed the film but didn't find it as exciting as the book.
    The coincidence factor with Lippe being at the same health retreat as Bond just as he plays a role in the biggest blackmail operation the world has ever seen, is if course off the charts and I think I recall correctly that, unlike in the film, the Shrublands episode has no connection to Bond being sent to the Bahamas.

    That's right, and there's a further outrageous coincidence in Largo happening to be dating the sister of Petacchi: "Probably even Largo, if Largo was in fact involved in the plot, didn't know this."

    It's odd that despite receiving plot assistance from McClory and a professional screenwriter, Fleming would include two such outrageous coincidences. But they don't bother me as much as they should, and Fleming brazenly explains them by saying that life is full of unbelievable coincidences and oddities. As Felix says, "How many people would believe the files on some of the cases you and I have got mixed up in? Don't give me that crap about real life. There ain't no such animal.''

    Maybe the fight would have gained a bit for me, if we hadn't known the plan from the SPECTRE side of things. If we go in as blind as Bond does and suddenly it's this group of 15 guys with gas pistols and curare tipped spears and all hell breaks loose. On the other hand, knowing what is waiting at the other side of the reef might ratchet up the tension. Like I said, it's hard to tell for me. I'll get back to all of these in a couple of years time, we'll see how I feel about it then. But it's good to hear that as a straight book experience at least your friend thought it was worthwhile.

    I actually thought about the Petracchi siblings when writing this up and thought I must have forgotten some point where Domino makes the original contact to her brother or something because it struck me as so unrealistic that that would just be a coincidence. My thought was: How has MI6 or the CIA not done a background check and found Petracchi's sister, when they seem quite convinced that he was the one who took the plane (or is that in the SPECTRE letter? Anyway) and on the other hand how could Blofeld allow such an obvious connection between the field commander of his operation and the person who took the plane? But after now having read TB, OHMSS and YOLT I may have to commit heresy: Maybe Blofeld isn't the genius everyone makes him out to be? Sure the plans are pretty well thought out, but at the end of the day he gets foiled again and again by an angry Scottish guy with a gun. This might be a case of the old Von Moltke saying: "No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main strength."

    And I loved that line from Felix! Before reading the novels I absolutely underestimated what a smart and funny guy Fleming was. To just put a line like that into the book basically right at the point where a literary critic would not down "unrealistic" in their notes. Fantastic.
  • Posts: 2,312
    My thought was: How has MI6 or the CIA not done a background check and found Petracchi's sister, when they seem quite convinced that he was the one who took the plane (or is that in the SPECTRE letter? Anyway) and on the other hand how could Blofeld allow such an obvious connection between the field commander of his operation and the person who took the plane?

    I think in the pre-internet days such a background check might not have yielded results until after Bond was in the Bahamas, or after the entire Thunderball affair was over. There are less than four days between Spectre making its blackmail ransom and the bombs being recovered, and Bond flies to the Bahamas less than a day after Spectre gives its ultimatum. There's also the added complication of Domino using a stage name.

    However, this does not let Blofeld off the hook. Shouldn't he have thoroughly vetted Largo's girlfriend's background? Probably, but then one asks if he would do the same for every member of Spectre and their associates. Presumably Blofeld trusted Largo to be a professional and pick his associates and ladies with care. So maybe Largo bears the most blame. Domino seems to think so: "He is only foolish in wanting his mistress...when so much else is at stake...These people have chosen badly. Largo cannot live without a woman within reach. They should have known that.''
    On second thought maybe Blofeld is to blame after all. He should have realized women were Largo's Achilles heel.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 619
    Revelator wrote: »
    My thought was: How has MI6 or the CIA not done a background check and found Petracchi's sister, when they seem quite convinced that he was the one who took the plane (or is that in the SPECTRE letter? Anyway) and on the other hand how could Blofeld allow such an obvious connection between the field commander of his operation and the person who took the plane?

    I think in the pre-internet days such a background check might not have yielded results until after Bond was in the Bahamas, or after the entire Thunderball affair was over. There are less than four days between Spectre making its blackmail ransom and the bombs being recovered, and Bond flies to the Bahamas less than a day after Spectre gives its ultimatum. There's also the added complication of Domino using a stage name.

    However, this does not let Blofeld off the hook. Shouldn't he have thoroughly vetted Largo's girlfriend's background? Probably, but then one asks if he would do the same for every member of Spectre and their associates. Presumably Blofeld trusted Largo to be a professional and pick his associates and ladies with care. So maybe Largo bears the most blame. Domino seems to think so: "He is only foolish in wanting his mistress...when so much else is at stake...These people have chosen badly. Largo cannot live without a woman within reach. They should have known that.''
    On second thought maybe Blofeld is to blame after all. He should have realized women were Largo's Achilles heel.

    You're probably right on the background check. I wouldn't have thought one could have a passport in a stage name (doesn't Bond have the local police check all the latest arrivals?) but this is nitpicking.
    As for Blofeld: One could say the odds of Largo having a woman by his side backfiring so spectacularly are quite slim. Yes, him apparently not being able to go a few weeks without a mistress by his side should probably disqualify him but he did quite well up until the very last minutes there.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,432
    Equally though (and it's a long time since I read the book -and it only took a day(!)- so forgive me if it's covered in it) just because Petacchi has a sister, why is that a reason to investigate her? In the movie of TB that's pretty much all Bond has to go on, and it's no reason at all to go to the Bahamas. Imagine if, in the movie of Moonraker, Bond had gone after the aunt of one the pilots of the space shuttle in the PTS, who was living in, let's say, Lichenstein at the time. The world would have ended! :)
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 2,069
    I just finished Forever and a Day. I greatly enjoyed it, and I still feel even stronger now that it would be a great reboot movie for the series, post Daniel Craig. Some of the casting I would have are Felicity Jones for Sixtine, Vincent D’Onofrio as Jean-Paul Scipio and Ralph Fiennes returning as M. I was thinking of using Ana de Armas as Sixtine, and saw her in the part, but NTTD ended that! Overall, I view Anthony Horowitz as the Martin Campbell of Bond authors: a great Midqueal (GE’s opening, TM) and a great origin story CR, FAAD. Ian Fleming would approve.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,432
    I think de Armas is a bit too babyfaced and innocent-feeling to be Sixtine. She's supposed to be a bit more experienced and hardened I think.
  • KronsteenKronsteen Stockholm
    Posts: 290
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Kronsteen wrote: »
    Colonel Sun, for the umpteenth time. Love it as always!

    I love it too. It was tied with FYEO as the most read Bond novel of 2020 in our Bond Novel Meter Thread.

    Still, all Fleming takes precedence, in my view.

    I have such a soft spot for Colonel Sun, can't really put a finger on why. It just fascinates me. It's not as vivid or imaginative or entertainingly fast paced as Flemings, but still a cracking read every single time! I've re-read Sun more often than some of Flemings.

    Amis really gets Bond right, which the single most fundamental aspect of a continuation novel. His mindset, the way he thinks and talks; it's extremely flemingesque. The story in itself is slow and down-to-earth in a way Fleming never wrote, but it works well in its own right.
  • Finished up Dr. No last night. It’s the first Bond book I ever read, and for a long time the only one. I remember loving it as a kid so I’m surprised I never read any of the others for such a long time. Anyway, I remembered very little of it and most of what I did remember came from the extravagant back half. If Live and Let Die was Fleming dipping his toes in pulp-adventure concepts, Dr. No is him plunging headfirst. And coming after the comparatively laidback From Russia With Love I thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s maybe the finest book he’s written purely in terms of being a page-turning thriller.

    After the intriguing opening and the wonderfully icy dressing down Bond gets from M, the first third or so feels a bit like it’s hitting all the notes one would expect from these books at this point (which isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable all, I loved getting more time in Jamaica after how lovingly he described it in LALD). You’ve got the airport tail, the hotel with a great balcony view, and other pleasing but expected moments. The tense centipede moment gives a preview of things to come, however.

    Once Bond and Quarrel get to Crab Key it’s off to the races. None of the other books thus far have really put Bond up against the elements the way this has, and I thoroughly enjoyed their trek through the swampy mangroves. Dr. No himself also makes a welcome return to the memorably singular megalomaniac villain that was missing in the last two books. He’s not quite as good as Drax or Mr. Big perhaps, but he cuts an iconic figure. It’s a bit of a shame his appearance in the book is crammed into a short amount of time which meant his section of the book is a bit too crammed with exposition, but by withholding him for so long (and using his name for the title) it builds up a lingering impression of him much like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. The obstacle course sequence is a wonderful spin on the standard “Bond gets tortured” moment, and is one I wish made it more fully to the otherwise fairly faithful film adaptation. The only real weakness to the book is I think Honey is a bit too subservient and childlike at times to be believable, but all in all this book is one of my favorites of so far, and a perfect zig after FRWL’s zag. From here on out the rest of the series is uncharted territory for me. Next up is the last of Fleming’s 50’s output: Goldfinger.
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 731
    3 years since last Bond novel, FAAD... due something soon I would hope...were there any announcements or rumors?
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited April 30 Posts: 14,777
    DoctorNo wrote: »
    3 years since last Bond novel, FAAD... due something soon I would hope...were there any announcements or rumors?

    I had heard from somewhere that Horowitz had the new Bond novel written already and that it would be set after Fleming's last Bond work The Man with the Golden Gun. It could be that Covid-19 has held up the news of its release and its actual release as with so many other things including of course NTTD. It could also be a load of old cobblers too but I remember reading it somewhere. I think Bond expert Ajay Chowdhury was the one I heard referring to it as he had either met or been in contact with Horowitz. I'm putting a health warning on this post so take it all with a pinch of salt if you so wish.
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 731
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    DoctorNo wrote: »
    3 years since last Bond novel, FAAD... due something soon I would hope...were there any announcements or rumors?

    I had heard from somewhere that Horowitz had the new Bond novel written already and that it would be set after Fleming's last Bond work The Man with the Golden Gun. It could be that Covid-19 has held up the news of its release and its actual release as with so many other things including of course NTTD. It could also be a load of old cobblers too but I remember reading it somewhere. I think Bond expert Ajay Chowdhury was the one I heard referring to it as he had either met or been in contact with Horowitz. I'm putting a health warning on this post so take it all with a pinch of salt if you so wish.

    Well that’s a pretty good source for rumor... I had higher hopes after TM, but I’d still look forward to reading it. Maybe third time will be the charm and it will Horowitz best. It should be the barometer though if he continues. You would think books would get a boost not a delay during Covid, but I know supply chains are hit.
  • Agent_47Agent_47 Canada
    Posts: 330
    Working my way through Dr. No. It's been slow going, not because of the book itself just motivation on my part. Have yet to finish a Bond novel that I've started in probably 2 years. Hoping to finish this one though; about 2/3 of the way through and enjoying it quite a bit. Wish me luck @Birdleson
  • Life can get in the way, I get it. But Dr. No is certainly one of the most page turning of the Bond novels, if not the most. The home stretch is such a thrill. By contrast I’m working my way through Goldfinger for the first time and I’m finding it to be the weakest since Diamonds are Forever (perhaps even weaker? We shall see). Very uneven pacing, not a ton of atmosphere, and I feel like Fleming’s prose isn’t quite as sharp as it usually is. I did love the back to back sequences of the golf game and Bond’s dinner with Goldfinger, that was top notch stuff, and the opening chapter was wonderful as well, as we see Bond’s disillusionment with his line of work growing and it feels like a downer version of a Bond film PTS (amazing the contrast with how the film opens up). But other than that it’s just missing a spark for. It doesn’t help that the setup to the plot felt like a less thrilling rehash of Moonraker with the card game cheating, and recalls DAF with the lengthy exposition where gold is subbed in for diamonds. Maybe things will pick up in the final third though, I know I was similarly down on DAF but by the end I still very much enjoyed it.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,479
    Wasn't the original title of GF The Richest Man in the World? Even Fleming's draft titles are better than the dross Eon tends to come up with...
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited June 30 Posts: 14,777
    echo wrote: »
    Wasn't the original title of GF The Richest Man in the World? Even Fleming's draft titles are better than the dross Eon tends to come up with...

    Yes, it was indeed his original title for Goldfinger. It's a good one too. He later revisited the sentiment behind it with The Man with the Golden Gun. Eon could always turn to the Fleming chapter titles as there are plenty of cracking titles there too. However, so far they have elected not to do so. They probably won't even consider it until they totally run out of original Fleming titles.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I'd be happy if they cut down on words like Kill, Die and Death. Plenty of other lines
    from Poems and quotes that could be used.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,479
    I still hold out hope for Risico and The Property of a Lady, when the right films/mood come along.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe Still waiting for the Jena Malone Batwoman movie that's never going to be made.Moderator
    Posts: 11,974
    Finished Brokenclaw yesterday. Ohhh.... that challenge that Bond goes through at the reservation, had me wincing. Just thinking about it now, makes me feel queasy. Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.
  • I finished Goldfinger and unfortunately did not love it. I was already not 100% on it during the first half, and it turns out that the first half is significantly better than the second! Every book so far has delivered a thrilling climax, even Diamonds are Forever really picked up, but here it felt totally perfunctory on almost every level. Oh well, they can’t all be winners. There was still some good stuff in here, Bond’s opening musings and the stretch from the golf game until Bond’s torture is pretty solid, but quite a bit less to enjoy than the others. It made me appreciate the film adaptation more though, at least. Hopefully things pick up again with the next novel: Thunderball.
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 3,289
    Finished TMWTGG a few weeks ago and it was quite a thrill, although different from what I expected. I had heard that it was an unfinished second draft lacking the more colourful characterizations that Fleming apparently added as a last touch.

    Nevertheless, there were many scenes I rather enjoyed, like the conversation with the barmaid at the playhouse and Scramangas first appearance. I like the fact that they talk about the local birds (did not like them going up in a feathery explosion) and that Bond cleverly manages to get hired by Scaramanga. Different to the film, Scaramanga is a much more youthful character, bragging with his shooting skills. He feels more like in his mid-twenties than Christopher Lee's 50 yeras of age in the movie.

    The middle part with Bond spying on the party in the conference room has a very 1950's feel to it, with the cheap entertainment, the communists and gangsters.
    It seems odd that his former secretary Mary Goodnight intrudes right in the lion's den, but then Fleming presents a satisfying explanation for it, and it is a prerequisite for waht happens in the finale.

    The finale is a wild scene involving an old "funfair"-style train and a lot of shooting and hunting action. Now I get where the idea in CR came from to have Vesper lying on the road. The final showdown between Bond and Scramanga is a bit anti-climactic and I must say I have forgotten its details already.

    All in all surprisingly enjoyable. I checked current pictures of Savanna-La-Mar, and it looks exactly as I imagined it after Fleming's vivid descriptions. Even the Frome Sugar Factory is still there and on Google Maps. I like that kind of realism, it helps to embed the more silly parts of the story into a realistic framework.

    I wonder which novel to read next, though, as I started with the last one.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Costa Mucho
    Posts: 41,660
    @zebrafish , the logical step is to continue with YOLT.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,777
    @zebrafish , the logical step is to continue with YOLT.

    Go backwards, forwards quickly as a great sage once said. ;)
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 3,289
    @Birdleson , I just updated the Bond Novel Meter. I have to say 2 things: 1) People definitively should read more. 2) I almost subtracted 2 points out of habit.

    Another interesting scene in TMWTGG is a drunken Bond shooting a fake pineapple head-dress off an unsuspecting dancer. For me that was quite a bit out of character for the film Bond and certainly for today's times, but I can believe such things happen under those circumstances. It certainly was the inspiration to the "duel" that cost Severine's life in SF.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,777
    zebrafish wrote: »
    @Birdleson , I just updated the Bond Novel Meter. I have to say 2 things: 1) People definitively should read more. 2) I almost subtracted 2 points out of habit.

    Another interesting scene in TMWTGG is a drunken Bond shooting a fake pineapple head-dress off an unsuspecting dancer. For me that was quite a bit out of character for the film Bond and certainly for today's times, but I can believe such things happen under those circumstances. It certainly was the inspiration to the "duel" that cost Severine's life in SF.

    Yes, that's what I thought when I first saw that scene. Both are inspired by William Tell and the apple but the SF scene was definitely inspired by the scene in the TMWTGG novel. It is unusual to see Bond so drunk and reckless in that scene in the novel and it's all the better for being such a rare occurrence in my opinion. He raises the suspicions of Scaramanga in that scene, especially given the fact he is such a good shot.
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 3,289
    Returning to the TMWTGG novel, I found this gem. It's an illustration from the May 1965 issue of Playboy containing the second installment of the serialization of the novel.

    playboy-ian-fleming-tmwtgg.jpg

    It depicts one of my favorite scenes, leading up to the point where the flirtatious conversation between Bond and Tiffy is interrupted when Scaramanga shoots the blackbirds (named Joe and May).
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 731
    Nice find @zebrafish.
  • Posts: 5,999
    Whoa, that's one cool painting, @zebrafish. My favorite scene from the novel as well. That was Fleming writing up to his usual high standards all the way.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Brilliant illustration.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited May 30 Posts: 14,777
    Indeed. The Playboy illustrations to the adaptations of Fleming’s novels and short stories tended to be excellent. This one is no exception to that rule. Thanks for sharing, @zebrafish!
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 9,154
    I read John Gardner's For Special Services a short time ago during travel to and from Dallas.

    This time I note the story has the element for the sale of fake prints as identified by the beautiful female character. A variation of that used recently in Christopher Nolan's Tenet.

    Tenet.jpg 9781398701236.jpg
    making-of-tenet.jpg
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