Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

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  • I’m looking forward to getting to them, but it’s been a real treat going through the series in order (though I skipped the short stories) so I’m not looking forward to not having a new Fleming adventures ahead of me.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 3,036
    I just finished Colonel Sun (Daily Express). It is a shame EON didn’t make it during the Cold War. Now I think they’re realizing their mistake.
  • Posts: 16,466
    Finished reading The Spy Who Loved Me a few days ago. A bit different obviously, but Fleming's writing is just as good in this one.
  • ThunderballThunderball playing Chemin de Fer in a casino, downing Vespers
    Posts: 763
    bd0200fcdb31f70f7d4e506c4c3e5e9e.jpg

    And it’s about damn time, too.
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 751
    bd0200fcdb31f70f7d4e506c4c3e5e9e.jpg

    And it’s about damn time, too.

    First time?
  • ThunderballThunderball playing Chemin de Fer in a casino, downing Vespers
    Posts: 763
    DoctorNo wrote: »
    bd0200fcdb31f70f7d4e506c4c3e5e9e.jpg

    And it’s about damn time, too.

    First time?

    Yeah. Until very recently, I haven’t really had access to all of Fleming’s books. I’ve often been broke and the book app on my iPad hasn’t had all the books until only a handful of months ago. Now I’m gonna go read all the rest, starting with FRWL. I’ve only read five books so far by Fleming: Casino Royale, Moonraker, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice. Think I’ll tackle Dr. No next after FRWL. I’m excited.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Have you a favourite one out of what you've read so far @Thunderball ?
  • ThunderballThunderball playing Chemin de Fer in a casino, downing Vespers
    Posts: 763
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Good choice =D> It's a favourite of mine too
  • I enjoyed The Spy Who Loved Me quite a bit. I was worried the reason I didn’t enjoy Goldfinger and Thunderball so much was because I was just getting burnt out on the books, but I do think TSWLM shows a clear re-energization on Fleming’s part, no doubt due to its unique perspective in relation to the others. In particular his scene-setting is in full force in this book, with the Dreamy Pines Motorcourt described in great detail and the stormy atmosphere is wonderfully evocative and adds to the sense of impending tension. The first half of the book contains absolutely nothing one would expect from a Bond novel, but I found it to be fairly compelling nonetheless as Viv is certainly one of the more developed Bond girls, even if she is largely defined by her relationship to other men (which is sort of the core Goldilocks theme of the novel, in which Bond is the perfect “porridge”.) Then the stuff with Horror and Sluggsy kicks in and, despite their often goofy gangster dialogue, makes for some really suspenseful stuff. I’m not sure yet where I’d rank this in relation to the others, but it definitely is an upward trajectory from the previous two.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    I have to give shout out here to Christopher Wood's novelization of The Spy Who Loved Me. It was amazing. Easily as good (or nearly depending upon your taste) as Colonel Sun (which was fantastic considering it wasn't Fleming).
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Das Boot Hill
    Posts: 45,487
    I enjoyed The Spy Who Loved Me quite a bit. I was worried the reason I didn’t enjoy Goldfinger and Thunderball so much was because I was just getting burnt out on the books, but I do think TSWLM shows a clear re-energization on Fleming’s part, no doubt due to its unique perspective in relation to the others. In particular his scene-setting is in full force in this book, with the Dreamy Pines Motorcourt described in great detail and the stormy atmosphere is wonderfully evocative and adds to the sense of impending tension. The first half of the book contains absolutely nothing one would expect from a Bond novel, but I found it to be fairly compelling nonetheless as Viv is certainly one of the more developed Bond girls, even if she is largely defined by her relationship to other men (which is sort of the core Goldilocks theme of the novel, in which Bond is the perfect “porridge”.) Then the stuff with Horror and Sluggsy kicks in and, despite their often goofy gangster dialogue, makes for some really suspenseful stuff. I’m not sure yet where I’d rank this in relation to the others, but it definitely is an upward trajectory from the previous two.

    TSWLM has one thing in common with FRWL. It takes a long time until Bond shows up. One starts out as a book about the villain(s), while the other is about the girl.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 16,322
    I enjoyed The Spy Who Loved Me quite a bit. I was worried the reason I didn’t enjoy Goldfinger and Thunderball so much was because I was just getting burnt out on the books, but I do think TSWLM shows a clear re-energization on Fleming’s part, no doubt due to its unique perspective in relation to the others. In particular his scene-setting is in full force in this book, with the Dreamy Pines Motorcourt described in great detail and the stormy atmosphere is wonderfully evocative and adds to the sense of impending tension. The first half of the book contains absolutely nothing one would expect from a Bond novel, but I found it to be fairly compelling nonetheless as Viv is certainly one of the more developed Bond girls, even if she is largely defined by her relationship to other men (which is sort of the core Goldilocks theme of the novel, in which Bond is the perfect “porridge”.) Then the stuff with Horror and Sluggsy kicks in and, despite their often goofy gangster dialogue, makes for some really suspenseful stuff. I’m not sure yet where I’d rank this in relation to the others, but it definitely is an upward trajectory from the previous two.

    TSWLM has one thing in common with FRWL. It takes a long time until Bond shows up. One starts out as a book about the villain(s), while the other is about the girl.

    Yes, that's true. Both were experiments in their own way although TSWLM went that bit further than FRWL with having the girl narrate the novel and it being longer before Bond actually appears (the final third of the novel to be exact). There certainly are parallels between the two, though. An interesting observation there.
  • edited August 2021 Posts: 518
    Birdleson wrote: »
    The area you hit fatigue in is not an uncommon spot. Luckily for you, the next series of novels is an absolute blast, by consensus. Even with its flaws (rushed death piece), TMWTGG does a great job of tying up the loose ends, and contains a riveting intro, not to mention one of the strongest climaxes in the series. And you have another collection of great short stories ahead (though continuity, and when they were first published in magazines, would place them somewhere between TB and TSWLM). And COLONEL SUN certainly holds its own, and it was written contemporarily, more or less.

    I actually have both short story collections ahead of me as those are the only ones I’m not doing in order. I’ve been reading through the folio society releases and I had hoped they’d put those out by the time I got to them but I would have to slow my pace waaaaay down haha. At least I shouldn’t have to wait long for The Man With the Golden Gun.
    I enjoyed The Spy Who Loved Me quite a bit. I was worried the reason I didn’t enjoy Goldfinger and Thunderball so much was because I was just getting burnt out on the books, but I do think TSWLM shows a clear re-energization on Fleming’s part, no doubt due to its unique perspective in relation to the others. In particular his scene-setting is in full force in this book, with the Dreamy Pines Motorcourt described in great detail and the stormy atmosphere is wonderfully evocative and adds to the sense of impending tension. The first half of the book contains absolutely nothing one would expect from a Bond novel, but I found it to be fairly compelling nonetheless as Viv is certainly one of the more developed Bond girls, even if she is largely defined by her relationship to other men (which is sort of the core Goldilocks theme of the novel, in which Bond is the perfect “porridge”.) Then the stuff with Horror and Sluggsy kicks in and, despite their often goofy gangster dialogue, makes for some really suspenseful stuff. I’m not sure yet where I’d rank this in relation to the others, but it definitely is an upward trajectory from the previous two.

    TSWLM has one thing in common with FRWL. It takes a long time until Bond shows up. One starts out as a book about the villain(s), while the other is about the girl.

    That’s true. I also noticed a similarity between Thunderball and FRWL. TB obviously isn’t quite the same as we have the whole shrublands opening with Bond, but then we spend quite a bit of time with the villains as they plan out their schemes.
  • edited August 2021 Posts: 2,677
    Since this is our current literary criticism thread, I thought I'd post a wonderful example of literary criticism--some excerpts from an interview Timothy Dalton gave back in 1987, where he discussed the literary James Bond:

    "He's a strange and fascinating paradox. Obviously he contains a lot of Ian Fleming himself. It's almost as if Fleming created a man he would have liked to be - a principled, brave, tenacious, almost chivalric adventurer - and filled him with his own sensitivities and ideals and thoughts. Bond is a paradox. He's described as a machine. But he's a sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent machine. That's a contradiction. Machines don't feel. But on every page Fleming is talking about how he feels.

    "He's a man who, in the nature of his job, cannot possibly have an emotional involvement with somebody. On a mission, when you're living in a dangerous and tense world - when your life might end at any given moment - you can't afford that kind of involvement.

    "But having pushed Bond to one extreme, Fleming creates in him its opposite: the deep need for love and affection. Two pages down the road of any story, he's met some lady in distress, or a victim or endangered person - and fallen in love with her. So he's got these wonderful contradictions and opposites, which make a very rich and complex man. That, to me, was a terrific discovery."

    I think Dalton's comments on the Fleming-Bond paradox might be the most intelligent remarks any Bond actor has made about the books.
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 751
    Interesting and agreed. I've read Connery complimenting the books in terms of having all the ingredients in being so successful but not on JB as a character. Not that he didn't, just haven't read.

    Moore I've never read anything, I don't think he really cared about the character rather focused on his ability to bring his personal charm into the role. Lazenby and Brosnan were always more interested in playing Connery as Bond. I haven't read that much of Craig other than talking about reading all the books and being taken by Fleming's relationship to the character, falling in love with and then hating (which i don't agree with. Fatigue yes, but not hate).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Agreed @Revelator Dalton makes some very interesting observations
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,289
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I hadn't known that Craig had read all of the books. I'm going to consider that next time I'm watching his performances. I can see it mostly in his first two outings, but upon first viewing of CR, I found it very hard to accept him in the role, as he was such a brute. Not Fleming's rather lightweight (relative physically) gentleman spy.

    I concur!
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 3,852
    So I have just finished YOLT to prepare myself for some of the ideas surfacing in NTTD and because I somehow started to read the novels backwards as to when they were published, with TMWTGG being my previous and excellent experience.

    (Spoilers follow, if you want to read the novel)

    To my surprise, I did not enjoy it as much as TMWTGG. What I enjoyed is the idea to give a somewhat forlorn and sorrowful Bond, whose wife had been killed previous to this adventure, a job that is impossible to succeed in, in M's view. Of course our hero succeeds on almost all fronts, but the voyage is a bit bumpy. I liked the interactions and banter with Henderson and Tanaka (always visualizing exactly the actors from the film). However, the introduction to the Japanese lifestyle takes up rather long portions of the stotyline. Moreover, to today's readers, much of it is not as exotic as it must have been in the 1960s, sometimes bordering on the absurd (what Ninjas do with the testes). It does build a somewhat bizarre picture of Japanese culture, focusing on the problem with suicides in the country. I do not know whether that really was such a big deal in Fleming's time, but so be it. It serves as a McGuffin for Bond's job that he agreed to do in return for fulfilling the task M set him up to achieve.

    The best parts of the novel then concern the relationship between Bond and Kissy Suzuki. Of course Kissy is fluent in English, having been an actress in Hollywood for one film - and she even met and liked David Niven (Kissy named a cormorant after him, which is on her side while diving for shells). Nice touch, Mr. Fleming, breaking the fourth wall! What if she had met Sean Connery? Anyway, she is not shy of nakedness, which helps the imagination of the reader to put himself in Bond's shoes/flippers (I must confess I liked the image Fleming conjures up when Bond dives behind her, something to the effect of two white half moons leading the way...). At the end of the novel she bears Bond's child, but does not tell him and is perfectly OK when he regains his memory and leaves her for good. I guess that is what male readers dreamed of in the 1960s, but such storylines do not age well.

    Interestingly, when Bond recognizes Blofeld and Bunt (but does not tell Tanaka), his thoughts are all over the place of previous encounters, but not at all that these figures killed his wife. Although he reminsces about it when killing them later, I found that strangely unlikely.

    Now, the Garden of Death is a wonderful idea, but really, most of the plants in there are only dangerous when you eat them. Fleming might as well just have imagined stinging nettles everywhere instead and to the same effect. The only real danger lurks when people decide to jump into the pond (Piranhas lie in wait!). So, Garden of Death is more of a fun fair for idiots.

    Once Bond hides in the Garden, several things happen that did not convince me from a writing point of view. First, the Garden-plot exposure scene is too convenient. As on every morning, Blofeld explains the purpose of their garden to Blunt in great detail, so that our hero can conveniently hear it. Then, Blofeld running around the whole day in a knight's armor to protect himself from the nettles is ridiculous, and the picture of him - armored to the hilt in front of the fireplace - listening to Wagner's Ride of the Valkyrie, while Irma Bunt does needlework, is just too laughable comedic. I did like the idea of the trapdoor floor, but was really disappointed that Bond, after all his experience and recent Ninja training, (and now wait for it...) "fell for it".

    In any case, the grand finale is rather satisfying (although the escape with the ballon/blimp is bordering on the absurd again), but leaves Bond with several bangs to his head, which leads to him losing his entire memory and - now be prepared! - his libido. This leads to another male fantasy where Kissy goes to extremes to make him well again. In any case, a curiously funny idea and maybe Fleming had become a "dirty old man" by the time, who knows. Maybe he thought that he owed that to the screen Bond.

    So, all in all I give YOLT a solid 3,5 out of 5 stars.

    While I read my old PAN paperback copy, I realized it is a first edition that I must have picked up in a second-hand book store ages ago in San Francisco. What a nice surprise! And I like the cover very much.

    1132647.jpg


  • silva13silva13 Australia
    Posts: 198
    Finished From Russia With Love earlier in the week. Started Dr No immediately and loved it, it is a real page turner. And I just finished Goldfinger today, I enjoyed it but not as much as the first two. Very surprised that Odd Job was a Fleming character, always assumed he was a film creation.
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 7,460
    zebrafish wrote: »
    So I have just finished YOLT to prepare myself for some of the ideas surfacing in NTTD and because I somehow started to read the novels backwards as to when they were published, with TMWTGG being my previous and excellent experience.

    (Spoilers follow, if you want to read the novel)

    To my surprise, I did not enjoy it as much as TMWTGG. What I enjoyed is the idea to give a somewhat forlorn and sorrowful Bond, whose wife had been killed previous to this adventure, a job that is impossible to succeed in, in M's view. Of course our hero succeeds on almost all fronts, but the voyage is a bit bumpy. I liked the interactions and banter with Henderson and Tanaka (always visualizing exactly the actors from the film). However, the introduction to the Japanese lifestyle takes up rather long portions of the stotyline. Moreover, to today's readers, much of it is not as exotic as it must have been in the 1960s, sometimes bordering on the absurd (what Ninjas do with the testes). It does build a somewhat bizarre picture of Japanese culture, focusing on the problem with suicides in the country. I do not know whether that really was such a big deal in Fleming's time, but so be it. It serves as a McGuffin for Bond's job that he agreed to do in return for fulfilling the task M set him up to achieve.

    The best parts of the novel then concern the relationship between Bond and Kissy Suzuki. Of course Kissy is fluent in English, having been an actress in Hollywood for one film - and she even met and liked David Niven (Kissy named a cormorant after him, which is on her side while diving for shells). Nice touch, Mr. Fleming, breaking the fourth wall! What if she had met Sean Connery? Anyway, she is not shy of nakedness, which helps the imagination of the reader to put himself in Bond's shoes/flippers (I must confess I liked the image Fleming conjures up when Bond dives behind her, something to the effect of two white half moons leading the way...). At the end of the novel she bears Bond's child, but does not tell him and is perfectly OK when he regains his memory and leaves her for good. I guess that is what male readers dreamed of in the 1960s, but such storylines do not age well.

    Interestingly, when Bond recognizes Blofeld and Bunt (but does not tell Tanaka), his thoughts are all over the place of previous encounters, but not at all that these figures killed his wife. Although he reminsces about it when killing them later, I found that strangely unlikely.

    Now, the Garden of Death is a wonderful idea, but really, most of the plants in there are only dangerous when you eat them. Fleming might as well just have imagined stinging nettles everywhere instead and to the same effect. The only real danger lurks when people decide to jump into the pond (Piranhas lie in wait!). So, Garden of Death is more of a fun fair for idiots.

    Once Bond hides in the Garden, several things happen that did not convince me from a writing point of view. First, the Garden-plot exposure scene is too convenient. As on every morning, Blofeld explains the purpose of their garden to Blunt in great detail, so that our hero can conveniently hear it. Then, Blofeld running around the whole day in a knight's armor to protect himself from the nettles is ridiculous, and the picture of him - armored to the hilt in front of the fireplace - listening to Wagner's Ride of the Valkyrie, while Irma Bunt does needlework, is just too laughable comedic. I did like the idea of the trapdoor floor, but was really disappointed that Bond, after all his experience and recent Ninja training, (and now wait for it...) "fell for it".

    In any case, the grand finale is rather satisfying (although the escape with the ballon/blimp is bordering on the absurd again), but leaves Bond with several bangs to his head, which leads to him losing his entire memory and - now be prepared! - his libido. This leads to another male fantasy where Kissy goes to extremes to make him well again. In any case, a curiously funny idea and maybe Fleming had become a "dirty old man" by the time, who knows. Maybe he thought that he owed that to the screen Bond.

    So, all in all I give YOLT a solid 3,5 out of 5 stars.

    While I read my old PAN paperback copy, I realized it is a first edition that I must have picked up in a second-hand book store ages ago in San Francisco. What a nice surprise! And I like the cover very much.

    1132647.jpg


    Interesting review. I didn't know about the plants (but I'm not surprised) but the suicide problem Japan has, has been there for ages, it's part of the culture in which losing face is far worse than losing life. It's one of the reasons most of the train crossings are painted in happy colours, tio discourage.
    You make fair points on the plot though. Interesting take.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 3,036
    Dr. No. I’m looking forward to it.
  • 007Aus007Aus Melbourne, Australia
    Posts: 8
    I've started back down the John Gardner rabbit hole... Forgot how different they are to the Fleming novels. Not sure if I like them or not...
  • 007Aus wrote: »
    I've started back down the John Gardner rabbit hole... Forgot how different they are to the Fleming novels. Not sure if I like them or not...

    Out of curiosity, where have you got to so far?

    I have to admit, the first seven are probably the best.
  • 007Aus007Aus Melbourne, Australia
    Posts: 8
    Ryan1991 wrote: »
    007Aus wrote: »
    I've started back down the John Gardner rabbit hole... Forgot how different they are to the Fleming novels. Not sure if I like them or not...

    Out of curiosity, where have you got to so far?

    I have to admit, the first seven are probably the best.

    Up to Role of Honor right now. They're pulpy and fun, but nowhere near as good as Fleming. Though I have noticed that Gardner includes a lot more "Bond lifestyle" moments than Fleming did. Can't forgive him for the SAAB though...
  • Finally got around to reading OHMSS. If TSWLM was a marked uptick in quality from the slightly stodgy GF and TB, OHMSS is a total rejuvenation, certainly among the best books of the series. I love the humor that’s injected into it quite a bit, a carryover from the livelier passages of TB, and the Dracula-esque chunk of the book on top of Piz Gloria is wonderfully tense. One weaker area of the book I felt, and one the film really improved on, is that it sort of lulls after the excellent ski escape and turns into a quite a bit of exposition and planning for a climax that is incredibly brief. The film turned this portion into a great chance to not only deliver some more thrilling action sequences, but really build Bond and Tracy’s relationship which doesn’t feel quite so real here. Marc-Ange seems better sketched than Tracy. A bit of a weakness of Fleming is he’s great a writing the woman “with the wing down”, but once Bond sort of “heals” them they all end up feeling like the same, subservient character, mostly devoid of all their interesting flaws and quirks that made them so compelling when we first meet them. The ending is very affecting still anyway, however, and I was pleased to find out that Bond’s heartbreaking final lines in the film were taken verbatim from the book (and there’s no James Bond theme blaring to spoil the mood here either!).
  • cwl007cwl007 England
    Posts: 606
    Forum community, I need your advice please.
    I've read all of the Fleming novels over the years, some of them several times. I have my favourites.
    I do alot of driving in my work and want to start listening to the Fleming audio books. Have any of you listened to any of them and if so which one do you recommend for me start with in terms of narrator performance, enjoyment etc. (I can't afford them all at the moment so CR as a default might not be the best decision)
    Thank you
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,311
    Reading Carte Blanche now, my favorite after original IF & Moneypenny Diaries.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 3,036
    Reading Carte Blanche now, my favorite after original IF & Moneypenny Diaries.

    Just finished Dr. No. I feel that the film is better, which is rare for me. I feel this was more racist at times than Live and Let Die! But, it was enjoyable to see how it connected to the film.

    As for Carte Blanche, it is one of my favorites, as it was the first full Bond novel that I read. I feel that it could be a great starting point for the next Bond, along with Forever and a Day. FAAD could introduce the new Bond himself, while CB could introduce his supporting cast. It does feel like a Bond and friends adventure, which I like.
  • brinkeguthriebrinkeguthrie Piz Gloria
    Posts: 1,311
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    Reading Carte Blanche now, my favorite after original IF & Moneypenny Diaries.

    Just finished Dr. No. I feel that the film is better, which is rare for me. I feel this was more racist at times than Live and Let Die! But, it was enjoyable to see how it connected to the film.

    As for Carte Blanche, it is one of my favorites, as it was the first full Bond novel that I read. I feel that it could be a great starting point for the next Bond, along with Forever and a Day. FAAD could introduce the new Bond himself, while CB could introduce his supporting cast. It does feel like a Bond and friends adventure, which I like.

    Moneypenny Diaries; do not miss them. Stunning.

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