Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

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  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    @talos7 I'm a big proponent of reading all of them in the order they were written (it takes a bit of research, but I would recommend doing that with the short stories as well, go by when they were first published in magazines), BUT, if I was only going to recommend one Fleming novel, it would be MR. Without a doubt. It's perfect.
  • If you’re going to read all of them, make the other two Casino Royale and Live and Let Die. It’s been very enjoyable reading them in sequence.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 2,055
    If you’re going to read all of them, make the other two Casino Royale and Live and Let Die. It’s been very enjoyable reading them in sequence.

    Yes they are! In particular, the Dynamite Comics versions, by Van Jensen.
  • talos7talos7 New Orleans
    Posts: 6,041
    I'm going with four, DN, MR, CR, LALD; thanks for the suggestions.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    talos7 wrote: »
    I'm going with four, DN, MR, CR, LALD; thanks for the suggestions.

    Good call. Have fun. Report back.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,324
    I remember those all being pretty cracking.
  • KronsteenKronsteen Stockholm
    Posts: 290
    Colonel Sun, for the umpteenth time. Love it as always!
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited March 11 Posts: 30,989
    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.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Every so often I make a point of re-reading the Fleming novels, always
    entertaining.
  • Finished up From Russia With Love and I think this can safely claim my favorite entry in the series thus far. That being said, I do have a couple quibbles with the climax. While I think it’s within Grant’s character to explain more or less the details of the plan to Bond since he gets a sadistic pleasure out humiliating him since this will be his biggest achievement in murder yet, it’s pure contrivance that he gives the exact time, place, and room number for his meeting with Klebb. It would have been more believable that Bond found it written on a scrap of paper in Grant’s jacket after he killed him or something (still too convenient but maybe less so). The film version also suffered a minor misstep in the Grant confrontation when he was able to be caught off his guard by the promise of gold sovereigns (why wouldn’t he just kill Bond and then take the money, if you believe he cares about money in the first place?). I think that I actually do prefer the novel to the film, I might like the Red Grant showdown in the film better. I’m glad Bond didn’t get killed off in this book too because while the ending is fine for a cliffhanger, if it were the ultimate fate of Bond I’d find it to be a bit unsatisfying as written. But, those minor issues aside, the book is wonderful. You can really tell that despite Fleming tiring of writing Bond books he really channeled that into a novel that flexes the boundaries of the formula to this point, shaping it into a structure and story that feels vital and exciting. Going to take a short break from reading Bond but up next will be Dr. No, which is actually the first Bond book I read and the last of the Bond novels I’ve read before. I read it when I was very young and remember little of it, other than that I liked it a lot and it contained a giant squid or something which certainly feels like the biggest escalation of the pulp elements of the books since LALD’s hunt for pirate treasure. Looking forward to cracking it open in the warm weather.
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    Finally finished Thunderball.
    Read this one out of order as I at first couldn't get my hands on a copy. I find it hard to judge it due to the story of course being spoiled every which way by the films and me already having read the rest of the books.
    I was again fascinated by the way Fleming began and ended his books. The openings are usually where he puts all of the continuation stuff. Development and exploration of Bond's character, those things. And the endings - where one might expect or be condition by more modern stories to expect set-ups for future stories - are often very abrupt and only endings to the specific mission of the week type stories he weaves after those openings. 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 (I haven't read TSWLM yet, but I heard Bond is technically on Operation Bedlam but is distracted by the plot of that book?) is kind of dealt with in a half sentence by Leiter and Bond couldn't care less it seems. 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. Maybe that was one reason why it took me a bit to get through this. There is no way for me to know how I would have reacted had I not known the film, but it felt like there was a distinct lack of red-herring here. Bond cottons on to Largo's plot pretty early on and from then on the tension is in a way, whether he can convince himself, Leiter and his superiors that he is in fact correct. We as the reader of course know all the time that he is in fact on the right track in pretty much every count. Not every story has to be a whodunnit, of course. Following the good guys during their attempts to figure out what we already know can be riveting. For me it was maybe a bit too straight forward at times.
    Still, the book, like everything by Fleming, has some fantastic moments. I bristled at the opening at first but now find it very interesting and pretty amusing. 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.

    Anyway. Like I said, it didn't necessarily grip me like other Bond novels, but I would still say it's a 6 out of 10 for me. A bit like the film Thunderball which isn't necessarily a massive favourite but still has some fantastic parts and is something I gladly stay with when I come across it on the TV.
  • edited March 12 Posts: 2,300
    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.''
  • ImpertinentGoonImpertinentGoon Everybody needs a hobby.
    Posts: 604
    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: 2,300
    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: 604
    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: 8,324
    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: 2,055
    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.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    I doubt he would. I found it to be thin and fairly silly.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,324
    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.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    Excellent observations. I've always enjoyed it, but in the past few years it has crept into that upper echelon. Like all of the best Fleming, it stands out stylistically as a unique installment.
  • DoctorNoDoctorNo USA-Maryland
    Posts: 729
    3 years since last Bond novel, FAAD... due something soon I would hope...were there any announcements or rumors?
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    Just get me another unused Fleming treatment included with whatever the hack of the hour has written and I'll be fine.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited April 30 Posts: 14,718
    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: 729
    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
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    Yes good luck, it’s a great one! I can’t understand losing momentum at that point, but it’s happened to me with other things.
  • 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.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,989
    DAF and GF are the weakest for me as well. Though both contain some great passages and characters.
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