Top 5 Bond novels...

Junglist_1985Junglist_1985 Los Angeles
edited June 2020 in Literary 007 Posts: 371
Since it seems we’ll be waiting a bit longer for NTTD, I figured I’d dive into some Fleming.

Including Casino Royale and You Only Live Twice (since NTTD seems to draw heavily from it), what other 3ish Bond novels would you all recommend as the best?
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Comments

  • marcmarc Universal Exports
    Posts: 1,601
    Hi @Junglist_1985, my recommendations are:

    OHMSS (very impressive 2nd half of the book, especially)
    DN (very impressive last third)
    LALD (suspenseful all the way through, but shorter)
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 19,780
    CR
    MR
    DN
    FRWL
    OHMSS
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 6,954
    I'm a huge fan of the short stories, so octopussy and the living Daylights, lald and ohmss
  • Posts: 504
    1. Casino Royale
    2. From Russia with Love
    3. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    4. Moonraker
    5. The Man with the Golden Gun (I know the novel is not necessarily appreciated, but it's really a personal favorite of mine).
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    edited June 2020 Posts: 4,437
    CR
    MR
    OP
    OHMSS
    YOLT
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    Posts: 4,637
    Casino Royale
    On Her Majesty’s Service
    Octopussy
    From Russia with Love
    Dr No
  • Agent_99Agent_99 enjoys a spirited ride as much as the next girl
    Posts: 2,596
    Moonraker: has always been my favourite; it feels much more immediate to me as it's set in the UK, not some remote tropical island.

    Casino Royale: has Bond doing proper clever spy stuff. The plot twist SHOOK me when I first read it.

    OHMSS: I love the opening, with its childhood summer holiday nostalgia, and all the chasing about on the mountain. It helps that the film is one of my favourites.
  • goldenswissroyalegoldenswissroyale Switzerland
    Posts: 2,904
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    CR
    MR
    DN
    FRWL
    OHMSS

    That's it.
  • Posts: 582
    FRWL. The chapter where Grant explains the plot to Bond on the Orient Express is one of my favourite chapters in any novel, ever, not just a Fleming novel. A masterclass in how to write exposition.

    YOLT
    DAF (for the character of Tiffany Case, mainly)
    MR
    CR
  • Posts: 504
    Birdleson wrote: »
    MR
    TMWTGG isn’t in my Top Five, but it’s not that far out. It’s porous and feels incomplete (for obvious reasons), but what’s there is mostly excellent.
    Totally agree with your last statement: from the opening chapters in London to the character of Scaramanga, his relationship with Bond and the overall narrative structure, many things are brilliant. The possibilities of what could have become of the series under Fleming's pen are all the more interesting, like the loss of Bond's ruthlessness for exemple.
  • marcmarc Universal Exports
    Posts: 1,601
    Interesting choices there for the top 5. MR's third (and last) part is great, as well as the card game and the Dover Cliff chapter, but in between it's quite dry sometimes.
    I was very disappointed with FRWL. Several times I had to force myself to continue reading; I found it really boring at times.
    I really liked to read YOLT, but I just couldn't make myself read some chapters in the middle ('chase through Japan'), they were too dry for me.
  • GadgetManGadgetMan Lagos, Nigeria
    Posts: 3,845
    Yeah, @marc I see what you mean about FRWL. It's a slow-burn read and very expository, that's why it seems boring....But I love it.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,477
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    CR
    MR
    DN
    FRWL
    OHMSS

    That's it.

    I basically agree, although I'm tempted to swap out FRWL and swap in YOLT. OHMSS and YOLT should go together.
  • marcmarc Universal Exports
    Posts: 1,601
    Yes, @GadgetMan, I can understand that; I also usually don't mind Fleming's expository style in other novels. But here I don't like Spectre's plot, the Orient Express passage is really good (as are some other chapters) but can't compare to the spectacle of an average Fleming finale for me, and I don't like the locations and atmosphere.

    Btw, thanks everyone for the recommendation of OP and TLD, perhaps I'll read them in the next weeks/months.
  • Posts: 3,779
    1. FRWL
    2. MR
    3. OHMSS
    4. TLD (I know its a short story, but i love it!)
    5. TMWGG (agree it feels incomplete, but i enjoy reading it!)
  • Posts: 7,087
    FRWL
    OHMSS
    DN
    MR
    CR

    Seems like these five are a staple in people's top fives. I was looking to include some upsets, but I couldn't justify it.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Enemy of the state
    edited June 2020 Posts: 41,641
    Goldfinger
    Moonraker
    From Russia, With Love
    Live And Let Die
    Doctor No
  • Posts: 1,177
    I'm a huge fan of the short stories, so octopussy and the living Daylights, lald and ohmss

    Me too. In fact I’d Even go so far as to say Octopussy is my favourite piece of literary Bond. Taut, unsettling and brilliant.

    1. Octopussy
    2. OHMSS
    3. Moonraker
    4. Golden gun (though it would be better with a Fleming polish)
    5. For your eyes only
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,356
    MR
    DN
    OHMSS
    FRWL
    TB (yeah, I hadda be different.... ;) )
  • MooseWithFleasMooseWithFleas Philadelphia
    Posts: 3,183
    Moonraker
    From Russia With Love
    Casino Royale
    Thunderball
    Live and Let Die
  • goldenswissroyalegoldenswissroyale Switzerland
    Posts: 2,904
    Top 2 are FRWL and OHMSS.
    DN is completely different but an adventure I love read more than once.
    CR
    I needed a second reading of MR before I realized its top 5 quality.

    The first half of GF could easily be in the top 5 but not the whole book.
  • Posts: 7,087
    Top 2 are FRWL and OHMSS.
    DN is completely different but an adventure I love read more than once.
    CR
    I needed a second reading of MR before I realized its top 5 quality.

    The first half of GF could easily be in the top 5 but not the whole book.

    Well put, I agree.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,477
    CR
    MR
    DN
    OHMSS
    YOLT
  • The first half of GF could easily be in the top 5 but not the whole book.

    There is some quality stuff in the first half of that book—particularly the opening chapter "Reflections in a Double Bourbon" and the golf game. Top shelf Fleming, both.
  • goldenswissroyalegoldenswissroyale Switzerland
    Posts: 2,904
    The first half of GF could easily be in the top 5 but not the whole book.

    There is some quality stuff in the first half of that book—particularly the opening chapter "Reflections in a Double Bourbon" and the golf game. Top shelf Fleming, both.

    Yes, GF has an interesting beginning and the golf game is incredible: how does Fleming manage to write two chapters about the golf game and it isn'tboring for a second?! The same goes for the card game in MR: it is entertaining and thrilling at the same time despite it is only about men playing cards and I even don't fully understand the rules! That's magic simply done with words. Absolutely awesome.
  • matt_umatt_u better known as Mr. Roark
    Posts: 3,502
    Pretty easy for me:

    MR
    FRWL
    LALD
    CR
    TB

    I definitely don't share the same enthusiasm for Dr. No.
  • Posts: 10,541
    I love Dr. No. The fantasy aspects of the novel really appealed to me. My full novel ranking as of now would go:

    1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    2. Dr. No
    3. Moonraker
    4. You Only Live Twice
    5. The Spy Who Loved Me

    6. Live and Let Die
    7. From Russia with Love
    8. Casino Royale
    9. Thunderball
    10. Goldfinger
    11. The Man with the Golden Gun
    12. Diamonds Are Forever

    Bear in mind though I’ve only read each one once, and many of them are very close in quality. Though I ranked two ahead of it, I’d consider MR the most essential Bond novel and would recommend it first to anyone wanting to get into the series with just one book, if they weren’t going in order.
  • LALD
    DAF
    MR
    DN
    TMWTGG
  • ThunderballThunderball playing Chemin de Fer in a casino, downing Vespers
    Posts: 687
    I’ve only read five Fleming books so far. My ranking is:

    1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    2. Casino Royale
    3. You Only Live Twice
    4. Moonraker
    5. Thunderball

    Soon I will try to read more.
  • edited December 2020 Posts: 5,999
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I’ve only read five Fleming books so far. My ranking is:

    1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    2. Casino Royale
    3. You Only Live Twice
    4. Moonraker
    5. Thunderball

    Soon I will try to read more.

    Those first four, along with FRWL, are the cream of the crop by general consensus. Of course TB is also full of great stuff, but it doesn't, I think for most readers, fulfill at that level (but that two page introductory description of Blofeld is sure excellent). To me, both Short Story collections also stand with the elite. They give insight into Bond's psyche at a level that the novels do not.

    Those 5—CR, MR, FRWL, OHMSS, YOLT—do seem to be the most highly regarded in general. Though I've never quite understood why TB doesn't find its way among them. The novel is grand in scope, Domino is one of Fleming's more interesting and more finely drawn Bond girls, and the prose is in top form throughout. I'll have to give it a re-read at some point, but TB was one of my three favorites after my last read through the series. LALD is another I regard quite highly. Thrillingly paced, intense climax, and simply great writing throughout. On the other hand, I struggle to connect with CR beyond appreciating the risks Fleming took with the genre and how well he establishes the character of James Bond from this very first book. And OHMSS has always paled to me by comparison with the film. As with GF, the book's flaws, both structural and character-wise, are made all the more apparent by its superior film adaptation. (Though I’m probably a bit too harsh on Majesty’s. I blame Peter Hunt for ruining it for me ;).)
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