James Bond novels (Fleming)

DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
edited July 2012 in Reviews Posts: 19,724
Please post all reviews of the Fleming novels here.

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  • OK. I just finished LALD... Keep in mind that I'm reviewing from translations, not from the original text. If you find inaccuracies, please don't hesitate on pointing them out.

    Casino Royale: A highly entertaining and easy to read Cold War-era thriller, based on action and adventure rather than on drama. However, this turns to be one of the most dramatic Bond adventures, with a very well written romantic plot.The action is fast and tight, packed in very few pages for a quick read. The central part of the narration, the baccarat game, is not only filled with tension, but quite educative, as it almost works as a guide for beginners. Bond, Leiter and Mathis are introduced, but it's just 007 who gets (for the first time in the novel series) character development thanks to a wonderful main female character: Vesper Lynd is the key factor in this novel, a combination between a femme-fatale and a brilliant assistant to Bond, they share lots of romantic moments. Bond, the ruthless secret agent, falls flatly in love with her and shows us his most human, caring side, which we won't see again until OHMSS. For his love for Vesper, he starts having genuine doubts about his job and its ethics, which comes as a suprise if we keep in mind that this is just the first novel of a long series. Le Chiffre is a quintassential Bond villain: sadistic, cunning, with a strange appearance (Fleming had a strange fixation with deformities... However, that is an integral part of any Bond villain, so I won't complain) and ambiguous sexuality, he's at odds both with MI6 and KGB.
    A must read for all fans, CR is not only the first novel of the Fleming canon, but one of the very best. An easy, quick read that only requires some background about the time when it was written.

    Live And Let Die: Even more focused towards action and adventure than its predecessor, LALD has aged terribly due to its main flaw: Fleming's blatant racism. His depiction of black people is almost as cruel and unfair as Margaret Mitchell's on "Gone With The Wind", just adapted to the 1950s. Almost (with 4 or 5 exceptions) all black people are signaled as criminals and/or blatant racists themselves, and the mocking of the Civil Rights Movement is from my point of view simply unforgivable. The only redeeming feature here is that while evil, Mr. Big (a guy who really means business) and his "scary big black men" are portrayed as intelligent and capable people.
    A real pity, because the novel "per se" is an agile, skillfuly narrated adventure full of chases, shootings and fights, one after another, with just a few pauses - generally fairly humorous - to put our mind at ease and to serve as a prelude to more excitement. Bond fights and suffers, learns and teaches and protects the girl, Solitaire, a rather unremarkable Bond girl IMHO, more because he's actually fond of her than for England and the Western Civilization.
    A good read, but the 21st Century reader will have to read it with an open mind if he/she wants to enjoy it. The depiction of blacks here is almost cringe-inducing.

    I hope these can come in handy for new readers...
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