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LIVE AND LET DIE
LALD managed to obtain one bronze medal and two 4th places. Three members rated it just outside their top 5, at 6th.
No last places for this one, though it did receive three bottom 3’s, with one penultimate place as its worst ranking.
In total LALD secured 120 points.
Most of the racial politics are dated, to put it politely. Stuff like Quarrel having certain features which resemble a white man's is a bit questionable looking back on it nowadays. Still, I've read a lot worse. I actually like Mr. Big as a villain. For me, he's a template for the stronger Bond villains to come in Fleming's novels - his striking appearance, the egomania, his way of talking etc. He's not as grotesque as Le Chiffre was in CR, but feels like more of a threat to Bond.
I think Fleming would continue to hone his storytelling, but for me this novels serves as great precursor to where he would go later. Without LALD, I can't see how we'd ever have gotten something like YOLT, nor can I see a villain like Goldfinger or Blofeld being the same without this one.
It’s also fairly unique in that its above-average level of violence and quasi-supernatural vibes make for a rather mean and eerie novel, and I love its pulpier elements like pirate treasure plot and island fortress protected by barracuda. Mr. Big is also a fantastic villain and I hope the films will incorporate his unused elements one day.
What hold it back from upper tier are that Solitaire is a pretty weak character who is really just a trophy for Bond, and its not until Felix is kidnapped that the book really kicks into gear (though I do like Felix and Bond pal-ing around New York). I also find the racial stereotypes distasteful even considering the age of the material. But really it’s a damn fine thriller and Fleming really finding the template for what the future Bond novels would be.
I’m guessing either DN or YOLT is up next.
One of my favorite moments! The audience exploded.
I'd argue the opposite. If anything I suspect Connery would have gotten away with it due to the fact that his films often have Bond behaving rather... well, let's just say even for the time questionably towards women (I'm thinking of things like him randomly kissing the nurse in TB and the infamous barn scene in GF). It helps that he played the part rather humorously when needed and had that 'cheeky' quality to his Bond which didn't make it feel sleazy or dark.
Moore's Bond, on the other, always comes off as an a*sehole in that scene for me. Same for how he treats Goodnight for most of TMWTGG. Moore was a great actor, far better than many believe him to be, but it took them until TSWLM to get to grips with how his Bond was to be written.
Only one participant gave CR the gold medal, while it also received one silver and two bronze medals.
Further down the top half, it was given four 4th and two 6th places. On the other hand, one member also gave it the penultimate spot.
CR received a total of 151 points.
Apart from that we have some great secondary characters. Mathis is the original Bond ally and has a sort of rougish charm to him that would be expanded upon with characters like Darko Kerim going forward. I love Felix and Bond's interactions too and Feming sets up their friendship effectively. Le Chiffre, of course, is a highlight. He's rather more grotesque and sadistic compared to his movie counterpart, but I never got the sense that he was an evil man. A bad one, sure, but unlike other Bond villains in the series he's a man who has made a mistake and is scrambling to save his own life. The contrast between the brutal torture scene and Le Chiffre's quiet, polite 'my dear boy' talk is actually really chilling.
Bond himself isn't quite the same character in this one that Fleming would develop him into later. He certainly comes off as a younger, more arrogant man when we first meet him (very sexist as well, and not in a way I think Fleming intended to be charming, but in a rather caddish 'women should be in the kitchen' manner). Even the fact that Vesper states he looks like a young Hoagey Carmichael is jarring as a reader today, assuming this reference brings anything to mind at all. Still, by the time we get to the third act. Bond becomes immediately cynical about the spy game and ultimately decides to retire. Of course, Vesper's suicide and revelation changes this, but he's a changed man. Much like the SM that the SMERSH agent carves on his hand he's marked for life. It goes a long way to explain why the literary Bond is the man he is in later novels - his bouts of melancholy, his tendency to fall in love with the women he encounters, his deep rooted cynicism towards his profession despite the fact that it's all he can really do with his life.
Great plot, and certainly some expertly written gambling scenes. The writing is tense when needed and keeps the reader hooked. While it doesn't quite have Fleming's flair for the fantastical that he would hone later, it's a gripping Cold War tale. My only major complaint about it is, surprisingly, Vesper. Fleming's ability to write compelling female characters has always been 50/50 for me. Unfortunately, I've always found Vesper rather lacking in personality. It's actually surprising that Bond decides to quit his job and settle down with her (I've always maintained that Bond was simply a younger man and highly disillusioned with the Service, and likely would not have made the same decision later on). Her spiral into paranoia and suicide is, of course, heartbreaking to read, but overall I think Fleming would write stronger, more compelling love interests later on. Still, it's a great read and serves as a foundation for the literary Bond.
It's #2 in my rankings! I really love this book how realistic it was from the villain, the plot and every scene, very realistic, menacing and the danger was real! You really feel the threat coming to Bond.
The relationship between Bond and Vesper was fleshed out and developed, second best relationship or romance after Bond with Tiffany Case.
Vesper is one of the best Bond Girls, mysterious, innocent yet intelligent, she's a great character, the plot twist at the end was unexpected because it's not obvious to her.
I easily get why Bond fell in love with this woman, he's his equal, a reflection of himself, they both have a same attitudes.
Vesper was more of a strong willed character, she's independent.
The ending alone was much better than the film, I mean it's atmosphere was silent so you really feel the melancholy with Bond just grieving when he reads Vesper's note, the film had the ridiculous CGI sinking house and shoehorned action scenes, there's no sadness, because instead of to feel sad, your mood will be diverted by those action sequences.
Why?! Just why?! This is excellent! And dare I say it, it's much better than the film!
I don't know how anyone can put this above the other novels especially OHMSS (which was weirdly constructed novel, brainwashing beautiful Irish and British girls anyone 😂?)
Like I said, it really sticks out in the context of the Bond series in the sense that it's more 'realistic' and character focused. Again, LALD was where Fleming seemed to lean more into that 'pulpiness' and escapism, evoking outlandish things like the supernatural etc. I'm not sure if the books would have been as popular had Fleming continued in CR's direction. I certainly don't think if they'd adapted the book's ending closely in 2006 this would have done them any favours (I actually agree to an extent, the sinking house is stupid, but the film needed an action sequence and Craig does sell the emotion rather well).
I do think OHMSS and YOLT are where these two sides of Fleming meet better and his storytelling becomes more mature. On the one hand you have his knack for describing exotic locations, crafting absurd but compelling characters/scenarios etc. On the other you have his focus on character, his tendency to explore ideas like Bond's cynicism, him falling in love etc. Perhaps this is why CR is ranked slightly lower than these?
But people keep criticising those, calling it weird, and some call it bad, and I still don't understand why.
People complain on OHMSS being weird because it's different (him falling in love and brainwashing plot, but it's just the same as in the book) while ranking CR higher because of its groundedness and realism, people didn't liked those elements (when it comes to the films).
So I expect the same on books, but it's rather different, but maybe only in this forum, I mean, we here in mi6community were much more nicer and kinder than those fans outside, (I mean in this forum the films were equally ranked as the books).
I think it depends. From my point of view I can understand why MR, YOLT, OHMSS, DN and FRWL are more compelling reads for many over CR. That's not to say that CR is a bad novel, far from it, nor that those other novels are wholly escapist and devoid of interesting character ideas.
Personally, I think things like otherworldly, maniacal villains, strange gardens in Japanese castles, even brainwashing beautiful women etc, silly as they are on paper, are fundamentally a part of what makes Bond stories unique. I certainly don't think Bond should ever be wholly 'realistic' in the vein of a Le Carre novel, and I'm thankful they aren't (even the CR novel doesn't approach that and retains a level of fantasy). Maybe some readers on here believe this too, while also prioritising compelling characters and drama. In that sense it might just be a case where they rank this book high, but ultimately don't think this is Fleming necessarily at the peak of his storytelling abilities. I dunno, it'd be interesting to hear why others ranked this book where they did.
I wouldn't say it's objectively incorrect at all. It's all preference. That's the beauty of Bond. There are so many different stories even in Fleming's novels alone.
Anyway, I'm actually similar in my preferences. My favourite Bond films are FRWL and SF which are arguably the more 'down to earth' films in the series (although I think they contain a healthy dose of fantasy). When it comes to the Fleming novels I think that stuff like maniacal villains, strange lairs, elaborate scenarios etc. are handled better because while escapist they're written with much more 'grit' than the films tend to present these ideas (again, I don't think it's strictly speaking 'realism', but I can believe what's happening if that makes sense).
Drop the 'near' and we're cool. ;-) I honestly can't think of a better-written book in the series. Perhaps some of the later novels have more fantastical, more exotic stories, but show me a Fleming book that is as fast-paced, as bold and as exciting as CR. And yes, I'm in fanboy mode here.
The book is perfect up to the moment Bond is recovering in the hospital. From there on, the last third, doesn't catch my attention that much. It works fine the first time but wasn't that interesting to reread.
The book-Vesper doesn't hit me as hard as the one on screen.
I can see what you mean with that last comment. Eva Greene is electrifying, while Fleming wrote a typical (?) '50s damsel into his book.
Same for Tracy, she's not as electrifying and sexy as Diana Rigg's version.
What Fleming wrote was a stereotypical 50's subservient and underwritten woman into the book "Treat me like the lowest whore in creation" line anyone? And her line "I will do anything for you" once Bond cured her, for me, she's dated more so than Vesper.
That's one of the downsides of the novel OHMSS for me (and i think why the film is better), so I'm expecting it to come here next.