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Silver: FRWL (this could also be a Gold, but I think many members here would favored Moonraker more).
Bronze: OHMSS (I put it at #10, so it loses a bit of points 😅).
Which is also my own order, btw (though not placement).
Yeah at this point that seems the likeliest result.
No need to rush this.
I'm just excited.....😅
FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE
Famous for being a favourite of JFK, in this contest FRWL received three gold medals, three silvers and three bronzes.
It is also a favourite amongst us Bond fans it seems since we all placed it in our top 10, with a single 10th place being its lowest finish.
In total FRWL obtained 188 points.
What's happening here?! What's going on?!
Don't tell me OHMSS will even beat MR?! (Fleming's best novel by mile)
Are many people here sure that OHMSS is even that better than FRWL?!
Okay, I give up.....
It's probably Fleming's realistic novel, I don't know why many people refer to Le Carre while ignoring this most realistic spy thriller Fleming novel.
I don't know what people saw in OHMSS (The novel), is it the brainwashing plot (which many people find weird)? The invisible ink? Tracy being a damsel in distress and doing nothing to help Bond and is not relevant to the plot?
It's a bit weird because I though love the film OHMSS (in fact it's my favorite).
Is it really better than FRWL?
I'm the one who puts OHMSS at #10
FRWL is Fleming's best along with MR.
This really ruffles my feathers.
The only negative point for me are some of Kerim's comments about how women should be treated. But this is nitpicking. It really is one of my favourite books in general and it is unexpected how interesting it can be to describe the villains and see their plan evolve without even write about the agent for around 100 pages.
@MI6HQ : I planned to rank OHMSS as #2 but read the novel again and had to change my ranking. I felt some lengths I never felt before and dropped it to #6. OHMSS is very good but not as smart as FRWL. The tension gets lost sometimes.
It's really interesting seeing the inner workings of SMERSH. I always felt it read as this odd parallel to M/Bond's briefings in MI6, except that everything feels a bit more formal, with fear being deployed more often within the dynamics of this organisation (absolutely Soviet one could say). Even the opening chapter with the masseuse looking at Grant's bronzed, muscular body bears some resemblance to how Bond is introduced at times in Fleming's novels from the perspective of women - ie. as this mysterious, handsome stranger. Of course, Grant is obviously a monster, and one whose psychopathic tendencies are vividly written.
The plan to kill Bond keeps the reader hooked, and considering Bond's exploits from the previous novels it makes a lot of sense that SMERSH should try to cause a scandal involving him. It doesn't quite have the layers of elaborate deception that the film would add to it, but it works. Once we get to Bond, we as readers begin to interpret parts of the later passages in a more foreboding manner - a storm as Bond flies to Istanbul, Loelia's warnings for Bond not to travel on Friday the 13th etc. Even Bond's instincts throughout the novel seem to tell him that something is wrong. It's actually why the ending is shocking - convention dictates that Bond always defies these omens. The final paragraphs describing the effects of Klebb's poison - Bond's fingers feeling like cucumbers, the sweat on his brow - hit even harder with this in mind. It's a hell of a cliffhanger.
Apart from that there are some great additions to this novel. The final confrontation with Bond and Grant on the Orient Express is one. One of Fleming's great skills as a writer was to take these rather silly concepts and depict them in a manner which made it seem real. The idea of Bond using a cigarette case and a book to stop a bullet to the heart was a cliched idea at the time, and certainly sounds cartoonish on paper. Hell, the fact that Grant elaborately tells him he's going to shoot him through the heart is cartoonish too, but the descriptions we get are brilliant. Fleming describes how Bond's entire body feels like it's on fire, the horrific pain in his ribs. It never anything other than tense.
Apart from that, Darko Kerim is a character who stands out. While I love the film, I do feel this character was whitewashed to some extent, which is understandable given the character's faults in the source material (not only does he seem to have imprisoned a woman as his 'slave' as a young man, but he also drags Bond into his feud which results in him killing a man in cold blood). He's a character with genuine warmth, but he's not a necessarily a good man. It's interesting to read.
FRWL is a Bond novel I often come back to when I want to re-read the Fleming books, and I know that for readers at the time it proved one of the most popular. I can see why it came so high in this ranking.
No, I'm not going to blame it on you.
Not your fault.
So you mean, had he not followed this novel? I mean he would retain Bond's dead forever.
As much as I liked Dr. No and Thunderball, I think FRWL would be better as his penultimate novel.
So would it be better if he'd stopped there?
You and me both.
I just mean it would have been a great final novel. I for one am glad Fleming did not stop there.
Beyond that, Istanbul makes for a great location — it feels both exotic and slightly seedy, which makes perfect sense for this book which *is* a bit seedy, and has all sorts of wonderful inner monologues from Bond about his feeling on being essentially pimped out for his country. And all the side characters, from the array of Russian villains, to Darko Karim, are pretty indelible. It’s a colorful and suspenseful spy thriller, with all the right amount of flourishes we expect in a Bond novel. While there are a couple other Fleming books that I could fairly easily swap for the top spot, FRWL just feels the most “complete”.
I'll just say that FRWL was outstanding, my second favorite, so for me it deserves the silver. Moonraker was killer, but it's not my bronze, that would be Dr. No. What absolute blasts FRWL and DN were to read. And then On Her Majesty's Secret Service is my gold. A phenomenal read I was rather sad to get to the end of.