Which Bond novel are you currently reading?

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  • Posts: 12,249
    Thank you! I do love LALD quite a lot, should still rank ahead of several books based on my memory. That sounds neat, too!
  • Posts: 9,767
    My plan now is to finish Win lose or die before I buy the next bond novel and one for the first time since 2011 I can’t wait to read Charles Higson’s On his Majesty’s Secret Service
  • edited April 2023 Posts: 12,249
    Finished up MR finally. Had to read this one in several intervals due to being so busy, but man, what a fantastic ride this book is! Considering how much I love CR and LALD, and MR is still my clear favorite of the bunch, it speaks volumes of its quality. I feel like this is such a complete package; it's got high-stakes gambling, intense action sequences, a great mystery that requires real spy work, and a perfect cast of characters that go through the epic story.

    I feel like the biggest area this book improved on the predecessors is in the department of the main female lead. While I liked Vesper and Solitaire's characters, Gala is much more three-dimensional still; we get inside her head more and see someone more of Bond's equal. I still find it such a great twist that Fleming has her not end up with Bond at the end. She is definitely one of the series' best characters, and Fay Dalton really brought her to life spectacularly in her artwork! Speaking of the series' best characters, Hugo Drax might be the best of all the villains - at least near the very top. His chaotic nature and psychopathy are felt the whole way through, from his petulant rage to losing at cards to striking Bond when pointed out how he truly is.

    The way the narrative plays out is super interesting. Dividing the book into three parts really works with how it's structured, and the race against time feels real the further the reader progresses. There's a large number of highlights, but of course I have to point out Bond besting Drax at cards, the landslide that almost kills Bond and Brand, the car chase, and the really thrillingly written climax with the launch of the Moonraker. The entire third act is really awesome, including Drax's monologue and the pains Bond and Brand endure to reach the finish line. With NTTD having come and gone, it was interesting for me to reread the bit with Bond offering himself as a sacrifice to stop the Moonraker. Even with all his faults, Bond's heroism sticks out the most.

    Another cool thing I love that MR explores is the paranoia of enemies abroad, when the worst can be right inside one's own country. The book may lack the globetrotting Bond is known for, but it felt nice and appropriate this outing is set entirely in England. It feels like one of Bond's most important missions ever - to save his very own homeland from total destruction. Oh, and one other thing to note, is I love the increased inclusion of M. Seeing the interactions with Bond at Blades added something really cool that you can't find anywhere else. I certainly feel this book gives everything and more one could want from a Bond adventure. Don't even get me started on how much better this book is than the movie version! Simply terrific start to finish, and super obvious why it's a fan favorite.

    Novel Ranking:
    1. Moonraker
    2. Casino Royale
    3. Live and Let Die
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    Great review @FoxRox you hit the nail on the head. I'm still hoping for a Dynamite Comics adaptation. I just started reading With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz. A unique take for sure, let's see where it goes.
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ At the Vauxhall Headquarters
    Posts: 3,389
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    Great review @FoxRox you hit the nail on the head. I'm still hoping for a Dynamite Comics adaptation. I just started reading With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz. A unique take for sure, let's see where it goes.

    I'm excited for your review of With A Mind To Kill, that book sounds interesting, are there any ebooks of it available? Sounds like Horowitz was doing a FRWL impression in that one.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    SIS_HQ wrote: »
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    Great review @FoxRox you hit the nail on the head. I'm still hoping for a Dynamite Comics adaptation. I just started reading With A Mind To Kill by Anthony Horowitz. A unique take for sure, let's see where it goes.

    I'm excited for your review of With A Mind To Kill, that book sounds interesting, are there any ebooks of it available? Sounds like Horowitz was doing a FRWL impression in that one.

    Try Amazon, is my guess.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    I just finished WAMTK. A decent, enjoyable read. Anthony Horowitz can leave on a high note. However, I do find it my least favorite of Horowitz's trilogy. It could be a bit depressing at times, but it did prove that Book Bond could survive without Fleming material. I especially liked how it wrapped all the villains up, with the ghost of Scaramanga being a constant pain of Bond's mental and physical health. I wish Mary Goodnight would have made an appearance, just to lighten the tone. I could see WAMTK leading into Colonel Sun and Solo. Next, another alternate Fleming Timeline Sequel: Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.
  • CharmianBondCharmianBond Pett Bottom, Kent
    Posts: 534
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    I just finished WAMTK. A decent, enjoyable read. Anthony Horowitz can leave on a high note. However, I do find it my least favorite of Horowitz's trilogy. It could be a bit depressing at times, but it did prove that Book Bond could survive without Fleming material. I especially liked how it wrapped all the villains up, with the ghost of Scaramanga being a constant pain of Bond's mental and physical health. I wish Mary Goodnight would have made an appearance, just to lighten the tone. I could see WAMTK leading into Colonel Sun and Solo. Next, another alternate Fleming Timeline Sequel: Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.

    Well said. It's well written as ever but especially with the Bond girl's death it feels cruel in a way that Fleming never was. Like with Red Nemesis I don't think Bond works when he goes behind the Iron Curtain.

    Also as someone who's just finished Devil May Care: good luck.
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ At the Vauxhall Headquarters
    Posts: 3,389
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    I just finished WAMTK. A decent, enjoyable read. Anthony Horowitz can leave on a high note. However, I do find it my least favorite of Horowitz's trilogy. It could be a bit depressing at times, but it did prove that Book Bond could survive without Fleming material. I especially liked how it wrapped all the villains up, with the ghost of Scaramanga being a constant pain of Bond's mental and physical health. I wish Mary Goodnight would have made an appearance, just to lighten the tone. I could see WAMTK leading into Colonel Sun and Solo. Next, another alternate Fleming Timeline Sequel: Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.

    Well said. It's well written as ever but especially with the Bond girl's death it feels cruel in a way that Fleming never was. Like with Red Nemesis I don't think Bond works when he goes behind the Iron Curtain.

    Also as someone who's just finished Devil May Care: good luck.

    From Russia With Love would like to have a word 😊.
  • CharmianBondCharmianBond Pett Bottom, Kent
    Posts: 534
    SIS_HQ wrote: »
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    I just finished WAMTK. A decent, enjoyable read. Anthony Horowitz can leave on a high note. However, I do find it my least favorite of Horowitz's trilogy. It could be a bit depressing at times, but it did prove that Book Bond could survive without Fleming material. I especially liked how it wrapped all the villains up, with the ghost of Scaramanga being a constant pain of Bond's mental and physical health. I wish Mary Goodnight would have made an appearance, just to lighten the tone. I could see WAMTK leading into Colonel Sun and Solo. Next, another alternate Fleming Timeline Sequel: Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.

    Well said. It's well written as ever but especially with the Bond girl's death it feels cruel in a way that Fleming never was. Like with Red Nemesis I don't think Bond works when he goes behind the Iron Curtain.

    Also as someone who's just finished Devil May Care: good luck.

    From Russia With Love would like to have a word 😊.

    FRWL doesn't count he's on a train through it 😄 but in hindsight I should've specified Russia itself. I think why FRWL is a genius piece of thriller writing is because we get to spend almost all of the book with the evil machinations of Moscow but Bond is completely oblivious, the unknowable threat is always more dangerous. Then there's the dramatic irony of us knowing more than Bond and then the triumph when he puts it all together, only to be ambushed at the final moment and poisoned.

    I know Fleming himself went to Moscow and among the things chanced his arm about interviewing Stalin which takes some balls. But idk Bond slumming it around Moscow in RN or in the arms of SMERSH in WAMTK it ruins some of the mystique for me.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    edited May 2023 Posts: 4,102
    https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20140808-the-best-007-novels-after-fleming

    This list is wrong. Sebastian Faulks should be at the bottom of the list. I just finished Devil May Care. Faulks pulled a Superman Returns/Star Wars The Force Awakens with this book. It just feels like a greatest hits book. I’ll give him points in two areas: him breaking out of his comfort zone and writing a thriller. Even though he didn’t really succeed on a action level. Second, his characterization of Dr. Julius Gorner. When Barbara Broccoli said Safin would the villain to get under Bond’s skin, she lied. Of recent Bond villains across all media, Julius Gorner and Kobus Breed are by far worse human beings. At least their authors didn’t try to make them sympathetic. Overall, I liked Scarlett as a Bond girl. I wish she was in the story more. I also wish that Bond could have shared some scenes with Felix Leiter and Rene Mathis. Just for the sake of showing their friendships. Final thoughts, I’m happy with the book, but I’m even more happy that Sebastian Faulks didn’t comeback. He doesn’t seem fond of his time with Bond, he never answers Tweets about it and heavily criticized Skyfall. At least Jeffery Deaver tried something different with Carte Blanche. And respects the fans of his time with James Bond. The number one thing I hope IFP learned from the experience is that NO ONE can write as Ian Fleming.
  • Posts: 12,249
    Wrapped up DAF tonight. It was a really great read. I feel like I definitely enjoyed this one more than the first time I read it.

    I love the opening with the scorpion, really artsy and cool stuff. There’s a nice full circle ending too with the final chapter echoing the first nicely. The Spang Brothers I admit are some of the weaker villains of the series. The one scene with Seraffimo Spang questioning Bond and ordering his torture is cool, but we really don’t get enough of these characters to fully appreciate them as the baddies I feel like. It’s funny how much Bond downplays the villains in this one, not taking them seriously until he ends up in really bad situations, though I do conclude just about all the other main threats in these books are superior. Shady Tree is interesting for the brief time he’s in. But when it comes to the villains department, much like the movie counterpart, it’s Wint and Kidd that steal the show; the bathhouse sequence and encounter on the ship with them are terrific highlights, and the black mask thing along with their potent love of sadism are perfect touches.

    I really love Tiffany Case’s character in the book - so much more than the film version. A really tragic story, and there’s genuinely sad moments like Bond accidentally hurting her feelings or just her not wanting to let herself love him. She’s tough and has lots of personality, too; definitely a great Bond girl. Getting Felix back is welcome; he and Bond always have great scenes together, like them arguing over their cars in this one. Ernie is a cool, brief ally character as well. Some moments of the book are slow, but overall there’s no big issue there. The action is absolutely nonstop in the third act, which I definitely found strongest between that and Bond and Tiffany’s relationship escalating.

    DAF is a really good Bond adventure all in all, although I can’t rank it higher than last place, at least for now. Would have liked more scenes and depth to the Spangs, and I do think the first three books are superior in the plotting as well as villains. What I want to leave off saying though is that I had a great time with it, and it’s not even funny how superior this is to the movie version. I’ll be interested to see if it can escape last place when I’m finished with all the books this time around, since it finished last in my first reading of all of them. Another lovely adventure, and FRWL will be next!

    Novel Ranking:
    1. Moonraker
    2. Casino Royale
    3. Live and Let Die
    4. Diamonds Are Forever
  • edited May 2023 Posts: 2,894
    DAF has a lot of great parts, which unfortunately don't cohere into a whole. The characterization is great...except for that of the main villain, and that's hardly a minor flaw. Serrafimo Spang's confrontation with Bond in Spectreville is excellent, but it's his only big scene and he's disposed of soon afterwards. The other Bond books are set up as running duels between Bond and the villain, but Spang arrives "onstage" too late.

    The story's lack of urgency is another problem--usually Bond spends much of a book trying to figure out what the villain is up to or trying to stop the villain before it's too late. But in DAF Bond just floats through the pipeline, and there's no momentum in his drift toward Spang. The book has an episodic start-and-stop structure.

    That said, you've pinpointed many of its strong points. Wint and Kidd are definitely scarier here than in the movie, as shown in the brutal mudbath scene. Tiffany Case was Fleming's first female character with a truly rounded personality, and Bond's attempts to care for her humanize him. Their repartee makes DAF the first Bond book with a sense of humor. Felix also shines, and again his presence humanizes Bond, as we see when after his departure. The book wasted him and Tiffany. And the walk-on characters like Shady Tree and Ernie Cuneo are so vivid we want to see more of them.

    I can still enjoy the film for its humor and Connery's presence, but it's a travesty of the book, which already had plenty of cinematic moments and just needed a stronger narrative drive.
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ At the Vauxhall Headquarters
    edited May 2023 Posts: 3,389
    To me Diamonds Are Forever is Fleming's best shot at writing a romance story, it's not cringe, nor forced, or contrived, it's natural in the way that some of the romances happened.

    Bond treated Tiffany Case as his equal, not just an ordinary woman who would act as romantic foil for Bond to conquer, she had a character, she feels as her own, she's great as an individual character, not depending on the other characters, I liked how the romance was earned between them, it's developed and real.

    I liked their relationship of how Bond told Tiffany Case about his plans of having a child, his future with a family, like this is Bond opening up with her, he's being honest to her, something that (as I observed), he hadn't done with Tracy or even Vesper, granted both those two are tragic but the romance didn't felt real, because there's no dimensionality, no depth, here, Bond was being honest out of himself, because he naturally felt something for Tiffany, not by lust (I felt the way he fell for Vesper), not dictated by someone (Draco?), It's real, there's a development and the romance was fleshed out.

    I also liked the 'earning of trust' angle in their relationship, like it took time for Bond to earn Tiffany's trust, it went through hardships and proving himself to her before he could get Tiffany Case's trust.

    Their dialogues felt natural and real, almost a three dimensional banter.

    It's very complex and three dimensional.

    It's the best Bond romance for me, and I will say it: Bond and Tiffany are the best relationship (and couple) in any Bond novel, ever!

    And it hurts more because in the early pages of From Russia With Love, we've found out that he left him for another man, it's so devastating to Bond that even the readers (like me) got affected by it, Tiffany Case's abandonment was echoing throughout the book at some point, especially when M was having a briefing with Bond in the beginning.

    1. Bond felt lust for Vesper (their relationship was decent, but again, there's a coldness going between the two, there's a hint of suspicion, I still liked it, but it's more of a sexual feelings that Bond had for Vesper, he wanted her sexually, intimately, and for lust, but still, at least there's a bit of development and again, Bond wasn't that being honest out of him).


    2. Bond was forced into loving Tracy because of Draco (and much as I say that I don't buy Bond's romance with Tracy, it's for me the weakest romance that Fleming wrote, I'm not convinced by it, I know this one got the last laugh due to them being married, but remove the marriage part and it's down the line, it felt so sudden and rushed, there's no development and it felt contrived, they're like those strangers suddenly falling in love all of a sudden and again, as he's with Vesper, he's also not that honest out of himself to Tracy).

    Add to these that Bond was never that honest of them.

    But here, no one told him, no one dictated him to fall in love with Tiffany, it's just himself, his own feelings being honest to her, very natural and at some point, realistic.

    They felt like a bit of Bonnie and Clyde in the book.

    When it comes to romance, Diamonds Are Forever gets a 10/10 for me, a perfect romance and couple in Bond and Tiffany.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    Interesting viewpoints on DAF. There is still some decent material that should be used in a future movie. Spectreville for example. At least for all it's flaws, DAF got more than one thing right for a Bond novel. I can't say that with Devil May Care this week. I think my next Bond book will be Colonel Sun, and I will have read all the one-time Bond authors.
  • edited May 2023 Posts: 12,249
    Something pretty wild happened for me: FRWL just became my new favorite Bond novel - at least for this present moment! Something about this second reading... everything clicked 100% perfectly. I had already enjoyed and respected this book before, but my personal affection for it absolutely skyrocketed with this latest read. If I could use one word to sum up what I think makes this one better than the previous ones: DEPTH. Every character has more depth than ever before, and the story is as involved and intriguing as ever.

    The first third or so of the novel setting things up without Bond directly in the picture is a bold move by Fleming that fully pays off from my perspective. First of all, the plot in the first few chapters is still chiefly concerned about Bond, so it's not like the novel is ever questionable in its focus. But what's so terrific is getting such expansive backstory for the terrifying Donovan Grant. This guy really comes to life in this book; as eventually pointed out when Bond and him have their scuffle, it's potently established how Grant is a physical threat that no one, not even Bond, could overcome. This creates an awesome sense of danger, and lets us know Bond will have to use his wits to survive this vicious killer, which he does in an epic, clever sequence on the train. Grant's strength, his detailed, rugged history and his full moon quirk make him one of the most memorable, fun-to-read characters in the whole series.

    Grant is the headliner of the baddies, no doubt, but there's other good stuff here, too. Rosa Klebb is positively unnerving; the scene of her trying to seduce Tatiana is truly memorable and unsettling. She's a master of being authoritative, manipulative, and intimidating. She even comes closer than anyone else ever to killing James Bond himself! General G's appearance is brief but effective, helping set things in motion effectively. Kronsteen is an interesting character that also does not stick around long, but serves his purpose well and convincingly acts as the brains to the operation. Krilencu's role up against Kerim makes for a couple really entertaining chapters in the book, too!

    Tatiana Romanova is an excellent Bond girl - in my opinion, far better in the novel version than the movie one. We get to know just enough about her to be satisfied but not overwhelmed when she's introduced, and plenty of sympathy given the scary circumstances she finds herself in. Though most of the Russians are depicted as cold and mercilessly evil, it makes it all the more effective how Tatiana isn't like this. Fleming did a great job in making her character a ray of humanity in the country seen primarily as the enemy. Because of the setup of her romance with Bond starting off as a "job," their romance was believable and had a good progression, with plenty of uncertainty and guardedness, but also a desire to let the guard up and enjoy one another without reservations. Darko Kerim is one of the greatest Bond allies in the series, book and movie alike; Pedro Armendáriz's portrayal of the character in the movie is so fantastic, I always think of him when reading the book version. He is absolutely full of life, and we get plenty of interesting backstory to him, too! His fate on the train is one of the saddest moments in the series to me.

    On top of a loaded cast of colorful, three-dimensional characters, Fleming provides plenty of suspense and thrills. The balance between the expository moments and the action felt just right to me. The story of SMERSH trying to get back at Bond for the blows he struck them is great in theory and in execution; it was nice to return to them after not hearing from them in MR or DAF, with the connection in the former being interestingly fleeting. The variety of locations like Russia, England, Istanbul, and the Orient Express are all used to great effect. The only real thing I can think of to "complain" about is that I wish there was more after the story we got, like more of what happens to Tatiana or other SMERSH operatives. But we still get a heck of a cliffhanger with what we have, and it's a sweet, kind of final note about Tatiana when Bond says or thinks, as he's dying near Mathis, he's "already got the loveliest..."

    It sure is an interesting thing to think about if Fleming indeed decided to leave Bond dead here and this had been the end, with SMERSH having had the last laugh on Bond. I'm certainly glad this did not end up being the case, as we got tons of great Bond content after this! But wow, what an amazing novel FRWL is. I'm not sure why I didn't love it more like this the first time around, but I can say with total confidence it's my favorite so far now. Still early-ish in this marathon, and already some significant surprises!

    Novel Ranking:
    1. From Russia with Love
    2. Moonraker
    3. Casino Royale
    4. Live and Let Die
    5. Diamonds Are Forever
  • edited May 2023 Posts: 1,001
    I did a leisurely full-length novel re-read in 2020-2022, to tie in with buying the Folio editions, which I wanted to read, not just collect. And your findings so far almost exactly mirror mine. Certainly the top five so far mirrors mine (with MR and CR swapping places possibly).
    I thought FRWL was outstanding, and a really obvious literary jump up from DAF. It's like he purposely raised his game. I think it could be described as Fleming's greatest literary achievement.
    I came away from my re-read with OHMSS and FRWL topping my list, (and these lists are always just for fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously I think. A lot of our enjoyment in reading and music is dependant on so many factors at the time).
    Whereas FRWL is a great spy novel - perhaps his greatest, I felt OHMSS might be his best Bond novel, if that makes sense.
    I always enjoy reading people's thoughts when they do a complete Fleming read. I still have the two short story collections to complete, and I'm waiting for Folio to bring out OP.

    Edit - I found my ranking from Oct '22 after finishing TSWLM, (which was the last full-length Folio I needed to complete the novels). And here it is.

    From Russia With Love
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Moonraker
    Casino Royale
    Live and Let Die
    Dr No
    Thunderball
    Goldfinger
    The Spy Who Loved Me
    The Man with the Golden Gun
    Diamonds are Forever

    So like you, I enjoyed MR more than CR.

    The trouble with these rankings is, it's too broad a sweep. Possibly my single favourite chapter in the series is chapter 1 of Goldfinger, yet the book, I felt, lost a bit of steam in the second half. And there's some great stuff in Diamonds are Forever too, it doesn't really deserve to be at the bottom of a list like that. But I suppose one book has to be.
  • SIS_HQSIS_HQ At the Vauxhall Headquarters
    Posts: 3,389
    The Man With The Golden Gun

    Man, I did enjoyed reading this book now, I think along with Diamonds Are Forever, it's one of the more underrated Bond book.

    Scaramanga's plan in the book makes a lot more sense than in the film, it's great to see Bond under disguise again, but here, it's a lot more serious and I can sense that Bond is in danger.

    Still bugs me to the film that despite of Bond being a secret agent, a spy, a dangerous criminal still got to knew him, like having a death threat to him and putting a price to his head, despite of him being an agent and no one should've known him, like Bond's personal references should be private, but now, reading this book, the plot makes a lot more sense, Scaramanga is an illegal businessman with some connections to KGB and other dangerous organizations, he's realistic in that sense, and it helps that there's no solex Agitator.

    The opening is great, Mary Goodnight is miles better than the dumb one in the film.

    Although, I'll admit, it's not polished, it's unfinished, but I'm now starting to see the good sides of it.
  • Posts: 1,001
    Have you read Horrowitz's last book? It takes place right after the events of TMWTGG and fleshes out a lot of what the Fleming book didn't. It always bugged me that the un-brainwashing of Bond was glossed over the Fleming book. It was almost like " and a few months later, he was cured". In the Horowitz book it goes into what took place, and the whole idea of 'a mind to kill' is all about the brainwashing techniques. I read it directly after TMWTGG and found it a corking read.
    It entertained me more than Golden Gun, if I'm honest.
  • edited May 2023 Posts: 12,249
    @ColonelAdamski

    I’ve also been reading out of the Folio editions I’ve been buying, which certainly makes the experience even more exciting! Really hoping we see OP & TLD this fall to finish things out. Anyways, that’s a great list you have, likely won’t be far off from my own. And I agree I think FRWL is probably Fleming’s objective best literary achievement. Things are more fleshed out and just generally well-written than everything before, even though absolutely all his Bond books are superbly enjoyable!

    EDIT: I just realized you forgot to place YOLT! Where would it go?
  • edited May 2023 Posts: 1,001
    Crikey, sorry. I never noticed.
    I used to rate yolt as my favourite as well, but I've re-read it a couple of times in the past few years and it's moved down a few places. Which might even be down to over-familiarity. I'd probably put it between CR and Live and Let Die in the enjoyment stakes of my latest re-read.
    You Only Live Twice was the first first edition Fleming I bought, back about twenty years ago, it was £45 from a book fair in Derbyshire.

    From Russia With Love
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    Moonraker
    Casino Royale
    You Only Live Twice
    Live and Let Die
    Dr No
    Thunderball
    Goldfinger
    The Spy Who Loved Me
    The Man with the Golden Gun
    Diamonds are Forever
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,102
    SIS_HQ wrote: »
    The Man With The Golden Gun

    Man, I did enjoyed reading this book now, I think along with Diamonds Are Forever, it's one of the more underrated Bond book.

    Scaramanga's plan in the book makes a lot more sense than in the film, it's great to see Bond under disguise again, but here, it's a lot more serious and I can sense that Bond is in danger.

    Still bugs me to the film that despite of Bond being a secret agent, a spy, a dangerous criminal still got to knew him, like having a death threat to him and putting a price to his head, despite of him being an agent and no one should've known him, like Bond's personal references should be private, but now, reading this book, the plot makes a lot more sense, Scaramanga is an illegal businessman with some connections to KGB and other dangerous organizations, he's realistic in that sense, and it helps that there's no solex Agitator.

    The opening is great, Mary Goodnight is miles better than the dumb one in the film.

    Although, I'll admit, it's not polished, it's unfinished, but I'm now starting to see the good sides of it.

    I agree with you on your points. Ironically, when I read this book, I tried to picture Jack Palance as Scaramanga. I could see him in the part, if the film was a more faithful adaptation. While the film version (mostly thanks to Sir Christopher Lee) is better, I think there is decent material in his character, that was used a bit in Silva.

    Minor Spoilers for WAMTK: I liked the idea that Scaramanga was a spectre (sorry I couldn’t resist) ghost haunting Bond a few times in the story. It proves that Bond doesn’t like killing and feels like his past could catch up with him. It’s a interesting character development. I only miss Mary Goodnight. She would given the story a small bright spot, in a darker than usual story.
  • Posts: 6,799
    On His Majesty’s Secret Service (2023)
    Finished it this morning, having bought it earlier last week! In a word, Slight!, very slight! It was ok, but having read it once, I have no desire to read it again!
  • Posts: 12,249
    Finished up DN earlier tonight! What a fabulous book. Just I had remembered, it's one of the most thoroughly entertaining books I've ever read, both inside and outside the Bond series. Fleming was really on a roll dishing out FRWL and DN back to back, and MR just two behind FRWL!

    The way Fleming brings Bond back into action after the scary, uncertain ending of FRWL is smooth and effective; I like the lecture M gets about how there is only so much Bond (or anyone) can take, and the tense scene he and Bond share regarding the gun change. This Bond + M scene stuck out to me as one of the series' most memorable, especially the line about Bond hating him for the first time. The harsh, cold weather is also something I never forget about this strong intro. Well, the REAL intro is the murder of Strangways, which is as awesome, gripping a start as one could hope for!

    Jamaica is a fantastic location; I'm a sucker for tropical stuff, and it's always a satisfying background in DN. Quarrel returning from LALD is terrific; he's one of my favorite Bond allies, and I'm always really sad when he bites it. Honey is definitely one of my favorite Bond girls, with a lovable personality that is both innocent and tough. I love the detail of her broken nose, and how Bond initially thinks of it as something that needs to be "fixed," but accepts it lovingly as part of her as the story progresses; it's relatable to me in being attracted to "flaws," and not really wanting entire "perfection" so much. To top off a great main cast, Dr. No is one of the series' strongest villains - calm, cool, intelligent, and malicious. The way Bond disposes of him is greatly cathartic after the hell he puts him through!

    One of the things that sticks out most to me about this novel is that it's one of the most action-packed, and by extension, fun! Just to name a few moments, there's the opening murder, the centipede encounter, the "dragon" shootout, the epic gauntlet including the duel with the kraken, and all the other excitement after that with Dr. No's death and escaping the island. The kraken is a particular highlight for sure; I love when this series flirts with more fantastical elements, something DN and YOLT especially excel at! Having all the action helps keeps the pace brisk and exciting, but the exposition is all well done too; I love learning about Honey's background especially, and seeing all the character interactions in general in this tale.

    FRWL surprised me by becoming my new favorite Bond book for the time being, but DN isn't far behind. I figured it would remain in a high spot from memory, and it definitely delivers the goods. If one is looking for pure escapism and adventure, I think DN is one of the best choices one could make among the Bond books. It's basically interchangeable with the superb MR, but for now I'm giving it a slight edge. Just amazing stuff, I love everything about it!

    Novel Ranking:
    1. From Russia with Love
    2. Dr. No
    3. Moonraker
    4. Casino Royale
    5. Live and Let Die
    6. Diamonds Are Forever
  • The one-two punch of FRWL and DN is certainly the creative high point of Fleming’s run on the series for me. The former is his most structurally engaging narrative and a terrific exercise in sustained suspense, and the latter is pure escapism bliss that builds upon the pulpier elements introduced in LALD. After DN I feel Fleming has a slightly fallow period that while certainly containing myriad pleasures (particularly the short stories) that he doesn’t really recover from until OHMSS & YOLT, which seemed poised to close out the series on the same exceptional terms it started with.
  • Posts: 1,507
    Getting ready to revisit License Renewed, after which I will re-read Colonel Sun and the first Benson Book. I read each in the years they first appeared in paperback. I remember nothing about any of them, so it will be like reading them for the first time.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    edited June 2023 Posts: 4,102
    Reading Colonel Sun at the moment. It feels like it should have been Dalton’s 3rd movie. I can’t see the other Bonds pulling the role as well as Dalton in the book. Update it for the nineties, obviously. I’ve read the Daily Express comics version before, as well. I also would have liked to see Robert Brown finally get the “as M” credit.
  • Posts: 9,767
    Reading doubleshot for mens mental health month I forgot how good the benson novels were
  • Posts: 1,507
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    Reading Colonel Sun at the moment. It feels like it should have been Dalton’s 3rd movie. I can’t see the other Bonds pulling the role as well as Dalton in the book. Update it for the nineties, obviously. I’ve read the Daily Express comics version before, as well. I also would have liked to see Robert Brown finally get the “as M” credit.

    Having just read License Renewed and now half way through Colonel Sun, I am amazed at how much better CS is than LR. CS feels like a Fleming novel, whereas LR feels like some other spy novel with a character named James Bond. Just didn't do it for me. I'm willing to try one more Gardner novel once I get a recommendation for a title that delivers.

  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,985
    CrabKey wrote: »
    MaxCasino wrote: »
    Reading Colonel Sun at the moment. It feels like it should have been Dalton’s 3rd movie. I can’t see the other Bonds pulling the role as well as Dalton in the book. Update it for the nineties, obviously. I’ve read the Daily Express comics version before, as well. I also would have liked to see Robert Brown finally get the “as M” credit.

    Having just read License Renewed and now half way through Colonel Sun, I am amazed at how much better CS is than LR. CS feels like a Fleming novel, whereas LR feels like some other spy novel with a character named James Bond. Just didn't do it for me. I'm willing to try one more Gardner novel once I get a recommendation for a title that delivers.

    'Nobody Lives Forever' is about Gardner's best IMO.
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