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Casino Royale (James Bond) by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale (James Bond) (original 1953; edition 2012)

by Ian Fleming

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3,501None1,506 (3.55)225
Title:Casino Royale (James Bond)
Authors:Ian Fleming
Info:Thomas & Mercer (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 188 pages
Tags:spy, fiction, adventure

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Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)

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  1. 00
    The Kobra Manifesto by Adam Hall (benfulton)
    benfulton: Very similar spy stories. Quiller is a bit more physical than Bond, I think.
  2. 12
    The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré (Cecilturtle)

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Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
This book was tons of fun. This is the first of the Bond novels and as much as I dislike the movies - I found the novel to be a great time. Bond's blatant misogyny is irritating but based on the movies... I wasn't really surprised.

I actually felt on edge during the big gambling scene - maybe because I enjoy gambling.

This is an easy airplane/beach read and definitely worth the sitting that it takes to get through it. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
I read Casino Royale as part of a group genre study on crime fiction - not something I likely would have picked up on my own, but I'm glad I got to read this one. I will also mention that I am not an uber-James Bond fan, so I went into this book with more skepticism than a lot of people. (It also helped that I remembered next to nothing about the 2006 film version, so I didn't have much of that tainting my reading experience.)

Bond has just been promoted to 007 status and is sent to financially destroy Le Chiffre, a communist and associate of the Soviet organization SMERSH. (Can you tell we're in the 1950's yet?) After battling Le Chiffre in a high stakes game of baccarat, Bond is forced into high-speed pursuit in order to rescue his kidnapped female associate, eventually falling into Le Chiffre's hands and being subjected to sadistic torture. (Remember the scene from the movie where Bond is strapped naked to a chair? They really didn't change much of that from the book.)

I could say that this is all very stereotypical and expected, but of course, this was the book that started the James Bond phenomenon, and this is where I have to wrestle with myself. I am a bit jaded & cynical because I have 40+ years of James Bond history, but in order to really understand this book, I have to put myself into a 1950's Cold War mindset. There was nothing quite like this at the time.

So in an analytical sense, I enjoyed it. It was fast paced, the baccarat game was described in impeccable detail, and it was a good escapist read.

However, I had a hard time getting past some of the sexist attitudes in the book, even though I know this was the prevailing attitude at the time. I just can't read a passage where a character complains that women should stay in the kitchen and leave the difficult assignments to the manly men and take it seriously. It sounds like overdone satire and then I remember that it's not.

If you're able to suspend disbelief and love James Bond, I absolutely suggest this book. I did enjoy the book, but I wasn't able to lose myself in the story like I wanted to, but I blame that on myself and not the story.

Readalikes (from Novelist):

Carte Blanche - Jeffrey Deaver. A gritty 21st century revival of James Bond.

The Shanghai Factor - Charles McCarry. An intricately plotted espionage thriller featuring a CIA agent on his first assignment, with plenty of wit, danger, and sexy femme fatales.

The Quiller Memorandum - Adam Hall. Although this novel is more "cerebral" than the James Bond series, it features a British secret agent who must use his wits, charm, and stamina against dangerous villains. ( )
  coloradogirl14 | Mar 4, 2014 |
James Bond of the British Secret Service poses as a Jamaican playboy to bring down Le Chiffre, the paymaster for a SMERSH-controlled trade union, in a high stakes baccarat game. (SMERSH is part of the Russian secret service.) Bond is supported by Vesper Lynd of the British Secret Service, Felix Leiter of the CIA, and a French spy. After Bond bankrupts Le Chiffre, Le Chiffre kidnaps Lynd causing Bond to be captured. Bond is tortured until a SMERSH agent appears and kills Le Chiffre. As Bond recovers from the torture, he decides to marry Lynd and quit being a spy. But Lynd's past comes back to haunt her. In the end, Bond commits himself to destroying SMERSH.

While a good agent, Fleming's Bond has much more humanity than the movie Bond. He fails and has doubts at times. ( )
  ktoonen | Feb 6, 2014 |
I've read maybe three of the James Bond novels before - Thunderball, Moonraker and I THINK Live and Let Die - and sadly with this fourth added to the list, there's still only one or two I've really liked so far. I'm guessing that most people, like me, will have seen the more modern movie version with Daniel Craig and so know the rough plot and who's who already. The bad guy in this particular outing is Le Chiffre, a Soviet dude (?) who's being hunted down by even scarier Soviet dudes (??) and is apparently quite good at gambling. But not as good as James Bond, obviously. The Bond Girl is Vesper Lynd, James's 'little helper' in Royale-les-Eaux, who is, naturally, stunningly beautiful, slightly imperious and looks fantastic in a LBD. The plot involves all the escapades you'd associate with 007 - a bomb going off, perilous near-misses, some tux-wearing and martini-drinking, a bit of sex - plus that famous gambling scene (fortunately rendered mostly comprehensible to a non-cards-playing girl like me by a pre-game explanation of the rules) and the even-more-famous torture scene (which is just as eye-watering in the book as it was in the movie).

When you talk about all this shizzle going on, it sounds like the book should be fantastic... and admittedly, it did keep me reading... but there's just something so shallow about these novels. There's always some incomprehensible espionage-jargon thrown in there that's easy to skip over in the movies but less so on the page, there's a sprinkling of unexplained French that I'm hoping wasn't too important, and there's something off about the characters. They're not quite flat, exactly, but their moods seem to jump around, their motives are erratic and anything but clear... One minute James hates Vesper, then he's in love with her, then he hates her again... I mean, good grief, give us chance to catch up here! It makes every emotional response seem fake, because it can apparently change so quickly and completely at a moment's notice.

I also really noticed the chauvinist tirades this time. I know it's all part of the macho thing, and a product of its time, and all that, but Bond called Vesper a 'bitch' (not to her face, admittedly) AT LEAST twice, possibly three times, and it jarred so horribly in the flow of the prose that I sort of wanted to throw it across the room. Hard. Possibly at Bond's crotch, just for good measure. Great paragraphs about how women can't do things because of EMOTIONAL WEAKNESS, and how he wished Vesper had just stayed at home to gossip and play with dresses and rearrange her crockery LIKE A PROPER WOMAN. There is also a rather disturbing moment where he theorises that sleeping with such an enigmatic and private person would 'each time have the sweet tang of rape'. WHAT THE HELL? It's not at all subtle, basically implying that violating women is AWESOME, and it did make me kind of wish I could borrow Le Chiffre's carpet beater for five minutes and have at that seatless chair, if you get my drift.

Sooooo, yeah. I'm sure I'll carry on reading some of these - I have a few more on my shelves, and sooner or later I'm bound to hit a good 'un again (hopefully) - but in Casino Royale's case, I'll definitely be sticking with the movie from now on. ( )
2 vote elliepotten | Jan 23, 2014 |
The real James Bond is brutal, cold-hearted, and not a guy you would want to go have drinks with. The character was far more interesting than the one(s) in the movies. The story was surprising - and surprisingly interesting, considering about half of it takes place in a casino. Looking forward to reading more books! The people here who don't like the character's views on females are probably the same people who gave Uncle Tom's Cabin a bad rating for being racist. Times change, literature shouldn't. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jan 10, 2014 |
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.
The Devil has no prophets to write his Ten Commandments and no teams of authors to write his biography. His case has gone completely by default. We know nothing about him but a lot of fairy stories from our parents and schoolmasters. He has no book from which we can learn the nature of evil in all its forms, with parables about evil people, proverbs about evil people, folk-lore about evil people. All we have is the living example of the people who are least good, or our own intuition.
"surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles. But don't let me down and become human yourself. We would lose such a wonderful machine."
“Your own injuries are serious, but your life is not in danger... If all goes well, you will recover completely and none of the functions of your body will be impaired... But I fear that you will continue to be in pain for several days...”
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Book description
James Bond

closed his eyes and waited for the pain. He knew that the beginning of torture was the worst.

Le Chiffre
The formidable, dangerous French Communist with large sexual appetites. Paymaster of SMERSH and a master sadist.

Vesper Lynd
the conquest of her body would each time have the sweet tang of rape.

A superlative thriller. Replete with elegant, enigmatic women, superb food and service, explosions, torture and sudden death. - Boston Sunday Post

The best gambling scene one can recall and the most revolting torture scenes. - The Birmingham Post

Hums with tension - Time Magazine
Haiku summary
Double Oh Seven
gambles with a union boss
who's a SMERSH agent.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014200202X, Paperback)

In the first of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, 007 declares war on Le Chiffre, French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH.

The battle begins with a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat, gains momentum during Bond's fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy, and reaches a chilling climax with fiendish torture at the hands of a master sadist. For incredible suspense, unexpected thrills, and extraordinary danger, nothing can beat James Bond in his inaugural adventure.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:39 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In the first James Bond novel, originally published in 1953, 007 takes on Le Chiffre, a French communist and paymaster of the Soviet murder organization SMERSH, as the suave agent becomes involved in a high-stakes game of baccarat, enjoys a fiery love affair with a sexy female spy, and endures torture at the hands of a master sadist.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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