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on 9 July 2013
The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada

An excellent roller coaster ride. Guns, planes, explosions, boat chases, cool hidden gadgets, secret agents, all of what you'd expect from a Bond film, only set against the background of World War II. The protagonist? Bond's creator, Ian Fleming.

Here the author paints an awesome backdrop for Fleming's escapades across Britain, Europe and North Africa during World War II. Get ready for a thrilling read.

Pros: Very smooth read. Characterizations were actually great. You could tell most of the characters apart just from their dialogue or demeanor. Great twists and turns, wonderfully plotted, and all the Bond conventions were easily recognizable. Book was tough to put down.

Cons: The use of other languages was a little off-putting at some points, where I could either a) almost understand what was being said in French, Spanish, or German (and direct translation just after the dialogue wasn't offered) or b) wonder if the Germans/French/Spanish were actually speaking English.

At one point, Fleming says, "I only need a dinner coat" or something similar...which proves to be false. Actually the plan requires a heck of a lot more than that. There are a few other tiny punctuation or spelling errors, but not enough to drop us a star.

CAVEAT: If you are a massive World War II buff, I'm not sure if this novel will prove to be historically accurate. Since i'm not, and I'm also not a Bond nut, this didn't bother me in the slightest. I'm also not going to research WWII terminology, contemporary fashion, gun models, tank models, or any of those other details some obsess about. It was a fun read without nitpicking. (one reviewer has already given the author a single star review over this very detail...which is a detail. This is fiction, folks)
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on 7 July 2013
I was particularly interested in Damian Stevenson's take on Ian Fleming as I have been researching his role in 1940 myself for a sub plot in my third novel. I'm amazed by the amount of secret material still buried in the government archives about operations mounted during the second world war and have always suspected that Ian Fleming's role was far greater than previously explained. Mr Stevenson has demonstrated through his own diligent research that this is indeed the case and, from my own more limited enquiries, I know that there is far, far more yet to be revealed.
Cleverly, the author has laid down a marker for a whole series which could end up as a new James Bond type film franchise with the real inspiration for the role as the central character. There is no doubt that Operation Armada reads like a film script and, though I have no specific knowledge of the author's intentions, I suspect that is the real thrust of this novel.
Certainly, the period detail is sumptuous and Fleming's character, habits and personal preferences are very well laid out. The writing is stylish and very much in the mode of a young Fleming who, as I'm sure we will discover over this series, was responsible for some of the most imaginative operations during this war.
James Bond fans will already know how fantastical some of his exploits seem even in an age where we take new technology for granted. In Operation Armada, the author reveals that this technological war was already well established by equipping Fleming with advanced weapons which some historians might believe were only on the drawing board at the time. However, all weapons have to be tested and, in the atmosphere of intense secrecy surrounding new developments, experimental prototypes needed someone to take those risks.
On a rare sunny day in the UK, I finished reading this by the side of my pool, vodka martini sans olive close to hand though, with health and safety in mind, it was in a plastic glass. How Fleming would have laughed at my cowardice. I don't suppose he would have been too impressed by wind turbines either!
Keep this up Mr Stevenson. We need to be reminded of a time when real men weren't afraid to be heroes and, through Ian Fleming, you have the perfect vehicle to stiffen our spines.
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on 23 July 2013
As a writer myself, I have to be completely honest here.
Wow! For those of you who grew up with Ian Fleming, you have to appreciate what the author has accomplished here.
Not only did the author catch my full attention, and hold it, all the way through. He also captured the same compassion and attention even to the smallest little detail, just like Ian Fleming did.
Normally, I don't like it when someone messes with a proven performer from my youth. They seldom change the story line around. Either to fit their own ideas or perhaps to make it appear politically correct. What ever their reasons, I don't like it or appreciate it.

But this story is different. This story is unique and fresh. And yet, it portrays exactly what we've come to expect from Ian Fleming and /or the character of James Bond. And while the character of James Bond doesn't even make an appearance. You quickly realize that Commander Fleming is what we've come to love about James Bond. The action, the intrigue,and even the women. You had to know that there would be some really good looking ladies, didn't you.

And the author Damian Stevenson, doesn't disappoint anyone. I gave this book five stars because it deserves ten stars. The characters and their attitudes, are flawless. Ian Fleming himself, would enjoy this book.Well done Mr. Stevenson. Well done indeed!
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on 10 August 2013
The book grabbed my attention from the very beginning. I am not big in WWII stories, however I love James Bond, and this book was another James Bond exciting adventure. Damien Stevenson is a clever author with wonderful writing skills. He used the famous author Ian Fleming of the Bond Novels as his main character. The stories are thrilling and suspenseful exactly like James Bond.
I thought it was astounding that Ian Fleming used his personal experiences to produce some of the most successfully books and movies in the world. Stevenson did a great job in researching Ian Fleming's life and letting us, the readers, take a pick at the details of his very interesting life.
As an Intelligence Agent for the British Royal Navy, he was dispatched to France to meet with the French commander with a Bona Fide Offer. While there he finds himself right in the middle of the German invasion of Paris. His major interest was make sure that the French ships come under the British control, rather than falling in the hands of the Germans.
His adventures, the espionage, and the dangerous spy activities are not much different than the ones you find in the Bond movies. This is the reason that Damien Stevenson's book is exciting, enjoyable, and noteworthy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to everyone.
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on 1 July 2013
The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada by Damian Stevenson gripped me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me kicking and screaming, dropping me off breathless at the last incredible page of this brilliant spy thriller set in France WWII. I was immediately reminded of Alistair MacLean's awesome work and this book more than matches those great novels. I grew up on The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and Ice Station Zebra and now as a grown up I have been thoroughly treated to this great spy novel depicting the early war career of Ian Fleming.
With the Germans invasion of France, the British get wind of Operation Sealion, Hitler's plans to invade Britain. The beleaguered French Fleet would make a handy addition to the Kriegsmarine dooming Britain. Ian Fleming is dropped into France with enough gold to purchase the fleet, but when he enlists the French Resistance he is aware of a traitor. He is also ruthlessly hunted by General Bock, a vicious sadist. With its wonderful descriptions, use of military hardware, uniforms, insignia, this book concocts a thriller of FIVE STAR proportions.
This reader cannot wait for book two or the movie.
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on 14 July 2013
Before James Bond... there was Ian Fleming, Agent 17F of British Intelligence. The setting is World War Two, and the secret agent carries out a desperate mission to persuade a maverick French admiral to lend his fleet to the cause of stopping the Nazi war machine.

Through detailed descriptions, a picture emerges of the weapons, ships and even fashions of the day. From the moment Agent Fleming commandeers an aircraft to seek out the hidden French fleet, the reader is plunged into an action tour de force with a real feel of the Second World War. Of particular interest is the experience of a bombing raid by the Germans. It is as if you are racing through the city and the explosions are going off all around you!

There are some interesting comparisons and contrasts to be made between Agent 17F and his creation 007. Both are young, handsome agents, with a flamboyant lifestyle. However, Agent Fleming is a bit gruffer in demeanor, though still possessing undeniable charm.

This book has everything you would expect from a Bond tale: action, explosions, sultry vixens, and ironic quips. Get to know the man behind the myth: Agent 17F is at your service...
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on 14 July 2013
For lovers of nostalgia inspiring, World War 2 era spy novels, The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada by Damian Stevenson is your next must read. Whether you are a fan of James Bond, arguably one of the greatest franchises in history, or spy novels in general, you will not be disappointed. Mr. Stevenson definitely knows his subject matter, beginning the novel with a short biography of Ian Fleming, then quickly accelerates into the action. Starting with a morning run to clear his head from a night of alcohol fueled intelligence gathering, the story deftly gathers English intelligence officer Ian Fleming, ruthless Nazis, resistance militia, and a rogue French Armada and sets them against the backdrop of the powder keg of 1940's Europe , where the lines of enemy and ally are blurred. The details of the era are richly described, the writing is riveting and the pace is adrenaline-charged. Wise cracking spies, beautiful women, inventive gadgets and eccentric villains populate the writing, the usual and beloved suspects for this type of story. Operation Armada had me reminiscing about the first time I watched a James Bond movie, and had me reliving that first feeling of wonder and awe. I highly recommend this book, whether you are a fan of the genre or not.
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on 17 July 2013
The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada

Operation Armada is the story of Naval Commander Ian Fleming as he attempts to gain control of the French Fleet after the German invasion of France during World War Two. This was a fast-paced, action filled, amazing spy story with the typical bond like love interests.
The writer, Damian Stevenson, created a truly believable story that came to life like I was watching a movie. The descriptions were so clear that I felt like I was part of the story itself. I'm not much of a war story person, but I loved this book. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept my interest until the end. I loved it, and would recommend it as a story worth reading.
Lynda Kaye Frazier
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on 9 July 2013
What a weird and wonderful trip `The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada' is. Like most people I'm a James Bond fan and like some people I know Ian Fleming worked in naval intelligence. I didn't know the full extent to which he based 007 on his own life but from the research I've done since reading this book I can attest that the basic gist of this story and its presentation of the lead character is correct and accurate. Ian Fleming was indeed known as `17F,' he worked in Naval Intelligence, like Bond, and with the title Commander, like Bond. He was a bit of a bon vivante like Bond, relishing the best things in life. He was also a womanizer. In June 1940 he was dispatched by Admiral John Godfrey, a remote `M'-like person, to France to negotiate the purchase of Admiral Darlan's fleet. The German General in charge of the 9th Army was General Bock. Everything is accurate thus far. Reviews have pointed out the historical inaccuracies but I think they are taking this story too literally. I read this as a tongue-in-cheek homage to Bond with 90% of it being true and the rest being completely acceptable artistic license. The only fudging was killing off Darlan in 1940, when he died in 1942. Also, it's unlikely Fleming was that involved with the French resistance. HOWEVER, these little flights of fancy elevate this beyond what might have been a dry war story. The action sequences and the romance make the story sizzle. It's a bit slow to start but after the incredible parachute jump the action never really lets up to the end. The final moment between Fleming and Denise is a nice twist. There's a lot here to like and a ton of fascinating detail. Stevenson is a bit of a stylist and tends to ignore the rule `Never use a ten dollar word when a ten cents one will do' but if you like a book that relishes in language and historical minutiae and especially if you are a big Bond fan then you absolutely should read this book which is quite a steal at 99c.
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on 19 July 2013
It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of reading a book that sent me scrambling for my collection of spy movies! I was reminded with every page how much I loved the James Bond movies, the old Avengers TV show and the pile of classic novels I've had hidden in the bottom of my closet for years.

The characters are just real enough to be related to but they keep up more than enough of that "super spy" mystique that gets the pulse racing. The story was interesting in the same way. It had a charming way of keeping to the classic tropes of the genre while not being cliche or boring.

I would highly recommend this book and I'm waiting anxiously for the next release in the series, Operation: Trinity.
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