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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Man with the Golden Gun: James Bond 007
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The late Ian Fleming wrote this final Bond thriller just before his sad passing in the early 60s. The big question was with this and "You Only Live Twice", also "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" did the early films influence changes to his original character? The answer is no. The Bond of the books remains as consistent as he was in "Casino Royale" and "Live and Let Die". The book follows neatly on from "You Only Live Twice" which I would reccommend reading first. Bond has been missing for over a year and his department have already argreed he is dead. In fact he has suffered from amensia and has become corrupted and brainwashed by the KGB. He is sent back to London in an attempt to assainate M, his boss, in a heart stopping and most suspensful opening. Yet when he fails M insists against all odds he should earn a chance to be reinstated, he sends his top man to Jamaica to elminate the millionare hit man, Paco Scaramanga. Fleming's Jmaes Bond ever faithful to his hatred of killing a man in cold blood leds 007 to pass up the perfect opportunity of expiring his enemny and is forced to take a much more dangerous path, he gets inside the man's gang, yet some of the other members are not all what they seem and Scaramanga does not trust Bond as far as he can throw him, and it is only a matter of time before he will realise that Bond is not the man he is pretending to be!
An exciting start leds to some fairly dull moments during the middle of the novel, yet it is not long before things start getting hotter again. Bond is once again portrayed wonderfully by Fleming showing us how his mind works and devealing deep in to his emotions, something that none of the actors in the films could successfully do.
The film version has a completely different plot but the sharp reader may spot one or two nods to the movie of the same name, yet they are not really linked.
As for it's faults, once again, Fleming gives a fairly plain villian, most of the time the bad guys of the books are fairly wooden and too similar to each other, not really proving equal to Bond. Yet, Scaramanga's threat is coloured by other character's description of him. It is not as good as its predessor, "You Only Live Twice" but it comes close, Bond's dreams are beautifully descriptive and so is Fleming's descripton of his female counterpart, Mary Goodnight, who is unfortunately under used in the novel.
All in all, it is a good Fleming Bond novel, there have been some better and others worse. I feel one would need to read other Bond books first to get used to the style to improve their reflections. As previously mentioned, it follows on nicely from "You Only Live Twice" a slightly better book which would make this one benefit from being read first.
However there was only one true James Bond and he lived in the 1950s and early 1960s, on the pages on Ian Flemings brilliant spy novels. This is the final outing of the World's most famous spy before Flemings health sadly failed. And it is great final bow too!
Thanks for reading!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
First published in 1965, The Man With The Golden Gun was the thirteenth print outing (and twelfth full length novel) for superspy James Bond. It was the second to last Bond book by Ian Fleming, and published posthumously.

Following the events of `You Only Live Twice', in which Bond had lost his memory and was travelling to Russia to try and recover his identity, we meet a Bond seemingly in command of his faculties once again and trying to make contact with his old boss, M. But there is something amiss, Bond has been brainwashed by SMERSH and has been sent to assassinate M. Following the failed attempt Bond is rehabilitated, and M sends him on a potentially suicidal mission in order to reprove his worth and loyalty to the service. That mission is nothing less than to assassinate Francisco Scaramanga, AKA the man with the Golden Gun.

Bond is soon immersed in Carribean life as he tries to get close to his prey. A stroke of luck places him right next to Scaramanga, but it turns out the hoodlum is into something deep and Bond feels he must investigate and put a stop to the whole show rather than just kill Scaramanga. Aided by his old friend Felix Leiter and his ex-secretary Miss Goodnight, he goes through a tense and thrilling set of adventures as he winds towards one of the best finales that Fleming ever wrote.

Some complain that this book feels a little unfinished and rough around the edges. I have to say that I think this is a blessing. The Bond books had been getting increasingly overblown with greater degrees of grotesquery as Fleming tried to outdo himself with ever more imaginative descriptions. Here there is a feeling of restraint as Fleming had not had time to go back over the bare bones of the story and add too much flesh before he died. But the unadorned story is still a real thrill ride with plenty of painful and well imagined set pieces. It's a great read, 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First published in 1965, The Man With The Golden Gun was the thirteenth print outing (and twelfth full length novel) for superspy James Bond. It was the second to last Bond book by Ian Fleming, and published posthumously.

Following the events of `You Only Live Twice', in which Bond had lost his memory and was travelling to Russia to try and recover his identity, we meet a Bond seemingly in command of his faculties once again and trying to make contact with his old boss, M. But there is something amiss, Bond has been brainwashed by SMERSH and has been sent to assassinate M. Following the failed attempt Bond is rehabilitated, and M sends him on a potentially suicidal mission in order to reprove his worth and loyalty to the service. That mission is nothing less than to assassinate Francisco Scaramanga, AKA the man with the Golden Gun.

Bond is soon immersed in Carribean life as he tries to get close to his prey. A stroke of luck places him right next to Scaramanga, but it turns out the hoodlum is into something deep and Bond feels he must investigate and put a stop to the whole show rather than just kill Scaramanga. Aided by his old friend Felix Leiter and his ex-secretary Miss Goodnight, he goes through a tense and thrilling set of adventures as he winds towards one of the best finales that Fleming ever wrote.

Some complain that this book feels a little unfinished and rough around the edges. I have to say that I think this is a blessing. The Bond books had been getting increasingly overblown with greater degrees of grotesquery as Fleming tried to outdo himself with ever more imaginative descriptions. Here there is a feeling of restraint as Fleming had not had time to go back over the bare bones of the story and add too much flesh before he died. But the unadorned story is still a real thrill ride with plenty of painful and well imagined set pieces. It's a great read, 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
First published in 1965, The Man With The Golden Gun was the thirteenth print outing (and twelfth full length novel) for superspy James Bond. It was the second to last Bond book by Ian Fleming, and published posthumously.

Following the events of `You Only Live Twice', in which Bond had lost his memory and was travelling to Russia to try and recover his identity, we meet a Bond seemingly in command of his faculties once again and trying to make contact with his old boss, M. But there is something amiss, Bond has been brainwashed by SMERSH and has been sent to assassinate M. Following the failed attempt Bond is rehabilitated, and M sends him on a potentially suicidal mission in order to reprove his worth and loyalty to the service. That mission is nothing less than to assassinate Francisco Scaramanga, AKA the man with the Golden Gun.

Bond is soon immersed in Carribean life as he tries to get close to his prey. A stroke of luck places him right next to Scaramanga, but it turns out the hoodlum is into something deep and Bond feels he must investigate and put a stop to the whole show rather than just kill Scaramanga. Aided by his old friend Felix Leiter and his ex-secretary Miss Goodnight, he goes through a tense and thrilling set of adventures as he winds towards one of the best finales that Fleming ever wrote.

Some complain that this book feels a little unfinished and rough around the edges. I have to say that I think this is a blessing. The Bond books had been getting increasingly overblown with greater degrees of grotesquery as Fleming tried to outdo himself with ever more imaginative descriptions. Here there is a feeling of restraint as Fleming had not had time to go back over the bare bones of the story and add too much flesh before he died. But the unadorned story is still a real thrill ride with plenty of painful and well imagined set pieces. It's a great read, 5 stars.

Branagh's reading of the book is excellent. He really has a golden voice that just draws you in. He has an innate feel for the rhythm of the book, and transmits a quite boyish sense of excitement at being involved in the project that is wholly fitting to the Bond books. Also, based on this, can I start a petition here for Branagh to be the next on screen Bond villain?

On 4 discs in a spindle case, and lasting just over 4 hours, this is a great way to pass a few hours in the car. I loved it, 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2012
This is a strange, sad, little novel.

Apparently there's some debate as to whether this posthumously published book was actually finished by Fleming before he died, or completed by other hands. To me it does seem far less polished than any of the other James Bond adventures (but then the same could be said about Phillip Marlowe's swansong `Playback' and Chandler was alive when that came out). After a bizarre opening where is a hypnotised Bond tries to kill M (suggesting that `The Manchurian Candidate' was on Fleming's bookshelf), that idea is completely abandoned as Bond is packed off on a manhunt to the Caribbean.

It's a different and almost flatter Bond in this book, one lacking the trademark cruelty or even his normal arrogance of class. He plods through the tale, without any of the dynamism of his earlier adventures. Scaramanga, the villain of the piece, is also below par. He's almost a henchman promoted to main villain, there's no spark to his character - and the two men just talk and talk, (largely about boring arrangements). Even the final confrontation is incredibly un-dramatic, with Bond lacking a killer instinct and Scaramanga not quite being the great hit-man we'd been led to expect.

Nothing comes to life in 'The Man with the Golden Gun' - not the characters, not the setting, not the plot. It's a drudge of a read. Commentators often point out how close to parody Fleming could get in the later books, but even that seems lacking here. Truly, I've no idea whether Ian Fleming finished it or not - but if he did, then he did it as a writer who'd lost interest in the world of his most famous creation.

I haven't said this about any of the others, but I'd rather watch the Roger Moore film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2014
This is another piece of good writing from Ian Fleming. The story puts Bond up against Scaramanga a villain who holds his own with any Bond has encountered.

Like any of the Bond stories they start where the last one ends with a trigger of memory returning of his previous life and having to leave his lover Kissy Suzuki in Japan and head for Vladivostock in the Soviet Union. Unknown to him Kissy is pregnant.

James Bond eventually reached London and is trying to contact M. He has been away for about a year or more and believed to be missing in action.

When eventually a meeting is arranged with M. Bond tries to kill him. However this is stopped and Bond is sedated. In the time he has been In the Soviet Union he has been brainwashed by the KGB. Now the plan is to return him to his former self.

After treatment James Bond is passed fit to return to active duty and eliminate a hired assassin called Scaramanga who has clients like the KGB and the Mafia.

Bond has tracked Scaramanga to a location he knows well. Jamaica. Also there working is his former secretary. The delightful Miss Mary Goodnight

Soon Bond and Scaramanga paths cross. Along with Mary Goodnight, Bond also has help from his good friend Felix Leither.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2009
Oft maligned as the weakest of Ian Fleming's secret agent novels (it was also his last) The Man with the Golden Gun is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of the titular mercenary `Scaramanga' and 007's seemingly suicidal mission to assassinate this thorn in the side of Secret Services around the world.
The novel is certainly unconventional compared to its predecessors; there is no plot as such and Bond, after attempting to murder his boss - M - in the opening chapter, is both irreparably damaged and at the same time stoically determined to redeem himself and continue to serve his country, no matter what the cost. This is a lean and sparing thriller, which serves its purpose as both disposable fun and poignant final chapter in the (original) career of the world's most famous spy.
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on 21 July 2015
The Man with the Golden Gun is the twelfth novel (and thirteenth book) of Ian Fleming's James Bond series. It was first published in 1965, eight months after the author's death. The novel is not as detailed or polished as the others in the series and reads like a rough draft. Much of the detail contained in the previous novels is missing. This was often added by Fleming in the second draft. Publishers Jonathan Cape passed the manuscript to Kingsley Amis for his thoughts and advice. His suggestions were not used.

Apart from the unfinished feel, there are other issues:

The reader can see the effects of the two Bond films released before the writing of the novel (Dr. No and From Russia with Love). For example, there is an increased number of gadgets used. One of these was the poison gun used in the scene of the attempted assassination of M.

Fleming’s ideas don't seem to mesh. For example, there is a "Manchurian Candidate" start to the book, which is abandoned. ’ Bond then goes on a Caribbean manhunt.

Bond's character is not developed any further than in the previous books. When given two opportunities to kill Scaramanga in cold blood, Bond cannot bring himself to do it. This simply reiterates the morals of Bond as a British fictional hero. Bond also refuses later honours and reflects on his own name, "a quiet, dull, anonymous name", which had been Fleming's aim when he first named the character.

The touches of humour displayed by Bond in previous novels have gone. Here Bond is cold and emotionless. He plods through the situations and story.

Scaramanga, the villain of the book, isn't like the screen version. He is a darker version of Bond in the movie, but just as skilled. In the book he is a henchman. The other bad guys are all wooden too. No one comes close to equalling Bond.

Apart from the reasonable finale 'The Man with the Golden Gun' is missing a vital spark. If Fleming had finished the book then it shows he'd lost interest in the character. If he hadn't then Jonathan Cape should have let Kingsley Amis complete it.
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on 24 October 2014
There is a widely held opinion that Ian Fleming had lost faith in his creation towards the end of the James Bond series and the dreadful preceding story, "You only live twice" made me approach this story with trepidation. Bond's adventure in Japan saw the author writing on auto-pilot with the plot being totally risible and the action limited. It is a shockingly poor book. Mercifully, "The man with the golden gun" returns to the same territory of earlier Bond novel with the secret agent pitted against the assassin Scaramanga in the familiar territory of Jamaica and sees Fleming compose a straight-forward a credible plot with a climax that will have you quickly rushing through the pages.

The opening chapters see James Bond rehabilitated from the misfortunes of the previous two novels and quickly dispatched to familiar territory where he is to hunt down the notorious hit man. Pleasingly, the book recalls earlier Bond novels such as "Diamonds are forever" , "Dr No" and "Live an let die" whilst retaining the leanness of the short stories which I feel represent Fleming's best writing and reveal James Bond as a more hardened and ruthless individual. In the longer books, Bond is far more human and fallible - a million miles from any of the screen versions.( The shorter stories probably reveal Daniel Craig's impersonal version as nearer the mark. and the character is slightly more ruthless and cold-blooded than in the more familiar titles.)

Of the series, this is one of the best if not quite as good as "From Russia with love" or "The spy who loved me" and if the writing is a bit scraggy and maudlin at the conclusion, it is fair to say that the excitement levels never let up. The book is a totally different story from the film and far simpler - Scaramanga also being one of the most memorable and plausible of all the Bond villains despite being lumbered with some corny dialogue. His first appearance in the book marks him out as the scariest villain since Grant in "From Russia with love" (arguably the best of the lot) and is the best scene in the whole of the book.

"The man with the golden gun" is not without it's faults yet I think it is amongst the better offerings in the series and benefits from the simplicity of the story, a truly frightening and plausible villain and a plot which is not at all fanciful. The fact that the plot has it's feet firmly on the ground and reinstalls Bond in to familiar territory only serves to highlight just what went wrong with the previous novel which was appalling. It's also worth noting that the book builds up to the best climax since "Diamonds are forever" and sees the return of one of the series most colourful characters. Whilst the book is a marked contrast to the levity with which the title transferred to the screen, Fleming also seems recognisant that the times were starting to change and there is an inkling that, had he lived, Bond would have moved with the times. Had Fleming not died so soon after completing this novel, it would have been interesting to see how the books would have developed as the influence of the UK political had waned even further by this point.

I felt this was a gripping read if not quite perfect. Having ploughed my way through all of but two of the books, it's clear that Fleming was an erratic writer - economic and pithy at his best, probably not believing in his creation at worst. The books make an interesting contrast with the films as the quality of both are frequently not matched or , as is the case with this effort, totally different from the big screen version. Undoubtedly dated , this is still probably the most "modern" of the Bond series after "The spy who loved me" and an enjoyable read. A short read, this is one of Bond's most satisfying outings.
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on 27 February 2014
I've recently got back into James Bond after more years than I care to admit to and was immediately reminded of why I liked Ian Fleming back then. He has a flair for description, especially when he's dealing with exotic locations (many of which have changed out of all recognition since the 50s when he wrote the novels. His action sequences are completely realistic and have authentic consequences, as opposed to the "take a bullet, shrug it off" style of some modern authors.

As per my headline, this is a completely different beast from the Roger Moore movie of the same name; this Scaramanga is nothing like the smooth, suave Christopher Lee character (excellent though he was). This Scaramanga is an all-out thug, double-crossing everyone in sight and scratching around for cash to pay off his more persistent creditors when he can't just dispose of them. It rattles along at a fast pace, though there are so many heroes and villains packed into some of the middle scenes, it's hard to keep track of who is Mafia, CIA, KGB and assorted other organisations; you have to keep leafing back (not as easy on a Kindle, incidentally; any chance of a multi-page thumbnail diplay, Amazon?) to check their affiliations to assess the significance of their actions from time to time or the plot gets away from you.

I believe this is one of the less-read JB novels but it shouldn't be. I wouldn't suggest it as an introduction to Bond, though - read the novels in sequence starting with Casino Royale and the character makes much more sense as he develops.
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