16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Bond book.
From Russia, With Love is stunning. Fleming writes in an unusually excellent prose for a thriller writer, combininng the threads of the complex plot to excellent and often harrowing effect.
The characterisation is the best feature of this tour de force. Every character is fully and artistically developed - Red Grant, the psychotic killer, is the ultimate Bond enemy...
Published on 31 Aug 2002 by George Owers
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
One of the better Bond novels, but unique in being inferior to the film of the same name.
Published 10 days ago by AGTrio
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5.0 out of 5 stars From russia with love,
Goodread differed from the film but would recommend to all 007fans. Definitely be reading the rest of Fleming's books after this one
4.0 out of 5 stars 007, Granit and Spanish secret police,
I remember well the film based in this novel. I ever thought it was the best film about James Bond, but it's clear time has passed for everybody, not only for Sean Connery, but for me also.
And now I rarely taste films or books of spies if not very good, but now the novels of agent 007 are easily accessible, not as in my youth in Spain, so, I had the curiosity to read this, and "Casino Royale", and I think Casino Royale is best conceived.
This is in the rare case in "From Russia with love" that the film is better than the novel. It's only my idea, but the screenplay I find is better structured.
Here, Fleming commits an error in the structure so, the action seems to be sharply cut in three visible parts as a play, but it's a novel.
We see, the novel begins with a long -too long- presentation of the Soviet machinations so, the reader feels Bond arrives too late. The SMERSH personages and plans, no matter how sinister, and they exceed in that, are not so interesting. Half of the most important in the SMERSH are madmen and madwomen.
The second part show us basically the long voyage to return in the Orient Express, not very believable instead of an airplane, but romantic. This is more interesting with the personage of Kerim, the man who wants to die for living too much and full.
The final it's basically the terrible confrontation between Bond and Granit, the criminal SMERSH mad killer, and with the evil Rosa Klebb.
All the parts are recognizable in the movie, but as I say, that's better easily conceived than the book. It's only my opinion but Casino Royale seems to me a more logical novel without disruptions.
And a touch of humor in this novel, from the 1950's decade, is the remark of the SMERSH about the high quality of Spanish police against communist agents, this is, Franco's police I knew. Few Spaniards today should agree with that as these was effectively a corps as a little Spanish SMERSH.
At last both British and Spanish police and his secret agents seem to have been in close collaboration until now and it follows owing today's new class of terrorism. Life has these paradoxes as the relations seemed by 1954 much more cold but you don't have to believe to the politicians.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
So much more thrilling than the movies. Can't wait to read the rest of the Fleming novels! Bond as Bond is meant to be!
4.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to put down,
In many respects it's incredible that the books from 1950's have endured and I suspsect that much of this is attributable to the fact that the films have become so iconic. This is the first James Bond book that I've read and I would have to admit that that, whilst swathes of this novel were old-fashioned and rather dated in their attitude, there were also elements where I felt the writing was quite crisp and more profound than I had expected. Certainly, I would have to argue that any notion that Ian Fleming was incapable of writing need to be quickly shot down. The prose is lean and economic and does all that it needs to. The first third of the book deals with the creation of the Russian Secret Service plan to ensnare Bond and there were moments where the element of mistrust between the various psrties to this operation recalled George Orwell's "1984." I would also have to say that the grotesque Rosa Klebb is an extremely memorable character and perhaps is more menancing than the hit-man Donovan Grant.
The appreance of Bond some 130-odd pages in to the book marks the point at which the tone of the novel becomes much lighter. It is fair to say that many elements will be familiar if you have seen the film and like it's cinematic equivalent, the story then becomes something of a period piece. Bond himself is almost character-less and certainly not as infallible as he appears on screen. Some of the other characters such as his Turkish contact "Darko" illiminate the story from this point and once Bond is involved it is fair to say that the book becomes impossible to put down even if the story and it's conclusion are familiar.
In conclusion, this book was far better than I had expected. Whilst the screen-play of the recent "Skyfall" suggested that Bond as a cinematic character had been served with a better quality of writing than he has every previously enjoyed in all other mediums and thought Fleming's character is perhaps slightly more colourless than Sean Connery's portryal would lead you to suspect, the quality of the writing in "From Russia with love" is surprisingly good. If you recognise that these books were actually set in the 1950's and not in the following decade as the iconic films, it is possible to appreciate their appeal. I think successive writers like Le Carre and Len Deighton were capable to writing books which may have been more realistic, however Fleming captures the feel of the time when Britain's political influence overseas was clearly on the vain. There are elements of the book which don't appeal (the attitude towards women must have been lamentable even at the time of it's writing and the descriptions of foreigners is patronising a best and racist at worst) and you half feel that Fleming should have been writng for the Mail and not The Times. I think I can just about forgive Fleming these failings as in the best passages of writing he is very good indeed. Like many pieces of fictional writing that are over 60 years old, some elements of this novel are a bit creaky yet Fleming could write a cracking yarn that moves at pace.
All told, "From Russia with love" may have produced the most dated of all the James Bond films (at least those featuring Sean Connery.) However, as writing on the page, I feel that the first third of the story is almost Orwellian in it's description of the State machinery of old Soviet Union and the craftmanship with which the plot is constructed allows the reader to set aside the more fanciful elements of the remainder of the book. I anticipated that this book would have materialised to have been the work of a lazy, hack journalist. The reality is that the writing may be of it's time but , on this basis of this book alone, Fleming's writing deserves as much credit as the oft-lauded films even if the James Bond within these pages is something of a different animal from his screen equivalent. I polished this book off in a matter of days. (Word of warning, the printing in this edition is extremely spacious and this is still a relatively short book.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaken and Stirred!!,
This is an excellent read in a vintage cover and it was bought as a Valentine's Day present. An excellent story by an excellent writer. It will be nice to build up a library of Vintage Classics.
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant,
movie forget it! this starts in russia, the old USSR all about the KGB etc and set the plot up very nice too.
loved the way the book with James Bonds play's out.
great read, looking foeward to reading Dr No next.
5.0 out of 5 stars book,
I bought this book to add to my collection of classic books as i consider it to be a classic.
5.0 out of 5 stars james bond!,
bought this for my daugher who after watching skyfall thought she would give James Bond books ago! she has really enjoyed them.
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best?,
I write an essay but that would waste Bond-reading time. This is a classic and every thriller writer should take a look. You know when a book has got when you miss your stop on the train as I did a few times with this one...enjoy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bond,
Fleming captures the fading British Empire and travel by air and trans-Europe railways in the late 50's plus the tension with the USSR. I've read 7 Fleming novels so far and enjoyed this the most. Bond comes over as a more brutal spy than in the films, but he is also a patriot with a heart. The style briskly moves you through the plot and the villians are fabulously evil.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
From Russia with Love, Dr No and Goldfinger (Omnibus Edition) (Penguin Modern Classics) by Ian Fleming (Paperback - 4 April 2002)
Used & New from: £0.01