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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A competent beginning
The first of Ian Fleming's 007 series is nothing really more than the first few shots fired in James Bond's war with a Soviet organisation: SMERSH.
In print, the world's most famous spy is similar but ultimately different from the loveable rogue that has blessed cinema screens for the past forty years. He is a cruel ruthless killer, ambivelant towards women; in that...
Published on 19 July 2003 by Sam Cooper

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly formed, class
I read a lot of James Bond books when I was aged 14-16 and I loved them.

Actually, I always wanted to write books like the Bond books, and to my teenage self, it was immensely frustrating that I didn't know enough about the world, about international politics, espionage (and women) to write such a book.

I had a damn good go though! Still got some of...
Published on 22 May 2012 by Stevos


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A competent beginning, 19 July 2003
By 
Sam Cooper (Louisburg, North Carolina United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
The first of Ian Fleming's 007 series is nothing really more than the first few shots fired in James Bond's war with a Soviet organisation: SMERSH.
In print, the world's most famous spy is similar but ultimately different from the loveable rogue that has blessed cinema screens for the past forty years. He is a cruel ruthless killer, ambivelant towards women; in that he loathes but desires them, but somewhat troubled with his dangerous profession.
In this the first installment, Bond comes up against a known and powerful SMERSH operative named "Le Chiffre". A Frenchman working for the Soviets with a penchant for spending his superiors cash on sideline businesses that he hopes will bring him fortune. In an attempt to hide his massive losses from his Soviet bosses, he attempts to retrieve their lost money by gambling with what remains at one of France's premier casinos.
Bond, an almost fresh but respected agent is sent to intercept "Le Chiffre" and bring him down, not with a bullet, but in a game of baccaret. Hoping to relieve him of his remaining funds Bond becomes involved in a wonderfully detailed game of cards, the aim being to coax a vengeful wrath from SMERSH onto their misguided French agent and thus ridding NATO of a potential nuisance from France.
The writing is of a very high standard. Bond is described well, as are all the other characters, making him seem more human than his on screen personna. Vesper, Bond's naive assistant, is believable and mysterious in her role, attracting Bond but focused on the job in hand. Fleming's talent for atmosphere and ambience are present here, neatly surrounding the main theme and it's absorbing narrative.
Rufus Sewell is a very casual, effortless voice talent. Each character has it's own trademark accent and tone. Such is the fluidity of his words one often forgets that it is just one person reading. Penguin can be congratulated on choosing this highly talented screen and theatre actor to bring Bond's world to life.
A promising beginning to an outstanding series. Sewell will make you love Fleming's work all the more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's not difficult to get a double-O number if you're prepared to kill people. That's all the meaning it has.", 15 Oct. 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
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`Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women. One day, and he accepted the fact, he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost; the acceptance of fallibility.'

It's perhaps telling that what would become a global phenomenon - more due to the extraordinary success of the film series that moved increasingly further away from his novels - begins with the acrid, sweaty stink of a casino in the early hours of the morning, its glamour stripped away as James Bond calculates his winnings and losses. The premise of the book may be slightly fantastic (though rooted firmly in a failed scheme Ian Fleming himself proposed to bankrupt a Nazi spy during the war) but the approach is more down to earth, with the emphasis on the details (conveyed through intermittent quotes from secret reports or Bond's imaginative speculation) and atmosphere to make the tale more credible than it sounds. The senses are also evoked, Bond's sense of taste and smell often to the fore whether it's a casual mention of the villain's flatulence or the aroma of roast mutton in the air in a vivid description of the aftermath of a botched bombing. Described as looking like singer Hoagy Carmichael, far from the veritable superman he would become, this Bond is described as absolute Hell to work for, with not much heart and a tendency to get hostile when he senses himself getting too friendly. He doesn't even harbour any resentment for the victims who earned him his 00 rating, acknowledging that they were probably quite decent people who just got caught up in the gale of the world. As he notes, "It's not difficult to get a double-o number if you're prepared to kill people. That's all the meaning it has. It's nothing to be particularly proud of."

Where Bond walked through most of his screen adventures the same infinitely self-confident hero at the end as he was at the beginning, his certainties are challenged more in his print incarnation as he falls in love and questions the nature of his life - though in a way that's far more reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, one of Fleming's favourite authors, than great literature: the novels may be a bit more down-to-earth, but they're still superior examples of pulp fiction (so much so that the original US paperback was retitled You Asked For It). Thankfully it receives an excellent reading from Dan Stevens on AudioGo's unabridged 4-CD audiobook, managing most of the accents well without overplaying Bond's swagger or cynicism. The CD also includes a very unenlightening interview with Dan Stevens, who admits that hasn't read any of the books and focuses on the many differences to the film incarnation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bond of three parts, 1 Nov. 2012
By 
Andromeda Descendent (Tarn Vedra) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
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Well, I'm amazed I'm saying this after giving a frustrated three star review to Goldfinger, but I found this to be a very enjoyable Bond novel. It helped that it was only four discs; - being a shorter novel than I'd imagine most if not all of the rest are, it meant that the writing was tight paced and I didn't ever feel bored, waiting for something of substance to happen. Bond is a thoughtful character in the novels, and the chances of him actually punching or shooting anyone are remarkably low compared to your expectations. When we meet him he has killed two people in his career and although the occasional hope that he'll get to kill a henchman he doesn't like crosses his mind, he's ultimately not in a hurry to kill again because he empathises when he himself is painted as a target.

That unpleasant torture scene from the Daniel Craig film is here in the book too, and was perhaps the main reason Casino Royale went un-filmed for so long before the franchise masters decided audiences could stomach it. Before we get to that though, and in act 1 of what is essentially a three act book, we spend a long time with Bond trying to bankrupt Russian operative Le Chiffre at the card table so that his paymasters will assassinate him. This section of the book is surprisingly riveting, and it didn't matter that I know very little about any type of card game, let along baccarat - the writing drew me in.

The second act, as I've mentioned is set around a very graphic torture scene, and the third act deals with Bond's recuperation and takes an unusual (for Bond) twist in that he starts falling in love with his latest conquest instead of just falling into bed with her. Until you discover the final twist of this story, as a modern reader you're likely to find Vesper Lynd to be written in a patronisingly poor way, but as you think back after the end of the novel you realise that she was actually more three dimensional than a good deal many of the later "Bond girls". The tragic romance section of this book may not be to everyone's tastes, and may seem to some an unnecessarily long epilogue, but I found it interesting for its uniqueness amongst the Bond canon, but also simply interesting in itself.

Dan Stevens reads the audio book extremely well, although I found the voice he used for Le Chiffre quite bizarre. There's an interview with him at the end, which is mildly interesting. It would have been nice to hear a few words from the producer, Lucy Fleming, but sadly we don't. I find the front cover of these "reloaded" audio sets uninspired - being merely a picture of the reader. I'd have liked artwork based on the original covers, or at least something with a bit more imagination. But it's the content that matters, and I enjoyed this Bond novel a fair bit. My literary experience of 007 so far has been one mediocre Bond and one good Bond. I may yet be tempted to listen to more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dan Stevens gives an assured reading, 17 Jan. 2013
By 
Mr. Stuart Bruce "DonQuibeats" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
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(Reviewing Dan Stevens' audiobook reading as part of the 007 Reloaded series, as some of the other reviews here seem to be of a Rufus Sewell audiobook or of the paperback.)

Dan Stevens gives a solid and assured reading of the first James Bond novel. He sounds somewhat older than he actually is, and reads much of the text in a very restrained voice that's not unlike Daniel Craig's performance in the recent movie. Some of the reading is so deep in tone that if you're trying to listen to this audiobook walking along a busy street, you might not be able to hear it.

Stevens can obviously speak French confidently so "Casino Royale" is a good choice for him, as there's quite a lot of it here. His voicing of "Le Chiffre"- a very difficult character to voice, given the complex description of his history and nationalities given in the book- is nicely weighted, balancing somewhere between normal and psychopathic without turning into a caricature.

Unfortunately some of his other voices- particularly trying to sound feminine as Vesper Lynd, and the Texan drawl of Felix Leiter- are not quite so convincing. This is only a problem in the final third of the book, which is a complex battle of love and wits that plays out slowly and intimately, and isn't quite so convincing when the female character sounds a bit like a pantomime dame. It's a small problem though, compared to how brilliantly sinister the middle section is in its delivery. Dan Stevens has read a lot of audiobooks and I can understand why, he's an excellent choice.

I won't review the book itself, plenty of other people have, except to say that it's almost a Bond prototype novel- James Bond here isn't the iconic, assured superspy of later books or of the movies. In fact apart from a little bit of a trick with a falling chair, he's more of a victim of circumstance than anything else and barely does anything heroic at all. It's very much a book in three distinct parts, and Dan Stevens does an excellent job of quite a tricky read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book - Well Delivered Audio Version, 17 Dec. 2012
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I read the early Bond books many years ago and I would say of them all that Casino Royale is probably the one which sticks in my mind more than the others. This might be because, as the very first Bond book, it sets the scene for those which followed and his ongoing confrontation with SMERSH, the Russian Secret Service. On this occasion the bad guy is Le Chiffre who is a treasurer for the Russians. Bond takes a large amount of SMERSH's funds from Le Chiffre in a casino, which is followed by desperate attempts to recover the lost funds. Another notable introduction to the role of characters is Felix Leiter, the American agent, who goes on to appear in a number of other stories. Lynd provides the rather memorable love interest.

I was always disappointed that the only attempt to film this story was the spoof attempt in 1967 starring David Niven, as I thought this would transfer to celluloid very well. Logically it should have been the first one filmed rather than Dr No in 1962. This was not corrected until 2006 when the Daniel Craig version was released, although the story was considerably adapted from the book to bring it up to date. What a shame we never saw Sean Connery in Casino Royale.

I particularly enjoyed this audio presentation of Casino Royale, which I listened to on a long car journey and which made the journey seem to pass very quickly. I am not used to listening to audio books, but I would say that it was very like listening to a very good narrated Radio 4 play. Dan Stevens is the narrator and does a very good job in that you quickly stop concentrating on the narration and get into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would certainly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sweet tang of rape, 2 Nov. 2012
By 
R. A. Caton "Arcaton" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you feel uncomfortable with the title perhaps this isn't the book for you.... The year is 1953 and an unknown called James Bond is about to enter the public consciousness..... It makes a lot of difference when enjoying a book to come to it as a virgin, clean and unknowing; I alas am a soiled reviewer, having seen the films (even the 1967 abomination) and read the book years ago in the "Pan" edition. So I knew the twist and was listening with foreknowledge and anticipation. Confession over.
Dan Stevens reads the story with just the right shade of suave.... Fleming's prose regarding the "job" and its aftermath comes over really well. It's interesting to see the way sex (and the animal desires leading to it) got written about in those days, plenty of talk and symbolism with cigarettes between moist lips (cigarettes, todays taboo.... Bond is a 70 a day man carrying a cigarette case holding 50 cancer sticks - if the job doesn't get him the habits will) rather than going straight to That Bit That Must Not Be Named as they would these days. Such creative prose (and the 4th CD concerns man vs woman a great deal) enables us to observe the growing relationship between Bond and the assistant assigned to him that will ultimately define Bond's attitude towards his job and his behaviour throughout all the sequels.
1953. It was a long time ago, no mobile phones or gadgets. Just a good story and a strong plot. Enjoy.
The book is nothing like the film so enjoy.
CD4 Tr20 is an interview with Dan Stevens - interesting, also.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casino Royale: Ian Fleming - The name's Bond, and the rest is history..., 11 Oct. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review contains some plot spoilers.

Casino Royale is the first appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1953 it is a story very much of it's time, yet somehow timeless and a thoroughly enjoyable yarn.

We are introduced to Bond as he ends a day of gambling in a casino. Fleming gets across the essentials of the character quickly and efficiently, and in short order starts to reveal the details of the plot. It's a cunning ploy to try and break and discredit one of Russian Intelligence's important operatives in the West, in a move that would disillusion many would be Communist sympathisers. All Bond has to do is clean him out in a game of Baccarat. We are treated to a thrilling and tense adventure, in which Bond has to not only win the card game, but also evade various underhanded attempts to prevent him winning. Later he faces even greater danger and pain as the action moves from the casino.

Fleming writes with an eye for atmosphere and detail. This early incarnation of Bond is a hard man, devoted to getting the job done, but with a sense of morality and a tendency to introspection and philosophising. His internal thoughts come across as more than a little misogynistic, but his actions betray a somewhat softer attitude to the fair sex. He is an interesting construct. Every scene of the book is written with a dense atmosphere that you could cut with a knife. In the casino you can almost taste the cigarette smoke and feel the sweat trickling down your neck as Bond and Le Chiffre play out their titanic battle on the card table. In later scenes Fleming makes you feel Bond's pain as Le Chiffre finds a new use for a carpet beater. In every scene the surroundings and atmosphere are so well described you can place yourself there. It's a superb bit of writing, engrossing the reader in a breathless adventure. And finale, when it comes, is utterly crushing in its finality. It easy to see from this highly enjoyable thriller why Bond became such a phenomenon. 5 stars for an enthralling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casino Royale: Ian Fleming - The name's Bond, and the rest is history..., 11 Oct. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review contains some plot spoilers.

Casino Royale is the first appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1953 it is a story very much of it's time, yet somehow timeless and a thoroughly enjoyable yarn.

We are introduced to Bond as he ends a day of gambling in a casino. Fleming gets across the essentials of the character quickly and efficiently, and in short order starts to reveal the details of the plot. It's a cunning ploy to try and break and discredit one of Russian Intelligence's important operatives in the West, in a move that would disillusion many would be Communist sympathisers. All Bond has to do is clean him out in a game of Baccarat. We are treated to a thrilling and tense adventure, in which Bond has to not only win the card game, but also evade various underhanded attempts to prevent him winning. Later he faces even greater danger and pain as the action moves from the casino.

Fleming writes with an eye for atmosphere and detail. This early incarnation of Bond is a hard man, devoted to getting the job done, but with a sense of morality and a tendency to introspection and philosophising. His internal thoughts come across as more than a little misogynistic, but his actions betray a somewhat softer attitude to the fair sex. He is an interesting construct. Every scene of the book is written with a dense atmosphere that you could cut with a knife. In the casino you can almost taste the cigarette smoke and feel the sweat trickling down your neck as Bond and Le Chiffre play out their titanic battle on the card table. In later scenes Fleming makes you feel Bond's pain as Le Chiffre finds a new use for a carpet beater. In every scene the surroundings and atmosphere are so well described you can place yourself there. It's a superb bit of writing, engrossing the reader in a breathless adventure. And finale, when it comes, is utterly crushing in its finality. It easy to see from this highly enjoyable thriller why Bond became such a phenomenon. 5 stars for an enthralling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casino Royale: Ian Fleming - The name's Bond, and the rest is history..., 11 Oct. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review contains some plot spoilers.

Casino Royale is the first appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1953 it is a story very much of it's time, yet somehow timeless and a thoroughly enjoyable yarn.

We are introduced to Bond as he ends a day of gambling in a casino. Fleming gets across the essentials of the character quickly and efficiently, and in short order starts to reveal the details of the plot. It's a cunning ploy to try and break and discredit one of Russian Intelligence's important operatives in the West, in a move that would disillusion many would be Communist sympathisers. All Bond has to do is clean him out in a game of Baccarat. We are treated to a thrilling and tense adventure, in which Bond has to not only win the card game, but also evade various underhanded attempts to prevent him winning. Later he faces even greater danger and pain as the action moves from the casino.

Fleming writes with an eye for atmosphere and detail. This early incarnation of Bond is a hard man, devoted to getting the job done, but with a sense of morality and a tendency to introspection and philosophising. His internal thoughts come across as more than a little misogynistic, but his actions betray a somewhat softer attitude to the fair sex. He is an interesting construct. Every scene of the book is written with a dense atmosphere that you could cut with a knife. In the casino you can almost taste the cigarette smoke and feel the sweat trickling down your neck as Bond and Le Chiffre play out their titanic battle on the card table. In later scenes Fleming makes you feel Bond's pain as Le Chiffre finds a new use for a carpet beater. In every scene the surroundings and atmosphere are so well described you can place yourself there. It's a superb bit of writing, engrossing the reader in a breathless adventure. And finale, when it comes, is utterly crushing in its finality. It easy to see from this highly enjoyable thriller why Bond became such a phenomenon. 5 stars for an enthralling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casino Royale: Ian Fleming - The name's Bond, and the rest is history..., 11 Oct. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (Hardcover)
This review contains some plot spoilers.

Casino Royale is the first appearance in print for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Originally published in 1953 it is a story very much of it's time, yet somehow timeless and a thoroughly enjoyable yarn.

We are introduced to Bond as he ends a day of gambling in a casino. Fleming gets across the essentials of the character quickly and efficiently, and in short order starts to reveal the details of the plot. It's a cunning ploy to try and break and discredit one of Russian Intelligence's important operatives in the West, in a move that would disillusion many would be Communist sympathisers. All Bond has to do is clean him out in a game of Baccarat. We are treated to a thrilling and tense adventure, in which Bond has to not only win the card game, but also evade various underhanded attempts to prevent him winning. Later he faces even greater danger and pain as the action moves from the casino.

Fleming writes with an eye for atmosphere and detail. This early incarnation of Bond is a hard man, devoted to getting the job done, but with a sense of morality and a tendency to introspection and philosophising. His internal thoughts come across as more than a little misogynistic, but his actions betray a somewhat softer attitude to the fair sex. He is an interesting construct. Every scene of the book is written with a dense atmosphere that you could cut with a knife. In the casino you can almost taste the cigarette smoke and feel the sweat trickling down your neck as Bond and Le Chiffre play out their titanic battle on the card table. In later scenes Fleming makes you feel Bond's pain as Le Chiffre finds a new use for a carpet beater. In every scene the surroundings and atmosphere are so well described you can place yourself there. It's a superb bit of writing, engrossing the reader in a breathless adventure. And finale, when it comes, is utterly crushing in its finality. It easy to see from this highly enjoyable thriller why Bond became such a phenomenon. 5 stars for an enthralling read.
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