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Moonraker
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2007
A true masterpiece from the creator himself. I've always loved Moonraker, but this reading, like all other previous ones, just got more enjoyable. I find the main location of this novel, and the only location, England to perfectly suit the dark and nasty story that lurks in this book, the pure mind of the villain, Drax, is clearly shown in Chapter 22, Pandora's Box, and it is shown off to a good extent. This story works with just one location, because it allows everything else to take first place in the story with great emphasis, namely the characters and the plot, which are key in Moonraker.

Yes, it's interesting to note minimal references to Die Another Day --

He suddenly decided to be ruthless. "I'm told that Five and Five is your limit. Let's play for that. -Moonraker, Chapter 6.

Let's play for this. I picked it up in Cuba, I believe it's one of yours. -Die Another Day

The character of "good old" Sir Hugo Drax is one of Fleming's best villains ever, pure mania driving his obsession with fury and his loyalty to the Moonraker project, and any scene with Bond antagonizing him is done very, very well. The description he gets during the card scene, and how Bond uses his deformities to anger him during his telling of his true identity is very effective.

Gala Brand, the woman who is just as apt as James Bond, a true heroine who fights the whole way with Bond for the cause, and whose frosty exterior quickly melts away as soon as she gets to know Bond, without the watchful eye of Drax, Krebs, and Walter. I find their golden day encounter to be a very effective chapter, with the swimming, bleeding flowers, and the cliff accident, that is exciting.

The card scene is pure magnificence, and is quite gripping to the the reader, seeing the tension building up throughout the entire game, especially as Drax realizes that perhaps Bond does indeed have an interesting hand. True villainy as Drax spats orders and insults at his partner, and gets his comment cut short as he loses. A very fine scene.

Overall, I think I enjoy the first two-thirds of Moonraker slightly more than the final third because I think it reads a bit more exciting for me, but the final third is still quite fantastic, such as the waiting for the pressure hose to finally reach Bond and Gala, and the countdown to the launch, all well written.

A true 5 star novel.

commanderbond.net
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Moonraker is notorious among Bond fans for being the height of the 70s stupidity which pulled the series very, very far from Ian Fleming's tone. I have not seen it for years but I recall it basically being TSWLM in space with a dumb outer space laser battle, and, of course, the pigeon doing a double take.

It had basically nothing to do with the 1955 novel apart from Bond, the villain Hugo Drax (in name only) and the title. Ev-er-y-thing else is completely different. While the movie was an expensive epic that tried to be Bond meets Star Wars, the novel is very low key and focuses more on investigation and some mystery.

M calls Bond to his office with concerns about popular high-flyer Sir Hugo Drax cheating at cards at a swanky London club. Why would a multi-millionaire want to earn a pittance and risk his reputation by cheating? As soon as Bond begins observing, and growing suspicious, of Drax there is a tragedy at his nuclear facility. The Moonraker project (basically a big nuke - an early version of an ICBM) is due for a test launch in a couple of days but when one of Drax's men apparently goes mad and does a murder-suicide Bond is moved in to investigate and soon discovers that Drax is not the man he claims to be.

I found a few similarities to Goldeneye in regards to Drax's motivations, but aside from that it will all be completely new to those of you who have just seen the movies. Fleming details a lot of the south east coast of England and many country backroads, that's about as as close to space as you get. It's maybe a bit too quaint compared to modern spy novels but does seem to be cutting edge for its time.

The ending is a bit of a downer though, but realistic. I so wish that the movies were made in chronological order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1955, this is the third print outing for superspy James Bond, in a novel that stands out even among the pretty high standard of the series.

Bond is asked by M for a personal favour - will he go down to M's card club and investigate a possible case of cheating by Sir Hugo Drax, a man held so highly in the public estimation due to his sponsorship of a certain defence project that a whiff of scandal would be disastrous. After a tense and nerve wracking card game (for the reader as well as the participants!) he takes Drax at his own game. Soon, events take him to the site of a major missile launch overseen by Drax. There is a whiff of something wrong, imperceptible perhaps, but just a lingering note, and Bond is soon enmeshed in a desperate struggle to stop a madman.

It's a thrilling ride. Fleming writes with verve and passion, and manages to get the atmosphere across beautifully. In the card game you can feel Bond's sweat, and the car chase through Kent is a masterpiece of thrilling writing, it had me on the edge of my seat. But he is not afraid to contrast this with the humdrum, the descriptions of Bond's office life, wearily reading boring files. Fleming uses his usual eye for the grotesque to create an imposing villain, and an eye for detail that fills every scene and brings it alive in Fleming's own unique style. There is a reason his novels are still so popular when contemporaries such as Alistair MacLean are being forgotten, and one of those is the superior writing and story telling style. It's a really thrilling book, and a real nail biter in places. Thoroughly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1955, this is the third print outing for superspy James Bond, in a novel that is stands out even among the pretty high standard of the series.

Bond is asked by M for a personal favour - will he go down to M's card club and investigate a possible case of cheating by Sir Hugo Drax, a man held so highly in the public estimation due to his sponsorship of a certain defence project that a whiff of scandal would be disastrous. After a tense and nerve wracking card game (for the reader as well as the participants!) he takes Drax at his own game. Soon, events take him to the site of a major missile launch overseen by Drax. There is a whiff of something wrong, imperceptible perhaps, but just a lingering note, and Bond is soon enmeshed in a desperate struggle to stop a madman.

It's a thrilling ride. Fleming writes with verve and passion, and manages to get the atmosphere across beautifully. In the card game you can feel Bond's sweat, and the car chase through Kent is a masterpiece of thrilling writing, it had me on the edge of my seat. But he is not afraid to contrast this with the humdrum, the descriptions of Bond's office life, wearily reading boring files. Fleming uses his usual eye for the grotesque to create an imposing villain, and an eye for detail that fills every scene and brings it alive in Fleming's own unique style. There is a reason his novels are still so popular when contemporaries such as Alistair MacLean are being forgotten, and one of those is the superior writing and story telling style. It's a really thrilling book, and a real nail biter in places. Thoroughly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1955, this is the third print outing for superspy James Bond, in a novel that is stands out even among the pretty high standard of the series.

Bond is asked by M for a personal favour - will he go down to M's card club and investigate a possible case of cheating by Sir Hugo Drax, a man held so highly in the public estimation due to his sponsorship of a certain defence project that a whiff of scandal would be disastrous. After a tense and nerve wracking card game (for the reader as well as the participants!) he takes Drax at his own game. Soon, events take him to the site of a major missile launch overseen by Drax. There is a whiff of something wrong, imperceptible perhaps, but just a lingering note, and Bond is soon enmeshed in a desperate struggle to stop a madman.

It's a thrilling ride. Fleming writes with verve and passion, and manages to get the atmosphere across beautifully. In the card game you can feel Bond's sweat, and the car chase through Kent is a masterpiece of thrilling writing, it had me on the edge of my seat. But he is not afraid to contrast this with the humdrum, the descriptions of Bond's office life, wearily reading boring files. Fleming uses his usual eye for the grotesque to create an imposing villain, and an eye for detail that fills every scene and brings it alive in Fleming's own unique style. There is a reason his novels are still so popular when contemporaries such as Alistair MacLean are being forgotten, and one of those is the superior writing and story telling style. It's a really thrilling book, and a real nail biter in places. Thoroughly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1955, this is the third print outing for superspy James Bond, in a novel that is stands out even among the pretty high standard of the series.

Bond is asked by M for a personal favour - will he go down to M's card club and investigate a possible case of cheating by Sir Hugo Drax, a man held so highly in the public estimation due to his sponsorship of a certain defence project that a whiff of scandal would be disastrous. After a tense and nerve wracking card game (for the reader as well as the participants!) he takes Drax at his own game. Soon, events take him to the site of a major missile launch overseen by Drax. There is a whiff of something wrong, imperceptible perhaps, but just a lingering note, and Bond is soon enmeshed in a desperate struggle to stop a madman.

It's a thrilling ride. Fleming writes with verve and passion, and manages to get the atmosphere across beautifully. In the card game you can feel Bond's sweat, and the car chase through Kent is a masterpiece of thrilling writing, it had me on the edge of my seat. But he is not afraid to contrast this with the humdrum, the descriptions of Bond's office life, wearily reading boring files. Fleming uses his usual eye for the grotesque to create an imposing villain, and an eye for detail that fills every scene and brings it alive in Fleming's own unique style. There is a reason his novels are still so popular when contemporaries such as Alistair MacLean are being forgotten, and one of those is the superior writing and story telling style. It's a really thrilling book, and a real nail biter in places. Thoroughly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1955, this is the third print outing for superspy James Bond, in a novel that is stands out even among the pretty high standard of the series.

Bond is asked by M for a personal favour - will he go down to M's card club and investigate a possible case of cheating by Sir Hugo Drax, a man held so highly in the public estimation due to his sponsorship of a certain defence project that a whiff of scandal would be disastrous. After a tense and nerve wracking card game (for the reader as well as the participants!) he takes Drax at his own game. Soon, events take him to the site of a major missile launch overseen by Drax. There is a whiff of something wrong, imperceptible perhaps, but just a lingering note, and Bond is soon enmeshed in a desperate struggle to stop a madman.

It's a thrilling ride. Fleming writes with verve and passion, and manages to get the atmosphere across beautifully. In the card game you can feel Bond's sweat, and the car chase through Kent is a masterpiece of thrilling writing, it had me on the edge of my seat. But he is not afraid to contrast this with the humdrum, the descriptions of Bond's office life, wearily reading boring files. Fleming uses his usual eye for the grotesque to create an imposing villain, and an eye for detail that fills every scene and brings it alive in Fleming's own unique style. There is a reason his novels are still so popular when contemporaries such as Alistair MacLean are being forgotten, and one of those is the superior writing and story telling style. It's a really thrilling book, and a real nail biter in places. Thoroughly recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2003
It was very interesting to re-read this book after nearly forty years and to re-discover the original James Bond of the Ian Fleming novels. The book, needless to say, is very different to the film version. No trips into outer space, no Jaws, no Roger Moore style one-liners! Instead we get an enjoyable and entertaining secret agent story rooted firmly in the 1950s in which disappointed Nazi Sir Hugo Drax plots to destroy London with a guided missile while all the time pretending to be a benefactor dedicated to protecting Britain from her Iron Curtain enemies. The other interesting thing about this book is that it has a British setting. No exotic foreign locations for "Moonraker" - all of the action takes place in London and Kent, with references to such places as Dover, Deal, Maidstone and Canterbury. This is also the one and only Bond novel in which our hero fails to get the heroine into bed. Gala Brand keeps her honour and goes off to marry a police colleague at the end of the narrative. "Moonraker: the novel" makes an enjoyable antidote to the flights of fancy of some of the later films and proves to the present reviewer that 007 belongs in the Cold War era of the 1950s and early 1960s - not in the very different world of the early 21st century!
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on 12 April 2015
My project to read all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels in order continues! The third Bond novel, Moonraker, was completely different from the movie bearing the same name; the character of Drax does feature and there is a tenuous link to space travel but sadly there were no excursions on Space Shuttles or henchmen with metal teeth or throw-away Sir Rodge quips or massed lazer battles when orbiting the Earth. The story is based in 1950s Britain (no exotic locations) and revolves around a fiendish Nazi plot to drop an atomic bomb on London.

The book itself is split into three distinct parts:

Part 1: Bond playing a high stakes cards, like Casino Royale. Some nice tension but the description of the card game was dull
Part 2: Murder mystery section
Part 3: Where most of the action happens along with the launch countdown
In part 1 I liked that it included elements not found in either the movies or earlier books. For example, Bond gets to hang out with M (who is fleshed out as a character) and the day-to-day routine of a 00 agent is covered; reading files, going to the canteen, thinking about his salary, etc.

The Britain portrayed in the book seems rather bankrupt and despondent; post-war decline is apparent and the Empire is slowly coming to an end so much so that the country can only afford the Moonraker weapon because Drax will buy it for them. It also seems obvious right from the start that Drax is a villain and to a certain extent this dampens down the suspense but it’s still fascinating to read about Bond uncovering the exact details of why a death occurred (part 2).

As for the characters, I’ve already mentioned M and I did enjoy Drax; he definitely makes for a more memorable scoundrel. Gala Brand held a certain amount of charm and potential but she sort of fizzled out for me especially as poor James doesn’t even get to jump into bed with her.

While the writing is typical of Fleming, building up the action and excitement and using evocative and descriptive language, the plot is a little shaky in places, for example, I’m not quite sure why Drax would want to try to kill Bond and Brand by bringing down a cliff on their heads, surely it would be easier to just shoot them? But crazy death scenes are par for the course in a Bond tale and you have to suspend belief from time to time.

So, in summary a really down to earth (literally) Bond novel but probably the weakest of the three books I’ve read so far, although still entertaining enough. I’ve now decided to read these books as period novels and thankfully the story contains less of the out and out racism prevalent in Live and Let Die. Overall, a terrific read but perhaps not as exciting as earlier stories.
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on 17 October 2014
I read this on the recommendation of Stephen Fry. No, really - he (rightly) praises the first part of the book as a taut and accurate depiction of 1950s, post war (intelligence) establishment culture. It's a world dominated by men (of course), most of whom had a 'good war' and, when not out in the field, lead a fairly leisurely life in drab ministry offices. This is where we find our hero, Bond, whose temporarily humdrum existence is shaken up by M's invitation to Blades, an upper crust gambling establishment. The reason for the invitation is that M has discovered that one of Blade's members cheats at cards. So we first encounter Hugo Drax, whose caddishness (we suspect) extends far beyond the card table. Bond exposes him and Drax issues a thinly veiled warning. But there's more to Drax than cheating at cards, because he's building - at his own expense- Britain's first intercontinental missile. So is he a good egg after all?

I haven't read a Bond book for years and I was surprised at how good a descriptive writer Fleming can be: for example his description of the Moonraker rocket is both economical and evocative. But the plot really creaks, and I found myself losing interest once the action moves beyond London clubland. Interestingly, this is the only Bond novel wholly set in England- so no exotic locations, but there is a girl, whose character and abilities are sketched with some skill.

The other interesting aspect of the book is its rather mournful view of the state of the nation. It's set in an England caught between the glories of Empire and the realities of post war decline. National penury is of course represented by the Moonraker - a weapon the country can only afford thanks to a rich benefactor.
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