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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonraker - A Five Star James Bond Novel
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...
Published on 20 Jan. 2007 by J. Western N.Y.

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars So is he a good egg after all
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...
Published 4 months ago by Arthur potts


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonraker - A Five Star James Bond Novel, 20 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Moonraker (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonraker: Ian Fleming - Bond plays for high stakes, 26 April 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Moonraker (Mass Market Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Re-discovering Bond - Forty Years On, 28 July 2003
By A Customer
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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3.0 out of 5 stars So is he a good egg after all, 17 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Kindle Edition)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars First class classic Bond thriller, 4 Oct. 2013
By 
Junius (London, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Most readers will have seen the 1979 film of the same name before resading this book (a good film, but not a great one). Well, the only things in common with the film is that there are the characters of Bond, Drax and M.

Right from the start we are plunged into a thrilling narrative, divided into two parts; firstly where Bond pits his card skills against the cheating Sir Hugo, and then when Bond must protect the missile, the Moonraker, against suspected sabotage. Bond's suspicions and the actions of his shadowy enemies make for a tense read until the reader is shown exactly who they are and their diabolical plan, which Bond and his ally must avert at all costs.

The book also benefits by showing us a little of Bond's office and domestic life, though not in too much detail, which would be dull. Also enjoyable is the description of Kent in the 1950s as Bond drives through the towns on his way to Dover. There's other charming period descriptions, such as that of the club, Blades.The 'romantic' ending is similar to that shown in Gerald Fairlie's Calling Bulldog Drummond, incidentally.

One plot problem occurs when Bond and his ally return to the Moonraker base as captives, yet they pass through two barrier points manned by RAF men without any problem, and Bond earlier refers to this security system as being 'efficient'. How could they do so without the security staff having their suspicions aroused? I'd be interested to hear any answers. Also, how could M, described as not being a rich man, afford to be a member of Blades? (in the film its the Minister of Defence who's a member of this (in the film, unnamed) club, as is Drax).

Yet these are very trivial points in what is a fast moving and enjoyable thriller and strongly recommended to all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps one of the lesser known novels in the series, 21 Nov. 2012
By 
Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Moonraker was the third James Bond novel that Ian Fleming wrote. Surprisingly, it seems to be one of the lesser known of them. It was the last novel (as opposed to short stories) whose title was used by the "official" makers of the films, who only later acquired the film rights for Casino Royale [DVD] [2006] to complete the process of filming them all.

Of the films, Moonraker [DVD] [1979] is by far the most disappointing for me, not least because the novel is one of my favourites. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film makers made their version, which (to put it mildly) barely resembles he novel, about space flight. The novel, however, concerns is a Cold War plot to sabotage the Moonraker rocket which Fleming describes as "the greatest weapon on earth."

One of the features of Bond novels is that he comes across as a convincing human being, even if some of his exploits border on superhuman derring-do. "Moonraker" is no exception. It's the only Bond story to take place entirely in England. It begins in London where we meet him doing target practice at Secret Service headquarters. The action moves to the club "Blades" where we see Bond in action once again as the Service's expert player of cards, while most of the rest of the novel takes place on the South coast.

In this novel we also learn something about his life away from missions. Indeed, Fleming gets more inside the heads of other characters than in most other of his novels, yet without sacrificing narrative sweep and pace. The action itself takes place over a week not long after events described in Live and Let Die: James Bond 007 (Vintage Classics). Bond is called into M's office for a personal favor: to help with a problem at a club where Sir Hugo Drax, the head of the Moonraker project, is also cheating at cards. The game is a very different one to that described in the "Casino Royale", but Fleming carries it of just as effectively.

In the latter part of the novel, Bond is seconded onto the Moonraker project where the bulk if the action takes place. I won't spoil the plot for readers. Though perhaps little that emerges is truly hidden, the "Fleming sweep" carries the whole thing with the pace that keeps the readers tuning the pages. There are other familiar motifs such as the author's ability to portray places such as Blades, the card club and the Kent coast. One big surprise is Bond's relationship with the inevitable beautiful heroine ends with a twist of realism, which paradoxically shows up a romantic streak in Bond's nature.

There's no introduction in this Vantage edition of the books, unlike is in some of the other books in this reprint. But Fleming's production values are as consistently good as in other novels. All in all, one of the best of the series, even if it is less discussed. It certainly won't disappoint Fleming fans.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Bond if not simply the best..., 30 Jan. 2009
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Moonraker (Paperback)
Moonraker was the third Bond novel published and as I'm reading them in order its therefore also the third I have read. After Casino Royale and Live & Let Die I am starting to get used to the literary Bond as compared to his cinematic counterpart. Reading Moonraker I found that I no longer pictured Connery, Moore or any of the other actors who played the role as the Bond on the page. I also found this historial setting and associated anachronisms less jarring; I now subconsciously accept that these are period novels and have to be read in those terms. As a result Moonraker was a far more comfortable read for me, if that is the right expression to use, than either of its predecessors.

In terms of the story however, I found it less satisfying than either Casino Royale or Live and Let Die. After a bavura opening third that includes a fantastic scene involving Bond, M, Drax and a game of Bridge that is of a sort tha no contemporary author would even contemplate attempting, I found the rest of Moonraker to be just a tad predictable.

The fact that as readers we know ahead of time that Drax, despite his initial status as a national hero, is in fact a bad'un removes some of suspense from events. Even excluding that however, I found myself guessing the precise mechanics of the plot Bond eventually uncovers down to pretty much every detail well ahead of the characters on the page. The obvious nature of the hidden threat not only makes the story far less exciting but it also results in both Bond and Gala Brand appearing somewhat slow on the uptake, reducing their appeal as capable characters.

Add into the mix some events that stretch credulity even for a Bond novel (I'm thinking of how Bond and Brand almost come a cropper on the beach, which has to be the convoluted and potentially unreliable method of attempted murder I've come across in a while) and as a whole the middle third of Moonraker doesn't manage to suspend the reader's disbelief to the necessary extent. It isn't until the final act, when Drax's duplicity has been uncovered and the story can reach its explosive (if again predictable and a tad unbelievable) climax that the furious pace of events begins to make up for deficiencies in the plot.

So not the best of the three Bonds I have read so far but by no means a dud either. Despite some dodgy plotting the book has many strong elements. Fleming's gift for characterisation and description is very much on display. Recurring characters such as M, previously little more than sketches, are fleshed out in far greater detail. We are also allowed far greater insight into the life of a Double-O away from the individual missions he undertakes. Finally in Gala Brand Fleming comes up with a strong female foil for Bond and their relationship feels satisfyingly real even as events around them sometimes stretch credibility to breaking point.

I can therefore recommend Moonraker, and not just for Bond completists either. It may not hit the highs of some of the other Bond novels but it is still a great read and moreover will dispell any lingering memories of the sub-standard film of the same name.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moonraker - A Must Read For All Bond Fans, 27 July 2006
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost the archetypal Bond novel, 17 May 2011
By 
Jim J-R (West Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
Ian Fleming's third James Bond novel goes back to the brilliance of Casino after what I found a rather duller second book. Hugo Drax has created the Moonraker - a new missile capable of striking any capital in Europe, but he also cheats at cards, and M is suspicious, so sets 007 on the case.

Ian Fleming's writing amazes me. I find it so easy to visualise his descriptions, which is something I rarely am able to do when reading, and I find the slightly formal tone of his writing very compelling. There are a few aspects that seem a little old-fashioned, but despite the fifty-five years that have passed since publication it has dated remarkably little.

Like in Casino Royale, a large chunk of the text of this novel is taken up by a game of cards, in this case bridge. Despite having no knowledge of the game, I found the chapters incredibly engaging and was easily able to follow the events - in fact I thought this was probably the best part of the book.

The plot then proceeds in what has become the traditional and almost clichéd manner of a James Bond story, but given that this is most probably the archetypal version of these events, it can obviously be forgiven. Overall, an intensely enjoyable read and I'm really glad I decided to re-read the series again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A time capsule, 22 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Moonraker: James Bond 007 (Kindle Edition)
I read all of the James Bond novels when I was a boy as my Dad had the paperbacks lying around. Recently, I have started reading them again. They are lightweight short novels but still very entertaining. What is really interesting is the politically incorrect sexist and racist attitude and behaviour that was quite normal at the time. It is extraordinary that in 1955 people would have been impressed by a Government agent being supplied with alcohol and amphetamine to sharpen his wits for a particular project. Anyone doing that now would be regarded with disdain rather than credit. Some reviewers have commented on the fact that the story in the film is different to the story in the book. I always thought that there was a legal reason precluding the film makers from using Ian Fleming's plots after his death although they were able to use the book title. Certainly, there were two lots of legal proceedings over the Thunderball plot. I may be wrong about this as it is possible that by the time the Moonraker film was made, the public appetite might have been for sillier stories with more and more glamour and gadgets and gimmicks.
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