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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 October 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I found these stories mildly entertaining. They are very dated and very different from the films and largely interesting for the sake of the comparison. For example, when Bond is about to go on Milton Crest's luxury yacht the Wavecrest, he is told that it is a wonder to behold, with wall to wall carpets and air conditioning. Roman Abramovich will be smiling to himself if he reads it. The stories are small cameos of Bond's life, with much less action and excitement than in the films. We are accustomed to villains who are truly awful megalomaniacs. In the book, however, the owner of the Wavecrest is guilty of nothing more than rudeness and wife-beating.

Bond himself is a very different person from the one we know in the films. In one story - I forget which it is - he is given a mission he does not relish for, he reflects, it sounds "dangerous".

Samuel West reads well and does a particularly brilliant job in Quantum of Solace. I found this the most interesting of them all - a little foray into psychology which has nothing to do with spies or criminals.
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2013
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This is only my second foray into Bond books although I have seen all the films. Although some of the title of these stories are familiar A View to a Kill, Quantum of Solace and For Your Eyes Only none of the actual stories are. Each story is short so there are no major twist and turns but each story is very different.
A View to A Kill is about a motorbike messenger who is killed and Bond investigates, Quantum of Solace is a story about what happens when you push a man too far then give him the space to think about things, For Your Eyes Only is the story of revenge for a murder, Risico the story of drugs and smuggling, The Hildebrand Rarity is about the hunt for a rare fish and an abusive husband.
Each of these stories were great, very different from each, although Bond is always triumphant and gets the girl (It wouldn't be Bond if he didn't. What does surprise me is how described the stories are, very simply done but Fleming manages to set the scene extremely well with just a few words, the undulating way the stingray will hide itself in the sand really set the scene for me.

All of these stories were read by the delicious Samuel West who gives a brief interview at the end of the disc which gives some nice insights into how actor set about reading books like this. Highly recommended to all Bond fans.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have been working your way steadily through the BBC's rather excellent new Bond readings then the new releases are no doubt a welcome sight.
However how about pausing before diving headlong into another gritty and gripping 6 hour odyssey and slowing the pace a somewhat to enjoy something a little different?

The stories here see not only a more sombre and slowly paced 007 but the stories themselves are quite unlike any of their novel siblings.
For me the only one that does not work is 'From a view to A kill' which started out fine but rapidly descends into the sort of potty spy fairytale usually reserved for the films. It's also the weakest tale and the rising chauvinism becomes a bit of a chore to ignore. The ending was a disappointing damp squib too.
However things pick up nicely with the briskly paced 'For your eyes only' and 'Risico' & 'The Hildebrand rarity' may not be without their faults but are entertaining nonetheless.
For me however it's 'Quantum of solace' that stands out the most. Forget the film, it shares only it's title with the short story.
It is a bit cheeky really as it has little to do with Bond as he is listening to a story being told by the governor of a West Indian island. The whole story takes place in the governor's drawing room and 007 has very little to do but listen to his host relate his tale and give the odd question.
The story being told is very simple, love, loss and revenge, but boy does it resonate! Beautifully written and it even rattles Mr.cool himself come the end. If you've ever wondered how they came up with such a daft title for a film then the explanation of it here gives pause for thought.
The story collection as a whole is probably a 3.5 star affair but that would be mean given the fact that Samuel West reads so well.
At first I felt him to be a little slow, quiet and restrained but as the stories unravel it turns out he has pitched his reading perfectly for the tales being told. He also keeps his regional accents low key and unobtrusive.

This collection and West's reading make for the perfect break from Bond at full throttle. Still 007 but different and absorbing.
Not perhaps the full 5 star blast of the novels but well worth listening to.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2013
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I've long been a fan of the 007 Reloaded audiobook series, it pitches some top acting talent reading Fleming's unabridged work and has come up with some fantastic listening.
With all the novels covered the folks at AudioGo have now released the two collections of short stories, this and Octopussy (read by Tom Hiddleston).
Firstly, For Your Eyes Only and the other works here are not quite as good as the full length stories but, for all that, make very interesting reading/listening. They're also granted life by a wonderful actor with a knack for subtly underplaying the characters he portrays. His bond is softly spoken and reticent while the other characters leap out in varying ways.
Worth the price for Quantum of Solace alone!
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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2013
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The Ian Flemimg Classic Bond Collection has been universally excellent, and this installment has kept up the standard. AudioGo have really kept their focus on getting the best readers, and the stories are so well written that you can see the characters in your mind clearly. One word of warning; get them in published order, as the internal self-referencing adds to the history. Very highly recommended
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Published in 1960, this collection of short stories was the eighth print outing for Ian Fleming's superspy James Bond. By using a short story format Fleming was forced to write pithier, faster tales than a full length novel, but was also free to experiment a little with his story telling and tell stories that would just not sit comfortably within the usual Bond milieu. For my money it is one of Fleming's best pieces of writing. Story by story:

From a view to a kill - This is a `straight' Bond adventure, a fast paced thrilling ride from start to finish, with a lot of incident packed into it. The tale opens dramatically with the murder of a dispatch rider in France. Bond is sent in to try and find the killer, and soon is onto a hitherto unseen trail due to an old maxim of M's. There is an interesting investigation and the tales ends with a thrilling action set piece.

For your eyes only - The tale opens with the brutal murder of an elderly couple in Jamaica. Bond is dispatched by M to avenge the murder, as it turns out the couple were old friends of M. The meeting between M and Bond is superb, and starts a running theme throughout the story of the morality of Bond's actions, and the weight that is sometimes on M's shoulders. There is a vividly drawn section with Bond closing in on his prey, and a tensely written and thrilling final shootout. It's the best of the `straight' adventures here.

Quantum of solace - Don't worry, this bears no resemblance to the film, it is much much better. This is the first of the tales here in which Fleming tries to do something different. Bond is attending a dull dinner party, after it ahs finished hi host starts to tell him a story about one of the hosts old friends, his emotional shortcomings and the break-up of his marriage. It's a clever piece of writing, managing to bring this every day tale into the Bond Milieu, and showing Bond's more human side as he reacts to the tale. Fleming in previous books had a really vivid prose style that he used to great effect to describe physical situations, here he uses it to similarly good effect to describe the emotional situation as he dissects the marriage. It's a superb piece of writing.

Risico - Another straight Bond adventure in which he is sent off to Italy to deal with a smuggling ring. After his initial contact with an informant he sets off to kill Enrico Columbo, who he has been told is the head of the racket. But after a dramatic scene, Columbo captures Bond and in a well written meeting the two men become friends. Columco tells Bond that he has been set up by the informer, adn they set off together to deal with the real villain in another excellently portrayed shootout.

The Hildebrand rarity - The second experimental tale here. Bond is travelling on a yacht with a tycoon and his wife. The tycoon is a bully, and regularly beats his wife. He is also searching for a rare fish, the Hildebrand rarity of the title. After finding and killing the fish, he is later found dead himself. After an internal debate, Bond sets the scene to make it look like an accident rather than murder, so as to save himself from being embroiled in a murder investigation, and because he feels sorry for the wife. This is another tale that focuses on Bond's human side, and looks at his attitude to death and morality.

The book is worth 5 stars.

This unabridged audio reading from Samuel West really does the book justice. He really does very little with his voice, yet manages to distinguish a host of characters. He also has a real pace for the rhythm of the stories, building up the tension in the thrilling sequences, and giving a very sympathetic reading in the softer tales. It comes on 6 discs in a spindle case, and clock in at 6 hours 20 minutes. It's superb, 5 stars.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For your Eyes Only, one of Ian Fleming’s two collections of James Bond short stories, is in many ways the most satisfying of AudioGo’s 007 Reloaded unabridged audio books thanks to the combination of a superb reading by Samuel West and a selection of tales that reveal much about their hero. From a View to a Kill is perhaps the most of its time of the five, with Bond assigned to find a security leak in an army base, but it’s the opening section that lingers in the memory the most, finding Bond drinking the least offensive of the ‘musical comedy drinks in a French café while reflecting on his past and the empty evening an inevitably doomed attempt to recreate his youth will bring. Fleming gets under Bond’s skin here, but doesn’t overlook telling details for the other characters, like the embassy secretary who deliberately drives a battered car to deter other ruthless drivers by making them think she doesn’t mind smashing her car – and theirs – to get her own way on the road.

For Your Eyes Only sees Bond despatched by M on a revenge killing on the Cubans who murdered old family friends only to find the victims’ daughter has similar ideas: along with Risico it formed the basis for the first half of For Your Eyes Only, the latter story being surprisingly faithfully recreated onscreen (so faithfully that West can’t resist impersonating Topol as the smuggler Colombo). It also offers some semi-autobiographical touches as Bond poses as an author of potboiling thrillers looking for spicy background to get a movie sale rather than just an option (at the time Fleming was still struggling to get a Bond movie off the ground).

A Quantum of Solace is the least Bond of all the Bond stories – Bond is simply the audience for a story told by an ambassador at the end of a boring party that teaches him to take more interest in people and shows him the power of emotional violence compared to his own adventure strip outings. The inspiration of W. Somerset Maugham is very apparent (Fleming also paid homage to the author by using Somerset as Bond’s false name in From Russia With love), but it’s a surprisingly engrossing tale that shows Bond how easily he can misjudge people. The Hildebrand Rarity finds Bond accompanying spectacularly obnoxious millionaire Milton Krest, who enjoys humiliating his guests and ‘correcting’ his wife with a stingray’s tail, on a tax deductible trip in his luxury yacht to find a rare fish to satisfy his luxury yacht’s charitable status. There’s no mission or spy jinks, but there is a murder to be covered up – but the problem is that Bond can’t make up his mind which of his two travelling companions did the deed…

It’s a fine and engrossing collection of stories, and in West it has such a perfect narrator it’s a shame they didn’t secure his services for the whole series. Well worth picking up and revisiting again.
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2013
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This series of unabridged readings of Ian Fleming's seminal Bond stories has been uniformly excellent, and this collection is no exception. Little needs to be said about the stories themselves: if you like Fleming's work, you will be very happy with this reading. If you don't, it probably won't change your mind. If you haven't read them, or heard them, this series of readings is a good place to start (excellent for long car journeys), and you could do a lot worse than beginning here. The five short stories are all very different, interesting pieces that are a better display of Fleming's ability as a wordsmith than the novels: there is no padding to be seen, but detail is intense and the atmosphere palpable. Samuel West is in great form, judging mood and pace perfectly, while never getting in the way of the text. All in all, highly recommended.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having read and enjoyed these stories last year I thought it would be good to listen to an unabridged audio version.
I wasn't disappointed. Samuel West does a great job and listening to his reading really bought out for me the brilliant powers of observation and description that Ian Fleming was capable of producing.

In the "Hilderbrand Rarity" the wonders of a coral reef with it's colourful variety and unusual aquatic lifeforms are bought in to sharp and vivid focus. It is a thought provoking story about a bully and sadist who believes he the right to abuse people and nature as he chooses.

"View to a kill" starts strongly but doesn't follow through with the same intensity.

"For Your Eyes Only" is a brilliant story which starts with a callous murder in Jamica and ends up at the USA/ Canadian border. Bond is not on an official mission but is essentially acting on behalf of M and fuelled by moral outrage.

"Quantum of Solace" is an after dinner story told to Bond by an ambassador regarding a man who once worked with him.

"Risico" is an enjoyable story full of action with Bond on a mission to stop heroin smuggling into Britain. Of course because it is Bond it is set in a glamorous location. All the characters are vividly bought to life, one of whom it turns out is a particularly likeable rogue.

If you're not a fan of Bond films ( which I'm not ) maybe you will be surprised by his writing style and the difference between film and book. I know I was. I really like some of his writing and have enjoyed these short stories a great deal.
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2013
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Samuel West reads this collection of James Bond short stories extremely well. Fleming's prose is shown off to good effect by his skillful and, where appropriate, sensitive reading.

The stories themselves are crisply told miniature adventures. The short story form suits Fleming's tales well. There is enough room for Fleming to create atmosphere and for his relatively linear plots to develop, but they are never so long that the stories outstay their welcome and, with the story telling striped back, fewer opportunities for Fleming to indulge in some of his weirder, more homophobic or somewhat racist sounding ideas.

Those familiar with the films but not the stories (as I was) will find that the inspirations are often much better than the movies. 'From A View to a Kill' is unrecognisable in the sprawling mess that was the late Moore movie that only managed to take part of the original title and has nothing to do with the murdered dispatch rider that provides the action here. Fleming's tale is controlled and taught - everything the movie was not. 'Quantum of Solace' took only the title for the film. The short story is quirky and one that puts Bond in a distinctly secondary role. It is also a refreshing change from Bond's more typical adventures. 'For Your Eyes Only' and 'Risico' were bundled together for the movie version of 'For Your Eyes Only' but they work much better as the separate stories they were intended to be. The background detail in both stories, their setting and sense of place give them added interest. A description of humming birds in Jamaica and a hunting trip in North America are scenes that wouldn't have fitted Roger Moore movie but make the short story.

Perfect for car trips - long and not so long - this CD comes recommended.
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