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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Place to Start
Having never read an Ian Flemming novel, I felt it would be best to read his first book in the James Bond Series and the only one not yet made into a feature film. If you're only now beginning to read the novels, Casino Royale is the perfect book to read because it gives a bit of information about the James Bond Character. Through reading we find out how he became the man...
Published on Oct. 17 2005 by Marko Djordjevic

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Choppy First 00 Outing
This is where it all began, a very simple, unadorned tale of a British spy sent to destroy a Communist agent at the baccarat table. The first 007 story presents a nasty, misogynist, misanthropic Bond-a government assassin who is highly ambivalent about the role he plays in the Cold War. There's even one remarkable scene in which Bond asks what makes his government right,...
Published on Sept. 7 2003 by A. Ross


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Place to Start, Oct. 17 2005
By 
Having never read an Ian Flemming novel, I felt it would be best to read his first book in the James Bond Series and the only one not yet made into a feature film. If you're only now beginning to read the novels, Casino Royale is the perfect book to read because it gives a bit of information about the James Bond Character. Through reading we find out how he became the man many of us know from the movies; such as his love of cars and how he obtained the 00 label. It's expected that the future Bond Film which is based on this book will also act as a prequel, so what better way to prepare yourself for the feature film then to read this fun novel that you can finish in about a day, and will certainly want you to follow up by reading the other novels in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Choppy First 00 Outing, Sept. 7 2003
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
This is where it all began, a very simple, unadorned tale of a British spy sent to destroy a Communist agent at the baccarat table. The first 007 story presents a nasty, misogynist, misanthropic Bond-a government assassin who is highly ambivalent about the role he plays in the Cold War. There's even one remarkable scene in which Bond asks what makes his government right, and what makes it moral for him to kill Britain's enemies. Unfortunately, his cynical self-examination is brushed under the table by his new CIA pal, Felix Leiter, and that's the last we hear of that! We learn that in the war, Bond killed a Japanese spy in New York (although the circumstances described strain credulity and common sense), and knifed a Dutch double-agent, earning him the 00 "Licensed to Kill" designation. Here, he's asked to break the bank of a French Soviet agent who has been gambling with his Moscow-provided bankroll.
Bond is sent to the fashionable French casino of the title to pose as a playboy gambler, and with the aid of beautiful British assistant Vesper Lynn, a French agent, and the CIA's Felix Leiter, ruin Le Chiffre at baccarat. Once you get over the sort of obvious question (if Le Chiffre is that dangerous an agent, why not just kill him yourself instead of going through this dangerous gambit of trying to bankrupt him, thereby forcing SMERSH to kill him?), the buildup and eventual battle on the green baize is quite gripping. Fortunately, the rules and strategy of baccarat are explained (it's a very very simple game), so that the reader can follow along, blow by blow. There's loads of atmosphere and tension, but the structure is a bit awkward and there are some rather bad flaws. One of these is that there's absolutely no reason for Vesper to be in the book other than to serve as a plot device and sex interest. All she does is get in Bond's way and distract him, and it's hard to imagine why she would ever really be given the assignment to back up Bond. It's also rather strange to find the Le Chiffre affair concluding 3/4 of the way through the book, with the last quarter devoted to the Bond/Vesper romance. And I won't even get into the lame "saved by the bell" device that occurs at the climax. All in all, the book exhibits the excellent eye for detail and atmosphere that characterize most of the Bond books, but Fleming is clearly just learning pacing and structure at this stage.
A final point of clarification, the Frenchman "Le Chiffre" is not an agent of SMERSH, as many reviewers seem to think. The fictional SMERSH, with its motto "death to spies", is an internal Soviet agency dedicated to counterespionage and making sure Soviet agents don't stray. As is explained early, Le Chiffre is forced to gamble because he's afraid that SMERSH will kill him if they discover he's blown his party funds on a bad business deal.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Meet 007 for the first time, May 5 2004
By 
Charles Wilcox (Brandon, Florida, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
First off, the literary character of James Bond as first imagined by Fleming is vastly different from the movie superspy with which most audiences are familiar. In "Casino Royale" Bond is all too human and even (gasp!) falls in love with his leading lady. Naturally, this is a doomed romance, but for the sake of those who have not read the story, there will be no further elaboration.
The story itself is fairly strait-forward. Bond goes to the infamous Casino Royale in an attempt to bankrupt a SMERSH agent. The book is more realistic than many of the films, in that some of the things Bond does (planting a hair in a drawer to make sure it has not been tampered with) are things a real spy might do.
My only problem with the story is that it seemed to drag on long after the main plotline has been resolved. I got the feeling that the final nine chapters of the book could have been resolved in two and an epiloge.
Still, it was an enjoyable book, and I plan to read most if not all of the other novels in the series, as I have been waiting a long time for these to become available again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing Mr. Bond - James Bond, April 30 2004
By 
J R Zullo (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
"Casino Royale" is Ian Fleming's first book featuring James Bond, unlike the movie series, where "Dr. No" is the first. I wanted to read Casino Royale because it is the only Bond book that was not made into a movie - if you don't consider the spoof movie with Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen.
To my surprise, in the books Bond is not the ultimate undestructible human being. He's a common enough person, who almost vomits when he sees the remains of a man who just exploded. Also, he is not that comfortable around women, he thinks about quitting his double-oh position, and he has a problem about being good or being evil. Surprising, huh? The biggest surprise is that he doesn't kill a single person in the entire book.
What I liked about "Casino Royale" was watching the developing of one of the greatest characters of the 20th century, as the author imagined him. The story is simple enough, about financialy breaking a communist agent in a french casino. Fleming writes simply, directly to the reader. There's a touch of the "noir" fashion - the sarcasm, the perfect women - and an unquestionable feeling of the fifties.
"Casino Royale" is a fast, simple read, and necessary to understand the Bond-universe.
Grade 8.0/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars What Every Man Wants To Be..., March 12 2004
By 
Konrei "Everything I need is right here" (Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
CASINO ROYALE introduced the world to James Bond, and James Bond introduced the world to a style of living which, although fictional, is just SO attainable---just---that there isn't a man who hasn't tried or at least dreamed.
Ian Fleming's Bond is spare and tough, a kind of Spartan in a sack suit. In that regard he has influenced the cinematic Bond, but has never been the same character as portrayed by Connery, Lazenby, et. al. Fleming's writing is uncomplicated but finely crafted, and the story is dark and mordant with a strong central thread of tension and suspense which never wavers.
This earliest novel has an almost 1930's feel to it, with a healthy dose of immediate postwar Cold War paranoia. Things are never as they seem. CASINO ROYALE immediately introduces us to two of Bond's favorite preoccupations---women and casinos. Bond is paired with the incredibly sensuous Vesper Lynd, and the two set out to foil the plans of LeChiffre, the Russian agent fallen on hard times who is desperately trying to recoup some Moscow-funded business losses to the tune of 50 mil.
Bond beats LeChiffre at the gaming table and then LeChiffre beats Bond, who is naked and tied to a chair at the time. While the language is restrained, Fleming leaves us in no doubt as to our hero's predicament. Unlike his modern-day counterparts, Fleming doesn't have to be cartoonish or pornographic to draw us a prose-picture, and that, more than anything, recommends his work.
After so many years of being out-of-print in the U.S., Penguin finally had the verve and the nerve to release the complete Fleming ouevre in an attractive set with some really dynamic cover art.What a pleasure to see the Master returned at last.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for its genre, Feb. 18 2004
By 
Glenn Miller (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
Having grown up as a fan of the movie series, I decided to actually read one of the Fleming books. I was happy I did so. I enjoyed it far more than I had anticipated, thinking it had the strong potential to be extremely dated, given current political global realities (not to mention the realities of "political correctness"). Having rarely dipped into the espionage genre, I suspect Fleming was one of the first Cold War spy writers, and from that aspect alone, it makes this an interesting read. But the story, as well, is great fun. This is NOT heavily character-driven stuff. We don't know a great deal about this character, James Bond, from Fleming's writing, no delving into his childhood, why he became a spy, what motivates him. None of the ingredients that LeCarre might include. But perhaps that's the point. Bond is a man of mystery, as deep and mysterious to the reader as he is to his compatriots. The plot is a fun one: Bond must outlast the Soviet spy based in France, Le Chiffre, in a game of bacarrat. Fleming's pacing and suspense are well doled out. The chapters are short and the ending has a twist. What could possibly be better on a cold winter's night. Pass the gin and olives.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A super agent, but not a super man., Feb. 17 2004
By 
Anthony Sanchez (Fredericksburg, va United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
Just as Sean Connery is the only real Bond, Ian Fleming remains the only real Bond author. For various reasons, I have not been as enthusiastic with all of the Fleming Bond novels, but I was very pleased to have just read this initial Bond book. The differences between the movies and the books are as different as the actors who have played the British secret agent. The book version of 007 gives us a much more human character. His confidence some times shakes, and he is left with much self doubt. Instead of a witticism at the sight of an antagonist's violent death, he becomes ill. He is harmed, and he cries. This is a "man's" book that I did not hesitate to offer to my wife to read.
This book did not become a traditional movie. Instead the owner of the book rights (not the author) turned the story into a spy farce. There are important aspects of the book, however, that will be noticed in the true Bond movies. The story is different from Fleming's other stories, but the reader will not be disappointed. If nothing else, you will learn how to play the game of Baccarat, and how to make the famous Bond martini.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch right out of the gate., Feb. 4 2004
By 
Joseph P. Menta, Jr. (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
Not completely divorced from the flavor of the films to follow several years later (Bond is, after all, brought down in a "gadget" scene where metal spikes are released from the back of the villain's car while Bond pursues him), this first James Bond adventure nevertheless delivers a more introspective and moody Bond than we are used to from the films. For my money that's a plus, as in the unusual, unpredictable plot structure: the main hero vs. villain story is satisfyingly concluded about two thirds of the way into the book, and the rest of the story concentrates on Bond's physical recovery from his assignment, and the psychological ramifications of Bond's harrowing experiences during the case. These concluding themes are almost as interesting as the earlier caper plot (those it's weird to see Bond for a while get seriously philosophical about who is truly "good" and who is truly "bad" on the geo-political stage), and it's all capped with a memorable ending. Fleming's writing also benefits from an effective sense of place; no one is better at describing restaurants, casinos, tourist districts, local customs, etc. We feel like we're really along with James Bond on his adventures.
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4.0 out of 5 stars quite impressive, Dec 8 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Casino Royale (James Bond Novels) (Paperback)
I have read a few Bond novels written by Fleming and what surprises you the most (because of the movies) about them is their fatalistic and melancholy undertone (Bond does not always triumph at the end, nor does he always get the girl). And in no book is this more evident than in this one. What impressed me so much about the book is not so much the first half, but what comes after the (grim) torture scene. The latter half of the book has very little action, and is dominated by Bond's deep depression over, among other things, how he can (literally physically) satisfy Vesper Lynd after the torture. Even though the book is a thriller first, it has quite a lot of bitter (but genuine) feelings about the male-female relationship. And the ending, even though it isn't even all that original when you think about it, is nevertheless shocking.
There are a lot of things hard to like in Fleming, such as his rampant racism, nationalism, sexism, snobbism, etc. but he is quite a bit more nuanced writer than is perhaps given the recognition for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Suivi", June 17 2003
By 
A. Casalino "V^^^^^V" (Downers Grove, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: CASINO ROYALE (Hardcover)
Bond...James Bond is the name. And the game is extreme Baccarat. Ian Fleming's 1953 novel - premier introduction of the post WWII, fantastical cold war intrigues of Her Majesty's Secret Service's Master Spy, Agent 007, Bond - is a riveting read.
I first read CASINO ROYALE, as well as a few others in the series, while in my early teens - back when I'd only read stories in order to immerse myself in the plot - to find out what happens next, essentially - not caring a jot about writing style, descriptive detail, or character development. Back then, I found it curious that the Bond of the books was so different from the Bond of the movies (THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER being the contemporary releases of that time.) I wondered, for instance, why the James Bond in the movies didn't have black hair and why, in the books, he wasn't funny at all...Indeed - well, so much for my pre-adolescent review.
Now, more than 20 years later, indulging on a whim, I'm reading the series again. And I must say I am thoroughly enjoying it - but not for the same reasons I had when I was young. I'm actually nearly through it in its entirety - and must say that, though they're all very good, CASINO ROYALE has a palpable raw depth rarely visible in the rest. I can now see and appreciate the fine quality of the writing, the extraordinary sculpturing of an ideal action hero, and the magical lure that has begotten the most well-known, long-standing film series of all time. And, yes, these books are great fun!
"M," head of the British Secret Service, hands Commander Bond what appears on the surface to be a posh assignment: thwarting an enemy Russian spy, Le Chiffre, in his attempt to win an exorbitant 50 million francs - KGB funds which he had lost through an ill-advised investment in a chain of brothels. Agent 007 lives an intensely hard lifestyle, and he's known to be the best gambler in the Service. He's therefore assigned to break Le Chiffre's bank at the baccarat tables of the Casino Royale, in the French Riviera.
SMERSH, the Russian Secret Service in charge of all diplomatic killings for the Fatherland, is right on to Le Chiffre. Though he's very desperate, Le Chiffre happens to be a first rate baccarat player. He plans on winning that 50 million francs at any cost, employing a couple of potent assassins enforced to help see it through.
Though James Bond must face Le Chiffre as a force of one at the baccarat table, he has his own team of assistants: Rene' Mathis of the French branch, American CIA agent Felix Leiter, and the beautiful Vesper Lynd of the S branch of British Intelligence. Vesper is officially the very first Bond girl - and she utterly mesmerizes our master spy: he sees her as an entity of wonder.
Truly, this story does not own any of the qualities that could easily be made into a movie. There's plenty of tension, plenty of action, and quite a lot of romance to boot. However the tension is mainly in the climatic card game, which, minus the author's excellent descriptive prose, would appear tedious on the screen; the action is definitely intense, but includes a harrowing torture scene which should not be witnessed by the squeamish; and, well, without the advantage of being able to follow the thoughts of our hero, a film version of this story might easily cause the romance to appear as carelessly thrown in.
Vesper's an intriguing Bond Girl, though. Her fateful role exacts a twisted surprise ending, which inevitably sets the tone and atmosphere of Bond's future relationships with women. This is perhaps the only book of the series wherein Bond takes a good, hard look at the moral portents of his own place in his profession - sort of a teasing glimpse into the window of his heart - but only that peek - as it seems thereafter shut fast and hard. Keen, sharp, dark and moody: James Bond remains ever the quintessential Man of Mystery.
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