Saturday, February 16, 2013

“Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming – Meeting 007

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - book cover
Many of you know Casino Royale as being that reboot of the James Bond franchise with Daniel Craig as the new 007. However, as you probably suspected, just like most (if not all) the James Bond movies, this one is based on a book, also titled Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming.

Back when it was published, it was the first time that agent 007 had seen the light of day, and of course, was brutally thrust into a story involving assassins, spies, torturers, SMERSH operatives, a villain just how we like them, and of course, a lady whose life Bond must save.

Just to give you a brief summary of the plot, James Bond is tasked with bankrupting a ruthless SMERSH operative known as “Le Chiffre” (French for “The Number”) by outplaying him in a card game. Everything seems to be going according to plan, but after the end of the card game, things take a turn for the weird (and the worse).

Along with his female counterpart, Vesper Lynd, Bond finds himself entangled in a game that goes far deeper than even he can imagine, and pretty soon he must fight off mysterious assassins, torturers, all while pursuing “Le Chiffre” and hopefully finding a way of putting an end to his machinations.

If you are looking for that one James Bond novel by which all standards should be set, in my opinion, this is the one. It has absolutely everything you could expect from a James Bond book, including: a somewhat complex espionage story, thrilling action sequences, a cast of colorful and dangerous characters, a femme fatale, chase sequences, and of course, a truly horrendous and yet compelling villain in “Le Chiffre”.

As for Bond himself, you might actually be surprised at how much Daniel Craig was like the original 007; he is classy, suave, precise, concise, sharp of wit, intelligent, and above all, never gives up for the sake of the safety of his country. It’s really a rollercoaster ride from beginning to end, and even the sections that are slower than the rest of the book still manage to be quite suspenseful. As Inspector Grim from The Thin Blue Line would put it, “there is no fannying about” in this novel.

All in all, I can safely recommend this book to anyone who likes spy games, is looking to relax by reading a captivating thriller, or wants to get to know the original source for the James Bond movies. Perhaps the only flaw I could imagine is how the novel has aged over the years. By today’s standards, it may seem like the book is perhaps somewhat lacking in the action and fighting department… however, personally, I didn’t find that to be a problem as the story itself is more than enough to keep your eyes glued to the page.

Ian Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964)

Ian Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964)

Personal site

Ian Fleming is best known for gifting the world with the great agent 007, known as James Bond. His more popular novels include Casino Royale and From Russia with Love, and what’s more, the inspiration from the character came from none other than the author himself who has had a life just as, if not more exciting, than his most revered creation.

More of Ian Fleming's book reviews:
On her Majesty’s Secret Service
From Russia with Love

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