Finally getting around to reading the classic James Bond novels. I’ve always liked the James Bond films (I haven’t seen all of them though) and have been wanting to read the novels but never really got around to it. With Skyfall‘s release, my interest was rekindled and finally, I finished the first book. Here’s hoping I’ll manage to read the other 11 books too!
I’ve seen the movie version of this before, a couple of times in fact. For those of you who wonder if they should read the book first or watch the movie — honestly, I don’t think it matters. The movie does follow the book pretty well, but due to the fact they take place in two different decades, the movie and book do have some differences too. Personally, I like the movie more but that’s probably because I’m much more of a visual person when it comes to action/thriller type stories, though I did really enjoy reading this original novel as well.
Casino Royale is where famous fictional 007 agent, James Bond, makes his debut. He is sent on a mission — to financially ruin a Soviet operative named Le Chiffre at baccarat so that SMERSH, the organization Le Chiffre works for, will force him to quit … or dispose of him. James Bond, along with the help of his friend Mathis, an American CIA agent named Felix Leiter, and the beautiful Vesper Lynd from Section S back in London, Bond battles Le Chiffre at the card table with 50 million francs at stake. Bond and Le Chiffre’s luck and skill rise and fall, and several attempts are made on Bond’s life, which he manages to avoid — until Vesper is kidnapped and Bond is led into a torturous trap.
I really liked this book! First off, I just want to make it clear I have no idea what baccarat is. In the movie, they played poker. I barely understand poker, but I have a general idea of how it’s played. They play baccarat in this book and there are some lengthy passages about making the right move and wondering what the opponent will do and what cards he may have … that all went over my head. I skimmed those paragraphs, to be honest. However, really, you don’t need to understand baccarat to figure out what’s going on, and I don’t feel I missed much by skimming these paragraphs about baccarat strategies.
Anyway, to continue, you are dropped into the middle of Bond’s world. There’s some background information on the nature of his mission, but other than that, Bond doesn’t reveal too much about his own history or anything like that. I felt the beginning began kind of abruptly, but I quickly recovered from that. It’s really easy to read and it’s short too. Simple, very enjoyable.
I did notice Bond has quite the sexist attitude, which jumped out at me, probably because we’re in 2012 here and if anybody said the things he thought, well, they would be in for a telling. However, I do realize this book was published more than 50 years ago so the attitude is partly a product of the time. It’s also simply a part of Bond’s character. He’s self-sufficient and proud he can get things done on his own; he doesn’t feel he needs a woman helping him, and if he had one she would only slow him down. Granted, I didn’t think Vesper was that useless or weak, or anything like that, though she did get kidnapped. She’s described as quite intelligent. In any case, if you are a strong feminist who cannot overlook historical contexts of novels, then perhaps skip all the James Bond novels because I’m pretty sure Bond’s going to be like this in all of them.
People tell me that book-Bond is quite different from movie-Bond, except Daniel Craig’s version. From what I hear, Daniel Craig’s film version of Bond is the closest to book-Bond. In the movies, Bond is typically shown as a perfect, suave gentleman with classy, expensive tastes. I think this is especially true of the Sean Connery film versions. In this book, I did see quite a bit of that classy Bond. He’s not as suave, a bit rough around the edges, but definitely sophisticated. I think it’s interesting seeing the differences between book and movie portrayals, and I wonder if Bond will stay this way throughout the books, or if he will shift and change like in the movies.