Friday, May 3, 2024



James Bond played a major part in my life. As a middle-school age boy, I saw Goldfinger when it first came out in early 1965.  That summer, I caught up with the series by seeing a double feature of Dr. No and From Russia With Love.  I was hooked!  

By the time Thunderball was heading to theaters, I started reading the Bond books. I read all of them over the next few months -- my first true grown-up books.  I was also hooked on the music, teaching myself to play piano so I could play the Bond music. Two years later, I re-read all the Bond books in order (by that time, The Man With the Golden Gun had been published in paperback.

I have Bond to thank for my interest in writing, reading and music beyond what played on pop radio station.  So last summer I decided to re-visit all of the Bond books, reading them in order. I've started the last of the Bond novels, so I decided to share my thoughts on each of the books with the reviews I wrote on Goodreads upon finishing each one.

So here they are:

Stephen Terrell's Reviews > Casino Royale

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

's review
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite-books-ever

"The smell and sweat and smoke of a casino are nauseating at 3 in the morning." So is the very first line of the very first James Bond book, published in 1953.  Seventy years later, it still holds up.

Just re-read for fourth time as part of my re-reading the entire series of Bond books written by Ian Fleming, which have played such an important part in my life. If I remember correctly, it is the first book I have ever read four times. I last read the book in 2012, reading it for the first time in nearly 40 years. I first read it at age 13 when I was making my way through the Bond books in non-sequential order. Two years later, I re-read all 13 books in order.

Casino Royale is an excellent thriller, as the reviews of the time that I looked up stated. Forget the slick gadgets, super-villains and wise cracks -- Casino Royale is a cold-war hard-edged thriller filled with men, like Bond, Felix Leiter, Mathis, Bill Tanner, M - and their creator Ian Fleming - who were hardened and shaped by their experiences in World War II.

Remarkably, the Casino Royale movie with Daniel Craig essentially is the same as the book, just updated. LeChiffe is a money-man for the bad guys (in the book, it's the Russians). He has squandered money that isn't his, and must earn it back in a card game. In the book, it is bacarrate, not Texas hold 'em. But the tension is every bit as powerful in the book, if not more so. 

In the book as well as the film, Vesper Lynd remains one of the most intriguing of all the Bond women. In some ways, her impact on Bond is far greater than any other female character, perhaps even more so than Tracy, Bond's short-lived wife.

I think Ian Fleming would have approved of the Daniel Craig version of Bond in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, much more so than any of the other Bond movies since Thunderball.

Seventy years after it first made its way to bookstores, Casino Royale is still a riveting thriller. If you have not read Casino Royale, you owe it to yourself to do so.

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