Published by: Penguin
Published on: August 2002 (Reprint)
Page Count: 192
My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased with Audible credits
Audiobook Published by: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Simon Vance
Audiobook Length: 4.5 hours
Available Formats: eBook, paperback, audiobook
James Bond is an agent in the British Secret Service. Not only is he an agent, he’s a 00 agent, meaning he has killed twice in cold blood protecting the interests of his government. He’s also one hell of a gambler. When the opportunity arises to take down Le Chiffre, a Russian operative in desperate need to win the money he’s squandered on poor investments in France, at the baccarat table at Casino Royale, M entrusts Bond with the mission. He isn’t sent alone, however, a stunningly beautiful female agent named Vespa Lynd is sent to join him.
Casino Royale is the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, so it is natural to begin with it for the Shaken, Not Stirred challenge. The beginning of the novel introduced the reader to not only Bond, but the organization as well. We discover that M is an illusive character and that despite all of the swagger and gravitas I associate with James Bond in pop culture, at the beginning of his story, he is still proving himself to M. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t a good agent or one hell of a gambler. He may have earned his 00 agent status, but M still wants him to have a second when he is sent to bring Le Chiffre to his knees. Bond doesn’t like the idea of a second and hopes that he is good and not ambitious. He never gave being assigned a woman into consideration. He did not react well when he was presented with Vespa Lynd.
I really loved all of the gambling, car chases and anything that had to do with SMERSH. I loved the windows that were left open for further adventures with SMERSH alone. I want to know more about them and what makes them tick. I also want to watch Bond grow as a secret agent. I found the best part of the novel to be the political and moral implications resulting from his run in with Le Chiffre. The scene where Bond contemplates leaving the service was very interesting.
Before I started the Shaken, Not Stirrred Audiobook Challenge, I was told that Ian Fleming did not portray women in the best light. James Bond is a bit of a misogynist. I knew just from a pop culture standpoint that Bond is a lady’s man. I’m not sure exactly how to put into words what I had been expecting, but I should have taken the caution quite literally. Perhaps I was thinking of Bond more as a knight in shinning armor than a man who wanted nothing more from women other than the pleasure their bodies can provide. He sees women as for recreation only. At one point he equates the potential of sleeping with Vespa as having the “sweet tang of rape.” During this section of the novel, I had a few choice words for Mr. Bond. Luckily, I found that his bark is more offensive than his bite. I’ll be interested to see if his outlook on women improves over time.
As much as I was disturbed by some of Bond’s opinions, I had a great time arguing with him about it while listening to the audiobook. Once again, Simon Vance delivers a wonderful performance. I found his work during the scenes with Bond and Le Chiffre wonderful. After listening, I could see why he was chosen for the Stieg Larrson audiobooks. He voices intrigue and torture very well – and I do mean that as a sincere compliment.
I truly came to this book as a Bond virgin. I’m not quite sure how I feel about my first time. Suffice to say that I’m looking forward to the chat and movie viewing party on Twitter on Sunday, June 26 at 9:30pm EST. I am also looking forward to next month’s audiobook, Live and Let Die.
I’m posting this review today to participate in Jen at Devourer of Books‘ weekly Sound Bytes meme. If you have an audiobook review to post, why not participate with us?