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#338 ~ Casino Royale

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Published by: Penguin

Published on: August 2002 (Reprint)

Page Count: 192

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

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


My Review

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?

7 Comments

  • At 2011.06.25 00:33, jenn aka the picky girl said:

    I knew you were going to have mixed feelings, and it’s odd because normally I would have felt the same way. I know time period is no excuse, but I do think that fed a lot of Bond’s attitude, but I also felt he had to fight against it at times and really open himself up. That’s why I like him: he’s imperfect but struggles in his own way to figure out what his moral compass is. It’s interesting, particularly as he was quite right in this instance.

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    • At 2011.06.25 09:16, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

      Yikes! Bond as debonair seducer is one thing, but that’s kind of intense. Well, since I can’t get to this one in time for the challenge, I’ll just have to hope he improves by the second book.

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      • At 2011.06.26 17:28, Meghan said:

        I haven’t read this book, but I *really* enjoyed the recent film so I have wanted to for a while. I think the film version of Bond (in this incarnation) is quite a bit softer given what you’ve said. I’m still interested in trying this out in book form, I’ll just remember that attitude so I don’t get so shocked.

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        • […] recovering from the events of Casino Royale, M sends James Bond on a new assignment to discover where copious amounts of very early British […]

          • At 2011.09.30 00:02, #371 ~ Diamonds Are Forever said:

            […] to her with empathy, something I would have considered impossible coming from him after reading Casino Royale. Bond talks a big game, but he is rather more compassionate than he’d like to […]

            • At 2011.10.21 00:02, #375 ~ From Russia With Love said:

              […] Bond, who first encountered SMERSH in Casino Royale, is back on the Russian radar when members within the organization look for a way to discredit the […]

              • At 2012.10.12 21:34, Ruth said:

                Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books steered me in the direction of your James Bond posts. I just finished my first Bond novel — Casino Royale — and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it overall!

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