View Full Version : James Bond novels

12-07-2006, 03:03 AM
Hi all,

I read Thunderball a ways back and loved it. The writing was clipped and the girls and gadgets seemed toned down. Instead, the novel centered on Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a villain so well characterized that the notion of him starting SPECTRE from scratch and hijacking nuclear missiles seemed mildly plausible.

But now, after watching Casino Royale, I decided to read about the next appearance of Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Amazon reviews call it the best of the novels, but I couldn't stand it. It wasn't just that every other sentence has an exclamation point or the cheesy chapter titles (Death for Breakfast, Fork Left for Hell!), or the entire chapter devoted to Bond's ancestry. It wasn't even that Blofeld, barely appearing, comes across as a gullible pansy.

No, what really killed me was...

...Bond's wife! When they part at the beginning, she won't talk to him and he tells her creepy dad that he wants nothing to do with her. But when they miraculously meet toward the end, they're just crazy about each other! Jeez.

And at the end, Blofeld's plan isn't just silly, it's clearly written as an afterthought. When I finished the novel, I had more respect for Dr. Evil than Blofeld. :mad:

I'm not planning on reading any more Bond novels, but if there are any near and dear to your heart, say so. What's your favorite/least favorite?

12-07-2006, 04:19 AM
"Dr No", "Goldfinger" and "From Russia With Love" are crackers, first rate. "The Spy who Loved Me" should be avoided at all costs. "Moonraker" is kinda lame too.(but with a great set up). Or so I think.


C K Dexter Haven
12-10-2006, 10:09 PM
I'm with mamboman. Blofeld in Thunderball is interesting; presumably, having his major plans thwarted drove him loony (so that in his final appearance, in You Only Live Twice, he's pretty much bananas. And note that SPECTRE no longer exists, it seems to have dissolved after Thunderball

Fleming's writing style, plots, and villains were better in his earlier writing. Thunderball was the last of the really top notch ones, IMHO. Now, please note, the villain's plots are almost always pretty wild and far out, not to say impossible. When he writes about an organization planning some mischief (whether SMERSH or SPECTRE), the plots have some semblence of reality: Thunderball, From Russia With Love or Casino Royale. When it's a lone super-villain, the plots usually don't hold much connection to reality (I like the book Goldfinger, but let's face it, the plan to rob Fort Knox is preposterous.

In that light, Blofeld's scheme in OHMSS is ... well ... at least, at bottom, the idea of a terrorism strike using bio-chemical weapons certainly isn't far fetched.

12-10-2006, 10:18 PM
I adore The Spy Who Loved Me, but I'm a chick. It's a chick novel. Hello, the entire first half is about the heroine's tragic lack of judgement when it comes to men. Oh no! I shagged a public school boy and it turns out he didn't love me!

I guess Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Dr. No would be my favourites based on how frequently I read them. Dr. No was especially fun.

I also loved Colonel Sun, which isn't Fleming but is way above the calibre of the rest of the Bond continuations that I read. Kingsley Amis knew of what he wrote. It's a true Bond novel and it'd be a shame to miss out on it if you're exploring the whole Bondverse.

It's been nearly a decade since I cracked the books though so I'm hazy on the details. I really ought to do something about that.

12-10-2006, 10:29 PM
I liked Moonraker, but then, I played a lot of bridge when I was younger. Since the first third of the novel is a bridge game, I was there!

At any rate, I read the Bond novels in order, from earliest to latest. That helps, I think. I can't imagine starting with one and trying the others in any old order. Read them in order and you get to watch Bond develop, from good to bad to good again.

I will say that The Spy Who Loved Me is totally different from any other Bond book: first person, from the girl's point of view. You have to be a fan to get that one, I think.

Johnny L.A.
12-10-2006, 10:44 PM
I adore The Spy Who Loved Me, but I'm a chick. It's a chick novel.
Yep. It's a chick book. I really couldn't get into that one.
In that light, Blofeld's scheme in OHMSS is ... well ... at least, at bottom,

the idea of a terrorism strike using bio-chemical weapons
certainly isn't far fetched.
Too right.

I also liked Moonraker.

Starving Artist
12-10-2006, 11:29 PM
I also liked The Spy Who Loved Me very much. I was in my teens when I read it and I thought it was très cool! (Those penny-ante gangsters had no idea who they were up against.) :D I doubt that I'd like it as well now but it remains a favorite in my memory.

Peter Morris
12-11-2006, 12:13 AM
Oh,yes Doctor No isd a great book,with one of the best deaths any villain has had. He :

drowned in bird shit

12-11-2006, 06:20 AM
The only one that I have read was The Spy Who Loved Me. It was not horrible, but not worth recommending.

12-11-2006, 06:58 AM
Note that Thunderball isn't a lone effort by Fleming, but is based on a treatment by him, Kevin McClory, Jack Wittingham, and the other guy that was intended as the basis for a film (and was, eventually). They were pissed when Fleming wrote a book based on all this without giving them credit (or money, I believe), and there was a big legal thing about it. Part of the outcome was that they got to use the characters and plot in their own movie, which is how Never Say Never Again got made, and was a virtual clone of Thunderball (and why they could use Blofeld and his name, while the movie For Your Eyes Only had to content itself with merely implying that was Blofeld in the beginning, and couldn't name him. And why they had to use "Strombeerg" as the bad guy in "The Spy Who Loved Me", evenm though thet wanted to bring Blofeld back.).

I strongly suspect the other guys were responsible for Blofeld and SPECTRE. Until then all of Fleming's novels had the Communists as enemies, or ex-Nazis like Drax. Fleming took Blofeld and used him in two more books, but SPECTRE wasn't Bond's major enemy as it was in so many of the early films.

Chez Guevara
12-11-2006, 07:50 AM
I liked Moonraker, but then, I played a lot of bridge when I was younger. Since the first third of the novel is a bridge game, I was there!A fascinating hand to conclude with.

I don't have the book around but I believe Fleming 'borrowed' the deal from Ely Culbertson, who first concocted the cards to prove a point:

Which, I think, was that a Grand Slam can be achieved with only (about) 9 points between the two hands. Drax has a fistful of honours and can't believe Bond's bid of seven clubs. He doubles, Bond redoubles and, with side bets, Drax and Meyer (his partner) drop about £15,000. I believe Fleming writes (I paraphrase) "Thirteen separate lashes no card player would ever forget".

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