Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Well. I was very hesitant to read this one until I read a few reviews of it, just because of Bond's reputation with the womenfolk. However, there was very little of this, and it was (fairly) tastefully dealt with. There was also some language, and of course the violence inherent in such a story.
Suffice to say, I was astonished at how similar the new Casino Royale movie (Daniel Craig, Eva Green) stuck to the book. The primary differences are that M is a man in the book, a few significant plot points are altered, and the movie fleshes out the characters as best it can without the assistance of the omniscient narrator. And, truth be told, I preferred the movie to the book, and it was primarily due to the revision of the lead female. I thoroughly enjoyed Eva Green's more forward, prickly, quick-witted and intriguing character. I liked the verbal sparring: "How was the lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathizes;" I liked the tragic ending in the movie far more than the suicide in the book, and I liked Bond's more human reaction in the movie to the instant dehumanization that takes place in the book.
The basic plot: a Russian operative loses a great deal of money that was merely lent to him by his government, and attempts to recover it by gambling before the assassins from his government catch up to him. The British have discovered his predicament, and stake an agent of their own to play against him and prevent him from winning, thus forcing him to the absolute end of his means, hoping to either turn him or destroy him. Their plan succeeds through the skills of the British agent, who of course is James Bond. Part of Bond's cover includes the lovely woman that his government provides for him, with whom he falls in love, only to discover (after preparing to turn his back on the entire MI-5 life) that she had become a traitor to save an old boyfriend, but ended up loving Bond and sacrificing herself for his sake as a result. He reacts somewhat poorly, and hence Bond, James Bond is born.
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