Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Casino Royale (James Bond, #1) by Ian Fleming (2.5/5)

First published: 1953
Page count: 156

The back says: 'Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles.' In Casino Royale, the first of Fleming's 007 adventures, a game of cards is James Bond's only chance to bring down the desperate SMERSH agent Le Chiffre. But Bond soon discovers that there is far more at stake than money.

I say: First of all, I have to admit that I hate the film version of James Bond – all of them – because all I see is a smug chauvinistic know-it-all that thinks he is god’s gift to everything. However, because I love to torture myself in the name of academia boredom wanting to settle a score (a friend who insist Bond is all things perfection and that pesky 100 Classics Challenge), I decided to read all 12 novels and 2 short story collections about Bond by Ian Fleming, starting with Casino Royale.

Oh, the humanity.

Since I do not like this genre of literature – spy, detective, crime – this is going to be a long a painstaking process. My only reprieve is that they are short and easily read. Fleming’s prose is straightforward and although I don’t particularly care for it, there is nothing negative I can say about it.

Not really.

James Bond, on the other hand, is a nuisance.

In Casino Royale he is to gamble and make agent Le Chiffre lose all his money. If anyone for any second believes that this isn’t going to work, they have never encountered Bond before. Sure, there are some twists and turns along the way, and the real mystery actually begins after Bond wins.

Needless to say, it all bored me to tears.

I “amused” myself by noting all the mysogynistic, psychotic, and just plain offensive things Bond believed. Like this gem about luck:

Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. – p 45


Or how about this gold nugget:

This was just what he had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man’s work. Why the hell couldn’t they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men’s work to the men. – p 88


I fear there will be more of the kind in the next 13 novels and I am not sure if it’s a triumph to report that Bond is worse than I had imagined or simply a tragedy because people like and him. Granted, the last Bond I saw was Roger Moore, he may not be so bad in the films.

All I remember as a young child was that I hated him.

A quick wiki search has revealed to me that after Fleming’s death other authors have written about a jillion more novels about James Bond and for the sake of my own sanity, I will not read them.

Unless I suffer a serious brain injury and start enjoying them.

2.5/5 because ugh.

Aside: Bond explains here that the double 0 entails having killed in cold blood. However, he does insist that it is nothing to be impressed by.


  1. I just bought Casino Royale a few days ago. I'm worried I wasted that 50 pence.... :S

    I'll read it soon and let you know! I knew someone who LOVES Bond and thinks Bond can do no wrong. Reading your review makes me glad I don't know him any more :)

    1. Ha ha ha. That's half a pound you'll never get back :)

      I look forward to hearing what you think of it and of Bond. The more novels I read, the more I dislike him as a character and even though the plots are getting better, I am now realising that I don't really like Fleming's prose.