Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale • a book review

“The licence to kill for the Secret Service was a great honour. It brought James Bond the only assignments he enjoyed, the dangerous ones. At the Casino in Deauville, Bond’s game is baccarat. But away from the discreet salons, the caviar and champagne, it’s 007 versus one of Russia’s most powerful and ruthless agents.”

UnivEx Review:

Forget Sean Connery, nobody does it better than Ian Fleming. The first Bond book ever, Casino Royale is a masterpiece. Fleming does a beautiful job of introducing the character of Bond through internal monologue as well as actions and conversations. He also introduces all the key players of the series including MI6, Moneypenny, Felix Leiter, and M.

The book begins with Bond in a casino in Royale.

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.” (Casino Royale, p1).

With that opening line the road is paved for the longest running series of books in history: as well as the movies.

The plot is fairly simplistic, a man named LeChiffre has borrowed money from the organization known as SMERSH. Unless he pays it back, he will be killed. He sets out to win the money at the Baccarat table and that is where Bond, MI6’s best gambler, comes into the scene. Bond is sent to Royale with orders to bankrupt LeChiffre and ensure his death.

Aiding him in this task is CIA agent Felix Leiter as well as the gorgeous Vesper Lynd. Needless to say Bond wins the Baccarat game and LeChiffre is out of money. This is where the book gets interesting; Bond and Vesper are kidnapped and Bond is tortured.

The torture scene shows Bond’s strength, determination, and loyalty to Queen and Country. He never even considers telling LeChiffre where the money is. Eventually, they are rescued by SMERSH of all people and Bond goes into recovery.

It is in recovery where the most interesting part of the book occurs: Bond questions his reasons for being in the Service and has a conflict of morals. This is never seen in the movies and shows the human aspect of 007. The only reason he tries to resign in the films is due to differences of opinion with M.

Over the course of his recovery, Bond also goes into how he joined the Secret Service and got his Double-0 number. On top of all this soul-searching, there is a romance between Bond and Vesper that, just when it begins to get truly intimate, becomes ice cold.

All the way up through the shocking ending, Casino Royale delivers a great story with the naivete of a young Fleming. There was no political correctness and it is apparent in many scenes. Perhaps my only dislike about the book is it’s pace. While some scenes flew by, others had me dozing off while I read. But as a whole, a great start.


Casino Royale:

Casino Royale

Ian Fleming

First Published:
April 13, 1953

Le Chiffre


Bond Girl:
Vesper Lynd

Felix Leiter, Rene Mathis

Alternate Title:
You Asked For It



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