Ever since I was a child, I would spend my Saturday afternoons watching movies with my friends, and on many of those occasions, I had a lot of fun watching James Bond movies. I grew up with the stories of the handsome secret agent with a cool catchphrase and awesome gadgets, but it was until much later I actually read some of the books written by Ian Fleming. And even though my favorite Bond movies are actually Diamonds are Forever and Die Another Day, the best book in the series, for me personally, must be the first one, titled Casino Royale. Incidentally, it is also the only Bond movie I still haven’t seen – maybe because I don’t want to ruin my reading experience.
Casino Royale, being the first Fleming’s work from Bond series, bears special significance, since it made the world ready for the next eleven novels. It was written in 1953, and it revolves around the famous British spy, James Bond, who is gambling in a casino as a part of his plan to bankrupt his archenemy, Le Chiffre. Bond is, of course, not alone in this endeavour, as he gets a helping hand from other secret agents from across the globe. What many people do not know is that the Bond books are loosely based on facts. As a matter of fact, the author, Ian Fleming, used his personal experience as a member of the Naval Intelligence Division to create believable and truthful stories, with characters that bear resemblance to the people he met during his missions.
The novel itself is action-packed, with breathtaking twists and turn of events. It successfully captures the atmosphere of the spy life, adding some extra glamour just to make it more appealing. However, this does not mean that the book strays away from the essence of the secret agent service. To be truthful, some of the scenes from the book might be too much for the readers, as they are distressing in their descriptions and traumatic to someone who is not aware what might happen to a spy caught by the enemy.
That being said, the novel Casino Royale can be thoroughly enjoyed. It has a little bit of everything – explosive action with strong heroes and heroines, interesting locations full of life and extravagance most of the readers can only dream (or read) about, love affairs and titillating descriptions, truthful depictions of spy life. It is an awesome beginning to the greatest saga about special agents. But the most important thing to me is that, maybe unlike the movies, it represents James as a flesh and blood human being, not unbeatable, not untouchable. He is relatable in the sense that one can easily understand his worries and dilemmas, because they reflect the real human nature.
If you are a fan of adventure novels, this will definitely might not be as ground-breaking for you. On the other hand, if you are just starting the journey into the Bond land, be sure to pick up this novel, and I promise you won’t let it down until the very end – and by then, you will already be hooked on Bond.