Who wrote this book and when?
Ian Fleming published this in 1953.

Has there been a film version?
Two film versions and one TV episode based on the book. The first film version was actually a spoof, however. And the newer one starring Daniel Craig is absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend it.

Who are the important characters?
James Bond – a recently elevated 007 on his first mission, which he is on because of his expertise in gambling and baccarat
Vesper Lynd – James’ beautiful assistant
Le Chiffre – a Frenchman who is posting a high stakes baccarat game at the Casino Royale in order to regain SMERSH funds he lost while trying to establish a series of brothels
Mathis – Vesper’s supposed boss and a contact of Bond’s
Felix Leiter – a CIA agent sent to observe the baccarat game

What’s it about?
Newly promoted 007, James Bond is assigned his first mission only because he is an expert at baccarat. A known SMERSH agent, known only as “Le Chiffre” or “The Cipher”, has posted a high stakes baccarat game in the luxurious Casino Royale. Le Chiffre has lost a large amount of SMERSH money which he was entrusted, simply because he tried to use it for personal gains by using it to start up a series of brothel houses which immediately failed. Now he is trying to beat everyone at baccarat to win it back. It seems like a straightforward mission but Bond’s cover is blown immediately after arriving at the hotel in Casino Royale. And the introduction of the beautiful but cold Vesper Lynd as Bond’s assistant further complicates the matter.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It is the first in the James Bond series and started an entire marketing dynasty between television shows, book series, movies, video games, and comics.

Do you recommend I read this book?
Hmmm, yes if you want to find out more about James’ background, but no because it isn’t very good and the movie is much better although several parts of the plot are different – “hollywoodized.”

Why did this book make your list?
I wanted to read it before I saw the movie.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
” I’m getting very sorry for the Devil and his disciples, such as the good Le Chiffre. The Devil has a rotten time, and I always like to be on the side of the underdog. We dont give the poor chap a chance. There is a Good Book about goodness and how to be good and so forth, but theres no Evil Book about evil and how to be bad.” ~ p 142

Anything else?
This was also made into a comic strip in Britain in 1988.

Personal thoughts:
This book wasn’t as good as the first James Bond book I read, Goldfinger, but I think this is mainly due to the fact this is the first one Ian Fleming wrote so Bone wasn’t really Bond yet. Vesper as a character in the book was not interesting. Her character never really developed beyond the cold person she was at the beginning. And since I don’t really understand the particulars of Baccarat, having never played it, the games were hard for me to understand. However, it was interesting to see the origins of Bond – including part of the reason he is who he is as 007 in future novels. And I also was surprised to find that in the books, M is a man, instead of the staunch woman Judy Dench portrays in the newer movies.

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