My rating: 4 of 5 stars
** The name is BOND, brooding BOND **
Brooding and human, o boy! this is the James Bond that I did not know of.Bond is mostly seen as an uber-cool male fantasy icon, a super-macho-spy and one man army who could destroy entire worlds with a wink in an eye and a girl on the side.
But long before becoming all that, he was apparently, a flesh and blood character who could feel pain, love, betrayal and the whole gamut of human emotions, while still retaining bits of the rakish charm intact. And the story itself used to be many shades darker than the usual 'guns, gadgets and gals' capers that we are accustomed to seeing in his movies.
So, how refreshing it is to see, Bond pondering over the uselessness of demarcating the world in terms of good and evil states. To see him confused and questioning the notions of patriotism and the whole killing-business in the name of it.
It is a revelation to feel see him feeling insecure and tortured upon falling in love with a recluse figure. To see him taking precautions to keep his cover and being wary of the enemy while amusing one and all with the detailed description of Vodka-Martini.
Being a bit more complex and 'real', this Bond is so much more interesting than the flat caricatures of the movies.
Ian Fleming the creator of this iconic figure, had declared that he modelled James Bond on himself and the numerous senior officers that he encountered during his stint with the secret service and it shows, mostly in the meticulous descriptions of Bond's activities and his attention to details. In fact, many of the incidents of the novel had been inspired by real life incidents, most notable being the bombing attempt on Bond and the game of Baccarat itself that is the central premise of the story. The difference being that in real life, Fleming himself had lost the game with a hostile while in the story he shows Bond winning it, thereby fulfilling his own fantasy. Even the description of the villain of the story, Le Chiffre, was based on the persona of an occultist Aleister Crowley.
All these touches add up really nicely to build an intriguing story. And add to it, the enigmatic, elusive character of Vesper Lynd, probably the only female figure whom our super spy gave his heart to and you have a memorable novel at your hand.
Just wonder why Mr. Fleming completely changed Bond in his later novels. This was the original Bond and a far better one.