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1. Translators From Welsh: Welsh-english
2. British People of Australian Descent:
3. Welsh-english Translators: Rufus
4. People From Twickenham: Chemmy
5. James Bond 007 - 12 Classic Ian
6. The Man with the Golden Gun
8. JAMES BOND 007 - 12 Classic Ian
9. The Woodlanders (HarperCollinsAudioBooks)
10. You Only Live Twice
11. Diamonds are Forever
12. The Spy Who Loved Me
13. For Your Eyes Only
14. Moonraker
15. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
16. Dr.No
17. Live and Let Die
18. From Russia with Love
19. Goldfinger
20. Thunderball

1. Translators From Welsh: Welsh-english Translators, Rufus Sewell, Lady Charlotte Guest, Tony Conran, John Walters
Paperback: 24 Pages (2010-09-16)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
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Asin: 1158711352
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Chapters: Welsh-english Translators, Rufus Sewell, Lady Charlotte Guest, Tony Conran, John Walters. Source: Wikipedia. Pages: 23. Not illustrated. Free updates online. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Excerpt: Rufus Frederik Sewell (born 29 October 1967) is an English actor. In film, he has appeared in The Woodlanders, Dangerous Beauty, Dark City, A Knight's Tale, The Illusionist, and Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence. On television, he became well known for his role as the hero, Will Ladislaw, in the BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch. In 2003, he appeared in the lead role in Charles II: The Power and The Passion. He starred in the CBS drama Eleventh Hour which was cancelled in April 2009. On stage, he originated the role of Septimus Hodge in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and the role of Jan in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, which earned him an Olivier Award and a Tony Award nomination for the latter performance. Sewell was born in Twickenham in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London, the son of William Sewell, an Australian animator, and Jo, a Welsh artist and waitress. His father worked on the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment of animation for The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film. His parents divorced when Sewell was five and his mother worked to support her two sons. His father died when Sewell was 10, and by his own admission he was a difficult teenager. Sewell attended Orleans Park School, which he left in 1984. Later on, a drama teacher at West Thames College spotted his promise and sent him to audition for drama school. He enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating, he was set up with an agent by Dame Judi Dench who had directed him in a play while at Central. 1993 was Sewell's breakthrough year; he starred in the BBC serial of George Eliot's M...More: http://booksllc.net/?id=1361048 ... Read more

2. British People of Australian Descent: Christopher Lee, Mick Jagger, Laura Robson, Lachlan Murdoch, Rufus Sewell, Darcey Bussell, James Murdoch
Paperback: 102 Pages (2010-09-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1157672094
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Chapters: Christopher Lee, Mick Jagger, Laura Robson, Lachlan Murdoch, Rufus Sewell, Darcey Bussell, James Murdoch, Jonathan Hyde, Trevor Goddard, Jason Connery, Australians in the United Kingdom, Caroline Goodall, Paul Colman, Ian Cugley, William Russell, Wilberforce Eaves, Brendon Lindsay. Source: Wikipedia. Pages: 101. Not illustrated. Free updates online. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Excerpt: Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger (born 26 July 1943) is an English musician, singer-songwriter and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones. Jagger has also acted in and produced several films. The Rolling Stones started in the early 1960s as a rhythm and blues cover band with Jagger as frontman. Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards developed a songwriting partnership and by the mid-1960s the group had evolved into a major rock band. Frequent conflict with the authorities (including alleged drug use and his romantic involvements) ensured that during this time Jagger was never far from the headlines, and he was often portrayed as a counterculture figure. In the late 1960s Jagger began acting in films (starting with Performance and Ned Kelly), to mixed reception. In the 1970s, Jagger, with the rest of the Stones, became tax exiles, consolidated their global position and gained more control over their business affairs with the formation of the Rolling Stones Records label. During this time, Jagger was also known for his high-profile marriages to Bianca Jagger and later to Jerry Hall. In the 1980s Jagger released his first solo album. He was knighted in 2003. Jagger was born into a middle class family at the Livingstone Hospital, in Dartford, Kent, England. His father, Basil Fanshawe ("Joe") Jagger (13 April 1913 - 11 November 2006), and his paternal grandfather, David Ernest Jagger, were both teacher...More: http://booksllc.net/?id=57187 ... Read more

3. Welsh-english Translators: Rufus Sewell, Lady Charlotte Guest, Tony Conran
Paperback: 22 Pages (2010-06-20)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1158305362
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Purchase includes free access to book updates online and a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Not illustrated. Excerpt: Rufus Frederik Sewell (born 29 October 1967) is an English actor. In film, he has appeared in The Woodlanders, Dangerous Beauty, Dark City, A Knight's Tale, The Illusionist, and Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence. On television, he became well known for his role as the hero, Will Ladislaw, in the BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch. In 2003, he appeared in the lead role in Charles II: The Power and The Passion. He starred in the CBS drama Eleventh Hour which was cancelled in April 2009. On stage, he originated the role of Septimus Hodge in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and the role of Jan in Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, which earned him an Olivier Award and a Tony Award nomination for the latter performance. Sewell was born in Twickenham in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London, the son of William Sewell, an Australian animator, and Jo, a Welsh artist and waitress. His father worked on the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" segment of animation for The Beatles' Yellow Submarine film. His parents divorced when Sewell was five and his mother worked to support her two sons. His father died when Sewell was 10, and by his own admission he was a difficult teenager. Sewell attended Orleans Park School, which he left in 1984. Later on, a drama teacher at West Thames College spotted his promise and sent him to audition for drama school. He enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating, he was set up with an agent by Dame Judi Dench who had directed him in a play while at Central. 1993 was Sewell's breakthrough year; he starred in the BBC serial of George Eliot's Middlemarch and on stage in Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia at The Royal National Theatre (Lyttelton). His film work i... More: http://booksllc.net/?id=1361048 ... Read more

4. People From Twickenham: Chemmy Alcott, Caroline Flint, Rufus Sewell, Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, Peter Sallis, Hallam Tennyson
Paperback: 106 Pages (2010-09-15)
list price: US$19.66 -- used & new: US$19.66
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1155247345
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Chapters: Chemmy Alcott, Caroline Flint, Rufus Sewell, Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, Peter Sallis, Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, Claire Forlani, Michael Crawford, Princess Hélène D'orléans, Emily Perry, Lenny Pidgeley, Preeya Kalidas, Justine Frischmann, Ambrose Griffiths, Francis Chaplin, Paul Miller, Allen Young, Willoughby Gwatkin, Dave King, Peter Martin Duncan, Judy Astley, Thomas Twining. Source: Wikipedia. Pages: 104. Not illustrated. Free updates online. Purchase includes a free trial membership in the publisher's book club where you can select from more than a million books without charge. Excerpt: Chimene "Chemmy" Mary Alcott (born 10 July 1982, in Twickenham, Middlesex, Greater London) is the current female British number one Alpine skier. She is an all-round racer, competing in the Downhill, Super G, Classic Combined/Super Combined, Giant Slalom and Slalom events. Alcott has competed in three Winter Olympic Games and six Senior FIS Alpine Ski World Championships. She is also a five-time Overall Senior British National Champion (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008). Alcott is named after Sophia Loren's character in the film El Cid. She started skiing at 18 months old on a family holiday in Flaine, France and first raced at the age of three. In 1993 Alcott won the Etoile D'Or French Village Ski Championship, becoming a member of the British Junior Alpine team in 1994 and won the 1995 Sunday Times Junior Sportswoman of the Year award. Every British summer from the age of eleven to nineteen, Alcott travelled to New Zealand in order to train in the antipodean winter. Aged twelve, Alcott broke her neck in a skiing accident, recovering with two of her vertebrae fused together. She still carries x-rays of the injury so that if she is ever in an accident, the hospital will know not to pry the vertebrae apart. Alcott made her FIS race debut in August 1997 in a Giant Slalom event at Coronet Peak, New Zealand. By the en...More: http://booksllc.net/?id=3403910 ... Read more

5. James Bond 007 - 12 Classic Ian Fleming Novels on 36 CDs , read by Rufus Sewell & Samantha Bond
by Ian Fleming
 Audio CD: Pages (2007)
-- used & new: US$90.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 014091191X
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12 Classics of English fiction , on 36 CDs , all in clever round hinged tin box 5-1/2 inches in diameter and 2-1/2 inches high, weighing several pounds ... Red, Black & silver with embossed title, and a two-way zipper allows it to open like a compact case or 45 record case from days gone by ... Each CD is in its own inner sleeve, inside the case, and they flip open to select once you have the lid up ... This set is designed in such a way that the lid cannot come off or get lost, it opens easily to remove or put back a CD ... The whole case is waterproof, dustproof, and protects your investment in audio literature for years to come ... Each sleeve is transparent, so you can easily see at a glance which CD you are selecting ... Some of the greats of the famed James Bond stories by legendary writer Ian Fleming, all put together into a beautiful self-contained case , by the incomparable Penguin audio classics ... ' The best books you'll ever hear ' ... Excellent way to introduce a young reader to the delights of literature ... or for an older one to relive the day ... these are read by two of the best voices in the British entertainment world ... with voices that lend authenticity and excitement to the thrilling spy novels. ... Read more

6. The Man with the Golden Gun
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$85.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802928
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Having tried - and failed - to assassinate his boss, M, a brainwashed James Bond must prove himself back on form. For his comeback, 007 must wipe out Scaramanga, the most deadly hit-man in the world, known as the Man with the Golden Gun. He tracks him to Jamaica where he decides to infiltrate the killer's criminal co-operative and sees that he must use his licence to kill - and quickly - if he himself is to survive. ... Read more

by Horatio Alger
Kindle Edition: Pages (2010-09-08)
list price: US$3.92
Asin: B0042P5DHY
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"Yes, said Rufus, I''ve retired from the newspaper business on a large fortune, and now I''m going into business in Wall Street just to occupy my time." ... Read more

by Ian (Rufus Sewell and Samantha Bond, readers) Fleming
 Unknown Binding: Pages (2007)

Asin: B003RPY1IM
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9. The Woodlanders (HarperCollinsAudioBooks)
by Thomas Hardy
Audio Cassette: Pages (1996-05-01)
list price: US$16.99
Isbn: 0001052012
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Love, and the erratic heart, are at the centre of Hardy's 'woodland story'. Set in the beautiful Blackmoor Vale, The Woodlanders concerns the fortunes of Giles Winterborne, whose love for the well-to-do Grace Melbury is challenged by the arrival of the dashing and dissolute doctor, Edred Fitzpiers. When the mysterious Felice Charmond further complicates the romantic entanglements, marital choice and class mobility become inextricably linked. Hardy's powerful novel depicts individuals in thrall to desire and the natural law that motivates them.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Near-Masterpiece
The Woodlanders is not Thomas Hardy's most famous or acclaimed work but was his own favorite among his novels, and many - perhaps most - fans put it in his top tier. This diehard Hardy reader puts it just below that, which is to say it is truly great. Neophytes should read better-known works first, but everyone should stop here quite soon.

Perhaps the most immediately attractive aspect is its vibrant setting. Hardy seems to truly bring The Woodlands to life, describing with a vivid precision that will make it linger in the mind long after reading. It is my favorite Hardy setting other than The Return of the Native's Egdon Heath and many fans' favorite. Most Hardy novels and much of his poetry is set in what he called Wessex - a part-real, part-dream area, based on his native Southwest England, that he made world famous. Perhaps no one equals his profound sense of place; he describes scenes so believably and importantly that they become integral to the story. This is a preeminent example. All the Wessex novels are valuable for showing how a long-vanished world looked and how its people thought, spoke, and lived but none perhaps more so than this. The Woodlands are probably the most rural part of Wessex, which truly says much - a handful of cottages scattered among a thick forest. The real places on which Hardy based the area were almost gone by the time of the book (1887) - had indeed started going even before his 1840 birth - and are certainly gone now, as is nearly every remotely similar place in the Western world. Hardy's descriptive power thus does us a great service by making such a long-lost place seem so real that we not only seem to see it but feel and smell it also. As in The Return, the setting is so important that it is practically a character - arguably even the most important. The woods are described somewhat anthropomorphically and are essential to the plot in many ways. Anyone who thinks such things can never be truly important to a story should read this; literature has few better examples.

Characterization is also strong. This was always a Hardy high point, and The Woodlanders has some truly memorable personages:the intelligent and well-educated Grace, who has in many ways overcome her upbringing's conventional shortcomings but is also a true Woodlands native; Giles, who has genuinely noble feelings and sentiments but is held back in the world's eyes by lack of education and a life tied to the Woodlands; Fitzpiers, who is well-educated, intelligent, and capable but selfish, hedonistic, and in other ways loathsome; Melbury, who truly loves and wants the best for his daughter Grace and has other admirable qualities but whose lack of insight sometimes leads to rash decisions and unfortunate consequences; Marty, a slight, lonely figure who is hard-working and capable of great love but virtually unnoticed by all; the beautiful and lofty but eccentric and essentially selfish Mrs. Charmond; and more. Also, as often with Hardy, there is a band of colorful rustics serving as a sort of chorus. They add considerably to the local depiction, give some much-needed comic relief, and are important in discussing some of the major themes in less overt ways, making them more conventionally palatable and driving them home in a sense very different from the narration's high seriousness but at least as effective. This last is particularly important just before the end, as they get the last word on marriage, the main theme, subtly zeroing in on Hardy's point.

The most interesting character now - as probably then - is Grace. Hardy is well-known for his heroines, and though not his most famous or fascinating, she is very intriguing in her own right. Like many Hardy heroines, she is educated well above most women of her era, which her class and location make all the more notable. Hardy again shows how unfairly such women were treated in an unapologetically sexist society; even with her many acquired and natural charms, Grace is unprepared for many of life's most important challenges because women were simply not given an opportunity. Even those in her position had few options other than marriage, and it is quickly apparent how naïve and ignorant even she is in this all-important area because of the relatively sheltered lives virtually all Victorian women lived.

Marriage and human love relationships generally are the book's main concern; they are variously dramatized and reflected on in a larger sense. This had much contemporary relevance, but what might be called Hardy's philosophical approach also makes it of great universal important. Love is after all probably the most ubiquitous human feeling, and Hardy dealt with it often, frequently focusing on marriage's monolithic regulatory role. He once wrote in his journal that love thrives on propinquity but dies on contact - a claim he often fictionalized but perhaps never as clearly or fully as here. The Woodlanders is a savage yet subtle critique of the marriage institution in which Hardy's own troubled marriage and advanced views led him to lose faith. He later criticized it more overtly in The Well-Beloved and Jude the Obscure, but this condemnation is at least as strong for those willing to read between proverbial lines. More generally, the book paints a very bleak picture of human interaction itself; characters without fail attach themselves to the wrong person, love never being requited. Hardy thought the chances of mutual love reaching full fruition were near nil, and this is perhaps his most startling example. It may be a bit bleak for some, but his point is well made.

Another major theme is class. Hardy had advanced views here also, which showed up again and again in his work, not least in this novel. Grace and her father are rare examples of nineteenth-century British upward mobility; there is much to admire in her concerted education and his hard work, but the book shows just how hard it was to overcome an unfair system that brands one from birth. Moving up increases their money and knowledge but makes human interaction very difficult; they are still looked down on by upper classes, but an understandable pride makes them hesitate about mixing with their own, most of whom are newly intimidated in any case. All this keeps Grace from marrying Giles, her true love, in favor of the aristocrat Fitzpiers, with dire consequences. Giles himself is now nervous about making his love known yet also incapable of returning Marty's more accessible affection. Fitzpiers is immediately struck by Grace but distraught when he realizes her class; unable to overcome desire, he succumbs but finds it impossible to mix with lower classes, much to the detriment of both. Hardy's sympathy clearly lies with the lower classes, and people like Henry James unsurprisingly attacked the book for vilifying the upper classes, who are portrayed as selfish, snobbish, pleasure-seeking, and despicable with few or no redeeming qualities. The conversation between Giles and Fitzpiers when the latter first sees Grace drives in this nail most forcefully - indeed unforgettably; it is one of Hardy's most powerful and thought-provoking scenes -, but it is present throughout in varying guises.

As all this suggests, there is a strong fatalistic streak. Characters seem unable to overcome facts of birth and upbringing and are frequently victims of what might be called bad luck or cruel fate; chance and coincidence rarely turn out well. This is true for much of Hardy's work, and his later epic poem The Dynasts detailed what he called the Imminent Will, a blind force controlling human affairs, which had been implied here and elsewhere. Hardy was profoundly aware of humanity's less than microscopic cosmic significance and had long ceased to believe that life is overseen by any force that is benevolent or sympathetic to people. This can all be gleaned in The Woodlanders. It is not truly tragic like many of his novels, and the ending in particular at least has a sort of equilibrium - especially in contrast to the catastrophic ones he often favored -, though he elsewhere made clear that Fitzpiers will roam again. However, the book has many dark spots, and its thinly veiled social, philosophical, and theological views are bleak indeed.

If all this sounds rather grim or dry, worry not; Hardy knew how to tell a story. Unlike many writers dealing with heavy themes, he always took care to have them arise naturally from a story rather than overwhelming it. He is virtually without the heavy-handedness and didacticism nearly always fatal in such works. His characters are a big part of this; plausible and sympathetic, we recognize our humanity in them, truly feeling with and for them. The plot is also so tight and superbly executed that, looking back, it seems to unfold near-inevitably, though anyone who guessed how specific events turned out would have surely been wrong. This of course plays right into Hardy's fatalism, but it is clear from reading the book just how much later writes owe him. Unlike most Victorian authors handling serious themes, he was supremely entertaining; his stories were not only engrossing but truly exciting, bursting with the kind of twists and suspense then so rare. Even pulp fans could hardly ask for more. The Woodlanders is a case in point. The climax with the deadly trap is especially well-done; readers will be on the edge of their proverbial seats until the surprising outcome. More fundamentally, Hardy's writing is profoundly emotional; he was deeply in touch with the uber-sensitive chords buried deep in humanity's very heart, striking them with power and precision. The Woodlanders is highly moving, shot full of pathos as well as other feelings and thoughts through which Hardy moves us with true artistry.

This is a fine novel that is essential for anyone even remotely interested in Hardy - a true classic deserving more popularity and acclaim. We must not let it linger in the woods.

As for this edition, it has a wealth of supplemental material, making it ideal for serious readers:Hardy's Prefaces to the novel and a collected edition of his works; an excellent introduction giving substantial background on Hardy, the book, and the historical context plus some initial analysis; a chronology; extensive notes; an overview of critical reaction to the novel; further reading suggestions; and chapter summaries. One could hardly ask for more.

4-0 out of 5 stars Foreshadowing Tess
The Woodlanders is said to be one of Hardy's more descriptive novels and Hardy is also said to have a love for this part of the country. I thought this was a beautiful passage:

"From the other window all she could see were more trees, jacketed with lichen and stockinged with moss. At their roots were stemless yellow fungi like lemons and apricots, and tall fungi with more stem than stool. Next were more trees close together, wrestling for existence, their branches disfigured with wounds resulting from their mutual rubbings and blows. It was the struggle between these neighbors that she had heard in the night. Beneath them were the rotting stumps of those of the group that had been vanquished long ago, rising from their mossy setting like decayed teeth from green gums. Farther on were other tufts of moss in islands divided by the shed leaves--variety upon variety, dark green and pale green; moss-like little fir-trees, like plush, like malachite stars, like nothing on earth except moss."

And this description of Winterborne as a wood-god really stood out for me:

"He rose upon her memory as the fruit-god and the wood-god in alternation; sometimes leafy, and smeared with green lichen, as she had seen him among the sappy boughs of the plantations; sometimes cider-stained, and with apple-pips in the hair of his arms, as she had met him on his return from cider-making in White Hart Vale, with his vats and presses beside him."

It is said that Winterborne was a creation derived from Hardy's own father.

The book also has the typical Hardy realism and tragedy based on innocence and wrong choices, the unfair position of women, mere chance, or should I say Chance, in keeping with the way Hardy uses it.For me, somehow, the more descriptive nature of the book, while not that descriptive--Hardy is a realist not a romantic, gave the book a hazy, almost somnolent quality that almost distracted from the clarity and meaning of the book. Maybe it was Hardy's intention to have the woods form a kind of shadowy hold over the characters, the readers--there's the strange effect a single tree had on Winterborne's father, and another on Grace. But Hardy's description of the moors in Return of the Native had more power for me. Also, the characters seemed undeveloped to me, especially Grace, who was a main character. Marty seemed more real, though maybe that was intentional as the book ends with her, and poor Grace floated un-fixedly in the non-place between two classes.

I love Hardy's novels and poetry otherwise I may have given it 3 stars. I just read it--it may be I need to ruminate on it for awhile.

5-0 out of 5 stars Visit Wessex in the Woodlanders and Savor the prose of Thomas Hardy
The Woodlanders is the eleventh novel by Thomas Hardy. Hardy takes us to an obscure village in his mythical Wessex. The novel portrays the beautiful Grace Melbury a nubile young miss coddled by her parents; eager for glamour and disdainful of bucolic boredom. Grace is courted by Giles Winterbourne a local rustic but cast him off to wed Dr. Edred Fitzpiers the local doctor. The marriage is a disaster for Fitzper lusts for Madame Charmond. He also has a fling with Suke a local girl.
Fitzpiers flees to the Continent while Grace seeks reconciliation with
Winterborne. The couple hope to wed under a newly passed Parliamentary
law dealing with the right of women to obtain a divorce.
All goes wrong. Accidents occur as chance and fortune always play a part in the Hardy world. The novel does end happily which is rare for Hardy.
Hardy knew the English countryside as it moved from spring to winter.
His description of nature is beautifully written. Hardy also knew the south of England as it was moving from the rural nineteenth century to the modern world of the coming twentieth century.
The Woodlanders is one of the lesser known Hardy novels that is well worth your attention. The story is well told with many interesting and exciting plot developments which will hold the attention. Well recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Disaster at the altar in the church of Hardy.
"It would have made a beautiful story," Thomas Hardy said about this novel, "if I could have carried out my idea of it; but somehow I come so far short of my intention."

"I wish you had never thought of educating me," Thomas Hardy's protagonist tells her father at one point in this novel, "because cultivation has only brought me inconveniences and troubles" (pp. 232-33). Hardy (1840-1928) wrote his eleventh novel in 1887, before his better-known masterpieces, TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES (1891) and JUDE THE OBSCURE (1895), and a year after THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE (1886). Set in the "partly real and partly dream country" of Hardy's Wessex, in the "sequestered" forest community of Little Hintock (located "outside the gates of the world," p. 6), a place where "loneliness is not so very lonely after a while" (p. 83), THE WOODLANDERS is about doomed love, betrayal, and social restraints, and like Hardy's other work, it succeeds as a satisfying story of a romantic disaster in Hardy's cruel universe. The novel tells the sad tale of a woman, Grace Melbury, forced to choose marriage between two suitors of different social statures, Giles Winterborne, a local woodlander with a gentle, virtuous nature, and Edred Fitzpiers, an ambitious doctor and a scoundrel. Influenced by her well-intentioned though meddling father, Mr. Melbury, who only wants his daughter to "marry well" (p. 89), Grace's decision ultimately leads to disastrous consequences and, in the end, to a lonely woman worshipping at a dead man's grave. Once again, we discover the course of love is never happy in Hardy's universe.

Rather gloomy for a Victorian romance novel? Well, yes. But reading Victorian fiction does not get any better than reading Thomas Hardy's extraordinary novels. Returning to Hardy's brooding, melancholy fiction after my first encounter with his novels more than twenty five years ago, I am re-discovering Hardy's brilliant ability to convey familiar, primordial truths through his fiction, making him worth reading again and again.

G. Merritt

4-0 out of 5 stars Hardy gone berserk
Hardy classified THE WOODLANDERS with his Novels of Character and Ingenuity, which category included his very best novels (TESS, THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE, THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE). This 1887 novel is so bizarre, however, that you might feel it belongs more properly with his Romances and Fantasies. In the secluded rustic community of Little Hintock all manner of things are a-brewing: simple Marty South has a thing for cider-merchant Giles Winterbourne, who has been promised for years to marry well-educated Grace Melbury, but Grace's father marries her off instead to philandering Edred Fitzpiers, who has a thing for local wealthy widow Felice Charmond. In this circle of desire all manner of things can go wrong--and, this being Hardy, of course they do. Some of his wildest plot contrivances (including two bizarre scenes wherein the Widow Charmond must convey crucial information to Grace, and Fitzpiers even more crucial information to Grace's father) occur without the redeeming Shakespearean scope of a novel like THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE which allows you to overlook the wackiness. Still, even if this is lesser Hardy, it's still Hardy, so the novel has such poetically gorgeous evocations of landscape and character as to make everything worthwhile in the end. ... Read more

10. You Only Live Twice
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$25.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802944
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Shattered by the death of his wife at the hands of Blofeld, Bond has gone to pieces. Unwilling to accept the loss of one of his best men, M sends Bond to Japan for one last, near-impossible mission. But Japan proves to be Bond's downfall, leading him to a mysterious residence known as the 'Castle of Death' where he encounters an old enemy revitalized. All the omens suggest that this is the end for the British agent, and for once, even Bond himself seems unable to disagree... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Writte and Exciting
This review is about the novel, not the movie.

"You Only Live Twice" is the concluding novel of the "Blofeld Trilogy" ("Thunderball", "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" with "The Spy Who Loved Me" in the middle but not part of the trilogy).

The story finds James Bond in a sad place after the murder of his wife and a fading career.M, head of MI6, wants to dismiss Bond but changes his mind, gives him a new number ("7777") and assigns him the difficult mission of convincing Japan's secret service to provide information about the Soviet Union.

The head of Japan's secret service, Tiger Tanaka, asks Bond to kill a doctor who provides people the ability to commit suicide (even if they change their mind later).Bond discovers that his enemy, Blofeld, is also involved but keeps the knowledge for himself while training with a Japanese movie star on trying to live and think as a Japanese.

The plot continues with much of the Fleming gusto, fine writing and twists we don't get at the movie theater.

The novel is a bit moody and dark, yet well written, exciting and well researched.The narrative is very engrossing and the characters are well built.However, I would NOT recommend it as your first Fleming novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Story Well-Told
First off, I must say that my experience w/ Blackstone audio books has been VERY positive. I've purchased most of the audio books in the Bond series, & so far I've only had problems w/ one of them (On Her Majestie's Secret Service).A couple of the discs had what appeared to be glue (from the packaging?) on them & would not play properly.When I first encountered the problem, I called the 800 number on the box, fully expecting to get an automated answering service w/ menu options.To my surprise, a very pleasant woman named "Carol" answered, assuring me that there would be no problem getting a replacement disc to me free of charge.The entire phone call was over in a few minutes & left me feeling very happy w/ the company & w/ my purchaseThank you, Carol!

As for the Blackstone Bond series audio books, Simon Vance does an outstanding job of narrating the books.Unlike some narrators I've encountered w/ other companies (such as Brilliance) who read descriptive passages AND dialogue using the SAME TONE so that it's difficult to tell which character is actually speaking, Vance gives each character his or her own voice and manner of speaking.It makes for a MUCH more pleasant & enjoyable listening experience.

Part of the fun of the original Bond novels is seeing how they compare to the films that bare their titles.In many cases, there's scarcely any similarity at all (and sometimes none whatsoever).However, I actually enjoy that.Having seen the movies so many times, it's great not knowing what will happen next in the books.Fleming definitely enjoyed meting out "poetic justice" w/ regards to eliminating his villains.I've read all of the Fleming Bond books, either on audio or in print, and they are all worth-while.Once I have the entire Blackstone audio series, I plan to start over from the beginning & "read" them all again in sequence.

This is the third & final Bond novel in which Bond goes up against his arch-nemesis, Blofeld.Blofeld's "castle of death" hideaway gives this particular book an almost Gothic atmosphere, not unlike the Phantom's booby-trapped lair in the sewers beneath the Paris Opera House.Fleming was certainly a very gifted writer.

The "Blofeld series" (Thunderball, On Her Majestie's Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) were some of the titles I was most looking forward to reading, & they are all excellent.I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Bond books (and the Blackstone audio books) to anyone enjoys action/adventure stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dark, surreal, and mystical
You Only Live Twice is possibly Fleming's best Bond novel, if only because it's so radically different from its predecessors.Bond is no longer the debonaire, in-control agent of the preceding stories; here he is a burn-out looking for some meaning in life, and he finds it- maybe- in the peaceful islands of Japan while on a mission to investigate a mysterious "Castle of Death" that is claiming many Japanese lives.

This novel isn't just somewhat darker than its prdecessors; it is, at times, downright macabre.Death is a constant theme in the novel, from Bond brooding on his wife's murder to the Japanese obsession with suicide to the main villain's nihilistic outlook on life.There is humor and hope in the novel, but it's not the same carefree kind that we saw in previous novels.You Only Live Twice has some of Fleming's most eloquent prose and is highly recommended to anyone who loves a good thriller (not just Bond fans).If only the movie had followed the book...

4-0 out of 5 stars Death In The Face
The movie version of "You Only Live Twice" is a long desultory set-up leading to a gripping blow-out of a finale. The novel works in reverse. There the best part is in the development; the best of any Ian Fleming novel. It's the conclusion that disappoints.

We meet James Bond a few months after the end of Fleming's previous novel, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He is an emotional wreck, and drinking his way into becoming a physical one. His boss M wants to retire him, but is persuaded instead to give Bond one last "impossible" assignment more likely to test his diplomatic skills than his ruthless killer efficiency: Get a line on a Soviet code system the Japanese secret service has broken.

Fleming died soon after "Twice's" 1964 publication. Bondmania was just busting out, but in Fleming's Jamaica retreat he seems to have been beyond the hoopla. The focus here is on death and a life lived fully if not well, as seen when Bond attempts a haiku that sums up his journey here. "You only live twice/Once when you're born/Once when you look death in the face."

Despite his occasional use of abusive terminology, unpleasant to read but true to the period, Fleming's relish for Japanese culture brims over and is the best thing "You Only Live Twice" has going. Often his Bond novels read like thinly-concealed travelogues. This time it's an unconcealed one. Whether it's the raising of Kobe beef, the postwar culture of demokorasu, or the sneaky power of sake, Fleming is constantly finding new things about the Home Islands to share with the reader. In the character of the allusive but amiable ex-kamikaze Tiger Tanaka, he creates his best Bond companion since Darko Bey in "From Russia With Love".

I could have kept reading this book forever, especially as Fleming keeps the spycraft aspect humming in the background in low-key and believable fashion. Bond is trying to find an in with Tanaka, winning his respect enough to prove worthy of the Japanese agent's treasure trove of Russian secrets. Eventually Tanaka offers a deal. A strange Swiss botanist has created a literal "garden of death" for suicidal Japanese. It's strictly legal but very cruel sport the government would like to end. If Bond wants the code, he will have to "slay the dragon" and shut down his garden. So in order to complete his non-lethal mission, Bond must kill anyway.

Fleming develops his story with a complicated blend of humor and morbid curiosity. Japanese culture as presented in this novel is one half in love with painful death, and Fleming has Bond react to Tanaka's stories of happy suicides with pungent shock and sarcasm, yet fascination too.

Fleming saves his biggest surprise for the end, and it's a good one. But it's also abruptly resolved, and uncharacteristically muted for what should have been one of Bond's most ripping moments of action. The main villain takes a long time getting on stage, and when he does, he's less than advertised, a self-acknowledged lunatic way too interested in explaining his sick hobby.

Fleming redeems himself somewhat with an offbeat conclusion that challenges our assumptions about what makes Bond tick. An offbeat effort, "You Only Live Twice" should have been the start of something bigger than Fleming was given time to develop. But it's a memorable read that sticks with you long after most spy thrillers are comfortably forgotten.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bond in Japan
Most people are familiar with the films of James bond, agent 007, licensed to kill, but the novels written by Ian Fleming can be very different from the books that provide their names. Certainly this is the case in "You only Live Twice." Both the film and the book are set in Japan but beyond that they part ways quickly.

In the book James Bond is nearly finished. 8 months after the murder of his wife Tracy at the end of "On Her Majesties Secret Service" he has gone from M's best man to the dregs of the service. M, considering his dismissal is prevailed upon to give Bond one last chance.

Bond is promoted out of his beloved 00 section and transferred to the diplomatic branch with the code number 7777, and given a near impossible mission. He is go to Japan and convince the head of the Japanese Secret Service to share with Great Britain their decrypts of top secret Soviet messages. The problem is that post WW2 the United States views Japan as its private preserve and does not like poachers.

The rather more serious problem is that Bond does not have much to bargain with and when it is quickly revealed that the Japanese are not interested in his one bargaining chip he is left with very little to go on.What he has is his own life and skills, and in return for these magic decrypts, Japan requires Bond to kill a Swiss botanist named Dr. Shatterhand, a man of evil intent and deed who, for political reasons the Japanese police cannot move against but a gaijan whose arrest if he fails cannot be tied to the government? This is acceptable.

This is actually one of Fleming's weaker outings for Bond. Although he is in full force in his pacing and plotting and character development, part of what is missing is the setting. During the Second World War, Fleming was deeply involved in the planning and control of British and American espionage units and his writing carries the flavor of how things really work, a far cry form the gadgets and gizmos of the films,

However part of the charm of the books is his descriptions of the places where Bond's missions take him. Fleming knew France, Jamaica and the United States well and this carries over in his descriptions of the places. The reader truly gets a feel of the casinos, the beaches, the hotels and the streets.But Fleming did not know Japan and this is reflected in his writing, details that are common in other books are lacking here.

If this is the first Bond book you've read, it is highly enjoyable but if you are well familiar with the books by Fleming, this will be a little disappointing. James bond is still in effect with all his prowess but the world he is moving in, compared with earlier books, is empty and unfulfilling.

Vance is fast becoming the voice of James Bond on audio books and does a masterful job of working his way through Fleming's rich cast of charatcers.

... Read more

11. Diamonds are Forever
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802898
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Tiffany Case is the sort of beautiful, devil-may-care blonde who could get a man into deep trouble - if he wanted. She stands between James Bond and the leaders of a diamond-smuggling ring that stretches from Africa via London to the States. Bond uses her to infiltrate this gang, but once in America the hunter becomes the hunted. Bond is in real danger until help comes from an unlikely quarter... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (50)

2-0 out of 5 stars Kinda Goofy
Not much can be said about the literary merits of "Diamonds are Forever". You read it because it's the original conception of an iconic fictional character. You read it for a quaint romp through 50s America as imagined by an Englishman. You read it to draw comparisons with the movie. Yet be warned, Bond doesn't really do much. The reader gets more details on Bond's eating, drinking, showering and napping habits than anything else. The "mystery" is on par with, say, a "Rockford Files" episode, conveniently solved before the final commercial break, the dialogue no more than a risque episode of "Leave it to Beaver". Overall it's a goofy and cute book, a harmless way to spend an afternoon.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book! But the Item Picture should be updated.
I really enjoyed all the James Bond Novels, they are really a good read. Ian Fleming does and exceptional job of painting a scene for you with words.

I love the artwork on the cover of this edition of the novel, however, the picture is a little misleading. I only say this because the most current printings (the ones I received) have an Ian Fleming Centenary seal on the cover, which conceals a small part of the cover art. Not a big deal, but i do like my books to match. This is not his fault, or Amazons, but Penguins fault. That is the minor nit-pick i have about it.

3-0 out of 5 stars I See the Movie in a Different Perspective
Overall, a good story.Diamonds are Forever is one of the more "forgettable" older Bond flicks.However, after reading this story I have a new appreciation for the movie (or at least the screen play writers).They made a very interesting adaptation for the movie - kinda interchanging the Bond character with the Windt & Kidd characters in terms of roles/mission.Of course the Blofeld character or SPECTRE does not exist in the book, so that part of the movie now stands out like a sore thumb compared to the book (it is a BIG weakness in the movie).But, in defence of EON productions, they had to remedy Bond seeking revenge for his wife's murder in On Her Majesty's Secret Service movie - so they merged the Blofeld story line into an adaptation of the Diamonds are Forever book story.An interesting fusion.I still do not think its the best Bond movie, but it is one of the better Bond books (I have read 6 so far - in order).

5-0 out of 5 stars Nobody Does It Better
Having just finished this book I have to say it ranks as my second favorite Bond book falling in place right behind "Casino Royale".Thrilling, clever and well written it is a real page turner. Ian Fleming creates a world so jam packed with action and tense suspense that is as fresh today as it was upon its first publication.
And what characters! Tiffany Case is complex, smart and full of witty wise cracks. But she is even more, a woman with such deep wounds and profound depth that she is more than just window dressing, more than a "Bond Girl". She is a fine complement to play off of and with James Bond. And of course Bond himself never disappoints. Tough, street-smart, hard edged killer, yet Fleming makes him bleed and shows us the hard business end of what an international spy goes through physically and emotionally to complete his assignment.
Fleming is also a master at painting in the subtle details of a scene, from the feel of the desert environments to the glittering glamour aboard a luxury liner. One particularly favorite passage is his spot on description of a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas as seen by Bond as he looks out the window. Ian Fleming did his research on all locations and really delivers the goods when it comes to placing the reader within that world.
A thrill ride for sure and even more.

3-0 out of 5 stars Remarkably tame by modern standards of sex, violence, language, and action
Inconsequential but not as bad as expected Bond thriller is remarkably tame by modern standards of sex, violence, language, and action.

I decided to read a couple of Bond books based on the information fromThe Atlas of Literature that Fleming and John LeCarre were actually secret agents in WWII and the early Cold War who switched to fiction and peppered their writing with actual events, terminology, and methods.LeCarre seems to be the more serious writer of spy fiction. ... Read more

12. The Spy Who Loved Me
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$101.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802987
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In an attempt to escape her tangled past, Vivienne Michel has run away to the American backwoods and is in grave danger. Winding up at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court - a far cry from the privileged world she was born to - Vivienne finds herself in the company of two hardened killers: the perverse Sol Horror and the deadly Sluggsy Morant. When a coolly charismatic Englishman turns up, Viv, now in terrible danger, is not just hopeful, she is fascinated. Because he is James Bond, 007; the man she hopes will save her, the spy she hopes will love her... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

1-0 out of 5 stars By no means is the best of the Bond novels...
First of all MAKE SURE this isn't the first James Bond novel you ever read!If you are interested in knowing more about the "literary version" of James Bond, this novel will not impress you.Bond is not even in the book until around chapter 10.You have to read about a woman who falls in love several times, and is a hopeless romantic, and then she moves from England to the United States where she has a chance encounter with James Bond.This novel is more for the "Ian Fleming fan" rather than the "James Bond fan."If you have read a few of Fleming's novels, and you like his style then you may like this book.Let me repeat, BOND IS HARDLY IN THIS BOOK, he's just "tacked on" at the very end of a relatively boring novel.This book is completely different than the movie, there is nothing in common.If you want to read about Bond, and learn about Ian Fleming's version of him, try From Russia With Love, or Live and Let Die, they are far better novels.

2-0 out of 5 stars thinly veiled smut. Dont buy a name... look for quality
Though I've seen several James Bond movies, and did take note of Bond's somewhat loose morals with the ladies, the action packed thrillers usualy outweighed and overshadowed his less than chaste ways.

This was the first time I'd read a James Bond book as I tend to stay away from fiction and truly after reading this the saying that "truth is stranger than fiction" is true indeed.

This book seems off the beaten path for a James Bond story as Bond doesn't make an appearance until well over half way through the book! So one has to conclude or at least suspect that Flemming's got a mission or motive for this. Ostensibly it's to create the lead charachter, but I realized as I was reading that it seemed he was giving a message to loose women, that thier hearts and charachters are in the balance when they let men have their ways with them just to be nice and not loose their men, and it's they who pay the price by their change in attitude and heart towards love and affection. And I guess he does accomplish this, though with somewhat slightly more "visuals" then is nessesary...though he tells the story through her mind so this might be excusable.If he left it at that he might have made a good point in this almost universal truth. But then he repudiates it all after the hero makes his entrance and cleans up the problem by then turning the book into a bit of light porn. And to top it off his attempt to set the girl straight through the policemans little lecture only makes the whole point of the book seem empty and without any solid life lesson to cling to but rather a more worldly pointless lase fair exposition on her experiences. and it left me with the feeling that it really should have been called "The Spy Who Shagged me"

at 15 years old I'd read a book as I thought I should read stuff to be more learned and stopped when I realized the book I'd picked at random was just smut, and this book returned that same feeling, and I determined, reguradless of what I thought of Ian and his background in espionage, I wouldn't read any more of his works. ( Though I might if the book is a true story and give him one more chance) The only reason I give this a 2 stars is it was kind of fun when Bond does finaly make an appearance in the book and the situation they found themselves in...though I still found some incongurities in the words used by the characters as seeming out of charachter. Furthermore the things the bad guys DIDN'T do in light of what their "mission" was also seemed in retrospect highly unlikely.

When one considers that this was written in 1962 or thereabouts, it's clear to me that Flemming is pushing the envelope on social standards, bringing the world down to his level, by making heroes of sleazes.

4-0 out of 5 stars A New Perspective on Bond
This short story as it comes in the midst of the "Blofeld Trilogy" ("Thunderball", "You Only Live Twice" and "For Her Majesty's Secret Service") which are mentioned only in passing.

The concept is interesting, a Bond story told through the eyes of a young Canadian woman, Vivian Michel, who runs a cheap motel in the Adirondack Mountains trying to work towards a trip through America.

The book is divided into three parts, we learn about Vivian's sad love life in the first, in the second how she has been duped to take the fall for the motel burning by the owner who wants to collect the insurance money (he sent two mobsters holding her hostage) only to be interrupted by Bond.The third part is about Vivian and Bond trying to survive through the night.

The title of the book refers to Bond, who leaves Vivian after making love to her and advises her not to get involved with the likes of him on either side of aisle.

This is not a Bond novels, it didn't seem "Fleming" if that makes any sense.Bond is in the story for just a few chapters as a knight in shining armor instead of the middle-aged spy will all came to love.

That being said, the book is still enjoyable, but not as a Bond book, simply as a thriller.The action is fast paced and the theme is enjoyable.
This book was a bit ahead of its time and certainly doesn't fit the "Bond" series but it gives us a new perspective on the character because the hero (Bond) and the bad guys (mobsters) are almost indistinguishable in actions and ethics - only in loyalties.

3-0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly different Bond story
An unusual Bond novel because written in the first person voice of a woman. Perhaps more than any other Bond novel this is nothing like the film of the same name. Bond only comes into the narrative in the final act to save the heroine from a nasty fate at the hands of two viscious gangsters holed up in a run down motel in the Adirondacks. The suspense builds well and it's quite a page turner. Hitchcock always wanted to make a Bond film and this would have been the one for him to do, with its American setting, creeping claustrophobia and damsel in distress. This Penguin series has a cool (though racy) set of retro covers that draw on elements of the story. My copy came from the local IGA store in Kingaroy, Qld, so you never know what little treasures you'll find among the supermarket novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Bond In Shining Armor
Vivienne Michel is a pretty young woman whose tough life is about to get much worse. Caretaking a rundown hotel in the Adirondacks, she is set upon by two threatening goons. Just as they are about to brutalize her, there's a knock at the door. Who could it be?

Well, given that this is identified on the cover as "A James Bond Novel" and its already two-thirds over, it better not be the Maytag repairman.

Nineteen sixty-two was a landmark year for Bond. That was the year Sean Connery played 007 in the first film. Yet on the page, Ian Fleming seemed still trying to kick out the jams after "From Russia With Love" set a new standard for his secret-agent series five years before. His previous two books had been a collection of short stories and a novel taken from a co-written screenplay. Could his experiment here, putting us in the head of a female character and seeing Bond through her eyes, have been another sign of fatigue?

Yet "The Spy Who Loved Me" moves at a fast clip. The story itself is a strange one, half woman's romance novel, half Mickey Spillane-type yarn, but Fleming delivers a strong sense both of place and character. You latch on readily with Vivienne as she shakes off the ennui on a rainy autumn evening, enjoying her solitude with a tumbler of bourbon while the Ink Spots play on the radio. She thinks about a life of lost virtue and broken promises, and Fleming almost makes you forget any anticipation you have about things going boom. When the bad guys show up, it's a rude surprise, especially as they are low-rent for a Bond book. But they are a real threat, and thus a source of sincere suspense, even if they are more about stealing TVs than nuclear secrets.

"Okay, sweetheart," one of them says. "So you won't give, so I'll take for myself. I reckon you've earned yourself a rough night. Get me?"

That's the one called Horror. The other is called Sluggsy. For bad-guy names, they sound right out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. But you worry anyway, because Vivienne is very much alone and you have come to like her the way Fleming sets the story up. That's the good part. It's not what you expect from a Bond novel, but all the more credit for Fleming trying it and pulling it off.

Then Bond shows up. It's a funny thing to say a Bond novel starts to tail off when James Bond shows up, but that's what happens. He's not the same vivid, three-dimensional figure we come to expect. Instead, he's a stock knight in shining armor, and Vivienne loses much of her integrity as a solid character, playing instead the role of love-struck lady in distress.

"You're the most wonderful man I've met in my life!" she coos. Bond kisses her and tells her to stay out of sight while Daddy cleans up the mess.

Still there are good moments in the last third of the book. Bond has at Sluggsy and Horror in true pulp-fiction style. There's fire and a car crash, and some of the hottest sex Fleming ever put to page.

There's also oddball moments, like Vivienne's declaration: "All woman love semi-rape." Knowing Fleming, he probably had more trouble with the word "semi" than "love". "The Spy Who Loved Me" has a few gag-inducing items like that, but also some well-played moments that have nothing to do with the main battle, like Vivienne recalling a tryst in a cinema and Bond telling of his latest battle with SPECTRE (a running battle from the last novel which continues in the next).

All in all, a worthy experiment and, at times, a fine novel, although 007 fans may find it more revealing of Fleming than Bond. I wouldn't recommend it to a newbie, but Bond readers may find this change of pace to their liking. It is to mine. ... Read more

13. For Your Eyes Only
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$35.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802936
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When a beautiful young woman summons James Bond back to the office with the words 'crash dive', you can be sure that it's the start of another thrilling mission for him. Sudden emergencies and stunning girls who aren't what they seem are Bond's stock-in-trade. Whether he's dealing with the assassination of a Cuban thug in America, the destruction of an international heroin ring, or sudden death in the Seychelles, Bond gets the job done. In his own suave and unmistakable style... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars sexy, foreign, and exciting
this, and all the original bond novels by ian fleming, are great reading for adolescent boys (say, 11-14 yrs.).they're barely, cleanly, sexy, they're set inforeign and exotic locales, full of adventure and detail.they also have moderately challenging vocabulary and syntax. i read them when i was adolescent, and bought them for my 12 year old sons.

5-0 out of 5 stars fantastic
It's great to read the real thing, and the stories are engagingly written, at least as fun as teh movies.

4-0 out of 5 stars 007 X 5
"For Your Eyes Only" offers five times the usual 007 adventuring, as British secret agent James Bond appears in five separate stories written by his creator, Ian Fleming.

At their best, Ian Fleming's James Bond novels display strong characterization, vivid descriptive prose, and a driving narrative. At their worst, they betray both a sloppiness in Fleming's approach to his stories and an implausibility in their design. Fleming's more episodic approach here means less involvement than you get with "Casino Royale" or "From Russia With Love", but it also means less room to go off the rails.

That was the problem with the previous two Bond novels, "Doctor No" and "Goldfinger", which meandered too much and betrayed Fleming's boredom with his creation. Published in 1960, "For Your Eyes Only" benefits from presenting Bond in smaller doses, enough to deliver jolts of excitement but not enough for what were becoming persistent and fatal bouts of narrative ennui. Fleming still seems restless with his role of Bond chronicler, and veers off in a couple of instances here from the spy-story route. Yet this is actually to the book's benefit.

The opening story, "From A View To A Kill", involves Bond investigating the disappearance of a motorcycle courier working for NATO. An opening scene establishes the courier's fate amid the bucolic, uncaring splendor of the French countryside. Bond appears to make what he can of the case despite some realistic inter-departmental friction.

I actually found this the weak sister of the five, though I did enjoy it quite a lot. The main debit here are the villains, hastily drawn up and weakly disposed of. Still, Fleming does make the 30-page story read even faster.

Title tale "For Your Eyes Only" has Bond on the trail of a cold-blooded murderer looking for a new hideout. Working not as a spy but as a favor to M, Bond sees his assignment through in a way only slightly more satisfying than "View". Again, Fleming's descriptive powers make for the strongest impressions, as we watch birds frolic in a lushly-gardened Jamaican estate (again, with sudden death to follow).

From here, we come to "Quantum Of Solace", the true oddball in this collection, but one that reveals Fleming's larger gifts as a storyteller. Bond really isn't needed in this story at all; he appears only as a sympathetic listener while a British foreign officer tells about a marriage gone wrong in a colonial outpost in the Caribbean. Fleming offers a gripping soap opera in miniature, about what happens when a couple's respect for one another is completely dissolved.

My favorite story in the bunch, "Risico", is a title unfamiliar to Bond-movie lovers, though they will recognize both characters and plot elements from portions of the movie "For Your Eyes Only", which cleverly borrowed from the story of the same name as well. It's the only time in this whole book we see Bond as a secret agent, in Italy trying to shut down a drug-smuggling operation. There he runs into the mysterious "Dove", Enrico Colombo, one of the best characters of the whole series. Fleming delivers the best action sequence of the book with an attack on a warehouse, and some very clever narrative slight-of-hand keep you happily offguard regarding what happens next.

Finally there's "The Hildebrand Rarity", another offbeat exploration into domestic strife, though this time with Bond as a more active player. Again, Fleming's scene-setting powers take center-stage, this time in an undersea environment Bond explores in pursuit of the title fish, a rarity wanted by American millionaire Milton Krest. Krest beats his wife and lectures Bond on British inferiority, which puts him at the center of a satisfying revenge story that Fleming dares to leave unresolved. Of all the stories, "Hildebrand" seems most worthy of a full-length novel, though it lacks the sense of mission informing "Risico".

A solid placeholder in the Bond canon hinting at deeper territory, "For Your Eyes Only" may work best for those already familiar with the series, who don't need too much prose to be drawn back into Bond's world in this fit-and-start manner. For them, the book offers a very entertaining return to form for Fleming, and perhaps that's why his next few novels would present a Bond recharged.

4-0 out of 5 stars Five Short Tales That Might Leave You Shaken AND Stirred
To commemorate what would have been Ian Fleming's 100th birthday, on 5/28/08, and in anticipation of the latest James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace," I recently reread Fleming's 1960 offering "For Your Eyes Only" for the first time in 30+ years. Of the 14 Fleming books featuring the exploits of the world's best-known secret agent, only "For Your Eyes Only" and the author's posthumous "Octopussy" (1966) consist of short stories, and the five collected in this earlier volume are a particularly good batch indeed. Two of them had been published previously; the other three were originals for this volume. All feature what is popularly known as the "Fleming Sweep"; the ability of the author, through fast pacing and a remarkable amount of picturesque detail, to make the reader accept even the most improbable of scenarios. And although two of these stories are not exactly espionage tales per se, they all provide insights into the fascinating character that is the literary 007.

The collection starts off strongly with "From a View to a Kill," in which Bond is given the task of finding out who has been murdering governmental dispatch riders on their motorbikes and stealing top-secret documents. The tale takes place in the suburbs of Paris and features some exciting gunplay at the conclusion, as well as an intriguing female ally, Mary Ann Russell, who we unfortunately do not get to know overly well.

In the title story, "For Your Eyes Only," Bond goes on a personal mission for his boss, M, whose old friends, the Havelocks, have just been killed by an ex-Gestapo agent named von Hammerstein and his Cuban hitmen. In the northernmost wilderness of Vermont, Bond finds these men in a mountain lodge, and (as in the 1981 film, which otherwise is completely different from this story) encounters the Havelocks' daughter, hot on the vengeance trail herself. The suspense quotient in this tale is very high, as Bond uses all his commando skills to sneak up on the villains' lair, and, as in the collection's first story, an explosive finale caps things off. A most satisfying tale indeed.

The book's third offering, "Quantum of Solace," originally appeared, of all places, in the May 1958 issue of "Cosmopolitan" magazine. This is a most unusual story in the Bond canon; indeed, it is one that is narrated TO Bond by the governor of Nassau, where 007 had just completed an assignment involving Cuban revolutionaries. The governor's after-dinner tale concerns a couple that he once knew in Bermuda society; one whose marriage went sour after infidelity, jealousy and bitterness poisoned it. It is a fascinating story of domestic hell, and one that makes Bond realize that his (previously regarded) exciting life may be a little dull when compared to some others'.

In "Risico," M, much against his will, condescends to involve his Secret Service in drug busting, and sends Bond on a mission to Rome and Venice to smash the heroin ring that had recently started to corrupt British youths. Bond encounters two rival smugglers in Rome, Kristatos and Colombo (again, two characters that feature in the "For Your Eyes Only" film, in a wholly different context), as well as the mysteriously motivated Austrian Lisl Baum (ditto), and participates in a ship raid on a drug-storage warehouse. The story is fast paced and generally exciting, and features an incredible amount of travelogue detail to add to its realism.

The collection concludes with "The Hildebrand Rarity," which initially appeared in the March 1960 issue of "Playboy." Like "Quantum of Solace," this is not really a secret agent tale, but rather an adventure that Bond is involved in, after investigating certain security arrangements in the Seychelle Islands for the British Admiralty. He and his friend Fidele Barbey (similar to the Quarrel character in 1958's "Dr. No") are hired by a boorish American millionaire, Milton Krest (a completely different character than the one portrayed by Anthony Zerbe in 1989's "Licence to Kill"), to go on an expedition to capture a rare tropical fish for the Smithsonian. Aboard Krest's luxury yacht, Bond meets Krest's attractive and abused wife and gets involved in a sudden murder. Fleming's love of scuba diving yields effective results here; his detailed descriptions of undersea life are both gorgeous and evocative. This story, although lacking any real action per se, features wonderful characters, great suspense and a nicely ambiguous conclusion. Like "Quantum," it is an unusual Bond story that succeeds marvelously, bringing to a conclusion this rather winning collection of (as the book's subtitle puts it) "Five Secret Exploits of James Bond." The book should serve as proof positive that novelist Ian Fleming had a sure hand with the shorter form as well. It is required reading, needless to say, for all fans of 007.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nobody did it better than Fleming
All of Fleming's Bond novels, and most of his short stories, are such a relief to read in today's relativist, anti-patriotic, multi-cultural, male-bashing or emasculating culture. These novels (and also Mickey Spillane's) are my measure of what a cultural norm should be. They are such an antidote to the weepy, pseudo-introspective rubbish that passes for popular literature today. ... Read more

14. Moonraker
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802960
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Bond's latest mission is to face Sir Hugo Drax at the card table in order to teach him a lesson and prevent a scandal. So it was that he stirred benzedrine into his champagne...Drax is the head of the Moonraker project and a powerful millionaire as well as a cheat at cards. 007 suspects that there is more to him than meets the eye. As he begins to delve deeper into the goings on at the Moonraker base in an attempt to scotch a potential scandal, he discovers that both the project and its leader are something other than they pretend to be... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (66)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good performance, but these discs are CD-Rs
As a life-long James Bond fan, I was pleased to discover that all of Ian Fleming's novels and short stories featuring the character are available as audiobooks from Blackstone Audio. I purchased a few - including Moonraker - to check them out. Simon Vance is an accomplished reader with a long list of credits, and he acquits himself well here. He really makes Fleming's highly descriptive writing come to life.

My problem with these CDs is with the discs themselves - they're CD-Rs. I'm worried that the discs won't last long, due to degradation of the dye layer. (See the Wikipedia artice on CD-R, specifically the section 'Expected Lifespan' for further information about this). That shouldn't present a problem - the first thing I do with any new CD is rip it to my hard-drive. That's what I did with these, but the program I use to rip all my CDs - dBpoweramp - reports numerous read errors on all discs in the set, particularly in the final tracks near the outer edge of the disc. These errors are not necessarily audible, but they're an indication that the discs themeselves are already degrading.

Blackstone provides track markers every three minutes or so, but they rarely coincide with the beginnings of chapters. In fact, they often occur in the middle of paragraphs. So if you do rip these discs, be prepared to spend a lot of time adding meaningful tgas to the files so you can actually find your way around the book.

It's a shame that such a good performance by Vance is undone by such a shody physical presentation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
i got this and loved it! this is very well written and is a british classic. i would recommend this to anyone 12+

4-0 out of 5 stars Moonraker:Still Relevant
I was pleasantly surprised with Fleming's narrative in Moonraker and the plot's relevance to today's terrorism concerns.While I have read several other Bond novels in the past, I had forgotten the quality of Fleming's writing; his ability to describe people and events with a keen eye for detail and quaint usage of British slang and turn of language which provides the reader with an insight into British life in the postwar 1950's period.Also, Fleming is to be congratulated for anticipating the rise of nuclear terrorism (in this case an atomic warhead attached to the Moonraker missile diverted to London and not to the test range as anticipated). His focus on Cold War concerns, i.e. the rivalry with the Soviets and even postwar resurgence of Nazism are not misplaced for the period decribed in the book.

Moonraker as a novel is much better than the movie and, in fact, many of the Bond movies do a disservice to Fleming as a writer.That is because the movies are hyped up as overglamorous and even outrageous extensions of the plots described if, that is, the movie plots even resemble the original plots.

The opening scenes of Moonraker paint a realistic version of Bond bogged down in normal office routine and examine his moods, inner thoughts and even realistic appraisals of his own vulnerabilities.When asked to analyze Hugo Drax's card cheating exploits as a favor to M, his boss, the plot takes an interesting turn and the following chapters detailing the gambling scenes at Blades are a blast.Fleming is completely in his element here;he reveals a deft handling and knowledge of British social customs, culinary arts, and in gaming in general with particular expertise in bridge.

The following parts of the novel turn on the character of Hugo Drax, the erstwhile British hero and his drive to deliver the Moonraker as a weapon concurrent with Bond's increasing apprehension that all is not as it seems.I thought that Fleming effectively builds a sense of tension in the ensuing narrative and dialogue which follows: the buildup in publicity and anticipation surrounding the Moonraker launch, the somewhat unsettling presence of so many Germans at the launch site ( many of whom no doubt served in the Third Reich's military machine formerly)and even the use of Gala Brand, Bond's female counterpoint, and her initial indifference to him and his advances.As a result, the reader is taken on a quirky and enjoyable ride.The book ends on a suspenseful and believable note.

There have been comments from some reviewers that the use of Germans in a British rocket project wasn't realistic.Not so.The U.S. and Soviet Union both confiscated German scientists and rockets after WWII.In fact, the U.S. used Wehrner von Braun, the former chief rocket scientist of the Third Reich as the the principal driver leading our moon program.One could argue that without von Braun and his associates the technology needed for the Saturn V rocket and other aspects of Apollo would not have been met.I think Fleming's handling of German help on Moonraker and his depiction of rocket technology at that time was spot on.

Finally, beyond reading this interesting spy novel as a set period piece,I enjoyed Moonraker (the only Bond novel set exclusively in Great Britain) from the point of view of an Anglophile, one who loves and admires all things British.Moonraker is a gritty, realistic and understated novel with a British viewpoint.I loved the use of British idiom throghout, i.e. "lift" in place of elevator, and the British political point of view and humor.If one could only hear the accents in the dialogue!

Moonraker closes aptly enough.Bond does not get the girl, Gala Brand, because she senses, correctly, that Bond and his career does not make for a long term relationship.Bond is forced to agree and even chastises himself for his unrealistic pursuit of a woman already pledged to another.

3-0 out of 5 stars Wow... What a difference!
I have always been a fan of the movies, so I thought I would give the books a try to see where to all started and see the differences. For the books, I am going in chronological order (which is different than the movies). The books are much different than the movies, and this book is - by far - the farthest from the movie. The only thing the movie has in common with the book is the title and the names James Bond and Hugo Drax.That is it.The plot is much different and a bit dated - but very basic: bad guy trying to get revenge.I enjoyed the book for its differences, but it was not my favorite book of the series.Overall, if you are a Bond fan you will find it interesting, but there are parts of the book where it drags.

2-0 out of 5 stars The pace is very slow, not much action...
Moonraker has a good premise, a very human and quirky main villian who has an interesting background, but the pace of the book is really slow.James Bond doesn't even fire his gun the entire book.I don't expect Bond to shoot someone every page, but he doesn't even engage in combat.There is very little hand-to-hand combat, a couple car chases, and no gunfire.If there is only a little action, I expect deep and thoughtful espionage to substitute, but the book doesn't give you that either.There are some interesting chapters here-and-there, I like the card playing scenes, and the story Drax tells bond at the end, but the book is kind of non-eventful as a whole.I have read several of Ian Fleming's Bond books, this one is at the bottom of the list. ... Read more

15. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$66.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802952
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When Bond saves a beautiful, reckless girl from self-destruction, he finds himself with a lead on Blofeld. In the snow-bound fastness of his Alpine base, Blofeld is conducting research that could threaten the safety of the world. To thwart the evil genius, Bond must get himself and the vital information he has gathered out of the base and keep away from SPECTRE's agents. Which may require the help of the rescued maiden who can handle herself at high speed... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Page Turner
This top notch thriller is the second of what has become the "Blofeld Trilogy", preceded by "Thunderball" and concluded with "You Only Live Twice" ("The Spy Who Loved Me" was written in between but is not included in the trilogy).

The plot finds Bond and M in a disagreement about SPECTRE and Blofeld, Bond thinks SPECTRE no longer exist, M thinks they do.In frustration Bond resigns from MI6 (or rather hands in a resignation letter) only to meet Teresa di Vincenzo, a suicidal young woman who he saves from drowning.Teresa's (Tracy) father, Draco, is the head of Europe's biggest crime syndicate organization, who in order to save his daughter offers her hand to Bond.
Bond refuses to the marriage, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy.
Draco informs Bond that Blofeld is hiding n Switzerland under an assumed title and name - Bond infiltrates SPECTRE and death and destruction ensues in the best of the Bond tradition.

This short novel is Fleming at his best, balancing the debonair, masterful spy with the problems each of us "mortals" is faced when succumbing to the arrows life swings at us.
Which one of us was not bitter at his boss or a work related disagreement?

Even though this is a "middle" book, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, it's a complete story with a beginning, middle and an end - not just a filler.Of course the book can be read on its own, but I recommend reading Thunderball first.

5-0 out of 5 stars 007's First Reboot
When the people behind the James Bond films reimagined 007 as a harder, sleeker, less charming fellow in 2006's "Casino Royale", it was billed as "Bond 2.0", never mind the formula behind Bond's success had been shaken not stirred a few times before then. This, Ian Fleming's tenth Bond novel published in 1963, was probably the most successful upgrade.

Bond starts out re-evaluting his future. Frustrated by his failure to ascertain the whereabouts of supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, he's contemplating turning in his license to kill while trying to figure out how to save someone's life for a change. This is a woman he's become atypically obsessed by, beautiful, yes, but suicidal, too. When the pair are taken against their will on a boat ride to meet a dangerous hood, Bond fingers his knife and realizes the game is up. But it's hardly begun, and when it's over, he will never be the same.

Fleming seems re-energized by something; whether it was the launch of the Bond movies while this was being written, a revisiting of the "love-is-pain" theme laid aside since "Casino Royale", or a sense that time was getting short and it was no good futzing around. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" does almost nothing you expect it to, and much of the pleasure I get from it is not in the reading but thinking about it afterwards.

Tracy, the woman Bond's chasing, is one of Fleming's most enigmatic characters, not a full-blooded person per se (women never were in Fleming's fiction), but a brilliant complement to the darker side of Bond's nature. When Bond asks for her secret after she beats him in a hairy car race, she tells him: "You want to stay alive."

The main story takes its time developing. In it, Blofeld is holed up in a Swiss mountain chalet, his great sick mind obsessing over two plots. The one Bond knows of is Blofeld's desire to be accepted as nobility. Bond plays to this delusion by posing as a genealogist charting Blofeld's bloodline. Since they didn't meet in Blofeld's earlier Bond novel, "Thunderball", this is not a problem.

What might be a problem for Bond's cover are the ten gorgeous girls staying with Blofeld for some unspecified reason. What might seem a set-up for a Dean Martin-Matt Helm film is instead played credibly and with much polish by Fleming, who really allows us to soak in the Alpine ambiance while deriving maximum suspense from such small things as a strip of plastic and a trip to the bathroom.

Though this is often described as "dark", the story moves along for the most part at a brisk and enjoyable manner. For once, Fleming doesn't seem at a loss for plot, even though his focus throughout the novel is on Bond. It's almost more of a character study than a spy novel, especially near the end, where the usual race to save the world is quickly sidetracked for more of Bond and Tracy. To some extent, this results in the only real quibble I have with the story, a big final battle scene that gets shunted aside and is never picked up again. But like I said, this is a different kind of Bond adventure.

Shame Fleming only had time for one complete novel after this, the really, really dark "You Only Live Twice". Bond was never the same after this, and his legacy is the richer for it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not the Bond you know from films
If your image of James Bond is informed by the films starring Sean Connery (the best movie Bond in my opinion), then this short novel will be a bit of a surprise.Ian Fleming's Bond is of course debonair and an expert pistol shot etc. but also rather easily becomes besotted by the neurotic Tracy and ends up in situations that the cinematic Bond (who's rather more a user of women) would never find himself in.There are long stretches of this novel which are empty of action.Try From Russia With Love for a better Fleming effort.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, by Ian Fleming, is one of his best.

his book encompasses a lot for changes for Bond. Picking up Bond's life after Thunderball, Bond is about ready to quit his job as a 00 after becoming discouraged tracking down Ernst Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE, and is just ready to hand in his resignation letter. But a series of events involving money and a woman at a casino soon leads Bond into the depths of the French mafia. From there, he receives a tip on the whereabouts of Blofeld, and Bond goes undercover to investigate Blofeld's operation. But before he leaves, he finds that he has fallen in love with the woman from the casino, Tracy---true love, perhaps for the first time in his life.

While on the mountain, Bond uncovers a dire plot involving biowarfare and the action really picks up from there. However, the most emotional moments occur when Bond gets back together with Tracy, and his life is changed forever.

This story is good not only because of the Bond action we have come to expect, but also because we get to see a personal and emotional side of him not often shown.

I have not seen the movie version of the book yet - my understanding is that it stars George Lazenby as Bond, instead of Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, or Pierce Brosnan.

(review by Kendall Giles)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bond in Love
Among the titles of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, I'd have to say that On Her Majesty's Secret Service is my least favorite, with neither the brevity of a Dr. No or Goldfinger nor the plot descriptive nature of The Man with the Golden Gun or From Russia with Love.Even if I dislike the title, however, this is one of Fleming's best Bond books.

The story opens around a year after the events of Thunderball (the intervening book, The Spy Who Loved Me, is not even mentioned).The villain in that book, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the mastermind behind SPECTRE, has been in hiding and James Bond is trying to seek him out.It is a more-or-less futile assignment and Bond is disillusioned enough to consider quitting.Before submitting his resignation letter, however, he takes a break at a casino.During this mini-vacation, he performs a chivalrous act to save a beautiful countess from embarrassment; she in turns, rewards him in her own special way.

This countess, familiarly named Tracy, is also the daughter of a genial but ruthless mob boss who Bond winds up (pardon the pun) bonding with.The boss, Marc-Ange, realizes that his daughter is troubled (in fact, suicidal), but that Bond may be able to help her by marrying her.Bond is not willing to do that, but is willing to see her again after she gets treatment.In the meanwhile, Marc-Ange gives Bond a lead on Blofeld.

Blofeld has holed himself up in the Swiss Alps, where extradition is nearly impossible.Bond goes undercover, hoping to lure Blofeld into Germany where he can be arrested.While there, he stumbles upon a strange plot that seems to involve young women seeking treatment for allergies.What Blofeld's scheme is goes beyond Bond's expertise, but the superspy will have more immediate problems as his cover is threatened.

Eventually, Tracy gets back into the mix, which adds another level to the story.Bond versus Blofeld is good, but at long last, Bond meets a woman who he can truly love.Since the first Bond book, Casino Royale, when Bond found himself betrayed by a lover, he has never been willing to truly risk emotional attachment.This time he does, and this adds an extra depth to this particular novel.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the middle part of what I think of as the Blofeld Trilogy, which started with Thunderball and concludes with You Only Live Twice, so it may not be the best Bond book to start with.For Bond fans, however, this book is a treat and one of the very best that Fleming wrote. ... Read more

16. Dr.No
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)
-- used & new: US$75.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141802901
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
James Bond and his beautiful, vulnerable girl Friday, Honey Rider, have been captured by the evil, sadistic Dr No, a sinister recluse with a fascination with pain - other people's pain. Now Dr No holds Bond in his steely grasp, having found him trespassing on his Caribbean island. Intent on protecting his clandestine operations from the British secret service, Dr No sees an opportunity to dispose of an enemy and further his diabolical research. Soon Bond and Rider are fighting to win a murderous game of Dr No's choosing... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (43)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good tropical thriller for 007
James Bond's return to Jamaica results in another diverting adventure as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of two agents. Bond finds himself in danger almost immediately after touching down in Kingston and soon focuses on an isolated island owned by a madman, a controlling mastermind who holds everyone in his domain in a grip of terror. Bond happens upon a lovely girl on the island whom he unwittingly puts at risk, and here is where the fun begins. Bond and his ladyfriend must find a way to avoid a horrible fate that the mad doctor has planned for them. This Bond yarn is a solid page-turner.

5-0 out of 5 stars For Every Reader Who's Ever Had a New Car That Was a Bird-Magnet
Only James Bond could have uncovered a major villain who everyone else thinks is just a reclusive farmer of bird droppings. Did Fleming perhaps think this one up after buying a new car that got "annointed" once too often? Dr. Julius No (a bird doo-doo entrepreneur with a doctorate, no less!) is involved with re-directing American test missiles by radio to hit cities, and like all good hoods has a "legit" operation where he uses local labor to harvest fertilizer (apparently Scotts et al hadn't made their fertilizer breakththroughs yet). The trouble with a cover business to hide crime is that taking often-violent security measures is going to attract the attention of the cops anyway. Cops like James Bond. The movie version left out the guano aspect for propriety's sake, as well as avoiding the "aw come on" reaction by viewers. All Bond films are more than a little parody, but this book in its own right is parody enough already. Fleming must have giggled his way through this after picking a poisoned 007 up off a Paris hotel floor last time around. Only to get sent out on a haw-haw mission like this! Here's half of a spoiler--no movie death in a nuke reactor cooling pool for Dr. No. For him, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a FLOOOMMMPH!

3-0 out of 5 stars A pretty good Bond novel...
It terms of plot, this book is almost indentical with the film version.I like the character of Dr. No, his background is quite creepy, and makes his eccentric character finally believable when you read all the details, which are finally revealed near the end.Bond has some very tough challenges in this book, the character of Honey Rider is pretty weird, and some may feel she ruins the story.The book is over-the-top at times, like Bond's battle with a giant octopus, and it does come off as a bit racist perhaps toward Blacks and Asians.Overall, I would probably read this if you're planning on reading multiple Fleming novels, but if you just want to read one Fleming Novel, go with a different one, I recommend From Russia With Love, it's much better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fleming's most dangerous game
Doctor No starts off weakly but finishes strong. Picking up a few weeks after the conclusion of From Russia with Love, Doctor No finds Bond just returning from a long stay in hospital after being poisoned. M is determined to keep Bond out of strenuous duty, so he sends him on a presumably easy mission to investigate the disappearance of British Intelligence's Jamaican operator. And by the way, M seems to add as an afterthought, some people have been dying mysteriously on nearby Crab Key.

Bond resents the easy assignment but has a hunch that the deaths on Doctor No's private island may have something to do with the missing intelligence man and his secretary. He pokes around Jamaica, is sharp enough to detect a poisoned fruitbasket and narrowly avoids being bitten by a giant centipede. He meets up with Quarrel, the Cayman Islander boatman from Live and Let Die, and sneaks onto Crab Key one night. On Crab Key he meets Honeychile "Honey" Rider, who collects rare shells--in the nude, of course--on the island in hopes of earning enough money to correct a broken nose.

Of course, things on Crab Key are not what they seem--or perhaps they are, since there's never much question whether Dr. No is the villain or not. Bond and Honey are captured, tortured, and, in the end, manage to foil Dr. No's plot--and spend some "slave-time" together.

I was disappointed with Doctor No at first. It follows on the heels of From Russia with Love, one of the best Bond novels and one that ends in a major cliffhanger: at the end, Bond collapses to the floor after being poisoned. The end. Doctor No quickly tidies up the loose ends from the last novel and sends Bond on his way to Jamaica. There Bond pokes around, searching for information the reader already knows. But perhaps the biggest disappointment was Honey Rider, who may be the quintessential movie Bond girl, but here is a bit of a cipher.

But while the first third or so of the novel is mediocre, the story dramatically improves once Bond has reached Crab Key and the party beings its trek inland. While there had been only moments of suspense before--the centipede in Bond's bed was a good scene, but only one among a lot of mediocre ones--the suspense steadily builds as Bond and Honey are captured, led before the Doctor himself, and then separated for equally miserable fates.

Bond's dilemma at the climax of the novel reminded me quite a lot of "The Most Dangerous Game," a short story you must Google if you haven't read it. Bond is placed in an obstacle course of Dr. No's design, where he is subjected to claustrophobic spaces, 50-foot drops, cold, heat, spiders, and finally, the sea and its monsters. This section was among the best writing of the Bond series--by this point, I couldn't put the book down.

Doctor No would have been a forgettable entry in the Bond series had it not been for the final half. If you read this novel, be prepared for sometimes boring sections in the first half, but keep reading--the finale is worth it.


2-0 out of 5 stars A Limp Return For 007
Published in 1958, "Doctor No" is a transitional novel for the James Bond series. Gone is much of the moral queasiness, realism, and psychological turmoil of earlier tales. In its place is a Walther PPK, vodka martinis shaken not stirred, and a supervillain living in a hidden fortress. Given all that, "Doctor No" should be fun at least, but it's not.

Set in Jamaica, site of earlier series entry "Live And Let Die" and the last Fleming novel, "The Man With The Golden Gun", "Doctor No" has Bond investigating the disappearance of two British secret agents. The trail leads to the title character, a six-foot-six bald man with metal pincers for hands, metal contact lenses, and an interest in harvesting guano from an island just beyond Jamaica called Crab Key. No doubt Bond knows No's up to no good. Soon 007 is in the clutches of a madman, facing an imminent and horrible death just as soon as No explains what he's all about over a nice meal.

Maniac, you call him? No couldn't agree more: "All the greatest men are maniacs. They are possessed by a mania which drives them forward towards their goal."

What's driving Fleming here is less clear. He seemed to resent having to bring Bond back from death at the end of his last book, really putting the character through the torture test this time. There's a casual cruelty to this book that makes it hard to digest as entertainment. I had a real Quarrel with the fate of one cool Bond ally. And the finale is about as silly as Fleming ever got, Bond fighting tarantulas and an octopus for some silly test of No's that the villain himself can't even bother to watch to completion while there's bird dung to harvest. The villain's fate suggests a sad laugh by a disillusioned author at his readers' gullibility.

Good points include some decent descriptive mileage regarding the mangrove swamps of Crab Key and the social life of Kingston; both the rich whites who live in the affected splendor of the Queen's Club "which for fifty years has boasted the power and frequency of its blackballs", and the blacks who play calypso and drink Red Stripe at scenic outdoor cafes. There's also Honeychile Rider, Bond's latest lady. The movie version famously gave us Ursula Andress in this role, but the character in the book exudes vulnerability more than hotitude, and her backstory is one of the best of any Bond woman.

The movie "Doctor No" was what launched the whole 007 movie phenomenon, still alive and very well at this writing. You can see how it was the right choice, too, as everything here is amped up for cinematic consumption. No lives inside a seaside cliff with a transparent face, so he can watch all the creatures swimming around. Instead of sending men with guns to shoot the birds he doesn't want on his island, he has them drive around in an automotive contraption disguised as a dragon, complete with flame-thrower inside its mouth.

Alas, these ideas would be more welcome if Fleming knew what to do with them. Unfortunately, his much-talked-about "Fleming Sweep" sputters once the story kicks into a higher gear.

"Doctor No" is a series low point that ironically became a franchise high point thanks to the movie. If you are reading the books in order like I am, you have no choice but to read it, but if you are like me, you will find it a surprisingly tedious chore. ... Read more

17. Live and Let Die
by Ian Fleming
Audio CD: Pages (2002-10-03)
list price: US$20.65 -- used & new: US$6.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141804246
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Beautiful, fortune-telling Solitaire is the prisoner and tool of Mr Big: master of fear, artist in crime and Voodoo Baron of Death. But James Bond has no time for hocus pocus. He knows that this criminal heavy hitter is also a top SMERSH operative and a real threat. More than that, after tracking him through the jazz joints of Harlem, to the everglades and on to the Caribbean, 007 has realized that Big is one of the most dangerous men he has ever faced... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (59)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Audio Book Reading of Fleming Novel
These Blackstone audio books are EXCELLENT readings of Ian Fleming's James Bond series.

Like many people, I was first exposed to James Bond thru the Sean Connery movies.
But as I got into my teens I was curious about the "real" James Bond and read all the Ian Fleming novels.

I remember thinking the books were "cooler" than the movies in many ways.
They had a dark, melancholy tone that the slightly comical action movies lost over time.

The Fleming Bond differs quite a bit from the cinema Bond, with Daniel Craig actually being the closest to Fleming's Bond in the Casino Royale movie.

Now almost 30 years later, I decided to get all the Bond books on AudioBooks and listen to them while I take long drives.

It is funny how we see things a little different with age.

At age 47, I can still say that Ian Fleming paints a very vivid visual image of the scenes he describes with his eloquent writing style.

But now with maturity I can more clearly see some of the weak logic in some of Bond's missions ...

For example ...
In LIVE AND LET DIE, James Bond is sent after Mr. Big.

Question -How smart would it be to send a white British agent into a 1950's Harlem district to hunt down a black crime boss ?
Hardly a good "undercover" or "top secret" mission.
Bond would stand out like Rush Limbaugh at a Democratic convention.

Also in LIVE AND LET DIE, there is a lot of travel from New York to Florida to Jamaica but little real NEED for these travels.
These trips serve largely as an excuse for Fleming to go into long descriptions of locations and foods that Bond experiences along the way.

Fleming's description of tropical sea life is a bit overblown with Bond even being enveloped by an Octopus in 15 feet of water near a Coral Reef in Jamaica.
Hmmmm ... I have been SCUBA diving since 1977 in the tropics and logged over 1300 hours underwater and have yet to experience 1/10th the dangers 007 faced on this mission.

In the end, I still love Ian Fleming's James Bond --- but now I have to take some of the plots with a grain of salt and not take them too seriously.

After all ... in LIVE AND LET DIE, the only real objective seems to be to kill Mr. Big and stop his coin smuggling operation that is feeding working capital to SMERSH.

Would they really have a British agent come to the USA to do this, or would the CIA simply handle the matter themselves directly without all the traveling and fancy dinners ?

3-0 out of 5 stars A pretty good James Bond book...
Ian Flemings goes into some wonderful tangents when telling this story.In fact the exploration of Bond's thoughts in this novel are what I will never forget, and Bond's thoughts are something we are not privileged to uncover from movies. During a plane ride Bond thinks philisophically about living and dying (hence the title?) and his viewpoints on life are quite compelling!Also, because much of this novel takes place on American soil, it's fascinating to hear Bond's opinion about American society, and how it compares to Europe, his conclusions are quite accurate even by today's standards.

It's very important to keep something in mind when reading this book.many of the characters are Haitian, and Fleming refers to them constanlty as "Negroes."At the time this was written, it was not particularly racist to use that term in England, so be weary that there are frequent racial overtones according to today's politically correctness.

Let me make a few comparisions to the film, because I'm sure most of you have seen it.James Bond is pitted against a very formidable adversary, Mr. Big, whose character is far more impressive and intimidating than the one seen in the film's version.Actually Mr. Big is a combination of both the main bad guy characters in the film, he's Mr. Big from the movie and also Baron Samedi (the character played by the guy from the old 7-up commercials) rolled up into one.Tee Hee (The guy with the metal hook) is hardly mentioned in the book, he's not even a factor.A scene from the film "License to Kill" is in this book involving Bond's friend Felix, I was a bit surprised it came from this novel.And don't expect any motor boat chases or alligators, there are none.But there are Sharks, and you will be surprised that a major scene from For "Your Eyes Only" actually comes from the book Live and Let Die, it's actually the climactic ending, I was very shocked...

5-0 out of 5 stars First-rate James Bond thriller
This action-packed tale may be the best of Ian Fleming's 007 spy thrillers. The adventure has it all: a dashing hero, tense situations and close shaves, voodooism, exotic locales, racially-drawn battle lines, a pretty damsel in distress and cold-blooded killers under the tight control of a brilliant but malevolent agent of the Russian spy network SMERSH. The discovery of gold coins in Harlem has aroused the interest of the British and American intelligence services and Mr. Bond is dispatched to solve the mystery of where they came from and who is smuggling them from Jamaica to the Florida gulf coast. Simon Vance narrates the book expertly, taking the listener on a journey into a dark world of spy intrigue through Harlem, St. Petersburg, and finally, the northern coast of Jamaica. Vance gives each character his or her own personality and blends them all together into a wonderful tapestry of thrilling suspense.

5-0 out of 5 stars A real James Bond thriller
So Fleming rescues the series with this second book on James Bond. The first one (Casino Royale) had its moments of excitement but compared to the second one, it was pathetic.

"Live And Let Die" is an awesome adventure. Again SMERSH raises its communist head, this time in USA. But the Russian angle is not much explored. What Mr. B.I.G. does for Russia remains unclear except for hints about his vast obedient army of blue-collar workers.

Mr. BIG is a gigantic black man who uses the inherent fear of Voodoo among the blacks to pretend to be the Zombie of the evil Baron Samedi (Prince of Darkness and ruler of the dead). He is actually a scholarly man with great intelligence, tact, skills and creativity.

There is Florida as the entry point for smuggled gold and Jamaica as the origin.

Thrown in is a gorgeous "corker" of a damsel named Solitaire who seems to know what she wants. And CIA agent Felix Leiter who we enjoyed in the first book returns as a liaison between FBI and MI6. Many other wonderful characters, especially the black gangsters Tee Hee Johnson and The Robber. Friends include the Cayman islander and Bond's trainer/factotum named Quarrel.

The pirate Bloody Morgan or rather Sir Henry Morgan plays an important role - the long dead pirate's treasure being the point of investigation.

This book is a real page-turner. The descriptions of Voodoo and that of the scenery in New York, Florida and Jamaica bring everything to life. The adventure in the corals and the damned voracious barracuda are also exciting.

So I am happy to say, the series got a lot lot better right away with the second novel.

Comparision with the movie:
There are crucial differences with the movie version starring Sir Roger Moore as Bond. In the movie Mr B.I.G. and the Prime Minister of a Caribbean island and the New York gangster has an interesting connection. Baron Samedi is a henchman in the movie. In the novel Mr BIG is a legitimate businessman doubted to be connected to criminal activity and to Baron Samedi.

Also the death of Tee Hee Johnson is very different plus there are no crocodiles in the novel. Instead there are sharks and barracudas and giant squid and poisonous sea creatures. So the daring stunt performed in the movie is completely absent - no crocodile farm - but has exotic fishes used and gold smuggling.

So very unlike the movie. And "sharks and barracudas" who play important symbolic roles in Voodoo - a myth which the locals believe and fear.

Anyways, the book is much different but with similar plot lines and characters. I would say the book is more cruel and more realistic than the movie version.

Very thrilling and I look forward to the other books in the series.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting story conveyed with tight prose and an economy of style
This is the first Ian Fleming novel I've read and I came away impressed with the author's ability to convey a lot of information with few words.He makes many of today's crime and adventure novelists look like English-grammar neophytes, using adverbs sparingly and verbs to maximum effect.He also makes excellent use of various cultural vernaculars.I did, however, find the story somewhat disappointing, perhaps due to comparison with its cinematic counterpart, but more than likely because there isn't a big face-off between Mr. Big (the novel's villain) and Bond at the end.It is somewhat amazing how, within the novel's short length, the reader is transported to New York City (U.S.A.), London (England), St. Petersburg (Florida) and Jamaica without feeling at all rushed.

In the novel, Bond isn't quite the rough-and-tumble guy he's generally made out to be in the movies.For example, when he gets to Jamaica, he has to have some local guy get him into shape for his mission on the Jamaican Isle of Surprise.

Those who think Fleming is a racist need only read Ken Follett's introduction to the Folio Society's edition of the novel.Follett points out that Fleming, if anything, is quite impressed with the advancement of American blacks and that he is, in fact, fascinated by their culture and cuisine, all in positive ways.

All in all, worth checking out.3.5 stars. ... Read more

18. From Russia with Love
by Ian Fleming
Audio CD: Pages (2002-10-03)
list price: US$20.65 -- used & new: US$38.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141804165
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
'Slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black, expert pistol shot, boxer, knife thrower; does not use disguises'. Every major foreign government has a file on James Bond. Now Russia's deadly SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination - they have the perfect bait in ravishing agent Tatiana Romanova. Her mission is to lure Bond to Istanbul, allowing her superiors to do the rest... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (67)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Best of the Bond Novels
I'll keep it short: FRWL is the best of Flemming's Bond novels. The prose is lean and the suspense taught. Flemming's has an flair for detail but knows when to hold back. The book clocks in at a lean 180 pages or so, short by today's standards, but chock full of plot and characterization. The details of Soviet spy organization and cold war skullduggery are written by an author who saw them first hand. Although the Bond plots are outrageous, the details remain thoroughly convincing.

Ironically, Bond is the least developed character, the villains getting much more attention here. Bond is a paper thin character. He excercises every morning, is fond of scalding then freezing showers, drinks a lot lot and smokes incessantly. He also brushes his "comma of black hair" out of his eyes every so often. That's about it. Yet somehow it works and worked for 13 novels.

FRWL still works are a taught thriller and a cold war time capsule. If you only had to read one Bond novel, I'd recommend this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book! Good Price!
I am a fan of the Bond Books by Ian Flemming and From Russia With Love is a really good book.I got for a good price too.Will recommend the book and author.It downloaded pretty fast too.Not hard to read on my iPod Touch - bought it from Kindle.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Little Campy, but James Bond still shines
While it's a little campy, here (I mean, the SMERSH directorate is portrayed like a typical anti-Russian thriller, almost like Boris & Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle, just about) it's still a good story.Don't just kill a British spy to set back the British Secret Intelligence Service, kill him "with ignominy".Embarrass the spy and the whole service in the process, creating a scandal that will rock Britain worse than Philby, Burgess & MacLean.

In the movie, SPECTRE (from Thunderball) plays both the Soviets and the British for fools and uses them as bait to each other.In the book version, Smiert Shpionam (SMERSH), the Russian assassination squad, is behind the plot to scandalize and kill James Bond, using a soviet Spektor coding machine and a lovely young Russian woman as bait.It almost works, too.

The main characters are convincing, except for the Soviet agents.They're still a bit too Boris & Natasha for me.But that does NOT detract from a wonderful book, a real relic from the Cold War for which we feel nostalgia in this day of stateless actors and terrorism.I still give it five stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of Ian Fleming's best
I recently read three of the Bond novels and From Russia With Love was easily the best of the three; Fleming works in factual information about SMERSH (which actually existed) and the MGB (a KGB predeccesor), making this one of the least fantastic of the Bond novels.The character of Darko Kerim is great fun.And if you've seen the movie, and then read this book, you'll see why Robert Shaw was brilliantly cast as the sociopathic Grant.

4-0 out of 5 stars One of the best Bond books!
I don't like giving "spoilers" I'll give general comments, it's pretty similar to the film anyway though.I like how the first half of the book concentrates on Bond's enemies, The reader gets a real inside-look at the Russian side of espionage, the loyalty of Russian spies is quite remarkable as they really consider their homeland to be like their "mother" and appreciate everything the state has provided for them.I didn't mind at all that Bond was hardly mentioned for the first hundred pages, it made for a better build up when Bond must confront the villians.The espionage is this book is more deep and involving than in the other Bond Novels.If you're going to read a few Fleming novels, don't miss this one. ... Read more

19. Goldfinger
by Ian Fleming
Audio CD: Pages (2002-10-03)
list price: US$20.65 -- used & new: US$57.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0141804130
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Auric Goldfinger is the kind of man Bond loves to hate: cruel, clever, frustratingly careful - a cheat and a crook. So Bond relishes his mission to discover what this man - the richest in the country - intends to do with his ill-gotten gains, and what his connection is with SMERSH, the feared Soviet spy-killing corps. Bond soon discovers that Goldfinger's schemes are not only more grandiose, but also more lethal, than even he could have imagined. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

3-0 out of 5 stars Movie better than the book.
The audio CD arrived quickly and in A-1 condition.I was very surprised that the charactor of James Bond in the book is not the sauve guy in the movies.I like the story line in the movie better.Still, the difference was interesting.Don't expect to find Sean Connery in the books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good entry in the Bond canon
Goldfinger is one of the best remembered Bond films, and rightly so--Auric Goldfinger and Oddjob are nasty villains, the Fort Knox caper is so complex and deliriously impossible that its near success is exciting, and Sean Connery as 007 is in top form. It doesn't hurt, of course, that Goldfinger the movie was based on one of Fleming's better novels. The novel is much different from the movie, though, unlike some of its immediate predecessors, like Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the film adaptations of which followed the novels fairly closely.

Bond is en route to London via Miami and New York when his flight is delayed. A chance encounter with a Mr. Du Pont, who had sat beside Bond at the Casino Royale so long ago, entangles him with Auric Goldfinger, a seedy millionaire with a penchant for cheating at cards. Bond smells a crook, and wouldn't you know it, upon his return to London he winds up investigating him--and beating him at golf. From London Bond travels to Switzerland, teams up with a girl who has a score to settle with Goldfinger, and after being captured and nearly sawn in half, finds himself actually working for Goldfinger on his latest plot--breaking into Fort Knox.

Goldfinger features a lot of globe-trotting, even for James Bond. In the other novels he usually travels to a particular place--Jamaica, Instanbul, New York, the Riviera--and stays put. In Goldfinger, he travels to Mexico, Miami, London, Sandwich, Geneva, New York, and Fort Knox. The rapid-fire change of direction and the suspenseful build-up of the plots--Bond vs. Goldfinger, Goldfinger vs. Fort Knox, etc.--makes this a rushing, breathtaking adventure.


3-0 out of 5 stars Rare case that the film was better
Many people are familiar with the films about James Bond, the British spy with the `license to kill' running around in a world of glamour and high tech toys but in reading the books you enter a whole new world. The books bring to life the times and culture of the 50's and 60's that has since faded and also have the virtue of giving the reader insight into the mind of Bond, The doubts, fears and self recriminations that film can never capture.

The film with Sean Connery about a legal jeweler believed to be smuggling gold is generally acknowledged as the best of the Bond films and this is a case where the movie is better than the book.
Running almost parallel to the film, in the book it is believed that Auric Goldfinger is actually the KGB paymaster in Britain and is using his stores to launder money. If Bond can prove he is a smuggler, the Crown can then seize his businesses and shut down the money flow to enemy spies. Along the way Bond becomes caught up in an audacious plan to rob Fort Knox!

Fleming truly knew the espionage business and his books, written during the cold war, reflect this and while the descriptions of Switzerland and Miami are wonderful the plot in this particular Bond book and resolution are kind of hard to take.If you saw the movie and thought it was over the top, forget it, this is worse.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of Goldfinger
Auric Goldfinger is one of the more memorable villains to cross paths and wits with James Bond. Ian Fleming, in Goldfinger, even makes a game of golf between Goldfinger and Bond a very suspenseful and memorable read.

But there are many more memorable scenes and characters in this James Bond novel, such as the high-stakes card game, the lethal character named Oddjob, tracking Goldfinger on a drive through scenic Europe, and watching James try his hand at being Goldfinger's secretary.

The DVD version of Goldfinger, with Sean Connery, is also considered one of the best movie versions.

But while this story was very entertaining, there were a couple of plot twists in the book that were a little hard to believe (like when James was about to be sawed in half). But what is a James Bond story without a little suspension of belief?

So, from that perspective, the story really is golden.

3-0 out of 5 stars Oddjob, Odd Book
The worst you can say about "Goldfinger" is it is a checklist for the things Fleming haters like to jump on. Weak plot? Check. Overly confident villain? Check. Bond as too sexy for his own good? Yes. Ignorant racist asides? Yes, more so than any other Fleming story.

In this novel, published in 1959 and smack in the middle of Fleming's run of novels, Bond faces off against the title character, a sun-burnt zillionaire with a penchant for cheating over what amount to mere trifles for him. Bond suspects this trait touches upon more sinister aspects of Goldfinger's personality, and arranges to "accidentally" bump into him a couple of times in order to learn what they are. Goldfinger gets wise quickly, though, and Bond must work fast to prevent Goldfinger's most audacious plot from being carried out.

Of Goldfinger's master plot, so outlandish it had to be changed in the film adaptation, Fleming assures us it sprang from theories that were "logical exercises...bizarre only in their magnitude." When reading the final third of "Goldfinger", you, like me, may willingly suspend your disbelief despite the howling winds from the gaping plot holes.

"Goldfinger" starts off in an impressive low-key manner, with Bond at the end of a dangerous mission in Mexico, remembering with surprising pathos his killing of a low-rent killer: "...life had gone of the body so quickly, so utterly, that Bond had almost seen it come out his mouth as it does, in the shape of a bird, in Haitian primitives." Bond's gloomy musings are broken up by a fellow named Du Pont, a nice call back from the epic card game in "Casino Royale". It's Du Pont that introduces Bond to Goldfinger, saying Bond maybe can help him figure out how Goldfinger cheats at canasta.

Goldfinger's exposed, but so's Bond, as someone Goldfinger will have to keep an eye on. Fleming builds the tension between the two characters in a palpable, gripping manner, but he suffers from his need to link Goldfinger up with his favorite fiendish operation, the Russian spy organization SMERSH. How Bond can operate without alias before Goldfinger under such circumstances is one of those many plot holes mentioned earlier.

Like other reviewers have said, the movie is one of those rare examples where the novel's story is improved upon. Pussy Galore barely registers here as more than a plot convenience, while Oddjob, Goldfinger's guy Friday, is more menacing in the flesh than on the page. Fleming's comments about Koreans and lesbians are painfully ignorant, and certainly make the rest of this novel harder to enjoy, especially if you ARE Korean, lesbian, or a Korean lesbian.

But just when you start giving up on it, the story does pull you back. Can Bond save the U.S.'s gold supply and prevent Goldfinger from poisoning the population of Fort Knox? Those bodies lying on the road don't look good. Fleming sets up the big score, and even if Bond's presence, and that of a half-dozen underworld figures, seems out of place, the author's way of generating a thrusting narrative drive, called "The Fleming Sweep", shows up just in time to save the day.

"Goldfinger" is an improvement on the previous Bond novel, but finds Fleming at a crossroads as to what to do with 007 after failing to kill him off two books prior. Luckily for Bond and us, inspiration and the 1960s were just around the corner. ... Read more

20. Thunderball
by Ian Fleming
Audio Cassette: Pages (2002-04-04)

Isbn: 0141802979
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is no ordinary stranger: this man's name is Bond, James Bond. When Bond arrives in the Bahamas, the locals barely turn their heads, seeing another ex-pat with money to burn at the casino tables. But James Bond has more than money on his mind; he's got less than a week to find two stolen atom bombs hidden among the coral reefs. While acting the playboy, Bond meets Domino, sultry plaything of secretive treasure hunter Emilio Largo... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars Book's Best Line: "Authentic Blonde," Commented Leiter.
First published in March 1961, Ian Fleming's ninth James Bond book out of an eventual 14, "Thunderball," is one of the best of the bunch. Of all the books in the Bond canon, it is the one with the most complicated legal history regarding its authorship, film rights and royalties. Much has been written elsewhere regarding the complex litigious battles surrounding the book, and I will confine myself here to saying that "Thunderball" was originally written as a screenplay--by Fleming, Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham--for what was to be the first Bond film. When this production deal fell through, Fleming wrote his novelization alone, leading to the aforementioned, decades-long brouhaha. This is an important book in the Bond series in that it introduces us, for the first time, to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the criminal genius who would later figure in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "You Only Live Twice" (the Blofeld Trilogy, Raymond Benson has called it), as well as the terrorist organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. In the book, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. manages to hijack a NATO Vindicator aircraft and steal its two atomic bombs, with which it ransoms the U.S. and the U.K. for 100,000,000 pounds. Bond is sent by his boss, M, to the Bahamas on a hunch and there teams up with his old C.I.A. buddy Felix Leiter. They combat S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s Emilio Largo, aided by his mistress, Domino, and ultimately (and I don't think I'm really spoiling anything for anyone at this late date), with the aid of 10 Navy frogmen, engage in an underwater dukeout with Largo's men as the first bomb is being laid.

The so-called Fleming effect (the author's ability to create a sense of absolute realism and engender complete credulity on the part of the reader by a laying on of convincing detail) is very much in evidence in this book; indeed, the amount of detail is really quite incredible. I hadn't read "Thunderball" since the '60s, and can't imagine how I managed to appreciate it back then; even now, I required the aid of a good atlas, a dictionary AND the Interwebs to investigate the 147 obscure references that I encountered therein. (Really, how many of us remember the "Ah, Bisto" gravy ad? John Griswold's "Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories" might indeed be a worthy investment!) The book comes off slightly dated in parts, with references to New Providence's Infield Road (now J.F.K. Drive), Diner's Club cards and the U.K.'s Ministry of Health (now the Department of Health), but the basic plot--a terrorist group laying its hands on nukes--is, sadly, more relevant and timely than ever. At one point, Bond muses that pretty soon, "every tin-pot little nation would be making atomic bombs in its backyards"; a bit of prescience on Fleming's part, five decades ago. The novel is swift moving and tense, with Bond constantly wondering if he's following a false lead and really mucking things up. The fondly remembered Shrublands section at the beginning, during which Bond goes for a rest cure, features some humorous moments, as Bond is almost converted to a healthy lifestyle! This soon changes as his difficult case begins; during his first day in Nassau, he consumes, by my count, a vodka tonic, two double martinis, a double bourbon old-fashioned, two more martinis and a stinger...10 mixed drinks! That's my James! Domino, it must be said, turns out to be one of the most appealing and spirited of the novels' "Bond girls," and Largo a worthy adversary. All in all, some extremely impressive work by Fleming.

Inevitably, comparisons to the 1965 filmization come to mind. (I will refrain from discussing the 1983 filmization, "Never Say Never Again," which is inferior to the 1965 picture in every department.) Although a book is most often fuller, richer and deeper than the film that follows, it turns out that in this case, both have their strengths. The "Thunderball" novel is certainly more realistic, especially as regards that climactic dukeout (mechanized underwater transports in the film; S.P.E.C.T.R.E. CO2 guns vs. Navy knives stuck on broom handles in the book). The slaying of Petacchi, the Italian airman who steals the Vindicator, is, I think, better in the film (a slit-air-tube drowning in the film vs. a quick knifing in the novel). The Shrublands sequence is far better and more sensible in the book, however; this section has always been hard to follow in the film...plus, I have always disliked Bond's sexual blackmailing of Patricia Fearing, his Shrublands nurse, in the picture. Bond's reconnaisance of Largo's hydrofoil yacht, the Disco Volante, is far superior in the novel, too; the film excises the entire, exciting sequence with that nasty barracuda. Bond's discovery of the sunken Vindicator is also far more effective and grisly in the book. In the film, Blofeld is never really seen (except for his lap and that darn cat!); in the novel, in a very fascinating section, we learn his complete background and history. "Thunderball" the movie tends to get a bit scattered and sluggish at times (don't get me wrong...it's still one of my personal top 100 films), whereas the book is quite compact and really moves! What the film does uniquely offer, to its credit, is a character not present in its source novel, and that is the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. assassin Fiona Volpe, memorably portrayed by Luciana Paluzzi. She is a wonderful character, and perhaps the best of the Bond "bad girls" (not counting Rosa Klebb, who I have trouble regarding as a "girl"!). "Thunderball" the movie is bigger than the book, perhaps inevitably, and a smashing entertainment (filmed for $9 million, the picture made almost $29 million and was the third top grosser of the year, after "Doctor Zhivago" and "The Sound of Music"), but is it better than the book? In all, I'd have to say no. The book is not perfect, and Fleming surprisingly makes a few flubs here and there (S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is said to have assassinated a French "heavy-water specialist" named Peringue in chapter 6, but in chapter 8, he is named Goltz, for example), but it sure is as entertaining as can be. "It is the sort of melodramatic nonsense people write about in thrillers," Domino tells Bond at one point, referring to one small part of his plan of action, but most readers shouldn't mind one bit, as the Fleming effect hurtles them along. This is some wonderful, exciting and classic stuff, indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny, Charming and Interesting
"Thunderball", the ninth Bond novel, is the first of the "Blofeld Trilogy" (continued with "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and concluded with "You Only Live Twice" intercepted by "The Spy Who Loved me").

The novel begins with M, MI6's head, sending James Bond, our hero, to a two week vacation in a health clinic due to poor health caused by lots of drinking and smoking sixty cigarettes a day.

Of course, nothing for our hero goes smoothly and his vacation is smudged by an assassination attempt by one of the other guests who just happen to be a member of the Red Lightning Tong criminal organization from Macau.

Bond feels better when returning to London, following a better diet and smoking less, only to find out that SPECTRE, headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, hired a Royal Air Force pilot named Petacchi to hijack some bombers with two nuclear bombs on board and fly them to the Bahamas where Emilio Largo (Blofeld's second in command) is waiting on his yacht.

Petacci is killed and the Americans and British launch operation Thunderball to recover the missing nukes assigns Bond, on a hunch) to the Bahamas where he meets his old CIA friend Felix Leiter.While in Nassau Bond meets our villains, villainesses and other characters while solving the mystery and saving the world.

I found "Thunderball" to be very enjoyable and well written.The novel is part mystery, part thriller, funny, charming and interesting.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of James Bond
This is my favorite in the series. Would be great if the films were as good as the books.
City of Fire

4-0 out of 5 stars Enter Blofeld
"Thunderball" was Ian Fleming's ninth published James Bond book, his first Bond novel published in the 1960s (1961), and the first to feature a threat residing not in Soviet Russia, but from a shadowy international conspiracy, known as SPECTRE and run by Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

"...he was one of those men - one meets perhaps only two or three in a lifetime - who seem almost to suck the eyes out of your head," Fleming writes of the enigmatic criminal mastermind, who goes here also by the alias "Number Two".

"Number One", for the moment, is Emilio Largo, one of Blofeld's underlings. Largo is Blofeld's selected leader for a plot which involves stealing two atomic bombs from a hijacked bomber and holding the world at ransom for 100 million British pounds in gold. Bond is sent to the Bahamas on a hunch by his superior M. There, 007 discovers Largo's operation and grows suspicious.

"Thunderball" makes good use of one of the best plots in the series, one Fleming worked on in script form with Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory. The novel itself bears the unmistakable stamp of Fleming, weaving his usual descriptive magic with sunny tourist-trap landscapes and wondrous, deadly undersea scuba expeditions at night.

You also got to love the left-field opening. Bond is sent by M to get himself purged of what M considers a too-deadly lifestyle. Not the kill-or-be-killed missions M sends him on, but Bond's smoking, drinking, and consumption of rich foods. Off Bond goes to a health farm, Shrublands, where he ironically comes up against SPECTRE for the first time in the form of a wolfish minor player named Count Lippe. For a while, Bond even accepts the regimen, counseling his housekeeper May on the pitfalls of denatured or "dead" foods. Thankfully, Bond snaps out of his granola ecstasy after a final run-in with the Count.

"It just occurred to me that life's too short," he tells May. "Plenty of time to watch the calories when one goes to heaven."

The book Bond was always a different character from the more rogue-ish Bond of the movies. Prone to the blues, self-questioning (especially about whether Largo is worth his suspicions), and emotionally connected here with at least one of his lovers, Domino Vitali, Largo's kept woman who earns Bond's respect initially with her no-apologies lifestyle. Domino is one woman who takes her sex as opportunistically as any man, even Bond, but Bond senses she has a real heart worth protecting.

The story moves along quickly, much of it underwater. Bond wards off barracudas and sharks, dodges venom-tipped spears and grenades, and chews on Domino's foot when she steps on some sea-egg spines. The seduction is one of the best in the canon, especially when it's not clear who's doing the seducing.

"This is the first time I've eaten a woman," Bond says. "They're rather good."

The novel does sag in the last act, like "gobirds2" notes in another review here. Fleming seemed to have trouble ending his Bond novels. To this point, only "Casino Royale" and "From Russia With Love" had endings that lived up to their build-up. "Thunderball", unlike them, plays it rather straight, yet winds up rushed and convoluted anyway.

SPOILERS - Three problems with the story worth relating to those who have already read the book. One, why does Largo enlist the brother of his mistress to execute his deadly plan, risking the possibility someone might look for her as a result? Two, why does Bond trust her anyway after making this connection, which would seem to tie her in with Largo's plan? Three, why can't Bond have Largo's craft intercepted by the sizable Navy assets at his disposal, once Largo's plot is found to be underway, rather than attempt a more dangerous attack underwater? - END SPOILERS

I know, I know. It's Bond. If you ask too many questions, you're missing the point. Fortunately, "Thunderball" is the kind of novel that keeps those questions from being asked until after you are done reading it.

4-0 out of 5 stars how to steal a nuclear bomb in 1 easy lesson
Many people are familiar with the films about James Bond, the British spy with the `license to kill' running around in a world of glamour and high tech toys but in reading the books you enter a whole new world. The books bring to life the times and culture of the 50's and 60's that has since faded and also have the virtue of giving the reader insight into the mind of Bond, The doubts, fears and self recriminations that film can never capture.

Both book and film start with Bond being sent to Shrublands health Clinic for a detox' program. The film makes it look like a spa. In the book the reader feels the hunger pangs of people living on a grapefruit and carrot juice diet and a small feud with a former Chinese Tong member only serves to keep Bond's wits sharp. Then the criminal organization SPECTRE plans to steal 2 nuclear weapons from the RAF and then blackmail the world into paying them $100 million dollars. On only the thinnest of leads, M send his best man to the Bahamas with the hope he can find the bombs before the deadline is reached to pay up or else.

The book and movie follow almost parallel threads with a couple of significant differences. The movie has more violence and less reason for Bond to take an interest in the villain. In the movie he has an attractive mistress and is really a creepy guy. In the book Bond has more developed reasons for looking into Emil Largo and deeper issues with why Bond can't just shoot him and go home. Reader know that Largo is the bad guy but bond doesn't and he also has to deal with the fact he might be wrong and chasing a false lead.

The book also goes into detail of the wonderful scenery of the Bahamas in the early 1960's, the land of yachts and private beaches and nightclubs that you wish you could visit today. There are also well written scenes of scuba diving and a lecture from Bond's CIA contact to a cheating bartender on the proper way to mix a drink that is sterling.

Fleming truly knew the espionage business and his books, written during the cold war, reflect this, the dark gritty world of professional thugs just behind the glittering world of jet setting millionaires and estate houses. The film has more sex and violence the book, more color and atmosphere. The film may let you see the girls in bikinis on the beach, the book with let you feel the heat of the sun and the cool of the drinks while you watch them.

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