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Casino Royale | [Ian Fleming]

Casino Royale

Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome, chillingly ruthless, and licensed to kill. This, the first of Ian Fleming's tales of secret agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called "Le Chiffre" by ruining him at the Baccarat table, forcing his Soviet spymasters to "retire" him. It seems that lady luck has sided with 007 when Le Chiffre hits a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Listening to Casino Royale is like peeling away the shell of a cultural icon and returning to the good, exotic thrillers that gave it birth. As captured by narrator Simon Vance, Bond is as suave, British, and ultra-competent as you'd expect, but he's also startlingly vulnerable, falling victim to both his enemies and his own doubts. With a wry, knowing delivery, Vance excels at capturing the tension in Fleming's prose: he wrings Bond's torture for every last, excruciating squirm. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

Introducing James Bond: charming, sophisticated, handsome, chillingly ruthless, and licensed to kill. This, the first of Ian Fleming's tales of secret agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called "Le Chiffre" by ruining him at the Baccarat table, forcing his Soviet spymasters to "retire" him.

It seems that lady luck has sided with 007 when Le Chiffre hits a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules, and Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster...and to an unexpected savior.

Shaken? Stirred? Check out 007's other assignments.

©1953 Glidrose Productions, Ltd.; (P)2000 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[A]n intense, fascinating, and moody piece of fiction." (Raymond Benson, author of High Time to Kill)
"Britisher [Simon Vance] takes a suitably urbane approach, sounding as if he is attired in white tails and sipping a very dry martini between takes [and] taking particular pleasure with his characterizations." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1556 )
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4.3 (992 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Nancy F. Sierra Foothills, Northern CA 01-19-14
    Nancy F. Sierra Foothills, Northern CA 01-19-14 Member Since 2007

    Live on edge of National Forest with lake, birds & wild animals. No more perfect place to indulge life-long love of reading.

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    "A Sorbet Between Hearty Books"

    I bought this book because it was on sale. It is a light frothy book, very traditional Bond and without depth ... and nevertheless quite entertaining. I've been listening to long and heavy novels of late (i.e. Jakes' North and South Trilogy). This was the perfect palate cleanser between those novels. I'm happy to have listened and simultaneously happy that I didn't have to spend a whole credit on it.

    Much of the fun of this book was due to the outstanding performance by Simon Vance. One of my audible favorites.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Yoshida 01-17-14
    A. Yoshida 01-17-14
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    "Not like the action-packed James Bond movies"

    Although I've only seen a few James Bond movies before reading this first book, I don't know if that created too much expectations between the gadgets and far-fetched scenes of the movies to this James Bond character written in 1953. I was disappointed to read that his mission is to bankrupt a Russian agent by trying to beat him at the baccarat table. It sounds more like the work for a professional gambler than a spy. It goes into details about the gambling, odds, and strategy. The suspense builds as the stakes increase. However, all the characters are flat. Maybe because it was Fleming's first book... it's a rough outline of who they are. There is James Bond, the cold and calculating British spy. He has support from Mathis, operative from the French branch, and Felix Leiter, CIA agent. There isn't any back story to explain why Bond is so cold or the depth of relationships between Bond and any of the other characters. Occasionally through dialogue or Bond's inner voice, the reader get a sense of him and his focus on accomplishing the mission. If some woman gets in the way and gets hurt for it, so be it. This book would probably rate higher for fans of James Bond or pulp fiction genre (easy read for entertainment).

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher ASTON, PA, United States 01-16-14
    Christopher ASTON, PA, United States 01-16-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Even better than the movie"
    If you could sum up Casino Royale in three words, what would they be?

    Intense
    Origin
    Bond


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Casino Royale?

    Car chase


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Fantastic all the way around


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Almost cried towards the end


    Any additional comments?

    The first audio book I listened to and I'm hooked

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer NORTH LOGAN, UT, United States 01-14-14
    Amazon Customer NORTH LOGAN, UT, United States 01-14-14 Member Since 2014

    Kowalski, someone's looking at my profile. Find them. Rico, time for boom boom. Private, send the family a funeral bouquet.

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    "Enjoyed this book"

    The movie was different enough from the book that I still felt suspense while reading (though it ended up being more like the movie than I expected). After working my way through the Game of Thrones series I felt saturated with overdone sexuality, so when it got to those moments in this book I found myself a bit hopeful that a book written in the 50s might leave more to the imagination, even if it's James Bond. It wasn't too spicy, but one line made me stop reading for a couple of minutes until I stopped laughing. Bond and Vespa were standing, clothed and kissing, then "he slipped his hands down to her swelling buttocks. . ."

    I think I'll try some version of that with my wife. Maybe, "Hey baby, your swelling buttocks are talking to me, and I like what they are saying." Or perhaps, "Those pants make your buttocks look swollen," or, "Are your buttocks swollen for me, or Mr. Darcy?" Hmm, those might need some work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 01-11-14
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 01-11-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant in its simplicity"

    THE essential spy novel - no gadgets, no contrived international plots, just a cocky young spy in love with the lifestyle, keener on the gambling than on his license to kill. Until he learns the hard way that he can't have it all, and becomes the James Bond we know and love. His evolution at the very end of the book is honest and incontrovertible. We're right there with him, poised for his next adventures to start.

    This book will NOT ruin the movie for you or vice versa. It has actually heightened my appreciation of the film, which I now understand as a coherently updated version of the same coming-of-age-as-a-spy story. The original Bond is very much a 1953 spy, Daniel Craig is very much not.

    Just one note of warning, this 1953 spy novel is also unapologetically racist and misogynist. Take it as a charming time capsule, take it as terribly offensive, just know it's there.

    (And on the narration - Simon Vance is incredible! You can practically feel the martini and champagne in his soul here. By sheer coincidence I listened to another book of his right before this and can't believe that this man seems equally destined to read James Bond as Winnie the Pooh!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 01-08-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 01-08-14

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

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    "Hard to Block Out the Movie Bond"
    Would you try another book from Ian Fleming and/or Simon Vance?

    Tough decision on Fleming. Having seen the movie versions of his books, how can one block out that version of James Bond and those cinematic depictions of his adventures? Casino Royale would stand up better without that comparison. On its own, it is the story of an ordinary agent (not one who is just shy of super-hero) on an ordinary mission (mere financing of a political movement, not a diabolical scheme to rule the world). That story is complicated by the relationship he forms with a fellow agent, as well as the doubts about the credibility of his cause that form after being tortured by his adversary. That is worthy literary stuff, especially for 1953. But how can you not imagine the movie Bond and feel that this Bond comes up short? As for Simon Vance, nice reading -- not so good that one would specifically seek him out as a narrator, but well cast for this particular novel.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    You can't conceive of changing an Ian Fleming James Bond story, not on the written page (obviously, the creators of the recent screen version beefed it up, while retaining the core plot, but a film adaptation is a wholly different issue than suggesting changes to a classic novel). The only thing that would have made this work better is to block out all preconceived notions of James Bond and take it for what it is -- Bond's 1953 debut as an ordinary agent. But is that possible? Was not for me.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The showdown at the baccarat table in the casino between Bond and Le Chiffre. Fleming does a great job of explaining the game and describing the battle between the two opposing agents over the money that Le Chiffre would use to finance his organization's activities.


    Did Casino Royale inspire you to do anything?

    No. Baccarat is not a popular casino game in America. The movie version wisely substitutes Texas Hold'em, one of the most popular casino games in America. I don't need to be inspired to take that game up, as I already play it.


    Any additional comments?

    One has, almost by definition, a different outlook on a work of art like a novel when looking at it outside of the specific context in which it was written. Long after the fall of the Soviet Union, and with all the information that has come out since then, the machinations against a French labor unionist (Le Chiffre) by the CIA and MI6 don't really carry much weight more than 60 years later. On the other hand, Bond's doubts about what constitutes good vs. evil, and his role in that war, is timelessly classic outside the scope of this particular setting. Beyond that, I learned after listening to Casino Royale, that Fleming wrote it to distract himself during the planning of his wedding -- without spoiling the surprise end, it is certainly interesting to wonder where his head was regarding his impending nuptials in the context of how Casino Royale concludes.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella Decatur, AL, United States 05-09-13
    Ella Decatur, AL, United States 05-09-13
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    "Perfect"
    Where does Casino Royale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This audiobook was one of the best I've listened to


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Simon Vance is an incredible narrator. He does various accents very well without overdoing them. His voice is absolutely mesmerizing. It's what I think James Bond would actually sound like!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Wallingford, CT, United States 03-18-13
    Jane Wallingford, CT, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Great story"
    Where does Casino Royale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Near the top


    What did you like best about this story?

    The details about life in the fifties


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Bedroom


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When 007 sets up his hotel room at the casino.


    Any additional comments?

    Better story than I remembered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susie 02-13-13
    Susie 02-13-13
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    "Bond Always Offers Up Some Fun"
    Would you listen to Casino Royale again? Why?

    Yes - this was a quick, fun read.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Casino Royale?

    I enjoyed the many casino scenes.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Mr. Vance has terrific European accents. He was even better in the Steig Larsson "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, but wonderful here, nonetheless.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Shaken, Not Stirred, and Finished in a Quick, Easy Sip


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah GOLD BAR, WASHINGTON, United States 01-27-13
    Sarah GOLD BAR, WASHINGTON, United States 01-27-13
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    "Great way to experience Bond!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I already have recommended this audio book to someone who is a big Bond fan!


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I liked Simon Vance a lot when listening to the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books and that's what made me listen to this. But I thought his 'girl' voices were a little lacking in this book. I liked that he seemed to sound the part when speaking as James Bond though.


    Any additional comments?

    The story was a little difficult to follow right at the beginning but the rest of the story was great!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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