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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

4.0 (1338 )
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  •  
    Pork C. Fish 05-22-12 Listener Since 2010

    Touching Lives One Martini at a Time

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ouch!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I keep saying this, but Simon Vance nails the tone of the novels. He has a great facility for voices and accents. He also handles foreign words and phrases well (a knowledge of French and German is very helpful in Fleming novels). Vance is able to take Fleming's narrative and make it into something unique. It is like listening to a radio drama. This novel, the first, is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely violent and noirish, almost in a Mickey Spillane tradition. Not one person in the story is worth a damn. It is a hyper-masculine novel filled with violence, sex, gambling, and drink. It does give an interesting look, I should say feeling, of what Britain was like after the devastation of WWII and how they felt about being a second-rate power after its ascendancy during the Victorian Era.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    This is a no-brainer. It's James Bond. It is the first story and he is not surrounded by friends. Fleming was a journalist and his writing is very "just the facts, ma'am". Bond is much the same way.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I like the baccarat set-pieces. It is tough to make a card game tense and it was pulled off here. The torture scene is a leg-crosser.


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

    I'll leave that to the professionals.


    Any additional comments?

    This novel is nice and simple and it zooms right along. It is also an interesting set-piece about Britain's view of itself and America post-WWII. No, Fleming's books are not deep, but they are a little bitter and that makes them interesting.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 07-22-11
    David 07-22-11 Member Since 2010

    Indiscriminate Reader

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    "The original, unapologetically sexist Bond"

    Unlike many Bond films, Casino Royale actually resembles the book. The movie was actually more complicated and action-packed, though.

    Bond's mission is quite simple: go to a fancy French casino, put some fat stacks on the table, and try to beat the other guy who's actually a SMERSH agent. Of course he does break Le Chiffre's bank, and that's when Le Chiffre gets really desperate, and things get ugly.

    If you've seen the movie, you know basically how everything plays out with Le Chiffre, SMERSH, and Vesper Lynd. And yes, the scene with Bond tied naked to a cane chair with the bottom cut out is from the book. Where the book differs from the movie is that Bond isn't such a smug smart-ass while he's getting his balls tickled by Le Chiffre's carpet-beater. Indeed, this is how all of Fleming's novels differ from the movies: Bond is a much more human character than any of his film versions. He feels fear, sadness, doubt, and he wonders whether he's on the right side. But he's still a cold bastard in the end.

    I like Fleming's writing. It's blunt and descriptive and full of elegant details but without a lot of backstory. The plots are straightforward, mostly believable, and they cook right along. If you haven't sampled any of the original Bond stories, you should. One thing to be warned of, though, is that if you think the movie Bond is a bit of a misogynist, Fleming's Bond is even more unapologetic about it. Women are silly, emotional things to be used for pleasure (though his love for Vesper belies this), and he's not too enlightened about the non-white people either. But if you can read the stories for what they were and the time they were written, they're quite fun and Fleming does a lot with relatively thin plots.

    Casino Royale is a good quick listen, and Simon Vance, as usual, does a great job of narrating Fleming's terse, masculine style.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fred greensboro nc 02-22-08
    fred greensboro nc 02-22-08 Member Since 2005
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    "I like this Bond"

    This James Bond is tough! It is great to hear the real James Bond. He beats the bad guys with his mind and his fists. This is not the gadget-loving Roger Moore but a tough-minded, quick-witted, kind of good guy.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken 09-26-07
    Ken 09-26-07
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    "A Masterwork"

    Ian Fleming introduces us to a most remarkable world and character in this first book in the eventual series about 007. A very skillful character sketch of a man, a very unique man and one both men and women can identify inside themselves. While the recent movie was a faithful cinematic (albeit modernised) version of the novel, the listener will be enraptured by this most compelling story that is as fresh and exciting today as it would have been in the early 1950's when it was first published.

    While the story is most excellent and well written, the listener will find the narrator, Mr. Simon Vance, to be almost perfect as the quintessential reader of Bond (and any other story). In fact, I became a fan of Mr. Vance as a reader while listening to this audiobook. I must say, the real world faded as I listened to Casino Royale.

    Even though most of us have seen the movies first, and perhaps, think that is all there is to Mr. Bond, all will find that the novels themselves are a whole other world and just as intensely interesting and exciting. There is also something wonderful about stepping back into this romanticised fancy of the Cold War. Dear Mr. Bond is something of a knight.

    Of all the Bond stories, this is my favorite; it sets the mark, the standard, and gives us _Bond_. All of the Bond stories on Audible are first rate, but this one, Casino Royale, is the first--and for several reasons.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vincent Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 12-12-06
    Vincent Mississauga, Ontario, Canada 12-12-06 Member Since 2005

    A science fiction fan for as long as I can remember but I also enjoy history (fact and fiction) and humor.

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    "An excellent reading of a great story"

    If you've seen the teatrical release of Casino Royale, you owe it to yourself to listen to this excellent reading of the original story.
    I read the book many years ago and had forgotten just how good it was. It is, without a doubt, one of Ian Fleming's best novels (even if somewhat dated with Cold-War references to Redland and SMERSH). The story provides insight into James Bond's personality and some historical background to the stories which followed. It also introduces characters, like CIA agent Felix Liter, who become significant in later adventures.
    I listened to the story at work during lunch hours and ended up having to set the alarm on my computer to prevent me from running over time.
    The reading is crisp and well-paced and the sound quality is excellent.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex Claremont, CA, United States 03-05-11
    Alex Claremont, CA, United States 03-05-11
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    "Enjoyable but uneven"

    I was pleasantly surprised by how good a writer Ian Fleming was. The first half of the book is very good. Among other things, James Bond is different from the James Bond of the movies, and that makes for added interest. The second half of the book is not bad, but odd. Fleming sets things up for a final twist, like most thriller writers, but readers will see the twist coming a mile away. Worse yet, you have to wonder why Bond doesn't see it coming. Despite that problem, this is a solid read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 02-18-14
    John 02-18-14

    St. Louis, Missouri

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    "As always, the book is better than the movie"

    Because the book doesn’t have a brigade of Hollywood art directors over-dressing every scene. Because the book isn’t beholden to the orthodoxies and political pieties of our own particular time. And mostly because, unlike a moviegoer, a reader (or listener) can see into the mind and heart of James Bond and discover much more than the heavily armed, libidinous playboy portrayed on the screen.

    This James Bond has doubts. He feels pain, both emotional and physical. And he has worries beyond where his next cocktail is coming from and whether or not it will be shaken or stirred. Most surprising of all, in this first of the series we discover that the predictable cycle of a love affair (bed—more bed—no bed—weak excuses—break up on a doorstep in the rain) bores and even embarrasses him. No, that’s not the most surprising revelation in this book; the most surprising revelation is that James actually makes up his mind to…but no, you need to find out yourself.

    True, the Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale did plumb the character deeper and try to bring out the hidden insecurities and not-so-hidden flaws. But in the book we see Royale and the casino that is the town’s main attraction for what it really is: a shabby kind of place that has seen better days—under Napoleon III. We hear Bond spout the sort of relativistic reasoning regarding good and evil that wouldn’t be really fashionable until the 70’s. And we see him argued out of the retirement from the fray that he contemplates—first by a French ally and then by circumstances.

    Also, for someone raised on the movies the nearness of World War II always comes as something of a surprise. It was the place where Bond, his allies and his adversaries learned their trade. Missing arms and eyes remind you of the shadow that still broods over every character, whether they were soldiers or civilians.

    Long story short, this isn't fantasy Bond. And Simon Vance brings to the story just the right dramatic edge—this is still, after all, a spy thriller—while remaining true to the book’s basic realism. Flemming was a very good writer and Vance makes him sound even better.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 07-10-08
    Jason Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 07-10-08
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    "Bond as he should be."

    I really liked the down to earth Bond in the book. He is human and dispite his double 0 status he does not kill anyone in this book. He is bothered by the two killings he has done.

    Much better than the movie. The movie should have captured the eria of the book and made him less super-hero like.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    harry PLEASANTON, CA, United States 01-30-13
    harry PLEASANTON, CA, United States 01-30-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bond...James Bond!"

    I loved this book...a straight ahead good vs evil secret agent story that introduces James Bond.

    Flemming's construction of the "Bond Universe" is so meticulous that there is no need to suspend your disbelief.

    I also like the relatively short length of the Bond stories which provided instant interest and smooth but rapid story development.

    Simon Vance delivers a pitch perfect narration which only enhances the story.

    Well worth the credit.

    2 of 2 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 1 people found this review helpful
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