From Russia with Love

James Bond, Book 5
Narrated by: Toby Stephens
Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (599 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

James Bond is targeted for elimination by SMERSH, and the malevolent Colonel Rosa Klebb has set a trap in Istanbul. The bait is the Spektor decoding machine, which is to be delivered by the irresistible Tatiana Romanova. The assassin is Red Grant, a psychopath who has defected from the West. Bond and Tatiana become pawns in a game of cross and double-cross that reaches its deadly finale on the Orient Express.

This audiobook includes a bonus interview with Toby Stephens.

Blackstone Audio, Inc. James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under license by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd

©1957 Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about From Russia with Love

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Fleming Raises the Bar on 007

Picking up in the wake of events from the more mediocre Diamonds Are Forever, Fleming's next one in the series turns out to be one of the most heralded. It's certainly the one that really got James Bond's name out there to American audiences (thanks, JFK). But is the hype around this one worthy?

Simply put, yes. From Russia With Love brings us ever closer to the style fans associate with both Fleming and Bond. Even though we're still a few years away from the big screen version, Bond is finally developing the personality that Sean Connery would later refine and make his own. Interestingly, Bond is overshadowed whenever Karim Bey is in the story. Bey is the largest personality in the book, and Fleming had a lot of fun writing him. What's more, this is the first time we really get to spend some time with the villains without Bond being there. Bond doesn't really get any character time until chapter 11, leaving room for Fleming to show us how things are done behind closed doors at SMERSH, creating characters that would be translated more or less accurately for the film later on. The only major difference is that the film has these characters defecting from SMERSH to operate with SPECTRE, an organization that doesn't feature in the books until Thunderball.

Roger Moore once quipped that Bond was the worst secret agent because everyone knew everything about him. This may be the book that inadvertently set that stereotype into motion. This time SMERSH is out for vengeance, seeking to murder both 007 and his reputation. The setup is a bit hard to swallow, and Fleming knew it too, which is why Bond questions it right from the start. But the story is told with such enthusiasm, you really don't care once things are set into motion. That enthusiasm changes everything. After Diamonds, it's like Fleming found a renewed interest in Bond. Or it could just be that better villains make for better stories.

Toby Stephens' narration is superb, except for the offending "oh-oh-seven" pronunciation. This still bothers me, and probably always will when both Fleming and the popular culture say "double-oh seven." Even so, I'm learning to accept this is just how it's going to be. A British woman explained it to me like this: I'm an American, so I get no say, regardless of how Fleming did it, and as a Brit, whatever she says is automatically correct. Seriously, how do you argue against that?

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The Best Bond Book and Movie

Great writing and amazing performance from Toby Stephens. It’s interesting as there is a longggg build up before Bond appears but it is not dull and quite compelling. A must for any Bond fan.

1 person found this helpful

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Fleming at his best. A spectacular, spy novel

Absolutely loved it! The detail of the characters is very well crafted and the train sequence toward the end of the book is riveting- really keeps you on the edge of your seat. You'll have to give it a listen to find out just how thrilling this installment of Ian Fleming's 007 really is.

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Perfect

Fantastic narration and one of the best Bond books. Takes you back in time. Highly recommended.

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Amazing Story Made Even Better By Toby Stephens

From Russia with Love continues Ian Fleming's great series. The picture Fleming paints allows a complete immersion into the world of Bond's MI6. He creates characters that transcend both time and distance.

Toby Stephen's rendition of this novel was spot on! He made me feel that Kareem could be my best friend, and that Kleb was the creepiest person on the planet.

I particularly enjoyed Toby's interview about the book. It seemed truly heartfelt. It was easy to see that he enjoyed the reading, and that joy could be felt as he read the story!

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Toby Stephens does an insanely great job

I am listening to this series as I walk too and from work, not taking public transportation, during coronaquarantine. The narrators are all very good; but this is the only one where I have not used whispersync to both read and listen- I don't want to miss any of this great performance. Terrific narration!

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Best of Bond

Incredibly good story and characters but the end was rather strange. What happened to Bond?

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Toby Stephens --- YES PLEASE!!!!

Such a great combination, James Bond and Toby Stephens. I highly recommend to all 007 fans!!!

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A Bond who fails to see the dangers until it’s almost too late

An intricate plan by SMERSH, the Russian’s secret service’s assassination unit sends out their best man to assassinate Bond using the most beautiful Russian woman as bait along with the Russian cipher machine. Bond is dispatched to Istanbul, that romantic city that’s intersects the West and East. There he meets one of Fleming’s great characters, Darko Keri, head of British’s secret service sector T (Turkey). With Kerim’s assistance Bond awaits the girl, Tatiana , to whisk her back to London with the Spekter cipher and Tania’s flight from the USSR. At least that is the story. Bond and Keri know nothing of the plot to assassinate Bond as the board the Orient Express in Istanbul bound for Paris.

This is a gritty novel. Bond is flat footed as to any plot against himself especially after experiencing the assassination plot made against Kerim by a Bulgar, a mission Bond does not pick up as a threat to himself when he is left unharmed during an attack by the Bulgars against Kerim and his men during a Gipsy family affair. But Bond discounts other clues of discord and threats by the Russians mainly by the inexplicable appearance of the girl Tania. But she has softened him up, clouded his instincts like taking the Orient Express rather than flying to London. And though the girl is ignorant of the entire plot she refuses to disclose fully her role in it.

This is not the film Bond, swashbuckling, infallible, woman wrangling spy. He is careless and succumbs to staying at flea bag hotel, being moved to the honeymoon suite that is wired for sound with a two-way mirror behind the bed where Bond and Tonia’s lovemaking are filmed to be used for discrediting the British Security Service pursuant to Russian plan. Bond believes his whole mission is to shepherd Tania and the machine to London safely. He detects no ulterior motive or nefarious plan, but nor does M other security Service. They want 007 to play the game out to see what happens. Careless or crafty this threatens lives and cipher machine’s capture. But they have confidence in Bond, the arrogance and stupidity the Russians expect and seek to capitalize.

As one can see, this is a complex plot with multiple themes. It may be one of the most complex plots of the Bond series. It is certainly a realistic Bond and certainly a 007 set in the period of the Cold War of the 1950s. Fleming’s craft is on display in this novel. He has put together great narrative, singular and memorable characters, wonderful dialogue that writers should emulate as it is quick and mixes dialogue with movement, character description, scene description, etc. and Fleming has picked up some great themes that ramp up the tension throughout the plot: the Cold War, the brutality and corruption of the USSR, how sex can be used as manipulation, the power of vendetta in society.

This is quite a well constructed novel by a master. It is also a fun novel. Toby Stephens gives a fine performance of the work. It is well modulated and paced. He handles the characters with ease—their language, accents, gender.

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first time i hear it but awesome!

i am totally hooked on the novels now and will listen to all of them.