First Published: 1953 (this edition: 2002)
Synopsis: The license to kill for the Secret Service was a great honour. It brought James Bond the only assignments he enjoyed, the dangerous ones. At the Casino in Deauville, Bond's game is baccarat. But away from the discreet salons, the caviar and champagne, it's 007 versus one of Russia's most powerful and ruthless agents.
I have to admit I picked up this book with certain prejudgements. Firstly I had decided that I liked James Bond despite having seen very little of the films and having read none of the books and secondly I didn’t expect it to make me feel particularly thoughtful.
My first preconception proved to be half right as I do like the story, but I don’t have any particular like for James Bond the character. Some parts of his personality I just don’t like, his sexism for example. Although I appreciate the time in which it was written, I just can't let that one go.
I really enjoyed reading Casino Royale. What I really liked about it was its simplicity. Sometimes simple is best. There are no super high tech gadgets, the plot isn’t complex and the card game is also easy to understand. The simplicity worked and it was quite refreshing and the book doesn’t suffer from it at all. I would say that a reader would get more enjoyment from the book having some knowledge of the French language though as it features quite frequently.
I really liked the character of Mathis too, especially his first words to Bond. He contrasted Bond’s seriousness quite well. You also see a change in Bond throughout the book, mainly towards the end and this change is where I started to like him as a character. The end of the book is where my second prejudgement was proved wrong. Bond has some fairly profound things to say about good and bad, and heroes and villains. Again Mathis in this scene counteracts Bonds seriousness.
How does it compare to the film? *Spoilers from this point forth*
Release date: 2006
Studio: Eon Productions
For the film they seem to have taken something very simple and complicated it. In my view they over complicated it especially since the simplicity of it is one of the things I really enjoyed. Not only did they complicate the plot they also introduced the high tech gadgets and changed the card game to poker, which is again more complicated than the original. Although this was what I expected of Bond through hearsay, I was disappointed to find that it was dramatically changed for the film. For the first 10 minutes I was wondering if I was watching the right film. What was the whole thing in Madagascar? What was the thing with the airport?
The other things they changed were the characters. They made Mathis a traitor – this I was least pleased with, he also didn’t have the history that he has with Bond in the book. Next they had changed who Le Chiffre was working for which didn’t make a great deal of difference but because of that, I don’t particularly see the point in changing it. Vespers death was also changed, I preferred her confession and suicide from the book because I think it was more fitting and a lot less dramatic. I know it doesn’t make that much difference but I just thought the suicide had more of an impact.
All in all I didn’t like the film as an adaptation of the book however as a film I liked it.