My Top Five James Bond Novels (by Ian Fleming)
I have a confession to make, I haven’t read The Man with the Golden Gun yet (or Octopussy and the Living Daylights for that matter). Anyway, I’ve read the rest (although it has been some years for most of them).
Now, before I begin my list, there is a major issue to be dealt with. Unlike the films, Fleming’s original books are offensive on many levels. Bond is extremely misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc. He reflects a conservative (rather a right wing) world view from the time he was created. Bond echoes the opinions and prejudices of his creator. And Fleming was a product of his time. So, reading any one of the original Bond novels will be cringe worthy at points. Even if the stated prejudice is subverted.
This is not to say that Fleming is a bad writer. He has a very taut and sparse style that is also extremely detailed. The world of spies and super spies is compelling and a great read. But one must be aware of and acknowledge the fact that the original James Bond novels are products of their time.
Now on to the list:
5. You Only Live Twice is the final installment of the Blofeld Trilogy. When I first read the Bond series when I was in high school, this novel was my favorite. This novel is notable for its themes of revenge and new beginnings (even if the later does not last).
4. Goldfinger is a really interesting novel, even though I haven’t read it in years. But I remember enjoying it immensely.
3. Diamonds are Forever is a more recent favorite. I enjoy how Bond infiltrates the Spangled Mob and largely makes fools of them. And I like the fact that there are no Soviet agents or super villains running around. Just simple mobsters. And Wint and Kidd are so much better in the book than in the movie.
2. Dr. No is a terrific read. More action packed and adventure driven rather than the more sophisticated Diamonds are Forever. I like the character of Dr. No. His motives and psychology is well done, even if he is a father to countless parodies and pastiches.
1. From Russia, with Love is by far my favorite Bond novel. An extremely sophisticated adventure yarn that pits Bond against SMERSH in a sick game of revenge. I enjoy the attention paid to the crafting of the plot, Rosa Klebb is a great villain, and I like that this is a bit of Fleming’s “The Final Problem.” My only issue is why the hell Klebb is in a position to get herself captured.
There you have it, my favorite Bond novels. Next time, I’ll have more on DC Universe Online going Free to Play, Comic Books vs. Manga, and the Antiheroic Subgenre in Fantasy.