1. Literary 007 Reviewed: Ian Fleming's 'From Russia With Love'

    By Devin Zydel on 2008-04-27
    Ian Fleming

    Ian Fleming

    With 2008 marking the centenary of Ian Fleming, the newest review series, Literary 007 Reviewed, now continues with the author’s fifth James Bond adventure, 1957’s From Russia with Love.

    As several CBn Forum members are already aware, every two months a James Bond adventure is chosen for members of the Blades Library Book Club to read. Proceeding in chronological order, the club first read Fleming’s From Russia with Love back in September 2004.

    What follows are selected reviews from the Book Club Forum members. For further details on the club or to post your own review of From Russia with Love, simply click here.

    Literary 007 Reviewed:
    From Russia With Love

    'From Russia with Love'

    Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… B007GLE

    I love this book.

    I think that Live and Let Die and Moonraker may be more exciting but this is abetter novel. (Which probably the reason that Kennedy chose this out of all the Fleming titles to list as one of his 10 favorite books.)

    I think I prefer Live and Let Die and Moonraker a little more because they are such good books and the books are much better than the films. From Russia with Love is a great book but an even better movie. The things that were added: Grant as Bond’s “guardian angel”; the way bond gets Tania out of the embassy rather than just waiting ofr her at the station; the helicopter chase; the way Kelbb makes her apperance at the end.

    What is truly amazing aboutthe book is how much it plays with the formula that Fleming set up in the first four books. There is a lot of talk on CBn about Gardner’s The Man From Barbarosa being “experimental”, but From Russia with Love is far more experimental than that and yet that is rarely discussed.

    This was the first Bond novel I read over 25 years ago. I had not gone back to it since and it is just as good as I remembered.

    One last thing regarding General G. is that he’s not mentioned often which is a shame. I wish Bond had a chance to “take him out” and bring closure to the SMERSH books. Reading about him, one can see he really is a precursor to Blofeld, except he’s not a capitalist.

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… Max Zorin

    For the longest time this was my favorite Bond novel, and after re-reading it, I can understand why. It has some of Fleming’s best characters, and the movie gets it down almost perfectly. Grant continues to be my favorite Fleming villain, and the fight between him and Bond is almost as thrilling in text as it was on screen.

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… North Scorpion

    I have just completed reading the book this afternoon.

    Like many who read the Fleming novels nowadays, it is difficult to see the work as standing alone and separate from the film that followed. As much as I tried, I kept having Mr. Connery’s voice coming into my head while reading some of the dialogue.

    Notwithstanding, this work stands on its own legs and shows why this was chosen as the second (why not the first?) feature. It offers everything one would expect from a Bond novel. It also offers a very risque novel in terms of the sexual mores present at the time of writing. I can see why this is viewed by some as the first truly great James Bond novel. One note does ring sour, however. Kerim Bey’s treatment of women seems to be less of a reflection of Turkish men’s attitude than Mr. Fleming’s state of mind at the time. Interesting.

    I find the ending most interesting. Not because of what it means to the novel (as we all could imagine the literary equivalent of ‘James Bond will return in…’ on the page), but what Mr. Fleming was thinking at the time. Was he confident that everyone knew Bond was returning so he could take chances? Was the publisher quaking after reading the ending, fearing readers reactions? Interesting.

    A thoroughly enjoyable read.

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… manfromjapan

    Just finished the book and I rate it as the best one I have read so far. I am reading them in chronological order. It is a compelling, captivating, vividly described thriller. I liked the villains and Bond’s relationship with Tania, the action is good, the sex erotic and Kerim is a wonderful character. I thought Casino Royale couldn’t be bettered! It is better than the film, which I love, but in the novel the Bond/Grant fight is arguably not as exciting as the film version is.

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… Blonde Bond

    Yesterday I finished reading Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love and I did it rather quickly. Took about week or less to read it through. It was simply because this book was so intriguing. The book closely followed the same story that followed in the movie adaption, years later. There were, of course, some differences that weren’t included in the film.

    I liked the start and how the better part of the first half of the book was dedicated to the villains, building up characters like Red Grant. Let me just say it for the record; that man was a cold blooded sob. Much easier to be hated than his movie counterpart.

    Now, I want to be honest; because of the first half only dedicated to the villains and their plotting, I felt hasty, and I wanted the story to move forward, so I could again meet my favorite British spy. But thinking afterwards, it was a good decision from Fleming to build the backbone of the story, and only when it was the time, did he move forward in the story and reintroduced us with the character we already knew from the previous novels.

    Even though the novel was like a Tourist’s Guide for Spy Guys, it finally got to the point when Bond arrives in Istanbul. The few chapters taking place in the gypsy camp and the aftermath of the massacre were very familiar to me since I had seen the movie before I had the pleasure of reading this fine book. However, the fight between those two gypsy girls was told in more brutal way than it was in the movie and after Kerim had shot his long time enemy, Krilencu, Bond’s thoughts of disgust came as a surprise, since Bond himself was a cold blooded killer himself, if needed. Here he was, judging Kerim’s way of delivering vengeance.

    The ending that took place on the train was a far more thrilling version compared to Bond’s and Grant’s fight in the movie and I found myself thinking how will Bond handle this situation and escape from death?

    The ending of the book came as a surprise, being different than the ending in the movie. It left me wanting more, left me wanting to know what 007’s health, both physical and mental, would be in the following book, Dr. No.

    All in all, although containing a very familiar story, and not from my favorite Bond movie either, this was the best book in the series so far.

    The first half alone made this my favourite 007 book.

    ‘From Russia with Love’ reviewed by… Agent76

    I finished the book today, and I have to say I’m very pleased with it. It was for certain, a great read, full of fantastic descriptions that only Mr Fleming can give, the details, the actions of James Bond are well written.

    I was a little surprised with the relation between Bond and Kerim Bey, just because it seems to me that Bond admires Kerim a lot, almost like a father figure, or someone he admired as spy working in the name of the Queen.

    Keep your eyes on the CBn main page for further reviews of Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 adventures in the upcoming months.