Ian Fleming – From Russia With Love

One thing that surprised me in the James Bond novels that I’ve read until now is that Ian Fleming has put them in chronological order. Events in earlier books are referenced to and sometimes have impact on the later story. While I was somewhat disappointed with Diamonds Are Forever, the next book, From Russia With Love (1957), takes us completely back into the spy game. Like Casino Royale the movie adaptation sticks close to the actual story. There are some differences. The early part of the story is greatly extended, partially as the movie changed certain motives which didn’t allow this long startup anymore. On the other side the final part has different and more scenes than the movie, also partially caused by the change of motives which didn’t require the last part to be follow strictly. Last of all is the middle section. While following the book it has expanded certain scenes and added more. Even as plenty is happening in the book, the movie managed to add a lot more, which is surprising as most movies need to cut scenes in an adaptation.

The cutting and adding changed the story, but only in the general sense. Overall it stayed true to the story and one will enjoy the novel just as one would have enjoyed the movie. It’s the details that make the book more than interesting to read as well, because there are many minor differences and background information that allow for plenty of new to read.

In my review of Diamonds Are Forever I complained about the extensive detailed descriptions that Fleming used in his style. In From Russia With Love he has toned this down again so that it is more functional and fitting as in Moonraker. The more complex plot and greater pace certainly played their part as well. The James Bond novels are on average about 200 pages long, so this probably plays a role in how much words Fleming spends on more extensive descriptions.

The James Bond depicted in this novel is much less vulnerable and naive than in the previous novel and much more like we know him. Still he is not as confident and dominating as we know him from the movies. This is not a bad thing, just an observation. In a movie it is not always possible to portray the character exactly as in the book, as it requires the scenes to back it up. The inner thoughts are usually lost.

From Russia With Love is certainly one of the greater James Bond novels and the most spy-ish one of the series until now. Here the opponent is strong and smart and really playing against Bond instead of Bond having the advantage. These certainly make the more powerful plots. This one’s highly recommended.

One Response to “Ian Fleming – From Russia With Love”

  1. DRush76 says:

    Although “From Russia With Love” might be one of Fleming’s best novels, it’s still not a good story for me. There were too many flaws. SMERSH’s reason for an operation against Bond struck me as rather vague. And Fleming’s description of the Orient Express route between Istanbul and Belgrade struck me as rather odd.

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