Ian Fleming – Quantum Of Solace

In my series of reviews of James Bond novels by Ian Fleming there is only one book left. This is the collection of short stories. A complete edition was published in 2008 under the title Quantum Of Solace, obviously so because of the movie that came out that year.

Quantum Of Solace contains 9 short stories which are mostly 30 to 40 pages long. The stories can basically be divided into two groups.

The first group consists of miniature action events, lighting out a certain circumstance or minor case in which Bond gets involved. Because of the short length the plot is often straightforward. What makes it an interesting read is the situation or background of the story. Fleming created a vivid picture of the time and surrounding that felt very genuine to me, which is something that has been a great strength throughout the Bond novels that I’ve read. Next to that he looks into different aspects of the spy job. Where the usual novel conforms to certain rules of behavior, Fleming shows sides of Bond we haven’t seen before. Some of the action events are quite thrilling and it is obvious why they have been used for movie adaptations. The stories For Your Eyes Only and Risico were even combined together and form the core of one of the James Bond movie. Most of the character names survived although many changes were made to create a larger and more coherent plot. Many of the important elements are however easily recognizable. The Property Of A Lady and The Living Daylights would only become minor events in different Bond movies with far less impact. The only story of this group that I don’t remember having seen in a movie is From A View To A Kill. Its events are simply not that exciting and it’s the weakest of five.

The four other stories I call character studies. They contain little action and actually hardly focus on Bond himself. The only difference is the story The Hildebrand Rarity in which Bond does play his part, but in a more passive way. He observes but is no knight. It is a grey world. As a spy he has to stay in the shadows which leads him to make unsuspected choices. This story was certainly the best of the character studies. Two other stories, Quantum Of Solace and Octopussy, are more or less stories withing stories. Nice and interesting reads and little more. The last story, 007 In New York, is very short and not much of a story at all. It was added for completeness of the collection. There is little to say about it as it is not much worthwhile either.

Overall I enjoyed the stories a lot, even the character studies. The form a varying mixture of settings and events with some nice characterizations. If one has enjoyed the novels, this is certainly a great addition, not just to complete the collection. Much recommended.

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