It is bleak time for the MI6. Their highest offices are infiltrated by traitors, most trustworthy people are sold out to the highest bidders (I.e. USSR). The operatives of the Soviet counter-intelligence SMERSH are raising Havoc in the western world, mercilessly achieving their objectives of killing their targets, leaving a trail of fear and frustration in their wake. The British intelligence is proving to be no match, for the ruthlessness of the Russians, who, now truly rule the spy-kingdoms. Fifth columnists, hired, funded and controlled by the soviets are playing a psychological war, by effectively controlling media and carrying false and misleading messages to the common people, who sleep soundly in their homes, unawares of the communist threat, they believe is half a Europe away, is actually manifesting its roots in the very foundation of the true and the most ancient capitalist empire of the world.
This was the real state of affairs, which was mostly unknown to the general public. To awaken them to the danger lurking, in an innocent garb of, say, a leftist labour youth, now working undercover for the communist, twisted to treachery against his mother land by his ideologies and ready to go to any length without giving a thought to the choice of others, England needed a warning bell...an alarm that danger is HERE and NOW. This came from the man who himself was a navy intelligence officer, a man of deep insight and forethought...from Ian Fleming.
"My name is Bond...James Bond..."
The title of the part itself is so satisfyingly familiar.... It brings with itself the warmth of the possibility (this is for both Masculine and the Feminine populous) that a man like this can exist.
He has been made so very popular by the a string of Movies (Now 21)... that have become nothing short of a franchise now. The bond that Fleming conjured is indeed the Suave and Sophisticated secret agent that we know in the famous portrayals by Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnon. This is the man, a polished diamond, we are introduced to, in his first adventure (for us, i.e..... Bond is no newbie to this Business, as he was in the intelligence since the WWII). He is meticulous in his acts of countering any kind of watch kept upon him. His observation and abilities and skills are honed to perfection along with his knowledge and cunning acquired from a quality ox-bridgian education and a strict naval training. A multi-linguist and a expert in Psychology and a whiplash quip, he is already a very interesting character.
But something is still lacking in him....which is a purpose and a reason to fight. For him, his profession as a spy, is a game. The wars he has fought in his devious job, have been against the generation of men, that was yet to become the cold, alienated and sadistic race (even German spies won't match it with the Soviets) that was to come, when the equally chilling and aptly named Cold war was to start. The world had changed, without Bond noticing it. It is now not a place where spies just infiltrated into enemy nations for stealing data and an occasional sabotage of the precious infrastructure..but it is a time for the the cruelty in men, to raise its unholy head and unleash its terror, through a continuous string of murders and punishments, issued like the venom splash of a cobra in wrath. Bond, has yet, not grasped that the time for his Gentlemanly attitude and Victorian manners has past beyond the annals of the present. The war of the brains is, now, no longer a friendly rivalry to plan and counter-plan, but has become a deadly place where life of the Spy in question had become valueless, to be only used like a pawn in a game of Chess played without restraining. No moral codes, no ethics were to be regarded in the this conflict, till when, the new order would be Established after the Fall of the Soviet nation.
The novel contains a plot, very simple for us, who have grown accustomed to a Bond facing dangers of magnitudes of cosmic importance, Constantly fighting the horde of madmen bent on controlling the world....in a world of comic books, where they give superman, another name.
Here The plot itself revolves around a man, named Le Chiffre, a minor Commie threat linked to a industrial firm, which is confirmed by MI6 to be a front for soviet entry into the western Europe. Bond's job is simple...Le Chiffre has been foolish enough to steal from his benefactors from Russia and needs to pay his dues. He plans to do that by winning card games (baccarat!) at the Casino by name Royale-les-Eaux (The royal waters?(French)). But the MI6 thinks otherwise. They want him to loose the game, so that the reputation of the firm he works for will be ruffled and he will be eventually killed by the Russians. So they choose their best card player, a gambling expert agent 007........... or.......... obviously you know who, to get the job done. This weak plot, is only made very readable only by the extremely realistic writing style of Ian Fleming, who uses his descriptive power and experiences to great effects.
Bond is assisted, though in an undeniably useless manner, by Vesper Lynd, another agent from MI6. Her beauty, does mange to entice Bond however. As strong a character Bond might be, his inborn British chivalry and sensitivity is still alive...(which is what he looses in the end, in favor of the new Bondian attitude he acquires) . Bond is now dreaming of leaving his profession and marrying Vesper Lynd.
In an action packed sequence of events which I will not elaborate for the time, in a highly tense card game ,Bond defeats Le Chiffre but is captured and tortured diabolically by him before being finally rescued by lady luck. This rescue arrives in the form of an angel of death..None other than a SMERSH assassin who murders Le Chiffre. He only keeps bond alive because he has no orders for killing Bond. Bond is now a marked man, with the SMERSH operative burning his brand on Bonds arm.
The End of a novel and the beginning of a Legend.
Finally, Bond and Lynd reunite after rescue. The money, won from the gambling is safe and Le Chiffre is dead. Bond begins to feel that he has had enough of Spying. He sees his new life in peace and quiet of his sub-urban home of London along with a newly discovered companion and away from this mad strife.
Just when an unknowing reader is frightened of the clues, that the novel is a tragedy(:)) that will end with a marriage and end of a very promising career of a secret agent, suddenly the story takes a frightening (now a very usual cliche) turn. Lynd is actually a double agent. She has been working with Russians all along, unbeknowest to all. When she sees the SMERSH assassin, fearing that he has been sent to murder her, she commits suicide, leaving, an initially devastated Bond, a letter of confession of her sins. Bond, whom we know has just shown a sentimental streak...is supposed to cry or..or show any kind of passionate emotion of regret and loss....But, here emerges from the garb of a simple and somewhat friendly agent, a changed man.... A man who understands, now, that how much this attitude has cost England and the western capitalistic world, he, is a Representative of. For the first time he realises the efficiency of SMERSH and their ruthless crusade that will sweep away the agents like Bond in a simple act of terror, that they inspire.
Their sway is so heavy in the air, that it seems that the game is over for the Capitalist world unless there is born a man who will make this fear, his friend. HE must understand and counter the terror that is the greatest weapon of the enemy. Not only stop there,but also take this fear to the enemy and make them afraid.
There is a need of a man who, regardless of the peril that his life will face in this war, is ready to bear this mantle of pain and become a legend that will break the nerves of the opponent. Not suicidal but cold and ruthlessly intelligent.....using his strengths and mercilessly strikes in the solar plexus of the enemy. A man in all who makes his business a personal affair. A James Bond that we know today. The Bond of the Casino Royale decides to become this new Bond, that was waiting only for this drive.... Our diamond who was already well finished, is now finally socketed in necklace that holds the greatest of other diamonds, joining the ranks of worlds finest Secret agents and detectives....Now driven by a purpose and a will, powered by the same scars that brought mortal pains to him....James Bond,will return.