Casino Royale

By Ian Fleming
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Casino Royale is Ian Fleming‘s first James Bond novel. It would eventually pave the way for 11 other novels by Ian Fleming himself, in addition to two short story collections, followed by many “continuation” Bond novels by other authors.
Since first publication on 13 April 1953, Casino Royale has been adapted for the screen three times. The first was a 1954 episode of the CBS television series Climax! with Barry Nelson as CIA agent “Jimmy Bond”. The first Casino Royale film was a 1967 spoof with both David Niven and Peter Sellers playing “Sir James Bond”; the second was the twenty-first official film in the EON Productions film series with Daniel Craig as James Bond, released November 17, 2006…

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming: M, the Head of MI6, assigns James Bond, Special Agent 007 to play against and bankrupt Le Chiffre, the paymaster for a SMERSH-controlled trade union, in a high-stakes baccarat game at the Royale-Les-Eaux casino. As part of Bond’s cover as a rich Jamaican playboy, M also assigns as his companion Vesper Lynd, personal assistant to the Head of Section S (Soviet Union). The French Deuxième Bureau and the CIA also send agents as observers. Bond initially considers Vesper simply as a nuisance, but grows to have romantic feelings for her.
The game soon turns into an intense confrontation between Le Chiffre and Bond; Le Chiffre wins the first round, bankrupting Bond, and Vesper refuses to stake him any higher. As Bond contemplates killing Le Chiffre outright, CIA agent Felix Leiter offers to stake Bond for another hand, with the condition that the CIA gets to bring Le Chiffre in. Bond accepts the money, despite the attempts of Le Chiffre’s minders to dissuade him, and the game continues. Bond eventually wins, taking from Le Chiffre tens of millions of francs belonging to SMERSH.
Desperate to recover the money, Le Chiffre kidnaps Vesper and subjects Bond to brutal torture, threatening to kill them both if he does not get the money back. Suddenly, a SMERSH assassin bursts in and kills Le Chiffre as punishment for losing the money. The agent does not kill Bond, saying that he has no orders to do so, but cuts a Cyrillic ‘Ш’ (sh) into Bond’s hand so that future SMERSH agents will be able to identify him…

Lynd visits Bond every day as he recuperates in the hospital, and he gradually realises that he loves her; he even contemplates leaving Her Majesty’s Secret Service to settle down with her. When Bond is released, they spend time together at a quiet guest house, and eventually become lovers. One day, they see a mysterious man named Gettler tracking their movements, which greatly distresses Vesper. The following morning, Bond finds that she has committed suicide. She leaves behind a note explaining that she had been working as an unwilling double agent for the MVD. SMERSH had kidnapped her lover, a Polish RAF pilot, who had revealed information about her under torture; SMERSH then used that information to blackmail her into helping them undermine Bond’s mission, including her own faked kidnapping. She had tried to start a new life with Bond, but upon seeing Gettler – a SMERSH agent – she realised that she would never be free of her tormentors, and that staying with Bond would only put him in danger.
James Bond copes with the loss by denouncing Vesper to MI6 as a traitor and going back to work as if nothing has happened, coldly telling M, “The bitch is dead now.” Nevertheless, subsequent novels reveal that he never truly gets over her death; in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, for example, it is revealed that he makes an annual pilgrimage to Royale-Les-Eaux to visit her grave, while in Diamonds Are Forever, he avoids listening to “La Vie en Rose”, a song closely associated with Lynd in Casino Royale… (Summary by Wikipedia)

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