Ian Fleming

James Bond

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James Bond Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature  detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of James Bond by Ian Fleming.

Casino Royale is the first novel in the James Bond series by Ian Fleming. Published in 1953, it was followed by eleven more James Bond novels and more than thirty films. Fleming was a former naval intelligence officer and drew on real events he saw during his career. As the first novel in the series, Casino Royale traces the main character’s evolution into a committed and dedicated spy. It also addresses Britain’s position in the intelligence world during the Cold War.

Gambling in the French town of Royale-les-Eaux, James Bond recognizes the master thief Le Chiffre in the casino, but after observing the layout of building, decides that it is too heavily guarded for Le Chiffre to attempt a heist there. However, soon after, Bond’s superior, M, gives him a classified dossier on Le Chiffre. Le Chiffre is in dire financial straits because he has spent money entrusted to him by the Soviets. He is at the casino because he has decided to win back the money through gambling. Since Bond is the best gambler in MI6, M wants him to beat Le Chiffre at baccarat to strike a blow against Soviet finances.

Several agents arrive to back Bond up: Mathis, a French spy; Felix Leiter, an American CIA agent; and Vesper Lynd, a British female spy. Mathis reveals that there are also several Soviet agents staying in the hotel, and they have discovered Bond’s identity.

Bond goes on a drive, leaving Mathis and Vesper to talk. While he is out, there is an explosion; all the main characters escape. Seeing the bombers, Bond identifies them as Bulgarian secret agents. Mathis determines that the explosion was meant to kill Bond, though he escaped. Shaken by the assassination attempt, Bond has a difficult time focusing his attention on gambling.

Vesper poses as Bond’s girlfriend to provide support while he is in the casino. They enjoy each other’s company and begin to develop romantic feelings, which is unusual for Bond. However, when Vesper talks about getting together outside of work, Bond turns cold and businesslike. He explains the rules of baccarat and his strategy for bankrupting Le Chiffe.

Bond joins the baccarat table, leaving Vesper with Felix. Bond takes the seat directly across from Le Chiffre so he can observe him, but he also takes note of the other players at the table, who come from all over the world. Losing several hands in quick succession, Bond begins to get nervous. He makes a bad play, losing all the money he has on hand. Fortunately, Felix loans him money so he can continue playing.

As he rejoins the table, Bond is approached by a man with a gun. Bond disarms him without leaving the table. Though the gunman escapes, Bond rejoins the game. He wins the hand, bankrupting Le Chiffre.

Le Chiffre disappears after the game. Bond treats Vesper to dinner, however, they are interrupted when Vesper, receiving a note from Mathis, leaves to meet him. Bond realizes that something about the note was strange, and he rushes after Vesper. Le Chiffre has kidnapped her, and Bond gives chase. Le Chiffree booby-traps the road and Bond crashes. He is abducted from the wreck by Le Chiffre’s men.

Bond is tortured but refuses to give up the location of the money he won. Suddenly, a Soviet agent arrives to kill Le Chiffre for losing the money. Tracing Bond’s car, Mathis rescues Bond and Vesper. Bond retrieves the money from the casino, which he had hidden. After a successful mission, Bond says he is thinking of retiring.

Vesper visits Bond. She apologizes for being captured, and Bond reassures her. They flirt and Bond seriously considers becoming involved with her after he leaves MI6. After Bond is released from the hospital, he takes her on a surprise vacation. However, Vesper notices that their car is being followed. They arrive at a seaside resort and have a romantic time. Bond wants to ask Vesper to marry him.

Partway through the visit, Bond catches Vesper taking a secret phone call. After that, her manner changes and she becomes distant. Bond urges her to tell him what is wrong, and Veper says she will tell him everything in the morning. However, the next morning, Bond goes into Vesper’s room and finds that she has committed suicide. In her suicide note, she confesses to being a double agent working for the Soviets. She has fallen in love with Bond and can no longer go on living a lie.

Bond is angry about the reveal and can only think about how he has been betrayed. He vows revenge on the Soviets, renewing his commitment to MI6 and Britain.