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SPOILERS: Member Reviews of Carte Blanche


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Poll: What did you think of Carte Blanche - having read it?

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Having read it...

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With which of the following statements would you agree?

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On a rating of 10 to 0, 10 being deliciousness and 0 being a bit like having one's face levered off with a claw hammer, I rate CARTE BLANCHE

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Were Jeffery Deaver to write another one, I would say...

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#61 Dustin

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 04:24 PM

I'm getting the feeling that people aren't liking this because possibly the novel puts Bond in a quasi realistic setting, intending to stray away from Fleming...except for name checks.

I could be wrong also.


No, not really. I love the general idea of the modern setting and think it was overdue. What I feel CB could have done without is the forced Britishness, the ludicrous aping of Fleming where it's neither necessary nor particularly convincing and the box-in-a-box-in-a-box mystery that goes several iterations too far IMO. I'd have wished for more boldness and less fanboy lip service. There are some fine pages in Carte Blanche that make me downright angry because they show what it could have been had the powers that be just had the courage go the whole distance. That's a major weakness in my book.

On top of it there is the fact that as a thriller Carte Blanche's entertaining value is somewhat average. I've read a lot that had me much more on the edge of my seat in terms of suspense. I've read a lot with more atmosphere and more interesting characters. The twists and turns do not really surprise in the way they should.
Finally I have not the feeling it does call for a re-reading anytime soon. Had it not been a Bond adventure I would probably not have picked it up at all.

It still is a fairly good read to kill a day or two, make no mistake. As continuations go it comes about somewhere in the upper third of the series.

But if your time is limited and your aim is to read at least some of the best works in fiction/nonfiction, then there are other books that would deserve your attention.

#62 chrisno1

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 10:11 PM

Interesting debate; may as well add my fuel to the fire.
My earlier review is fairly clear about where I stand. I liked Carte Blanche, despite its problems, of which there are several. For me it reads well and the updating works fine.
The major issue with the exercise, and one which seems to constantly be escaping posters is that Carte Blanche isn't really a James Bond novel, so much as a Jeffrey Deaver novel featuring James Bond. You have to rather reconcile yourself to that.
Deaver only writes one way:
the convoluted avenue of the plot, the sudden/ ridiculous/ never saw that coming twists, red herrings abound, the puzzle of the main protagonists personal history, a villain with a horrific psychological kink, action that passes tamely (often involving blowing up things), the use of technology to achieve results, a surprise 'reveal' at the climax.
I've only read 4 Deaver novels, but without exception they all follow the same basic formula. And, like many other copy-cat thriller writers, you either like it or you dont. Kind of take it or leave it.
Deaver's representation of 007 is great, I liked this modern Bond. He feels intrinsically real. Ditto Severan Hydt, who, while being distasteful, at least had a strong and impressive portrait.
Not so the two actual baddies of the piece, and this is a familiar facet of Deaver's work; he rather underplays his major villains, as if they are villainous because they are insignificant. While that has some merit, the fact this two-some are so dull doesn't really help. Their motivations come too late for us to take them seriously.
I think this criticism [nit picking?] over Deaver's interpretation of Britishness and Bondage is unfair. What's wrong with citing modern reference points? It's a modern novel. Faulks mentioned the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to set his story in context; Deaver is doing the same. He does it in his own work too, so he's not striving to be out of character.
I do agree however that Deaver's achievements are undermined by an unecessary pandering to Fleming-hood. I hinted such in my review, but although it didn't harm my enjoyment, and neither helps nor hinders the novel, it is distracting. Given that Deaver was trying to create a 'modern' 007, why do we have characters and character traits from the old 007's world resurfacing? Did M have to be an iracible Admiral; do we need Moneypenny, Goodnight and Bill Tanner; for God's sake do we need May? The Felix and Mathis interludes are problematical twice over as their contribution to the story is spurious. These name-checks (and similar, like Bond's breakfasting routine and shower habits) set the novel back in time, not forward, as if the author can't unshackle himself from Bond's literary past.
Deaver's a clever writer and he likes playing games with his audience. We're all in on this one, but it isn't amusing. It's a replay in fast forward: quite pointless.
Having written all that, as I started out by saying, I enjoyed Carte Blanche. It's much better than the shoot-em-up homilies Benson came out with, although Gardner for me at his best had a stronger grasp of what makes a good Bond novel work, while Amis/Markham and (in TSWLM) Wood captured Fleming's prose better.
Anyway, you can't please everyone. Maybe we all want too much.

#63 lgw007

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 08:16 AM


Here's my review of Carte Blanche - as published on 007magazine.co.uk

My link


Nice review.
Your final summary noting that that this is generic Deaver blended with generic Fleming rather hits the mark, although I'd suggest the prose is completely Deaver, while some of the locales, a few staple characters, a worthy adversary and the underlying melancholy are all that remains of Fleming. While I think you're being a trifle harsh, the review's very well observed.


Thanks for the kind words. I guess what I want everytime I read a continuation Bond novel is something of the standard of great modern thrillers such as Day of the Jackal or Silence of the Lambs, and I don't think any of the continuation novelists have ever given us something that good! Fleming WAS that good.

Mind you, I'm setting the bar pretty high!

#64 David Schofield

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 09:54 AM

Essentially, though, I think the problem is the unnecessary conflicts Deaver inflicts upon himself rather than the necessary.

We knew Deaver wouldn't mimic Fleming's style, we knew we would get a Jeffrey Deaver novel with its twists and turns, and literary styles. Far enough.

We also knew that Deaver-Bond was going to be a young man (again), hadn't been to Casino Royale (or anywhere else Fleming sent him), and had modern sensibilities and 2011 espionage skills. Again, fair enough.

And we were lead to believe Deaver could write convincingly as an Englishman, which Benson couldn't. And he certainly did. I, for one, have no worries about the Brit culture references, though perhaps they were overdone. Maybe they gave Deaver more confidence he could satisfy us protectionist Brits with them. Again, I have no problem there, really.

But for all this, Deaver them chucks in every Fleming-style reference he can, as if he has no courage that his 2011 Bond can stand on his own. Slavishly, we get almost every damn product fixation Fleming had; the razor, the shirts, the car, etc. And almost every bloody associate Bond ever came across in Fleming.

And yet Deaver is not writing as Fleming, has confidence in his own literary style, throws out all Fleming continuity bar shoe-horning in a modern day take on Bond's parents' demise. And yet he does not have the confidence to take a bare-bones Fleming reference - James Bond, M, Moneypenny, SIS - and go on from there with his modern reboot.

The styles don't fit or match and are amazingly disappointed. I for one can't blame it all on IFP, and some of the blame MUST lie with Deaver.

Hence, CARTE BLANCH is a mess of conflicts and styles, and doesn't really work successfully. It would have been better simply to have had a Deaver adventure story starring a Brit called James Bond than with all the extra baggage he seems to have felt it important to saddle himself with.

#65 Dustin

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 10:36 AM

I think in all fairness it has to be said that each of those overdone and clumsy pieces of so-called Britishness, as well as the pint of minced Fleming-sauce on top of the whole thing, might just as well have the footnote "by special request of CommanderBond.net". Us in other words. So as we at least are partially responsible for ordering the hotchpotch we should perhaps not complain too vehemently here. All the more so as we (for a large part) were not going to like the outcome anyway, no matter what it would have been and with some hating the project from minute one.

I for one wish they would have ignored us fans.

Edited by Dustin, 10 June 2011 - 10:49 AM.


#66 David Schofield

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 10:45 AM

I think in all fairness it has to be said that each of those overdone and clumsy pieces of so-called Britishness, as well as the pint of minced Fleming-sauce on top of the whole thing, might just as well have the footnote "by special request of CommanderBond.net". Us in other words. So as we at least are partially responsible for ordering the hotchpotch we should perhaps not complain too vehement here. All the more so as we (for a large part) were not going to like the outcome anyway, no matter what it would have been and with some hating the project from minute one.

I for one wish they would have ignored us fans.


Sorry, I can't accept this.

I don't recall any CBNers demanding a full checklist of Fleming characters and accessories since Project X and Deaver were announced. Perhaps there were some, but they were certainly not the most vocal.

As I've said, I have no problems with the heavy handed naming dropping of British cultural iconography, but perhaps this was Deaver's confort blanket. But again, I don't recall CBNers screaming for them, only that Deaver could convince he was writing about a British secret service agent.

No, the blame doesn't lie with the fans, it lays with the creative powers behind CARTE BLANCHE, IMO.

#67 Jim

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 01:11 PM

Poll added

#68 chrisno1

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 01:21 PM

Fleming WAS that good.

Mind you, I'm setting the bar pretty high!


Not really - part of the bloody problem, isn't it!

#69 Dustin

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 02:22 PM

Poll added


I was the one voting Mugabe - just in case anybody wonders.

#70 Robert Watts

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 05:16 PM

Just finished it. If you'd asked me before the Dubai chapters I would've said I was liking it. I wasn't mad on the Dubai sequence but I didn't loathe it the way others here did. Unfortunately, by the end of the novel I felt damned ambivalent about it. Just my quick thoughts, I'll go into more detail after some sleep:

In CARTE BLANCHE, the scene feels like Deaver realised he needed to get Bond to Dubai in time to meet the deadline, and so concocted a way out.


This was my biggest problem with the book in that it was the most pervasive. Deaver would do a fine job writing Bond into a tense situation by the end of a chapter (or three) only to then save him using easy outs. He solves tension by revealing witheld information and it comes off as cheap writing.

By the Green Way raid I expected this to be turned around on the reader, to have Bond get into a situation where he hadn't thought one-step ahead, to see him escape the situation through sheer mental willpower and finesse. But no, we got a whole 'Surprise! Bond had slipped the vital sat-phone pen we had never heard about into Jessica's handbag THE DAY BEFORE' and 'Look! Jordaan is here!'

After the fakeout with Lamb and Felicity I was then expecting this to happen. It seemed like it did, but then it turned out Bond had the drop on Felicity! But then Dunne was outside! When Bond decided to scale the mountainface, and Niall was taking the path, I thought finally Bond will climb to the top to realise Niall's a step ahead of him, about to kill Jordaan, but in the heat of the moment, spurred by his passion, he left his sniper rifle behind, and Bond will nail that shot. But no, Bond expected him to take the side track.

As you can tell by my ranting, that really peeved me off. That really was my biggest gripe of the book.

Second was the plot twist that I knew was coming in some form when the bad guy was busted, his scheme gutted and the henchman on the run with fifteen chapters to spare.

While in their respective early p.o.v. chapters I initially found the characterisations of both Dunne and Hyant were rather... characature-ish? Lackluster? I can't quite think of the right word. But as they received more development I found them far more engrossing and menacing than I had earlier. The sequence where they give Bond the tour of the facility, invite him to invest, test his loyalty and where Bond then gets Jessica to break was rather fine writing for the most part.

By contrast, Felicity received very little character development beyond the artifice. What was given was sufficient for Bond's romantic interest, but not his rival. By the time Dunne's backstory with her was revealed - all in exposition, for that matter - I was too busy wondering in the back of my mind how many more twists Bond could somehow anticipate before the end to give a rat's [censored]. And her explanation of her motive, which essentially amounted to "loves money and decided Merchant Bank salaries weren't sufficient" was less compelling than the Ying-Yang of derangement Severen/Niall combination and the Gregory Lamb red herring. For the villains to essentially be in it "for the evulz" after some rather compelling red herrings was beyond a dissapointment.

Then there were some other things. Bond reading Tolkien (serially, it rates at least two mentions and one implies it was habitual) of all things and playing vigilante to a school friend's abused children felt wildly out of character to the point it felt like author insertion.

I didn't particularly care for the Steel Cartridge subplot, particularly in how it amounted to something and wrapped into a loose bow at the end. I suppose this is far more personal preference, but I think Bond searching for searching for meaning behind his parent's deaths and finding nothing would be a more compelling. And I agree that with the routes Deaver did toy with, the double-agent and feeling a need to atone would be more compelling than the "taking inspiration from his mother" sort of thing he ran with.

Dubai was lacklustre but I think that's Dubai. Cape Town was exceedingly well realised.

Now to the (mostly) postive:

- Except for the stuff mentioned above, I liked Bond's characterisation and update as a Gen X, modern man. Of course he'd network, him being an ex-smoker felt authentic to me, and I thought he was given a suitably dry sense of humour. Pulling the private jet out of his [censored] was too easy, though.

- Pretty much all the scenes involving M, Moneypenny and Tanner. Despite the name-checking that plagued the novel, I thought Tanner and Moneypenny were given characterisation that Fleming neglected (I found the description of Moneypenny in her introductory scene particularly good) and M's characterisation was spot on. I thought the scene where he recruits Bond into the ODG over a meal and fends off the government ministers was better conceived than any of the rough equivalents in CR and QoS.

- Deaver's writing style. I had to agree that in the way it's paced it's rather cinematic, for the most part. And I mean that in the good way rather than the "prose-is-bland-and-spartan" way people claim Raymond Benson's style is "cinematic"

- Again, characterisation of the original supporting characters. Osborne-Smith, Lamb (until the stupid last scene), Hyndt, Dunne and (prior to the villain reveal) Felicity all came across clearly to me as a reader and felt believable and organic to the world and environment. I thought Jessica, Philly and Jordaan were much weaker, though. Jordaan was like Jane Tennison had stumbled in from 1990 without any of the vices or the sense of humour. I thought Philly had too many common interests with Bond to be believable, to the point where it took me out of the story.

- I think this iteration of Bond is fertile ground for more novels.

- If the spelling, grammar and syntax haven't clued you in, no, I still haven't had any sleep.

Edited by Robert Watts, 10 June 2011 - 09:51 PM.


#71 terminus

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 11:38 AM

Having now officially finished the book, I'm returning to CBn after vanishing upon the books release. I have to say I rather liked the book, it was well plotted, the main characters (Bond, Severan and Bheka) were all relatively well fleshed out and Deaver obviously did a significant amount of research for the South African segments. The book is low on action pieces - it feels a lot more like an episode of Spooks, with Filly acting not unlike the character of GCHQ liason Ruth and M being a cigar chomping incarnation of Peter Firth's Harry Pearce. Whilst I've never pictured Michael Fassbender as Bond - for me, now, Fassbender is Deaver's Bond, suave, sophisticated but capable of kicking [censored] when situations call for it. The best sketched out action sequence, for me, aside from the opening train crash, is the set-piece in the hospital - perfectly cinematic and neither would appear entirely out of place in a Daniel Craig film. Unfortunately, the rest of the set-pieces don't quite live up to the early promise - both shout-outs in Capetown are, although well written, relatively mundane, which is a little disappointing given that Deaver can write excellent action sequences as witnessed in Garden of Beasts. My big complaint would be that the location of Dubai is so radically underused - one gets the feel that it could have been anywhere else with practically no change in the plot. After so much attention was drawn to it as a location at the literary festival where the book was announced - and the promise that an action set-piece would take Bond to the shipping docks and shipyards, it was sad to see Bond arrive and leave within barely over fifty pages.

Would I like to see another Deaver Bond? Yes, definitely. I think in a few years, round about Book 4, it would be a good idea to see Deaver return to the universe (after another author or two have penned entries) and pen an entry that explores the Steel Cartridge plotline prompted here. In fact - Ian Fleming's James Bond in Jeffrey Deavers 'Steel Cartridge' does have a certain ring to it.

#72 MkB

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 07:04 PM

I finally read Carte Blanche, and although I felt irritated and underwhelmed in the beginning, it somehow grew on me. I for one am happy to see a contemporary Bond book.

What I liked: Deaver knows how to write a thriller, he did his homework on the Bond universe, and unlike Faulks's, his book doesn't leave an after-taste of pastiche.

What I didn't like: it lacks a style, a voice... it reads like a generic airport spy novel. Besides, I didn't hit it off with Deaver's Bond, I couldn't exactly tell why.


Now some notes I took while reading:

- I was appalled by the sequence in the beginning, where 6 or ODG, whatever, decide to cooperate with the Serbian Security Service - in the person of 2 lousy agents who botch the job, of course. No, I mean... seriously? Spilling the beans about a major international threat to the Serbian services? Why not send a cable to all the Balkan mafias, to save time? :rolleyes:

- "May, his treasure of a Scottish housekeeper who came three times a week to sort out his domestic life": good update, having a full-time housekeeper attending to his meals and even breakfast would be downright pathetic for a contemporary man.

- "‘You seem to be a rather rare combination of the best of both.’": would M praise one of his men so directly? It struck me as rather out of character

- "Just after he’d joined the ODG, Bond had dropped into her office chair and flashed a broad smile. ‘Rank of lieutenant, were you, Moneypenny?’ he’d quipped. ‘I’d prefer to picture you above me.’ Bond had left the service as a commander.": even I thought it was a terrible double-entendre, and I'm very fond of this Bnd tradition... What kind of palaeolithic [censored] would act like that?
No offence intended here, but I honestly wonder if it's not a US / UK cultural difference: sexual double-entendre are far less common in the US culture than in the UK, it might be a case where Deaver tried to give it a crack, because it's part of the Bond canon, without mastering the genre...

- "a hypersensitive omnidirectional microphone mounted within a dead fly": this is probably the silliest Q toy I've ever read about... the first impulse of any moron will be to crush a dead fly, and the bug within.

- "Upscale pubs were more ‘ghastly’ than ‘gastro’, [Bond] had once quipped.": Oh gawd... that's the worst pun I've read in a long, long while...

- "Mention ancient Rome, Theron, and most people think of what? The Julio-Claudian line of emperors. Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero. At least they think so if they read I, Claudius or saw Derek Jacobi in brilliant form on the BBC. But that whole line lasted a pathetically short time – slightly over a hundred years. Yes, yes, mare nostrum, Praetorian guards, films staring Russell Crowe ...": just to indulge in some pedantry, Gladiator, the film starring Russell Crowe, is not set under the Julio-Claudian but under the Antonine dynasty, precisely at the end of the 2nd c. A.D.

- Steel Cartridge: I didn't get why, if the purpose of the KGB was to eliminate their own moles, they left a steel cartridge as a warning to other agents; why would they want to warn the other moles they're going to eliminate?

#73 David Schofield

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:26 AM

Tell you chaps what, CARTE BLANCHE has motivated me to read DEVIL MAY CARE again.

Was Faulks take on Bond really that bad after all? Gonna give it a chance to find out in the glow of the aftermath of Deaver's effort.

:P

#74 Jump James

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 08:05 AM

Tell you chaps what, CARTE BLANCHE has motivated me to read DEVIL MAY CARE again.

Was Faulks take on Bond really that bad after all? Gonna give it a chance to find out in the glow of the aftermath of Deaver's effort.

:P


You could be right, DMC could come off better to those who didn't like it originally. I do think it's a better read if memory serves me correctly. Still struggling to get past chapter 51 with CB. It's such an effort to read, its like the pages are made out of sandpaper.

#75 George88

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 08:18 AM

Fun poll; have voted.

#76 KM16

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 01:44 AM

Just finished reading it. Haven't really read through most of these pages but my summary WILL contain spoilers.

Carte Blanche was an enjoyable read. I'll admit straight off the bat that I've never read any of Mr. Deaver's previous work, although when I got the book I happily noticed that not only was the book fairly lengthy for a Bond novel, but he resides somewhere in North Carolina as well (as do I).

I'll start with the changes. I feel like most of them are heavily welcomed. At first, I was a little hesitant with some of the slight character changes (such as the lead of Q Branch) but the more I read through, the more I quite enjoyed Hirani as a character and I feel a great character relationship can blossom from his creation. Changing M back to male gets a full two thumbs up from me. Also, changing of the branch Bond works for also somewhat makes sense within' the story itself and I felt myself not really caring all that much after the initial shock had set it. This is, after all, a somewhat brand new Bond.

The other characters, villains included, I felt rushed past too fast. Leiter, Lamb, Good old Percy (whom I quite enjoyed a bit, if I'm to be completely honest) and several others didn't see as much time to shine as I would've hoped. The main villain (if you can even call her that) wasn't necessary in the least and I would've preferred it be just Dunne. That was one of my only complaints throughout my read of the book.

All in all, I felt Carte Blanche has set everything up and I honestly cannot wait to see where things are headed for Bond, especially with what he uncovers towards the end. I'll reserve judgement on that until I see how (and if) it pans out. This is the first new adult Bond novel I've thoroughly enjoyed since The Facts Of Death and that was such a long time ago now. Glad to see Carte Blanche, in my eyes, holds up to the rebooted film franchise. Things are indeed looking good for 007, in my opinion.

I gave the book an 8/10. It would've scored higher if not for the weird and unnecessary twists towards the end and the 'unfinished business' with fleeting guest characters.

#77 Skudor

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 11:04 AM

I'm only half way through - so consider this a semi-review.

Things I like:
- The pacing is pretty good.
- It feels like a Bond novel (i.e. it doesn't feel wrong... whatever that means)
- I enjoy the story and plot so far and the characters are by and large interesting (I kinda fancy Ophelia); good names.

Things I that bug me:
- It seems every 'ally' ever to find him/herself in a Bond novel is back (from Moneypenny to Mathis and Leiter).
- Deaver seems to want to introduce Bond as a new character: it seems every crumb of information that Fleming favoured us with in [insert number of books....ooops] has been shoe-horned in.
- The travelogue sometimes feels a bit like cut-and-paste from a brochure/wikipedia rather than real insight or flavour.
====> Perhaps Deaver is trying too hard, where Faulkner didn't try at all.

But those are niggles. I'm enjoying the read - it's quite a page turner. And I particularly like Bond in it - like I said, it feels right.


Having finished I can only really repeat what I wrote above. The strengths are in the characters and the pacing (or rather the speed of the pacing). The weaknesses are in the dialogue, product placement and the sense that someone's working a bit too hard at trying to be British.

I also think there a bit too many plot twists at the end - Gehenna was a bit implausible (why on earth did Hydt need investors?) and the real story behind incident 20 came up too quickly to really have a decent ring to it.

Someone, somewhere, commented on the easy escapes that Bond seems to have from every situation, through his amazing foresight and planning. I'll second that, although I didn't really pick up on it myself.

Nevertheless, this was a vastly better read than that last novel.

#78 Matt_13

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 11:27 PM

Tell you chaps what, CARTE BLANCHE has motivated me to read DEVIL MAY CARE again.

Was Faulks take on Bond really that bad after all? Gonna give it a chance to find out in the glow of the aftermath of Deaver's effort.

:P


Did the same thing before Carte Blanche dropped. Answer is yes, but may, like me, find some value in the work previously overlooked.

#79 clublos

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 03:00 AM

I voted, don't have time to write a review.

But I will say this: anyone notice the physical description of Hydt resembles that of Sebastian Faulks?

#80 Loomis

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 03:37 PM


I think in all fairness it has to be said that each of those overdone and clumsy pieces of so-called Britishness, as well as the pint of minced Fleming-sauce on top of the whole thing, might just as well have the footnote "by special request of CommanderBond.net". Us in other words. So as we at least are partially responsible for ordering the hotchpotch we should perhaps not complain too vehement here. All the more so as we (for a large part) were not going to like the outcome anyway, no matter what it would have been and with some hating the project from minute one.

I for one wish they would have ignored us fans.


Sorry, I can't accept this.

I don't recall any CBNers demanding a full checklist of Fleming characters and accessories since Project X and Deaver were announced. Perhaps there were some, but they were certainly not the most vocal.

As I've said, I have no problems with the heavy handed naming dropping of British cultural iconography, but perhaps this was Deaver's confort blanket. But again, I don't recall CBNers screaming for them, only that Deaver could convince he was writing about a British secret service agent.

No, the blame doesn't lie with the fans, it lays with the creative powers behind CARTE BLANCHE, IMO.


Well said, David. I certainly can't recall anyone here asking for either the tedious Fleming box-ticking (quite the reverse, if anything) or the incredibly overdone, erm, "Britishness". But no doubt the suits behind CARTE BLANCHE fondly imagine (very patronisingly) that us fans can't live without such things, and indeed that for us sad anoraks a continuation Bond novel stands or falls on things like whether or not Ronnie Vallance is mentioned.

Neither do I agree that "we (for a large part) were not going to like the outcome anyway, no matter what it would have been and with some hating the project from minute one". Sure, there were plenty of knives out for Young Bond when that project was announced ("I'm not interested in Bond as a schoolboy!", "They're only doing it because of the success of Harry Potter!", etc.), but I don't remember anyone here directing any particular bile at PROJECT X from "minute one". If anything, we welcomed it with above-average enthusiasm and openmindedness, perhaps partly as a reaction to the turkey that was DEVIL MAY CARE.

Tell you chaps what, CARTE BLANCHE has motivated me to read DEVIL MAY CARE again.

Was Faulks take on Bond really that bad after all? Gonna give it a chance to find out in the glow of the aftermath of Deaver's effort.

:P


Well, I wish you luck with DEVIL MAY CARE - you'll need it. Why not go back to Fleming or the couple of continuation novels that are worthwhile? Heck, I'd even re-read CARTE BLANCHE before picking up DEVIL MAY CARE again.

I'm re-reading JAMES BOND: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY, and I tell you: it's an absolute sodding masterpiece compared to DEVIL MAY CARE or CARTE BLANCHE.

#81 TCK

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:40 PM

I'll get my copy of Carte Blanche tomorrow. Well I know I'm late, but anyway, I'll avoid staying here for a while to not be weighed down by spoilers. Hope I'll come back to you shortly, it would mean that I've devoured Carte Blanche, hope so then ! By the way, it'll be my first non-Fleming James Bond novel, I hope I won't be disappointed and confused. :)

See you soon folks ! ;)

#82 TheREAL008

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:49 PM

Just finished Sunday. To be honest I've noticed alot of arrogance instead of incompetence. Will start on Monday soon and give a full review on the book once I'm done.

#83 Jack Spang

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:33 PM

"Tell you chaps what, CARTE BLANCHE has motivated me to read DEVIL MAY CARE again.

Was Faulks take on Bond really that bad after all? Gonna give it a chance to find out in the glow of the aftermath of Deaver's effort."


I have thought about doing this too but first it's Wood's Moonraker followed by TSWLM. One thing I didn't like about DMC was how Faulks referred to Bond's shoes as loafers and had him eating omelettes instead of scrambled eggs. I was at the book launch at Waterstones that day back in May 08. I remember watching this Canadian chap being interviewed (there was a fair bit of press that day) who had come all the way to London for this very launch. I hope he wasn't too disappointed with the book!

Carte Blanche was a thoroughly enjoyable read with some exciting twists littered with surprises that were most welcome albeit a couple of which I was able to guess. It was refreshing to read a Bond book with a plot that was absent of relative simplicity unlike Fleming’s and Benson’s stories. I have never minded however about the straightforward plots in the books and films as it’s everything that revolves around these stories that interest me. Hydt is a most chilling, original character with his perverse love of decaying bodies and I was particularly intrigued with his reasons behind his interest in Jessica. Dunne is a worthy adversary. I enjoyed the Fleming homages and the sub plot about Bond’s parents is compelling. I hope it will be expanded on further in the series. While it gave me pleasure reading about Mathis and Leiter, the latter's presence really wasn’t required. The amusing phone conversation between Maidstone and Bond at the conclusion of the novel is reminiscent of Bond’s meeting in the park with Gala Brand in Moonraker.

The problem with Carte Blanche is that with Deaver’s Bond we are only given a mere glimpse of our hero. Gone are Bond’s cynicism, the subtle melancholy and his brooding nature. The Bond in Carte Blanche is unfortunately almost one dimensional and mechanical. He’s less confrontational and his tendency to have a bit of a temper has almost vanished although he does seem slightly more like Fleming’s creation in the last quarter of the novel which is heightened in the last few pages. I liked the way Bond romanticised about the source of the boat horn.

The book is well thought out, including much detail in the tradecraft of spying and unlike Lee Child; Deaver’s sentences are more rounded and eloquent I feel. The quick paced writing works very well in the action scenes which are most exciting but a little more description is required in the slower sections - the landscape Bond sees from the plane and car and his opinion of it and what was Bond wearing in the last half of the novel? Part of what I love about Fleming’s books and sections of Gardner’s work is that we were allowed the chance to really soak up the atmosphere. Deaver must also invite us into Bond’s thought process to a much greater extent. I realise he wants to write fast paced novels to appeal to his regular fans but this doesn’t always work in a Bond novel. I think a balance must be found.

I wouldn’t be adverse to Deaver returning to write another but he must flesh out the character of Bond considerably more! This is imperative. He should study the original Bond’s personality and identify what gets under his skin. What are his weaknesses and vulnerabilities? At the conclusion of his first meeting with Jordaan, when out of earshot Bond would have said “bitch” out loud as he did following his first run in with Domino in Thunderball. In the Gardner books I felt like I was reading about our man most of the time as I did in Benson’s otherwise failed literary efforts but in Carte Blanche I could have almost been reading about any chap who just happened to share the same name as Bond, with the same background history and interests with a Scottish housekeeper called May. In terms of his car, I’m glad he drives a Bentley but I feel a model from the 1950’s or 60’s would have been more appropriate. Afterall, in the 50’s, Fleming had Bond drive a 1930’s Bentley.

For the third book I think I would welcome the return of a more traditional Bond story but for the second I wouldn’t be opposed once more to a book like Deaver has given us - something very much in the vein of contemporary crime thrillers, but our protagonist must be the man who we all got to know and love in Fleming’s yarns! The odd change is fine. I was happy with Bond’s alcohol intake in CB and his racism can remain a thing of the past but the remainder of his personality should predominantly remain intact with perhaps a subtle hint of chauvinism. :) He doesn’t have to be perfect. Fleming’s Bond is far from this.
If you remove Bond from the equation, as I said the book itself is most engaging with a welcome sense of realism in parts. I couldn’t wait to open it up each day (I want to check out Garden of Beasts and other Deaver novels now). It did seem to miss our hero to a large extent though.

Edited by Jack Spang, 15 June 2011 - 07:38 AM.


#84 Jump James

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 02:09 PM

I have finished CB and I am very underwhelmed. It was very putdownable. I wish it had of been unpickupable.

#85 David Schofield

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 02:26 PM

Well said, David. I certainly can't recall anyone here asking for either the tedious Fleming box-ticking (quite the reverse, if anything) or the incredibly overdone, erm, "Britishness". But no doubt the suits behind CARTE BLANCHE fondly imagine (very patronisingly) that us fans can't live without such things, and indeed that for us sad anoraks a continuation Bond novel stands or falls on things like whether or not Ronnie Vallance is mentioned.


Indeed there is something mouthwateringly bizarre about a James Bond project where it would seem vital to include such non-essential staples as Vallance, Mathis, Mary Goodnight, shoe-horn in Felix Leiter, chuck in shaving and shirt references, Blue Mountain Coffee, etc, while very loudly having all those behind the project repeating ad-infinitum, "IT'S A REBOOT. CASINO ROYALE HASN'T HAPPENED. GOLDFINGER NEVER EXISTED. JAMES BOND HAS NEVER BEEN MARRIED."

It's perverse, but this is what CARTE BLANCHE does.

#86 zencat

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 03:57 PM

My review:

http://www.thebookbo...r-delivers.html

#87 Simon

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 11:14 AM

Nice review fella.

#88 zencat

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:14 PM

Thanks, Simon. I know many will dismiss it because "zencat likes everything", but so be it. I liked it. (And this isn't really true. Go find all my praise of QOS. Ain't there. When I don't like something, I don't talk about it.)

#89 ACE

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:53 PM

My review:

http://www.thebookbo...r-delivers.html

Good stuff, Zencat.
Carte Blanche was a fun, contemporary take on Bond in the tradition of Gardner and Benson: an entertaining read. Hopefully it will get non-litBond fans to pick up a Fleming then delve back into Bond's post-Fleming, literary past.

#90 Skudor

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 10:14 PM

....

I'm re-reading JAMES BOND: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY, and I tell you: it's an absolute sodding masterpiece compared to DEVIL MAY CARE or CARTE BLANCHE.


I left my copy on a plane years ago before managing to finish it - what I did manage to read I enjoyed very much.




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