Review: For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming

For-Your-Eyes-Only-Cover.jpgThe five short stories presented in For Your Eyes Only are wonderful additions to 007 continuity. Rather than pitting James Bond against another megalomaniac psychopath with a penchant for destruction, these tales are smaller in scope, demonstrating to readers that not every case 007 is handed contorts into the stuff of fantasy: for every Goldfinger he topples, there is a smaller villain to terminate. And James Bond does his duty diligently every time he is called upon by Her Majesty.

Ian Fleming’s occasionally stilted prose is perfect for these quickly-digested short stories, and in fact he finds room for experimentation; a spin on the formula that had served him so well up until this point. There’s not a bad yarn in thus bunch, but it’s Quantum of Solace that deserves the most acclaim; a story that doesn’t have Bond get out of his chair! 007 is told the tale of a failed marriage; and just as the reader assumes Fleming is leading us down a well-trodden path, he offers an impactful, emotive twist, immediately making it the highlight. The Hildebrand Rarity ranks a close second; but here, Bond does indeed get his hands dirty, and bloody.

Though it’s an entertaining package, For Your Eyes Only doesn’t offer anything particularly memorable. With its smaller focus, none of the villains stand out, and there are none of the epic action set pieces or environments that make the Bond novels resonate. Having followed Goldfinger – one of Fleming’s best – one can’t help but feel a little disappointed. From a View to a Kill, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace, Risico and The Hildebrand Rarity are fine stories; but they’re gold scrapings amidst the lavish nuggets that are Fleming’s preceding novels.

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