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James Bond opening lines

There are two facts about Ian Fleming we particularly like. One is that he wrote kids' classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (thank you Wikipedia) the other is that he was a Naval Intelligence Officer during World War II. And while we don’t ever imagine that Fleming ever owned a flying car (if he did we’re jealous) we do know that his experience led him to create the most renowned spy in the world of fiction.

Throughout his career he produced 12 James Bond novels plus a collection of short stories and although many Bond novels were written post-Fleming, such as the new novel Carte Blanche (read the exclusive extract here), we thought this would be a great excuse to honour the legendary and original Bond-scribe, with a look at the best covers and first lines from his much-loved books.

Carte Blanche, the new James Bond novel by Jeffery Deaver, is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton on 26 May, priced £19.99

  • James Bond opening lines

    The Man With The Golden Gun

    "The Secret Service holds much that is kept secret even from very senior officers in the organization. Only M and his Chief of Staff know absolutely everything there is to know."

  • James Bond opening lines 1

    Casino Royale

    "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it."

  • James Bond opening lines 2

    Diamonds Are Forever

    "With its two fighting claws held forward like a wrestler’s arms the big pandinus scorpion emerged with a dry rustle from the finger-sized black hole under the rock."

  • James Bond opening lines 3

    For Your Eyes Only

    "The eyes behind the wide black rubber goggles were cold as flint. In the howling speed-turmoil of a BSA M20 doing seventy, the were the only quiet things in the hurtling flesh and metal."

  • James Bond opening lines 4

    From Russia With Love

    "The naked man who lay splayed out on his face beside the swimming pool might have been dead. He might have been drowned and fished out of the pool and laid out on the grass to dry while the police or the next-of-kin were summoned."

  • James Bond opening lines 5

    Goldfinger

    "James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death."

  • James Bond opening lines 6

    Live and Let Die

    "There are moments of great luxury in the life of a secret agent. There are assignments on which he is required to act the part of a very rich man; occasions when he takes refuge in good living to efface the memory of danger and the shadow of death; and times when, as was now the case, he is a guest in the territory of an allied Secret Service."

  • James Bond opening lines 7

    Moonraker

    "The two thirty-eights roared simultaneously. The walls of the underground room took the crash of sound and batted it to and fro between them until there was silence."

  • James Bond opening lines 8

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    "It was one of those Septembers when it seemed that the summer would never end. The five-mile promenade of Royale-les-Eaux, backed by trim lawns emblazoned at intervals with tricolour beds of saliva, alyssum and lobelia, was bright with flags and, on the longest beach in the north of France, the gay bathing tents still marched prettily down to the tide-line in big, money-making battalions."

  • James Bond opening lines 9

    The Spy Who Loved Me

    "I was running away. I was running away from England, from my childhood, from the winter, from a sequence of untidy, unattractive love-affairs, from the few sticks of furniture and jumble of overworn clothes that my London life had collected around me…"

  • James Bond opening lines 10

    Thunderball

    "It was one of those days when it seemed to James Bond that all life, as someone put it, was nothing but a heap of six to four against."

  • James Bond opening lines 11

    You Only Live Twice

    "The geisha called ‘Trembling Leaf’, on her knees beside James Bond, leant forward from the waist and kissed him chastely on the right cheek."

  • James Bond opening lines 12

    Dr. No

    "Punctually at six o’clock the sun set with a last yellow flash behind the Blue Mountains, a wave of violet shadow poured down Richmond Road, and the crickets and tree frogs in the fine gardens began to zing and tinkle."

  • James Bond opening lines 13

    Octopussy and the living daylights

    "‘You know what?’ said Major Dextor Smythe to the octopus. ‘You’re going to have a real treat today if I can manage it.'"

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