Monday, 17 April 2017
A series can have either one or two beginnings.
A one-beginning series: each James Bond novel is a sequel, never a prequel, to its predecessor - thus, the first published novel, Casino Royale, remains unequivocally the beginning of the series.
Two two-beginnings series: CS Lewis' Narnia Chronicles and Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series - an installment written later but set earlier may be a prequel to the earliest published installment in which case it becomes the beginning of the series not in terms of publication history but in terms of fictional chronology.
Thus, Casino Royale is a first and only beginning whereas Ensign Flandry is a "written later" beginning.
Bond is already in the 00 Section but, later in Casino Royale, explains to another character how he joined it. Flandry is not already in Intelligence but Ensign Flandry explains how he was recruited.
Le Chiffre's trade union would be a fifth column in the event of war with Russia. The Merseian plot on Starkad could destroy the Terran Empire. Bond bankrupts and discredits Le Chiffre. Flandry exposes the Merseian plot.
SMERSH is run by Beria. The Merseian plot is masterminded by Brechdan Ironrede. Beria, who remains off-stage, has the advantage of being a real person which is impossible for Brechdan, who, despite his alienness, is sometimes our viewpoint character.