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The Eight by Katherine Neville
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The Eight (1988)

by Katherine Neville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Montglane Service (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,466961,539 (3.78)130
  1. 40
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (norabelle414)
  2. 20
    Zugzwang by Ronan Bennett (rarelibri)
    rarelibri: A murder mystery within the backdrop of chess tourney. The name of the book itself is taken from a chess position where: A player whose turn it is to move who has no move that does not worsen their position is said to be in zugzwang (Soltis 2003:78). Thus every move would make their position worse, and they would be better off if they could pass and not move. A great book and for fans of Neville. rarelibri… (more)
  3. 20
    Black Market Truth by Sharon Kaye (cat505)
  4. 31
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Torikton)
    Torikton: "Foucault's Pendulum" is probably the best conspiracy thriller there is.
  5. 20
    Codex by Lev Grossman (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: The “mystery/intrigue that is tied to an historical relic” genre
  6. 10
    Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt (kullfarr)
  7. 10
    The Fire by Katherine Neville (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: The two books are connected by the Montglane Service and The Game
  8. 00
    The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (isabelx)
    isabelx: Historical mysteries involving chess.
  9. 00
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (SharronA)
  10. 00
    Sandstorm by James Rollins (majkia)
    majkia: similar race to uncover mysteries.
  11. 11
    The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman (cransell)
  12. 15
    The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (cransell, kawika)
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» See also 130 mentions

English (83)  Spanish (6)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
My book club likes to choose different genres throughout the year in order to push each of us out of our reading ruts. Katherine Neville's The Eight was a push for me since I neither read thrillers nor play chess. I don't love mysteries and I haven't found a book that does slight of hand (eyes?) that I've liked since I was young and reading Ellen Raskin's masterful The Westing Game. I might have grumbled over the group's choice but I was a dutiful member and read it. And it was fine. It didn't really change my perceptions of the genre but since I didn't hate it, I consider the whole thing generally a success.

Opening at the end of the eighteenth century at Montglane Abbey in the south of France, two young novices are told of the existence of the Montglane Service, a chess set imbued with dangerous powers, given to Charlemagne and crafted by the Moors. The one who possesses all of the pieces will be immensely powerful, invincible and immortal. The nuns of the Abbey have guarded the service faithfully but now the political climate in France and the aspirations and cold intelligence of those on the rise have endangered its hiding place. The service must be scattered to the four winds in order to keep it from coming together as a set and granting the wrong person its strength. Mireille and her cousin Valentine are to take a piece of the service and flee to Paris to their guardian. They will risk everything to keep their piece and those of others safe even in the face of the Reign of Terror. And their opponents are some of the brightest, most calculating minds of their time.

Meanwhile, in 1972, Catherine (Cat) Velis is about to leave for Algeria for work when she is warned about the danger to her there. She is a computer expert for IBM being sent to work with the Algerian government where she will come into contact with the newly formed OPEC. Not long before she is to leave, she is approached by an antiques collector who wants her to negotiate for a very old chess service there. Her work and her search for the chess pieces will collide and make for a thrilling, cat-and-mouse game through Northern Africa as she learns more about this chess service that people will even kill to posses.

The novel is certainly rife with intrigue as this dangerous game plays out across Europe, Africa, and America and across history, touching many of the most famous people of the day. The characters are fairly typical for this genre and it is pretty easy to guess who is on the side of good and who is evil, even without putting them mentally on a chess board, although a knowledge of chess moves certainly helps a reader appreciate the novel and the characters who people it better. The double narratives are equally interesting and they do eventually intertwine in an unexpected way. They are always connected by the chess service but the way that the late eighteenth century directly touches the middle twentieth century is unexpected and mystical. Both parallel stories gallop along at a pretty decent clip with danger, close calls, mystery, and revelations around every corner. But the writing itself isn't outstanding and has the potential to bog the reader down although some of the ideas contained here are smart: Fibonacci numbers, chess strategy, music, and their connections to and mirrors of each other. Suspense and thriller fans who want a roller coaster ride will certainly appreciate this more than I, the non-mathematical, non-chess playing, tone deaf me, did. But over all, even for me, it was a quick and decent read. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jun 23, 2014 |
I looked at this book and thought that this seemed great. The reviewers were all the authors I love and the premise was great. Normally this short of a book would have been a weekend or so and I really put my back into it, I was at the pool for hours and there were a few good parts and overall good dialogue but I couldn't get into it. I might retread it later but for now I couldn't even finish it when I was 5 chapters from the end. There might be giant squids of anger responding but it doesn't get better.
Maybe next time ( )
  JZL0003 | Sep 25, 2013 |
This is an imaginative, poorly-written history/fantasy/romance novel centered around chess. I read it for the first time when I was nine years old, and it has S-E-X in it, so it's been grandfathered in. ( )
  KateBond | Sep 20, 2013 |
Está muy bueno, pero uno debe tener por lo menos nociones básicas de ajedrez para entenderle plenamente, si uno no las tiene no se pierde el sentido, sigue siendo un libro bueno, pero hay millones de líneas dedicadas al juego y partidos y demás. ( )
  Atenas | Aug 26, 2013 |
I was big into chess back in the day, so thought I would really dive deep and cruise through the book. Didn't work out that way for me -- it took me nearly a month to slog through it. I think part of the reason was the author did a poor job in reminding us who the characters were -- and there are a lot of them to keep track of given the two different story lines -- ended up enjoying the historical one more. Ended up not really following the characters but more interested in the plot moving along. Thought there ended up being too much Clive Cussler type action (that's not a compliment) and the assignment of people to Pieces in "The Game" was really quite hoakey. Not very fulfilling. ( )
  skraft001 | Aug 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Nevilleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Constante, SusanaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
Epigraph
Chess is Life. --- Bobby Fischer
Life is a kind of chess. --- Benjamin Franklin
Dedication
First words
A flock of nuns crossed the road, their crisp wimples fluttering about their heads like the wings of large sea birds.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Schaken is leven.

Bobby Ficher
Het leven is een soort schaken.

Benjamin Franklin
De typerende personages zijn ofwel voor, ofwel tegen de queeste. Helpers
worden geïdealiseerd als simpelweg galant of rein; wie tegenwerkt, wordt
afgeschilderd als simpelweg slecht of laf.
Vandaar dat ieder standaardpersonage...zijn morele tegenstander
tegenover zich krijgt, als zwarte en witte stukken in een schaakspel.

Anatomie van de kritiek
Northrop Frye
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345419081, Paperback)

Katherine Neville's debut novel is a postmodern thriller set in 1972 ... and 1790. In the 20th century, Catherine Velis is a computer expert with a flair for music, painting, and chess who, on her way to Algeria at the behest of the accounting firm where she is employed, is invited to take a mysterious moonlighting assignment: recover the pieces of an old chess set missing for centuries.

In the midst of the French Revolution, a young novice discovers that her abbey is the hiding place of a chess set, once owned by the great Charlemagne, which allows those who play it to tap into incredible powers beyond the imagination. She eventually comes into contact with the major historical figures of the day, from Robespierre to Napoleon, each of whom has an agenda.

The Eight is a non-stop ride that recalls the swashbuckling adventures of Indiana Jones as well as the historical puzzles of Umberto Eco which, since its first publication in 1988, has gone on to acquire a substantial cult following.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:42 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Computer expert Cat Velis is hired to recover the chess pieces of the Montglane Chess Service of 1790, they have the ability to endow anyone playing with them unlimited power.

» see all 5 descriptions

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