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The Eight by Katherine Neville

The Eight (1988)

by Katherine Neville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Montglane Service (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,6741091,431 (3.76)1 / 133
  1. 40
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (norabelle414)
  2. 41
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (Torikton)
    Torikton: "Foucault's Pendulum" is probably the best conspiracy thriller there is.
  3. 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)
  4. 20
    Black Market Truth by Sharon Kaye (cat505)
  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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English (94)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  French (2)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

Even though it was first published in 1988 and I'd seen the book on a number of occasions I'd only recently decided to read it even if I didn't really know what the book was all about. I guessed it probably had something to do with Chess.

And surprisingly, it did. Following two stories, one in the aftermath of the French revolution and one in the early 1970s, a mystery surrounding an old chess set is brought to light in a The Da Vinci Code manner. Obviously though, this book came way before TDVC.

I find it hard to really formulate my opinions on this book. While it was entertaining for the biggest part, it was way too long and the story could have been told using several hundreds fewer of pages. I'm usually not a fan of the two intertwined past-present day story line type of story, but it didn't bother me in this case. However, I thought the 18th century one to be the most interesting by far.

What did bother me though was the very convenient use of historical characters in completely unlikely settings just to give the story a more historical feel to it. The moment Napoleon showed up I was like 'hahaha, NO'.

While in the last 25 years this book has gained some kind of cult status it left me with some mixed feelings.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
1 vote Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
'My friend,' said Bach, turning to me with a smile, 'as I've said, seek and ye shall find. He who understands the architecture of music will understand the power of the Montglane Service. For the two are one.'
David had listened closely to the story. Now, as they approached the fretted iron gates of his courtyard, he turned to Philidor in dismay.
'But what does it all mean?' he asked. 'What do music and mathematics have to do with the Montglane Service? What do any of these things have to do with power, whether on earth or in the heavens? Your story only serves to support my claim that this legendary chess service appeals to mystics and fools. Much as I hate to tie such appellations to Dr. Euler, your story suggests he was easily prey to fantasies of this sort.'

Two women, one a novice in France during the revolution, the other a computer programmer in 1970s New York, find themselves enmeshed into the same game. A game that involves reassembling a Moorish chess set formerly belonging to Charlemagne, which supposedly contains an encoded formula for ultimate power. The hunt for the formula involves experts in chess, mathematics and music, and Catherine the Great, Marat, Robespierre and Johan Sebastian Bach are among the players in the late 18th century. But that game ends in stalemate with the chesspieces and board scattered and hidden, and it is not until the 1970s that a new game begins.

An engrossing romp taking place in three continents and fueled by the lust for power. I enjoyed it but do not feel the need to read the much-later sequel. ( )
  isabelx | Mar 28, 2016 |
The Eight uses a lot of ingredients that have been successfully incorporated many times since in popular books and movies - Freemasonry, alchemy, the mysterious Middle East. Because these tropes have become so popular as plot devices, the possibility of them feeling stale is high. I felt like this novel was able to stand on its own well, despite the passing of years, because of Neville's expert weaving together of all these familiar strands into a story both exciting and fresh.

Neville's two main heroines, Cat and Mireille, were intelligent and dauntless, and following their dangerous and heroic exploits was complete and utter fun. I genuinely felt anxious on more than one occasion, because I was that involved in their stories. Because this novel has been the inspiration for so much that followed, some of the plot twists were easier to predict, but there were still plenty of surprises along the way.

Very, very good - definitely recommended. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Feb 14, 2016 |
I read a review of this book online that led me to believe I might enjoy it. I ordered it - and when I got the book in the mail, I saw that the cover blurb read something like, "If you loved the Da Vinci Code, you'll love The Eight."
"OH NO," I said. Because I certainly did NOT love the Da Vinci Code (although it is, admittedly, the best of Dan Brown's shoddily researched and crappily written novels.)
Nevertheless, I read this book; cover blurbs are not always correct. Unfortunately, in this case, it was absolutely correct. It was very similar to Dan Brown's writing, both in style and content.
If you are into unlikely and ridiculous conspiracy theories that don't stand up to a bit of logical thought, and have a lot of time to kill, go for it.

(My problem is that I really like novels that involve conspiracies - but I have absolutely no patience for conspiracy theories.)

The premise is that Catherine Velis, a computer expert at the top of her field (or so we are told - not ONCE in the VERY LONG book does she do anything, or even THINK in such a way that would indicate she knows anything about computers), is sent to Algeria on assignment. Her antique-dealing friend takes advantage of this to try to get her to acquire some rare chess pieces while she is there.

Meanwhile, back in the 18th century, two young novice nuns (yes, this is an excuse for some unnecessary but oddly understated trashiness) are asked by their abbess to participate in hiding the Very Same chess pieces, which everyone is out to get - because they are imbued with Magical Powers which will allow the owner of the whole chess set to Take Over the World.

Poorly written. Characters that seem to have their attributes assigned to them by dice roll. Historically inaccurate. Unnecessarily long. Trashy, but not trashy enough to be titillating. Unconvincing fantasy elements. Plot elements that don't stand up to any sort of analysis. Boring. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
She provides detail and a good story. I was not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Pawns and Kings.

I love reading and reviewing books. Yet if you read a lot of my reviews, (and I hope, Dear Reader, that you do), you will notice how frequently I write about the difficulty I find in reviewing certain books. More often than not I then precede to rave about that book. It’s because as a reviewer I feel that I am beheld to an oath similar to the Hippocratic one taken by doctors; first, do no harm.

Good books deserve to be experienced by their readers with as little interference as possible, so I try to give you a feel for the book without dropping spoilers and ruining the reader’s chance to revel in an exceptional work. All of which brings me to The Eight by Katherine Neville. It’s a novel that is tailor-made to fit my little manifesto. It’s very good, very original, and it deserves to be appreciated first-hand. Both the story and the plot are intricate, bordering on the Byzantine, but to break it down, it is about The Montglane Service, an antique Chess set, made in India, and gifted to Charlemagne, which holds mystical and mythic powers, and must be protected by the innocent from falling into the hands of the evil.

There are two main story-lines, one featuring Cat Velis, a computer expert and accountant, who works for Con Ed, in the 1970’s. After refusing to do something illegal for her boss she is sent from New York to a dead-end assignment to Algeria, to work with a then-unknown organization called OPEC. Before she leaves a fortune-teller at a party tells her that her life is in danger, and quick as a wink two people are dead and Cat is afraid that she might be next. The other story is about two young nuns, Valentine and Mirielle, and is set in France during the Revolution. These two are sent to Paris with a mission that involves the mythical Service. Before long everyone is either trying to hide or find this powerful artifact.

If that was all there was to the story, I would be done with my review. The Eight, however, is over 500 pages long, and Ms. Neville has plenty of stories up her sleeve. Historical figures, from the Freemasons to Catherine the Great, from Muammar Gaddafi to Cardinal Richelieu and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand all play significant roles, and Ms. Neville spins plenty of myths and history into her tale as well. Both backgrounds are solid and believable without being burdened by too much minutiae. The prose is solid, and all of the main characters ring true. What makes The Eight really special is the way that Ms. Neville makes the two storylines twist and turn, each enforcing and informing the other until they are, in the end, one. It’s something that is rarely accomplished, and deserves a tip of the cap.

The mythology of Chess also plays an integral part in this novel, and as a lifelong fan of Nabokov, I can say that she does the old master proud, both in her knowledge, and in her execution. Also worth noting is that the complexity of both the story and the plot are closely tied into the underlying motif of the game of Chess. In case you might find this intimidating, let me tell you that I am terrible at Chess, and my knowledge of it’s history is weak, and it never interfered my my enjoyment of this novel. What makes this book so good, in the end, is that all of this is subsumed by the narrative flow. You can read this big, smart novel as a thriller, and enjoy all of the tangents as just gravy. Smart, intricate and sophisticated gravy. Now how is that for an ending sentence?

Review by: Mark Palm
Full Reviews Available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Nevilleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Constante, SusanaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Chess is Life. --- Bobby Fischer
Life is a kind of chess. --- Benjamin Franklin
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A flock of nuns crossed the road, their crisp wimples fluttering about their heads like the wings of large sea birds.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:43 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A woman who enjoys chess for a hobby is offered the chance to collect the pieces of a very old chess service, which when all of the pieces are reassembled, gives the players a game of unlimited power.

» see all 4 descriptions

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