The Eight by Katherine Neville starts in France in 1790. Valentine and Mireielle are novices are Montglane Abbey. Due to a new act that has been recently passed, the government is seizing possessions of the churches. This particular abbey hides a very special chess set. It was once owned by Charlemagne who gave it to Garin de Montglane. It is supposed to possess special properties and hides a formula. The Abbess’ of abbey have been protecting it for many years. Now it is being unearthed and sent out with the nuns. Valentine and Mireielle are given two pieces and special instructions. They are going to Paris to stay with their godfather, M Jacques-Louis David, a painter. They will act as a gathering point. If a nun has to flee, the girls will receive their pieces and keep them safe. The girls are only sixteen and have been raised in the convent since they were orphaned. They are very naïve. Are they up to the task? Catherine “Cat” Velis is twenty-three and lives in New York in 1972. She works as a CPA and auditor for Fulbright, Cone, Kane, and Upham (a prestige firm). When she refuses to do something underhanded (and illegal) at the request of her boss, they decide to send her to Algiers for a year. On New Year’s Eve a fortune teller gives her an ominous reading. Cat is the “hand of destiny” and is in danger. Several months later (just before she is to leave for Algiers) Lily Rad takes Cat to a chess match. Lily is obsessed with chess and the daughter of a dear friend, Harry Rad. There Cat meets Alexander Solarin, a Grand Master of chess from Russia. He also warns her that she is in danger. Catherine is to embark on a journey to find the pieces of the chess set. They are set to be in silver and gold with uncut, polished gems set in them (not a small chess set). It will be black (the good) versus white (the bad). Cat will need to stay one step ahead of the competition to stay alive and win the game. Cat is going to have to be careful who she trusts. You never know who will be working for the enemy. It is a game that has been playing for hundreds of years. Will Cat be able to obtain the pieces in time and figure out their mystery? The Eight is a long and very complicated novel (I have given you just the briefest of overviews). It contains a lot of history, science, and chess. It is just too much for one book. The concept or mystery is interesting but it gets lost. I give The Eight 2.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the history contained in the book (I am a history buff) but with all the science and the chess (I was never able to master chess because I did not sitting still for so long) the reader is soon experiencing a headache (or sound asleep). It took me a couple of tries to get through the novel (it is over 600 pages long). But I did persevere because I wanted to see how it turned out (I was disappointed). There was one twist in the book that I liked even though I had figured it out (the first section dealing with Cat). If you are looking for a novel to help you sleep, then The Eight is the right book for you. I received a complimentary copy of The Eight from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
6 people found this review helpful
Great read with a huge cast of characters & complex plot, yet it didn't get drowned in details (unlike Neale Stephenson's Baroque Cycle)
6 people found this review helpful