Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Review: The Eight by Katherine Neville

This book was pitched to me by a former co-worker as a smart reader's The DaVinci Code and I can totally see that. It has the complicated sweeping plot that takes us across multiple continents, involves the Catholic church, and a mystery hiding a great power that might even have an element of magic to it.

The story is told in two parts. Mireille is a young novice nun in France in 1790 when she is pressed into service by her abbess in helping keep the secret of the Montglane Chess Service safe from the chaos and power grabbing going on amidst the breakout of the French Revolution. Cat is a computer expert in 1972 New York, sent off to Algeria, where she too encounters the Montglane Chess Service. Cat needs to find the missing pieces, scattered to the four winds, before someone else does, allowing them to use the hidden powers the chess set encompasses.

There were amazing coincidences, unlikely useful random facts the characters knew, and the characters have a propensity for running into future famous people wherever they go. ("Why hello Napoleon! Have you met my uncle the famous painter David? You have? Let's hang out with Wordsworth and Blake and Talleyrand and Robespierre!") But it was still a lot of fun, and definitely assumed a slightly higher level of understanding in its readers, with talk of Fibonacci numbers and sound waves and OPEC and Pythagoras. One of our book club members did have a lot of trouble with the book, as she was the only one of us who had never played the game of chess and so didn't know what the pieces signified and what their movements were. But she still enjoyed the book overall.

So if you're looking for a fun, popcorn book but don't want to be too talked down to, The Eight is perfect.

A friend gave me a used copy of this book.

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