- Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 14, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345366239
- ISBN-13: 978-0345366238
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (647 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Eight Mass Market Paperback – January 14, 1990
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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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this "astonishing fantasy-adventure," Catherine Velis, a computer expert banished to Algeria by her accounting firm, gets caught up in a search for a legendary chess set once owned by Charlemagne. "A thoroughly accomplished first novel," praised PW , "daring, original and moving, it seems destined to become a cult classic."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I didn't find myself really liking one character or another. I didn't particularly hate anyone either. I couldn't even hate the villain in Algiers, the head of the secret police, he just seemed a bit buffoon-ish. I'm not sure if I was suppose to be happy for the various hook-ups that occurred or not. I guess it would help if I really connected on some level with the heroine either from the past or the present.
The story was about a chessboard and it's playing pieces that had...you guessed it...great power. It was magically, mystically created in the middle-east and wound up as Charlemagne's chessboard. After that - it disappeared. The chessboard was always being sought - and the people seeking it were compared to various pieces of the chess game. I think that is where I lost interest. I wasn't sure there needed to be that element to make the story interesting. There was never any reason given for why it was important to identify the "sides" of characters - some were on the white side some were on the black side. Sure, it was good versus evil.
I think the real problem here is that I'm not fascinated by the game of chess or fibonacci numbers or anything else in that order. The thing is - I kept reading it anyway, because it was good solid writing. The most important characters became really well rounded out. There was occasional humor. And the ending was a big surprise. Overall a good book. I'm glad I read it.
The Eight is their story as they unravel the puzzle of the Montglane Chess Service. This game proves to be dangerous and involves such notables as Talleyrand, Robspierre, Napolean, Benedict Arnold, William Blake and others. There is also a parallel story set in 1972 with computer expert Catherine Velis. I love a story set in two time eras and Katherine Neville does an excellent job interweaving the elements of the story and creating suspense in both. She has also done a great deal of research regarding historic figures and science, mathematical and mystical theories.
The one drawback I found with the book, was that the language was at times a bit clunky, but I am willing to overlook that for a good tale.