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The Eight Paperback – June 23, 1997
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Neville's prose is typical of first time authors. Characterization can be thin, dialogue can be unrealistic, the romance altogether too passionate to be believable. What distinguishes this work, and what has given the book its cult following is the plot, the plot, the plot, the PLOT!
The premise takes two parallel events, in two different timeframes (the '70's and the late 18th century) and weaves the stories together. Both are quests for the mystical Montglane chess set, an Indian relic, once a gift to Charlemagne. Neville's got an imagination that knows no bounds, and she draws dozens of historical figures into the plot mix, both in this century and that. Catherine the Great plays a role, as does modern-day despot Muhammar Khaddafi. The Montglane chess set, like Tolkien's "The One Ring", has mystical powers, and must be prevented, by an innocent, from falling into the hands of those who represent evil and anarchy.
Part fairy tale, part romance, part historical fiction, part suspense novel, "The Eight" is unforgettable for its complexity and the peek into the mind of a great storyteller. You won't soon forget it!
The frustrating thing with the novel is that Neville has presented a complex and clearly well-researched book. As a reader, I was rooting for her on that basis alone. This book has been compared to The Name of the Rose, but that comparison is not just. Eco is a master wordsmith with a degree of control and quality that Neville comes nowhere close to exhibiting. However, the quality of her plotting is such that if she does resolve some of her writing issues, then she could justly be placed above airplane literature.
The first and largest quality problem with the Eight is the freshman feel of the prose. There are places in the book where it is so badly written that it distracts from the reading experience. For example, she has a habit of using heavy-handed foreshadowing ("little did I know that in two days I would...") that is particularly irritating.
The second largest issue is the incomplete character development and strange plot cul-de-sacs. I actually do not believe that this is a quality issue. I have read in interviews with Neville that the original manuscript was more than 1200 pages long. I suspect that we are missing a number of plot points that would have made some of these characters much more complete and some of the transitions much less abrupt.Read more ›
Katherine Neville has woven a wonderful story(?) that continues to haunt me - even almost 10 years after reading it for the first time (and I've now read it 8 or 10 times). It is marvelously inventive, historically (mostly) accurate, and provides wonderful bases for some of the most intriguing conversations.
I've passed this book on to most of my male relatives and friends - who all think I'm nuts when I insist they read a "chick" book, then come to me three days later absolutely amazed how much they liked it!
If there is one weakness, it is that the modern-day characters could be more fully drawn - but that's relatively minor when compared to the intricacy of the story and the wealth of detail Ms. Neville provides.
All I can say is try it! I'm sure you'll like it!
(By the way - wouldn't this make a great computer game, a la "Myst"??)
Katherine Neville is brilliant as is her story in The Eight. The book combines two interwoven plots and keeps you interested in both of them! This is one book that I never wanted to finish. I fell in love with the characters and felt that this book could go on and on and not bore me one bit.
This is the story of the Montglane Chess set, supposedly a gift to Charlemagne that held unimaginable power within, when he played he became obsessed to the point of near destruction. Upon his death his sons fought over the set which ends up getting built into the walls of an abbey to protect it as well as the world from it's power. The story takes place in two eras. One where they many historical figures are after the set which is being split up across the world and then in the 1970's when the set is being searched for (again).
Catherine Neville deftly weaves these two stories together, along with historical facts and wonderful characters.
I could read it over and over again (and I have - I think I just finished it for my 7th time)and still enjoy it. The writing was superb and the plot was original!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Could not put the book down! Fascinating story, love the history behind it. Can't wait to read her next book.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
I read The Eight a long time ago, and loved it. It's happened before with Open Road books on Netgalley – I like to request books I know and give a bit of a boost to their reissue. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Tracet
Exciting, intriguing mix of history, chess & adventure! The twists & turns will keep you guessing! One of my favorite books!Published 17 days ago by Samantha Katz
It was a complicated story to follow, what with all the time jumping and all, but I had to keep reading until the end! Totally different storyline too.Published 18 days ago by Candace R. Thompson
Well...I started this with high hopes. I generally like complicated plots involving ancient mysteries as long as the story isn't TOO hackneyed and absurd. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gregory Johnson
It was a good story with a tie in to chess. It did start to get tedious about three quarters of the way through it.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Neville's use of exclamation points and mediocre character development was a distraction from what could have been a riveting book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by N. Winner
The story is very good, I couldn't stop reading it, however the final part is somewhat not as exciting or detailed as I would imaginePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer