Sunday, May 04, 2014

The Eight

I recently finished The Eight by Katherine Neville.  Honestly, I wish I hadn't bothered.  It was such a silly novel with so many loose ends, unbelievable characters, uncanny coincidences, preposterous scenarios, and cliche-laced narrative that towards the end, I was simply marking time.  The novel takes place in two timeframes--1970s New York and Algeria, and Revolutionary France.  I tended to like the story from the 1970s more, primarily because the 1790's story was littered with historical figures, some who figured into the plot and some who were simply props--among them Tallyrand, Catherine the Great, Wordsworth, Rousseau, Voltaire, Bach, Marat, Robespierre, et al.

I think this book as somewhat of a cult following, but for me it was a bit like Ayn Rand meets Dan Brown, a combo that is distasteful on several levels.  The only part I really liked was when the 1970's heroine travels around Algeria and visits some pretty cool places, archeologically speaking.  This, however, couldn't make up for the fact that the quasi-mystical mumbo-jumbo was never adequately explained and in the end I couldn't care less whether the chess pieces were reunited or not.

If you are the least bit curious about the plot, here's the Amazon blurb:
Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years...In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played with them is too powerful.
Honestly the only reason I bothered to write a review is so I could count this book in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2014.

Now, on to something more savory...I'm thinking a reread of one of Steinbeck's  masterpieces, East of Eden, especially since I am headed out to California and points north at the end of this week.


  1. I read this about 10 years ago, and did enjoy it! I found it enjoyable and relaxing to read, and more believable than Dan Brown's book which I read later on. I wonder if I would find The Eight believable now? It's interesting that you didn't enjoy this. You are right, the mystical aspect is never fully explained. I think I liked the boat scenes the best, from what I remember.

  2. Too bad that this was so disappointing. It seems to predate the current narrative that takes place in multiple timeframes by several decades.

    I might have bad dreams tonight thinking of a book that was a combination of Ayn Rand and Dan Brown.

  3. I didn't like this book either; in fact, I'm not even sure I finished it. Hope your next book is better!

  4. Sorry you didn't like this one, I love it. It's fun and cheesy, and better than Dan Brown. I didn't care all that much for the sequel though.