4 stars to Katherine Neville s The Eight I stumbled upon this one by hearing about book 2 s release and had to start first from the beginning I m so glad I did.Characters are well developed Plot is intricate Suspense is on target Story telling and narration are rich I want a third book in the series It s all about a chess match In theory But in reality Russian history Clever moves and alliances Family connections Politics Strong motivation Good, thought provoking suspense. Katherine Neville, The Eight Ballantine, 1988 This novel has achieved almost cult status in some circles, and many people consider it one of the best adventure novels ever written It s a useful way to separate folks you know into two categories those who are interested in plot, and those who are interested in writing.The plot is pretty darn good, when it comes right down to it The novel takes place in two parallel times, the first being 1972 and the second the years during and after the French Revolution Both plot lines center around the search for a mystical chess set and attempts to discover the human counterparts to various pieces the hero and villain in each time line are the Black and White Queens, respectively very nice little twist, that The board, once complete, will supposedly impart unlimited power to he who possesses it, and thus leaders from Marat and Catherine the Great to Muammar Khaddafi run throughout the book, looking to get their hands on it The pace is quick, the action almost nonstop the present day time line is quicker paced and much compelling, but the past ain t all that bad.The writing, on the other hand, is almost painful in places Neville descends in to the realm of clich at least once per chapter, at times than once per page Clumsy attempts at foreshadowing you know the type but I never thought, when I woke up in the morning, that this day would change my life forever are commonplace here than in a whole shelf of novels by Bulwer Lytton It s possible that Ms Neville took the nineteenth century definition of romance novel a tad too seriously for being a twentieth century writer And this is certainly an unique experience in that regard a classic nineteenth century romance novel written, all too often, like a Harlequin circa 1985.All in all, it is a fun little book requiring great suspension of disbelief I d have given it another star if part of my suspension of disbelief didn t have to be in the author s writing ability. This book was the first of its kind a historical thriller whodunnit magical story that was published in 1988 In a way, all the similar books that have come after Dan Brown, Kostova s The Historian are following in Neville s footsteps If you read it now, it may seem flat in comparison with these later works, which have taken a genre that in many ways Neville created and taken it to new levels However, I m giving it this rating because I still remember back than two decades to my first encounter with the book and the sleepless nights that followed as I rushed to finish it I was told by several people whose books tastes I generally respect that I would love this book sadly, that wasn t the case I found it tiresome, hard to follow, and the writing was almost impossible to slog through in several places The characters were never fully developed, I never got invested in any of the characters, and I found the book too plot driven to an irritating degree with too many historical elements dropped in almost like name dropping in order to tie the events to historical situations.The only part of the book that I found remotely interesting and attention holding was the very first chapter It s a book that has reached something like cult status, but I found the plot hard to follow, lots of twists and turns that only confused me, and a very unsatisfying ending I finished it only because I hate to leave a book unfinished if I ve committed to reading it.It just doesn t live up to its hype for me. The two recent books that most closely resemble The Eight are The Da Vinci Code and Kate Mosse s The Labyrinth, but I found The Eight a enjoyable read than either of them The novel is utterly audacious in its ab use of historical characters, completely, joyfully implausible in its plotting, and I m not certain whether the language of Romantic page turners the author makes frequent use of dear reader, little did I know that in two hours time I would be running for my life trying to escape a KGB killer is ironic or not However, I found the book hugely enjoyable as it is I don t know anything about chess, the basic conceit of the book, but any novel in which Jean Jacques Rousseau figures as one of the bad guys, J.S Bach as one of the good guys, and female solidarity is an important theme has a good chance of winning my heart. FLASH Definition of the word thriller changes Now the word thriller can be deemed to include slow moving, overly convoluted stories that wander from point to point with little actual plot development or indeed plot involvment Yes we have another story here in the vein of The Da Vinci Code I have been informed that this book was written in 88 I had originally said it was apparently inspired by said Da Vinci Code My error That said, it doesn t make the book any better Taking place in both the past and the future with countless number based clues, cues and proofs That s right the number..8 FIGURES HEAVILY in the story, duh,duh,duh.Beginning back in the time of Charlemagne or does it go further back our story revolves around an ornate chess set that is imbued or possibly endowed with some great and possibly evil power.Soa cunning abbess In order to break up the threat sends off some nuns each of them carrying a single piece of the chess set, well except she also sends two novices off who haven t taken their vows yet They go to the big city and become nude models an interesting career choice, you know for would be nuns.Anyway we are also tracking things in the present as powers seek to find said chess set.So with all this, plots, counter plots, conspiracies going on, how can this be one of the most boring, slow moving, stultifying books I ve picked up in weeks I don t know But it manages.Can t recommend this one. an amazing book, especially in the end the last 100 pages were a real page turner 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 yearsIn 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. The Eight ExKathleen NevilleThe Montglane Service, an ornate, jeweled chess set given to Charlemagne by the Moors, is said to hold a code which when deciphered will bring great power Nations and individuals have schemed to possess all the pieces As the set is dispersed during the French Revolution, a young novice risks her life to safeguard it Alternating with her story are the present day efforts of a U.S computer expert and a Russian chess master to assemble the set and solve its mystery Studying the code involves musical notation, chess strategy, Fibonacci numbers, and mysticism I loved this book and have re read it a couple times Fans seem to gravitate either to the story in the past or the contemporary story I m on the contemporary side I loved the character Cat and Cat s romance, albeit a small part of the story, with the Russian, and her friend Lily with the Rolls, and the poodle Overall, it was a captivating adventure and a great read. The Eight reads like a student attempting to wow her professor by using as many similies as she can irony intended I think Neville chose the name The Eight, because there are roughly eight sentences per chapter that don t contain a forced, awkward similie.At least that was true for the first 90% of the novel, which was almost Dickensien in its detail For the last 10%, it is writen like a short story, with months of time being skiped and important, climactic scenes being rushed into one or two pages Neither pacing was appropriate, and the juxstaposition of the two was jarring.Too many characters and clumsy, pointless chess metaphors riddled the narrative It took me months to finish this book I m really not sure why I kept reading it I suppose the much hyped secret that would be revealed at the end kept me going an ending that ultimately failed to satisfy, as it has been done before.