Katherine Neville is the author of The Eight, The Magic Circle (a USA Today bestseller), and A Calculated Risk (a New York Times Notable Book). The Eight has been translated into more than thirty languages. In a national poll in Spain by the noted journal El Pais, The Eight was voted one of the top ten books of all time. Neville lives in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Even readers with no interest in chess will be swept up into this astonishing fantasy-adventure, a thoroughly accomplished first novel. 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. An antique dealer, a Soviet chess master, KGB agents and a fortune-teller who warns Catherine she's in big trouble all covet the fabled chess pieces, because the chess service, buried for 1000 years in a French abbey, supplies the key to a magic formula tied to numerology, alchemy, the Druids, Freemasonry, cosmic powers. As the story shuttles between the 1970s and the 1790s, we are introduced to 64 characters, including Mireille, a spunky French nun who helps scatter the individual chess pieces across Europe lest the set fall into evil hands. Involving Napoleon, Talleyrand, Casanova, Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre and Catherine the Great in the quest, Neville has great fun rewriting history and making it all ring true. With two believable heroines, nonstop suspense, espionage, murder and a puzzle that seems the key to the whole Western mystical tradition, this spellbinder soars above the level of first-rate escapist entertainment. Daring, original and moving, it seems destined to become a cult classic. $100,000 ad/promo; major foreign sales; BOMC altenate. (Jan.)
"Readers thrilled by The Da Vinci Code will relish the
multi-layered secrets of The Eight."
-MATTHEW PEARL, author of The Dante Club
"A BIG, RICH, TWO-TIERED CONFECTION OF A NOVEL . . .
A ROUSING, AMUSING GAME."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating piece of entertainment that manages to be both vibrant and cerebral . . . Few will find it resistible."
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
"With alchemical skill, Neville blends modern romance, historical fiction, and medieval mystery . . . and comes up with gold."
The 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. This intriguing and complex first novel, while offering historical insights and interesting introductory quotations, calls occasionally for the suspension of credulity. The interweaving of fact and fiction is skillfully done. Highly recommended. BOMC selection.-- Ellen Kaye Stoppel, Drake Univ. Law Lib., Des Moines