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The Eight was Katherine Neville's debut novel and was published in 1988. She's never come close to the magic of this book since, but most writers never hit this level of amazing story telling after many years so even 25 years after its debut, I am still in awe of The Eight and Neville's ability to write it. I read the book when it first came out and fell in love with it. Several years later I re-read it and was stunned all over again. I have had the same reaction to The Eight each of the 4 times I read it. Yet, I have hesitated to get it on audio - I didn't want one of my favorite books ruined by a bad narrator. However, I finally broke down and got the audiobook and I'm so glad I did; Susan Denaker does a fine job with narration.
Some folks have compared Neville's writing to Dan Brown, but with all respect to Brown (I loved the Da Vinci Code) I think Neville's writing is far more sophisticated and this reads more like Umberto Eco. Some reviewers have said that the plot is complex, but I think intricate would be a more precise word for it. Neville weaves into her mystery about the Montglane Service (Charlemagne's chess set) myths and legends from Europe, Russia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East and history, philosophy, and science from the 8th century forward and she uses music, astronomy, dance, and chess moves as clues in the puzzle. The Eight does require some attention (its not a "background" kind of book), but the plot unfolds logically and for all its intricacy it is not difficult to follow. You don't have to play chess (I don't) to follow the story, but chess players may have a special appreciation for some of the plot twists.
If I could really review this totally without bias, I might take off a bit for some lack of character development, a couple of awkward shifts in POV, and kind of a lame romance (doesn't factor much in the book, thank goodness), but the plot is just so great, I can't be unbiased. I love The Eight as a book and I love The Eight as an audiobook. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a mystery or just an amazing plot-driven story.
23 of 24 people found this review helpful
I have read this book twice and I don't read books over. It is one of the best books. The tension that is built over the story is amazing. It's just an amazing book. I can't say enough.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
I realise that in reading fiction of this type one has to suspend one's sense of reality; this book stretches it to beyond breaking point. Disjointed writing and therefore hard to follow. I can't recommend it.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
A great read, the two storyline come together very well, I listened for hours at a time and was gripped by the story. The conclusion of the book isn't blatently obvious as you'd expect. If you're a chess lover you'll like this book, best listen I've had for ages!!!