Posted by melydia on November 25, 2009
The Fire by Katherine Neville: The long-awaited sequel to Neville’s excellent debut novel, The Eight, and it’s pretty meh. I admit I probably did not come into this in the best mindset: The Eight is just so good, it’s hard not to expect The Fire to be just as engrossing. Then again, it didn’t help that one of my favorite characters was killed off in the freaking prologue either. Anyway, the gist of this story is that The Game has been restarted thirty years after the events in The Eight – both in the present (Alexandria, daughter of Cat and Solarin) and past (Mirielle’s son Charlot) timelines. There’s a lot of random people involved, a lot of talk about Original Instructions which may or may not refer to sexual intercourse, loads of obscure chess references that don’t make a whole lot of sense, and very few loose ends tied up. I was quite clear on the purpose of the Montglane Service at the end of The Eight; now I have no idea. The inevitable love story between the narrator and the mysterious foreigner was all too predictable. The twist ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth, it was so contrived. All in all, just not a very good book. I kept reading, hoping things would pick up, but they never did. Alas.
Also posted on BookCrossing.
Posted by melydia on July 30, 2009
The Eight by Katherine Neville: This is my second time reading this book and it was amazing all over again. Like all of Neville’s novels, two stories are interweaved: one in the present (in this case, the 1970′s) and one in the past (late 18th century). Two women, a computer expert and nun, attempt each in their respective time periods to unravel the mystery behind a powerful and much-coveted ancient chess set, the Montglane Service. This book is full of action and romance, suspense and memorable characters. The number of famous historical figures who show up does border on the absurd, but I was too busy having a good time to nitpick. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Side note for those who’ve read the book: my sister was in love with Solarin, but my heart belongs to Nim. :)
Also posted on BookCrossing.
Posted by melydia on February 27, 2008
A Calculated Risk by Katherine Neville: This is my third Neville book (of three, as far as I can tell) and I think it’s probably my second favorite (with The Eight being the clear winner). All of these books have followed strong, intelligent women dealing with high-risk situations. There is also another plot, which takes place hundreds of years earlier, that somehow relates to the modern storyline. In this case, we have Verity Banks, a vice president of Bank of the World (Neville worked for Bank of America; perhaps there is a parallel here?), continually fighting with her chauvenistic management who dismiss her suggestions unless they can somehow claim them as their own. Fed up, she decides to demonstrate how faulty their computer security is by temporarily stealing money herself. Enter Zolan Tor, Banks’s brilliant former mentor, who decides that he wants to play too, and can do it better. So they make a bet. The historical side story is about the Rothschild family some 200 years ago, who apparently have a lot to do with why banking is the way it is. I couldn’t quiet follow it, and I don’t think it added anything to the story. The modern thread, on the other hand, was a real page-turner. I just couldn’t put it down. Banks and Tor had a wonderful chemistry, and the other characters were a blast. My favorite was Lelia, the French Russian dame who spoke no language well and thus several broken languages at once. I would certainly recommend this one if you’re looking for a fun thriller, but if you only read one Neville book, I’d still have to steer you towards The Eight.
Also posted on BookCrossing.
Posted by melydia on May 13, 2004
The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville: What happens when you mix Native Americans, Hitler, Gypsies, nuclear weapons, human sacrifice, Mongols, the Cold War, the Roman Empire, the early Christian church, Druids, the Knights Templar, sex, and Greek gods together? A whirlwind, globe-trotting adventure that spans the centuries. Though not as engrossing as her earlier novel, The Eight, this story still has quite a bit to offer. The year is 1989. We meet Ariel Behn, your average nuclear engineer whose world is turned upside down with the sudden death of her beloved cousin Sam. Suddenly everyone from the family she’s spent her life trying to avoid is interested in her inheritance, which is a set of ancient manuscripts. Ariel spends much of the book trying to figure out how the various players are interconnected while attempting to stay alive long enough to learn why people are so willing to kill or be killed for these documents. There are plenty of twists, turns, and surprises in store for her on her journey that takes her from the remote mountains of Idaho to deepest Soviet Russia and beyond.
This is not a light read. The story pauses several times to give first-hand accounts of events in the years following the death of Christ, both of those who knew him and those who wanted to destroy him. I unfortunately read three other books while reading this one, and I admit I was still a little lost by the end of it. I do not understand how everything tied together, or why exactly the manuscripts were so important. All the same, I enjoyed the characters and felt myself cheering Ariel on as she untangled the web of lies that had ensnared her family for so many years. Not as good as The Eight, but if you’re interested in historical fiction mixed with New Age spirituality, it’s worth a read.