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Publisher's Summary

New York City, 1972: A dabbler in mathematics and chess, Catherine Velis is also a computer expert for a Big Eight accounting firm. Before heading off to a new assignment in Algeria, Cat has her palm read by a fortune-teller. The woman warns Cat of danger. Then an antiques dealer approaches Cat with a mysterious offer: He has an anonymous client who is trying to collect the pieces of an ancient chess service, purported to be in Algeria. If Cat can bring the pieces back, there will be a generous reward.

The south of France, 1790: Mireille de Rémy and her cousin Valentine are young novices at the fortress-like Montglane Abbey. With France aflame in revolution, the two girls burn to rebel against constricted convent life - and their means of escape is at hand. Buried deep within the abbey are pieces of the Montglane Chess Service, once owned by Charlemagne. Whoever reassembles the pieces can play a game of unlimited power. But to keep the Game a secret from those who would abuse it, the two young women must scatter the pieces throughout the world.

And there's more to the story! Don't miss the sequel, The Fire.
©1988 Katherine Neville; (P)2007 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Even readers with no interest in chess will be swept up into this astonishing fantasy-adventure....destined to become a cult classic." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Story

Best Plot-Driven Novel I've Ever Read

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

  • Overall
  • Chad
  • Allen, TX, United States
  • 12-04-07

Finally I have waited for years

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

  • Overall

impressive on every level

This book has been a blast! There is mystical intrigue, historical perspective, scientific application and modern day issues all combined in an entertaining, coherent story. Even after 20+ hours, I was sad to see it end.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding!!!

Wow! After reading the previous reviews, I was hesitant to select this book, but I am so glad I did! The book is beautifully written and the narration is great. I loved the historical references to different time periods and countries. A very enjoyable listen!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

If you love history, skip this book.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Somebody who is looking for romance and possibly thriller and not going to cringe every time some completely unrealistic twist comes on. Being of Eastern European origin with North African husband, there is so much under researched and unrealistic nonsence, that makes enjoying the book very difficult. Character are underdeveloped, plot is chaotic. Narrator actually did a good job with what she had.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Diane
  • Cape Town South AfrucaSouth Africa
  • 03-22-10

The Eight

A fabulous story, worth listening to and well read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Allison
  • Lake Mills, WI, USA
  • 05-18-09

Good if you have read the book

I have read this book multiple times which made it a lot easier for me to follow the changes in time and the overall plot.

Previous reviewers panned the narrator, but I thought she did a good job. There were a lot of accents and personalities in the book and I think she did a good job keeping the accents straight and understandable.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fantastic!

This was a fantastic story--it made me want to get in the car to drive (since I only listen to audio books while I'm driving). The story is complex, but if you pay attention, it all makes sense. In fact the degree of complexity shows just how amazing the author is to have conceived such a story. Puzzles, romance, far off lands, you got it. If you liked the Da Vinci code, you will probably like this.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

What a fun ride

This story was very enjoyable, switching back and forth between the distant past and the near past. While there were elements of the story that were very far fetched, I still enjoyed the story and the characters. I also enjoyed the idea of the story being a chess game, it made me think about chess again and that was quite unexpected.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent read

Do not let the negative reviews sway you away from this entertaining novel. The voice work done by the narrator is above par, giving a multi-layered performance with a large group of characters.

The novel itself is history, thriller, spy and quite a few other genres. If you are planning a long trip or just laying on a beach, this is the perfect novel to laze away hours enjoyably.

The sequel, The Fire, is a somewhat less novel, but should be listened to if not to revisit some old friends.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Iain
  • 12-18-07

The Eight

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Diane
  • 09-25-10

The Eight is Brilliant

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!!!

  • Overall
  • A
  • 04-25-10

A bit unbelievable at times.

A complex plot. Belief needs to be suspended at times throughout the book. It ticks along!

  • Overall
  • Tina
  • 09-22-09

Fantastic

I read this years ago when it was first out in paperback and then lent it to everyone I knew; in the end I had to buy another copy as it got passed around so much the fist one fell to bits.