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The Eight: Katherine Neville

This is the informal review to The Eight that I reviewed over at bookish , at this link. Minor spoilers.

I always rate books as soon as I finish, and I kind of boggled the next day when I realized I gave this book a 9. Having read it a few times again (selectively, of course, not a re-read), I'm more inclined to give it an 8 or 7.5.

I loved the action. This book was like the smash up of a historical novel and a contemporary novel, which was very fun. As well, the sort of mystery behind what this "Eight" and "Montglane Service" were served to keep me glued to the pages, even though the explanation that was provided at the end...was adequate, but not earthshaking. Oh, well.  I was gripped by the description of the Reign of Terror--amazing depiction, and that brings me to the name-dropping. Not namebrands, but famous people: Maximilien Robespierre, Jacques-Louis David, Talleyrand, Arnold Benedict, Catherine the Great, Napoleon, Voltaire, Rousseau....even J.S. Bach. And Euler and Einstein and Woodsworth and Blake and-and-and... And the reader met every single one of them. Using chess as a background of sorts for the story was fascinating, especially when you realize who's what. The setting was described beautifully.

Dialogue: some of it really weird (Tallyrand + Valentine...WHAT?!). The two characters that fell in love--he's not even mentioned for half the story! (Though I do support the pairing, that relationship needs some kind of build up). And I wince at how the strange some things were: why would a grand master from Russia be accompanied by the KGB? (This was Cold War era, but still). Traveling through a desert in an open roofed car missing its roof is utterly stupid and though the author lampshades it (if you click the link, you'll probably end up wasting a lot of time on that site...warning!), it's absurd.

Still: rating, 9/10. Rousing adventure story.

Edited to fix link. x 2

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