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The Eight

(The Eight #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  39,541 ratings  ·  2,783 reviews
Computer expert Cat Velis is heading for a job to Algeria. Before she goes, a mysterious fortune teller warns her of danger, and an antique dealer asks her to search for pieces to a valuable chess set that has been missing for years...In the South of France in 1790 two convent girls hide valuable pieces of a chess set all over the world, because the game that can be played ...more
Paperback, 598 pages
Published January 14th 1990 by Ballantine Books (first published December 27th 1988)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  39,541 ratings  ·  2,783 reviews

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Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Three weeks ago I held a yard sale. To pass the time I picked up this book I'd never seen from a box of books none of which I'd ever read and none of which I remember buying.

Of the many surreal happenings of that day one of the most strange was when, immediately after reading the first page, a well-groomed homeless man or a poorly groomed homed man rode past on a bike. He looked over and upon seeing The Eight lurched off his bike stumbled to my gate and, grasping it with all the force and desper
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
4 stars to Katherine Neville's The Eight. I stumbled upon this one by hearing about book #2's release and had to start first from the beginning. I'm so glad I did.

Characters are well developed. Plot is intricate. Suspense is on target. Story-telling and narration are rich. I want a third book in the series!

It's all about a chess match. In theory. But in reality. Russian history. Clever moves and alliances. Family connections. Politics. Strong motivation. Good, thought provoking suspense.
Deborah Harkness
This book was the first of its kind: a historical thriller/whodunnit/magical story that was published in 1988. In a way, all the similar books that have come after (Dan Brown, Kostova's The Historian) are following in Neville's footsteps. If you read it now, it may seem flat in comparison with these later works, which have taken a genre that in many ways Neville created and taken it to new levels. However, I'm giving it this rating because I still remember back more than two decades to my first ...more
Dec 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
I was told by several people whose books tastes I generally respect that I would love this book - sadly, that wasn't the case. I found it tiresome, hard to follow, and the writing was almost impossible to slog through in several places. The characters were never fully developed, I never got invested in any of the characters, and I found the book too plot-driven to an irritating degree - with too many historical elements "dropped in" (almost like name dropping) in order to tie the events to histo ...more
Robert Beveridge
Katherine Neville, The Eight (Ballantine, 1988)

This novel has achieved almost cult status in some circles, and many people consider it one of the best adventure novels ever written. It's a useful way to separate folks you know into two categories: those who are more interested in plot, and those who are more interested in writing.

The plot is pretty darn good, when it comes right down to it. The novel takes place in two parallel times, the first being 1972 and the second the years during and afte
Mike (the Paladin)
FLASH! Definition of the word "thriller" changes. Now the word "thriller" can be deemed to include slow moving, overly convoluted stories that wander from point to point with little actual plot development or indeed plot involvment!

Yes we have another story here in the vein of The Da Vinci Code. (I have been informed that this book was written in '88. I had originally said it was "apparently inspired by said Da Vinci Code". My error. That said, it doesn't make the book any better.) Taking place
Jun 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fluff
The two more recent books that most closely resemble The Eight are The Da Vinci Code and Kate Mosse's The Labyrinth, but I found The Eight a more enjoyable read than either of them. The novel is utterly audacious in its (ab)use of historical characters, completely, joyfully implausible in its plotting, and I'm not certain whether the language of Romantic page-turners the author makes frequent use of ("dear reader, little did I know that in two hours' time I would be running for my life trying to ...more
The Eight - Ex
Kathleen Neville

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
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, mystery
an amazing book, especially in the end! the last 100 pages were a real page-turner!!!!
Jun 02, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: afficionados of European history
"The Eight" reads like a student attempting to wow her professor by using as many similies as she can (irony intended). I think Neville chose the name "The Eight," because there are roughly eight sentences per chapter that don't contain a forced, awkward similie.

At least that was true for the first 90% of the novel, which was almost Dickensien in its detail. For the last 10%, it is writen more like a short story, with months of time being skiped and important, climactic scenes being rushed into
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you read a book and find yourself wishing it'll never end. If you want that, this is a book for you. I thought it'd never end, and I don't mean that in a good way. The book has been compared to the DaVinci Code, but I think that's an unfortunate comparison. The story alternates between the 1970's and the late 1700's, both periods linked by the individuals quest for lost ancient knowledge. To me, the action and dangers are contrived, as is the object of the search. If you can get caught ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
The absolute worst. Intolerable.

The kind of endless, deluded, humorless, self-satisfied, tone-deaf, utterly witless manuscript that I'm sure publishers find in the mail all the time but must NEVER EVER PUBLISH. Picked it up hoping for approximately the literary equivalent of "National Treasure," instead got the literary equivalent of diarrhea. That this is beloved by anyone anywhere, and that it ever elicited the press quotes inside the front cover, absolutely boggles my mind. There is NO dimen
Stacy Green
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book more than 5 stars if I could. The plot Katherine Neville created with The Eight is incredible, intertwined with history and myth and science. Her characters are wonderful, and she does a great job of keeping us wondering until the end who is really on the "good" side. As a writer, I am truly stunned by the intricacy of this plot. Anyone who enjoyed The Da Vinci Code should enjoy The Eight, and it is a better book, in my opinion. A must read, especially for writers learning ...more
Stjepan Cobets
I read it a long time ago, but it really is a great book.
Jeannette Nikolova
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Read on the WondrousBooks blog.

Long story short: I got this book from NetGalley and I was unbelievably excited about it. In the end, it took me entirely too many weeks to finish it and now I have to send it to the "mediocre at best" shelf.

Now let me elaborate.

The story of The Eight seemed very compelling: a mysterious chess set, a game that has been going on for ages, two female characters going on the same quest, set apart by 200 years of chasing, a giant battle of good and evil including h
Simone Sinna
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Along with Shantaram, reviewed previously, this is a book that spoke to me. Grabbed me and wound its magic around me, seeping into my soul. I have probably read it at least ten times and several sections more than that.
Is it literary genius? No. Is it well written and engrossing? Yes. Fast paced, can’t be put down? Yes. Is it perfect? No. The concept is so good though it had me wanting to rewrite and re-imagine parts of it, trying to think of ways of making the chess game metaphor stronger.
In br
Mike (the Paladin)
Mar 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
FLASH! Definition of the word "thriller" changes. Now the word "thriller" can be deemed to include slow moving, overly convoluted stories that wander from point to point with little actual plot covered!

Yes we have another story here in the vein of The Da Vinci Code. (I have been informed that this book was written in '88. I had originally said it was "apparently inspired by said Da Vinci Code". My error. That said, it doesn't make the book any better.) Taking place in both the past and the futur
4 stars--I really liked it.

There are some warnings I feel I should give about this book before recommending it to people:
1. It's about a magic chess set. Yes, literally.
2. The writing is solid, but not great. (There are some dated elements of racism and fat shaming, but these are mild.)
3. The historical facts are shaky.

Despite all these things, though, I really liked this book. It was a nonstop adventure, with lots of action--the perfect summer read. There is both a modern and a historical narr
Virginia Cavanillas
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Old book too. Please don't mind me. Keep reading your things.

Jul 06, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this book for the first time in 1992 when I was fourteen. I just finished rereading it. I dug up my copy when I moved to NYC 2 years ago and had been curious to pick it up again since then - partly because I had vague recollections of a couple of hot sex scenes, but largely because over a decade after I originally read it, there was a complete cultural explosion centering around another book featuring ancient secrets playing out amid high-paced modern day intrigue, namely The Da Vinci Cod ...more
Sarah Sammis
Sep 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: released
I've had The Eight on the TBR shelf next to my bed for two or three years. I got it right around the time I had just finished reading The Da Vinci Code and the blurb on the back compared it to Brown's book and the Bookcrosser who gave me the book had liked the intricacies of the plot.

This 600 page mystery involves a formula for an elixir of life, a rare chess set and some Cold War era espionage. The story jumps between the close of the 18th century and "modern day" 1972. To make the chess theme
Norah Una Sumner
I don't even know what to say about his book.

It had so much potential but failed to deliver it the right way.There are two female leads-Mireille,who lives in the 18th century,and is actually a really cool character,and Catherine Velis,who lives in the 70s,and is a really irritating character.I just didn't like her,my biggest problem with her is that she's a freaking know-it-all-''Oh I don't know anything about Algeria but I know that...'' or ''Oh I don't know anything about chess but I know that
Jess The Bookworm
This book had such a great plot, but it was just so badly executed. It follows Cat Velis, a computer expert in the 70s who, as punishment for not getting involved in something underhanded at work, gets put on an assignment to Algeria. Before she leaves she attends a New Year's party, where she meets a fortune teller who gives her a cryptic riddle involving her date of birth and "the eight". Cat finds out that the riddle is linked to Charlemagne's legendary chess set, the Montglane service. This ...more
I read The Eight a long time ago, and loved it. It's happened before with Open Road books on Netgalley – I like to request books I know and give a bit of a boost to their reissue. It's also nice to know that I'm going to like a book going in rather than taking the gamble a Netgalley book usually is.

Unfortunately, this time it didn't work so well. The first half or so was a wild ride, smart and fun and fascinating, and I kept thinking this is what The DaVinci Code so very much wanted to be. But
DRUM ROLL! I finished it! The only book in the last 4 years I had to renew. TA-DA!

Well, it was 3.5 stars, fully and yet I cannot round it up. This book was like going through Moscow to get from Paris to LA. Or sailing the wrong way around the world and then transporting across continents to get to your original ocean. Was the journey worth it?

Partly it was. But still way, way overblown.

For me, the premise WAS interesting, but the number of players and their movements were problematic from the p
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 1972, Catherine Velis, a computer expert, is given a special assignment in Algeria, and when an antique dealer hears about it he approaches her with a request. Even before her departure, strange things starts to happen and she realizes that she is part of something she doesn't understand. Everything seems to be connected to an ancient quest.

People from different parts of the world search for an ancient, moorish chess service given to Charlemagne and hidden in Montglane Abbey. The Montglane se
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Eight”, 1988, was an enchanting second-hand bargain about 20 years ago. When I felt adventurous, I ignored a peer who low-balls books I revere. Instinct prevailed! This is a masterpiece! Katherine Neville aced essential elements and remarkably, turned traits I avoid on their heads.

I know the bare basics of chess and no chemistry.
I am neither keen on historical fiction, nor on split narration.
If there must be dual timelines, I am always antsy to resume the modern story.
No matter how well I e
Jan 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: losers
I was given this novel to read, as a similar level of enjoyment as The DaVinci Code.
I'm here to say, not even close.
It has all the hallmarks that lead to an enjoyable read for me - historical figures, layered storylines, small details that add to great importance as the story develops, and zzzzzz.....

Let me state that I enjoy playing chess. However, reading about it is something of a completely different nature. Figures, playing methodologies, inside references, et al just made my eyes glaze ove
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Barry by: Laura
The story was not bad, although quite contrived and some interesting twists. The style was laborious - I wish someone could just walk into a room instead of entering the room lit by the amber glow of an oversized fireplace, in front of it were arrayed couches in a floral fabric and overstuffed pillows strewn on an leather ottoman. I mean sometimes you just walk into a room. The excessive floral and overstuffed language got in the way of the plot. And I was waiting for the Velis = Lives anagram t ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
Sep 30, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: Cathy G, Jinx
Shelves: staff-recommends
Cathy G says:
"This is one of my all-time favorite reads! I re-read it periodically, with an atlas nearby so I can visualize all the characters' travels. The plot centers around a fabulous Moorish filigreed chess set originally given to Charlemagne, which possesses such powers that over the ages, people play the parts of the chess pieces in life--black or white team--as they hunt for the actual pieces. The stakes for winning the game are awesome power, to be used to good or evil depending on who
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Katherine Neville is an American author. Her novels include The Eight, A Calculated Risk, and The Magic Circle. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and she previously worked as a photographer, a model, a consultant at the Department of Energy, and a vice president of the local Bank of America.

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