Oh for every book I have there is story behind how I got it. This time it is a book that was a bit forced into my hands. As I was shopping in at a huge used book sale looking for a fun adventure tales, the lady suggested “The Eight” by Katherine Neville. Not just suggested I would say. She pushed it as though she was spreading the word of her church in an attempt to convert me to a new “ism” of such sort. She wanted me to read it so badly, that she gave it to me. And after all her effort, I would only be rude to say, “No.” So I only said thank you and some months later got around to reading this strange book with a pretty cover featuring chest piece.
So what is the Eight? It is a thriller about Charlemaigne’s chest board that gave the players, and owners of chest board’s great power. Sounds silly? Yeah. But the “one ring to rule them all,” concept feels just as silly, but it managed to work out fine in the Lord of the Rings. Plus, I found that there is a underground cult following for this, so it can’t be that bad of a book I figured.
The book spans across history. If focuses on Catherine Velis, a computer expert and one of the only women employees at a powerful male dominated company in the 1970’s. When faced with order to make the wrong decision, she refuses. As punishment the company sends her to Algiers to work on the computer programs for OPEC. Strange things start happening. People start dying around her. Her friend asks her to investigate into chest pieces from a antique shop in Algiers. A fortune teller gives her a fortune of a strange fate. The story also focuses on Merielle and Valentine in the 1800s who were two cousins that grew up in the Montglane church in France among the nuns. The nuns were the keepers of this legendary chest set. But with the overthrowing of the king, the new leader is in search of the chest pieces buried in the church. The nuns all scatter along with Merielle and Valentine with the pieces. And Meirelle and Valentine stand as way points in case things go wrong and things do go wrong. Then are many shorter tales throughout about minor characters elaborating over the obsession of the chest pieces, the riddles about it and the history of it all. All these tales expanding over the timeline link together to tell one tale.
The good? I have to give it credit for being bold and trying to make it grand. I also must say that the tale also seamlessly blends in well with historical events. This author did her research and as someone who likse history I was glad that she did. It made Valentine and Merielle’s journey fantastic.
The bad? The book had so much going for it, that I wish it didn’t turn out the way it did. The book had such a great build up on Catherine’s part but never did take off. It became a disappointment when nothing exciting really happened. To simplify things the book feels like it is written by two authors. One is experienced, telling tale of Meriell and Valentine with a interesting setting, story, and intriguing characters. Then the second author writes about Catherine which is a bland empty character with no depth, complete lack of description in settings and poorly scripted story. But sadly I knew better. Katherine Neville wrote both parts, and I can hardly believe it. Catherine so bland and unlikable. Her friends are worse .They are snobs who sneer at the thought of touching dirt or even associating themselves with a third world country. Then her chubby friendd (Only detail of her in the book is her chubbiness) who Catherine just seems to tolerate. There’s no friendship that’s believable between the two of them at all. Because of this unevenish, the book just came off so strange. It wanted me to a care for Catherine when I didn’t. Also one other thing. The power to those have all the pieces felt like a very indecisive element of the story until the very end. Like the author didn’t know herself as to why the pieces were so important. Just try to imagine reading the Lord of the Rings, but throughout the whole story you have no idea why the ring must get to Mordor other than its just really important. You don’t why its important. The book just tells you, it is.
And yes. I know this book has a cult following. I can see the potential of how this can be great. I really wanted to love it but I can’t. It just hurts to review it as something that like this that turned into total disappointment. It shouldn’t be a kind of, sort of, almost good book. It should have been great. It had all the ingredients. Its just was damn uneven. I also will say, if you like chest, and mathematical logic deals, this is for you. You’ll get into the core story. If you’re a history buff like me, you‘ll love how it ties in. I don’t regret treading the book for those great parts about the French revolution. But beyond that I say skip it. It is mediocre at best which is truly sad, because I was pulled in so deep with Merielle’s tale and pulled out so quickly with Catherine’s.
Overall Rating : A Kind of, of Sort of, Almost Good Tale That Could Have Perfection
2 smoothies out of Four.