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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chess novel: The Eight

Hello Everyone,

The Eight by Katherine Neville is an intriguing novel even after more than 20 years of its publication. The Eight was published in 1988 and got a cult following.

The Eight is the story of the quest for a fabulous, gold-and-silver, bejewelled chess set that once belonged to Charlemagne. It has been buried for a thousand years. At the dawn of the French Revolution, when soldiers are looting the abbeys and monasteries, the set is dug up from an abbey in the Pyrenees and scattered around the world. This begins a 200-year-long chase across the globe– from the 1790s of the Revolution to the 1970s of the OPEC embargo — with 64 characters, (32 historic and 32 modern) all seeking the pieces in a giant chess game that forms the plot.

The Eight was an instant bestseller in 12 languages (Now in more than forty languages), has received numerous awards, and in a national poll of the noted Spanish journal, El Pais, it was voted one of the top ten books of all time!

The novel has two main stories. The chess set called 'The Monglane Service' hides the secret of ultimate power. The first story is set in 1790s, when a French nun Mireille, along with her cousin Valentine, is implicated in the political happenings of the time, including the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, while being on a mission to scatter the many pieces of the chess set to prevent them from being found and assembled. It is not soon before tragedy strikes and a number of prominent historical figures, including Robespierre, Napoleon and Katherine the Great make an appearance.

The second story is set in the 1970s, when a computer expert Catherine Velis is sent to Algeria on what appears to be a job assignment. Soon enough, Catherine is approached by a number of mysterious characters and is unwillingly caught up in another deadly adventure.

What is endearing is that at the very core of the novel there is chess!

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
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